Approach

Conquering busywork
and endless copy-pasting.
The fool-proof, future-proof approach;
and how to do it.
First of all, who is this for?
  1. Engineers tired of producing the same documents and emails again and again.
  2. Leaders intending to increase productivity and consistency.
  3. Problem-solving salespeople tired of busywork.

You may have already pursued automation, but your documents are just too dynamic. Plus, your data is stored in a few different databases/apps which don't "talk" to each other, so you feel stuck doing it manually.

Who else is using this approach?

We've implemented it for mom-and-pop construction companies, financial companies managing billions of dollars, and multibillion-dollar life sciences firms.

What kind of documents?

Dynamic documents. Technical documents. Sales documents. Especially documents which require human decisions like which piece of content to use or even which template to use (like a California Contract versus a Texas Contract).

Engineering
  1. Reports
  2. Requirements, SOW
  3. Compliance/safety
Sales
  1. Contracts
  2. Proposals
  3. Quotes
Legal & Financial
  1. Agreements, Letters
  2. Insurance
  3. Reports
Why is this important?

Weak businesses rely on busywork - it breeds inaccuracy, low productivity and low morale.

Also, business evolves. Get ahead now!

Prepare your templates (and data) for automation in:
1 hour

Let's get started...

Step 1: Catalog your templates.

Tarsco, a builder of fuel tanks here in Houston, has configured a single master template to accommodate all possible design variations (using step 3 below). They're saving a couple hours on every proposal.

This step is very simple and very important. We recommend getting "quick wins," so start with just a few templates. We will automate these first.

Docmo's catalog looks something like this. Notice the Naming Convention column: this states what the Save As filename should be. You may or may not need this.

Why Word Documents?

They're ubiquitous, flexible, and easy to automate.

Organization?

We recommend storing all templates in the same place.

How long should this take?

15 minutes.

Step 2: Gather your data.

Dell's testing lab outside Boston builds reports that use test result data from equipment as well as data from their engineers' observations. We built an input form (within Docmo) to hold both: 1) their engineers' input, and 2) the equipment test results. They're saving dozens of hours each month with a handful of users.

The payoff here is huge. The goal is to gather all data and content that will be filled into templates. And to do this without disrupting business processes.

Example data. This could be from an import/export, database query, API request, etc. Alternatively, you can use a nice input form in Excel.

We have data in so many places… Where do I start?

Start with a simple export or manual input form. Let's just make sure you like this approach before you build full integration with other apps.
Talk to your IT team (or us) for help building full integration with another app or databse.

Where do I put the gathered data?

Any spreadsheet. We recommend Excel because it's easy and powerful.

What if re-entering the data is just easier?

No; you are better than that.

How long should this take?

15 minutes if you're using an export. Longer if you're connecting to an app or database.


And just remember that every hour you spend on these steps will save at least an hour every month in the future.

Step 3: Map content into the templates.

Herman CG, a general contractor in San Diego, has dozens of decision points related to the size, scope and location of each project. These determine which templates should be populated and when to in/exclude content. For example, some packages include extra insurance, bonds and safety documents; some contracts end up at 30 pages and others at 70+ pages.

This is where all the magic happens. Here, you connect the dots between data and document. You also, if necessary, dictate how to handle unique scenarios and exceptions (why and when content goes where).

Part 1: Tag content in templates

Tagging content means identifying which parts will be changing. Automation can only control Tagged content.


Any method of identifying an exact portion of content will work. With Word, you can use Content Controls, QuickParts, text boxes, Fields, or even just specific keywords (like #LastName#).

Docmo uses Content Controls. We recommend it. This one is called "Last Name."

Par 2: Map Tags to content

You just need two columns. In the first, list your Tags. In the second, put the content that goes into that Tag.


Pro Tip: The second column should link to the content gathered in Step 2 (don't directly type content here). This way, your Mapping will be preserved with every subsequent import of new data!

Our mapping looks something like this.

How long should this take?

10-15 minutes per page.


And just remember that every hour you spend on these steps will save at least an hour every month in the future.

What about workflow logic? My templates aren't exactly just fill-in-the-blank.

This is another reason we recommend Excel. Column 2 can use formulas!
Something like this =IF(State = "TX", Yes, No) can save hours of time, and completely prevent omissions or mistakes.

Sounds really great. What next?

You've introduced your templates to your data/content! Congratulations. That's huge.
Now, you need to merge them together.

You have options...

Option 1: Use mail merge.
Option 2: Hire a dev shop to build the custom automation.
Option 3: Use Docmo ($200/mo). Every signup comes with a free 1-hr screenshare where your dedicated engineer helps setup your configuration.

Want to see if Docmo can handle your most complicated documents?

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