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How to Choose the Best Document Automation Software

Inefficient document processes can take a heavy toll on an organization’s overhead.  That’s why more organizations are automating the way they create, populate, route, and store everyday documents.

Digitizing and simplifying document processes can help organizations reduce costs, improve efficiency, deliver a better customer experience, and mitigate the risk of fraud and compliance issues.

But those benefits are hard to attain for organizations that choose the wrong document automation solution.  This article shows how to choose the best document automation software.

Document automation benefits

Document automation delivers tremendous benefits to organizations of all sizes, across all industries.

Organizations that adopt document automation can reduce document processing times by an average of 80 percent, according to the Association for Intelligent Information Management (AIIM).  Much of that time savings can be attributed to the 30 to 50 percent reduction in the time that staff spend on document-related tasks such as inputting information and chasing down approvals, per McKinsey.

Document automation also reduces the possibility of errors such as typos and transposed numbers.  Gartner reports that document automation solutions can reduce human error by up to 90 percent.

The payback from document automation can add up fast.

Large organizations can save an average of $5 million annually by automating just 10 percent of their manual document processes, IDC finds.  It’s no wonder that organizations surveyed by Aberdeen Group report a 550 percent return on investment (ROI) from their document automation investments.

And organizations that use document automation are less likely to experience data breaches.

These are some of the reasons that more organizations are deploying document automation solutions.

4 steps for choosing the best document automation solution

There are lots of document automation solutions out there.  Choosing the wrong one can set an organization back.  Here are four proven steps for choosing the best document automation solution.

Step 1: Prioritize and Evaluate

The first step in any document automation project is to identify your needs.  Keep in mind that not all documents should be automated.  Prioritize frequently used, high-impact documents such as financial reports, clinical study reports, onboarding documents, contracts, invoices, and customer profiles.

And be sure to involve your staff in identifying documents to be automated.  They likely will have valuable insights into the documents that are the most time-consuming and error prone.

Eighty-five percent of document automation users say the tech has increased their productivity, directly impacting their output, according to Forrester.  And 71 percent of users surveyed by Forrester say they spend less time on manual document tasks such as paper shuffling because of automation.

Once you’ve defined your organization’s needs, compare them to prospective software solutions.  Be leery of any technology providers with a “one-size-fits-all” approach to document automation.  A solution that doesn’t align with your organization’s needs will inevitably fall short of expectations.

Step 2: Research

Evaluating dozens of document automation solutions providers can be overwhelming.

Focus on solutions providers with a proven track record in your industry.  Investigate whether the technology provider has customers that process documents and volumes like yours.

Read reviews, gather recommendations from peers in your industry, and see document automation solutions in action at trade shows and other in-person events.  Also be sure to ask prospective solutions providers for references from your industry.  Don’t hesitate to ask references whether they achieved their business case, and how frequently the technology provider offers upgrades and fixes.

Step 3: Look for Key Features

Several key features separate leading document automation solutions providers from the also-rans.

  • User interface.  Look for document automation solutions with a simple and intuitive user interface.  Complex interfaces deter adoption and impede productivity.  Involve frontline staff in the evaluation of prospective solutions.  Choose software that feels familiar, akin to everyday applications.  And steer clear of solutions that require unnecessary clicks.
  • Integration.  The last thing any organization needs is another data silo or complicated workaround.  Look for document automation solutions that use robotic process automation (RPA) and other tools to seamlessly integrate with existing systems such as a customer relationship management (CRM) application, and document management platform.
  • Data connectivity.  The best document automation solutions reduce manual keying by importing data from spreadsheets, databases, and other sources.  Investigate the connectivity provided by prospective solutions to ensure it facilitates the smooth exchange of information.
  • Collaboration and communication.  The best document automation solutions facilitate remote work and enhance collaboration and communication through real-time updates, document version control, and instant access to documents stored in a cloud repository.
  • Security and compliance.  Weak document controls leave organizations vulnerable to data breaches and cyberattacks.  Prioritize document automation solutions that protect sensitive data and confidentiality with user and roles-based permissions, segregation of duties, systematic workflows, logging of all actions taken on a document, and data encryption.
  • Administrative controls.  Not all bad actors are outside of an organization’s walls.  Be sure that prospective document automation solutions offer granular administrator control over user access and document permissions, and automated deactivation upon employee termination.
  • Service and support.  Document automation solutions are only as good as the service and support provided by the technology vendor.  Look for vendors with positive customer reviews and strong references, and hours of support that align with your operating times.
  • Scalability.  Document automation solutions are foundational technology, not throwaway systems.  Choose a solution that can accommodate your anticipated volumes and needs.

These capabilities will help ensure that a solution delivers the optimum benefits.

Step 4: Analyze Price

While price shouldn’t be the sole driver for choosing a document automation solution, be wary of exorbitantly low or inflated prices.  Compare offerings from reputable vendors to find a solution that delivers both value and functionality.  Remember, free and open-source options may not provide the modern features and enterprise-grade security required for complex information management needs.


Document automation solutions deliver big benefits for organizations.  But achieving optimum ROI requires careful analysis, informed decision-making, and a focus on your organization’s unique information management needs.  By prioritizing the user experience, integration, data connectivity, administrative controls, security, scalability, and service and support, organizations can unlock the transformative power of document automation solutions and attain improved efficiency and value.

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