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What Is Document Workflow Automation? Guide and Product Reviews

    Automating your document workflow can seem like a daunting task.

    Even if you set aside the large number of software solutions available to businesses, you still have to account for a lengthy transition process to a paperless office.

    This includes integrating an automation app with your existing software suite, onboarding employees, and mapping your existing document workflow effectively so as to ensure the same outcomes.

    However, once you understand automation fully, the process of transitioning to a streamlined digital workflow becomes much more straightforward.

    Workflow Automation

    This post walks you through the automation process and reviews some of the top providers in the space.

    What Is Document Workflow Automation?

    Workflow automation involves using software to streamline the process of creating, sending, tracking and storing business documents. This applies to relatively simple documents like receipts right through to in-depth sales proposals.

    Typical ways of automating a document workflow include the following:

    • Syncing apps to allow for the fast transfer of data.
    • Using pre-written templates to draft documents and compare files.
    • Setting approval notifications for managers, accountants, and legal experts.
    • Creating time-based triggers for follow-up correspondence in the case of unresponsive recipients.

    It is also good practice to map out your existing document management process before transitioning to an automated system. This helps ensure you find a solution that meets your operational needs.

    What Are Common Obstacles to Implementing Document Workflow Processes?

    When automating your document workflow, it is helpful to be aware of the following potential problems:

    • Over-reliance on paper documents: If your company relies heavily on paper documents, it can be easy to revert to old practices. Ensure that all paper files are digitized and employees are held accountable for using new paperless protocols.
    • A lack of dedicated onboarding support: If you are implementing workflow automation software across a large organization, it can be immensely useful to obtain dedicated onboarding support. Some software companies will provide this service.
    • Poor choice of document workflow software: One of the biggest mistakes that organizations make is picking software that is not suited to their needs. For example, an enterprise-level solution will be virtually unusable by a small company. Take advantage of demos and free plans and spend as much time as needed in the evaluation phase.

    Best Workflow Automation Software: Top 3 Apps

    Once you have laid the groundwork, your next step is to pick an automation application that meets the needs of your business.

    Picking a workflow automation app is challenging. There are lots of options. Here are concise reviews of three of the best solutions currently on the market:

    • PandaDoc: PandaDoc is one of the best all-round solutions on the market, with a range of plans available. If you’re looking for basic functionality that still allows for an unlimited number of documents to be sent, try the “forever free” plan (you’ll never be forced to upgrade). Features include pre-written templates, electronic signatures, document tracking, secure online storage, an extensive integrations library, and more.
    • Proposify: Proposify describes itself as “proposal software.” Although many of its features are geared towards organizations that intend to send large quantities of sales proposals, it can also be used to handle other types of documents. It is aimed at businesses with multiple employees. In order to access all features, you’ll have to subscribe to the business plan. You may find the lower-tier plan insufficient for your needs.
    • DocuWare: DocuWare provides all the standard functionality expected of a workflow automation app. It stands apart, however, by offering solutions that are typically not available from other providers. These include pre-configured packages to ease the implementation process, on-premises infrastructure that isn’t exclusively cloud-based, and an assortment of tools for remote workers, such as multi-device compatibility and worldwide data centers.

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