1 January 2019
If you are a professional in today’s economy, you are already experiencing this revolution first-hand.
Put simply, more automation in the workplace means there are now two types of professionals. There are professionals who are:
And, of course, there are professionals who are missing out on those benefits. These people are missing the automation revolution. Unfortunately for this second group of people, we already have a blueprint for how their working lives are likely to progress over the next three decades. Their experience will likely be similar to those who never learned to use computers in the 1990s, and watched as their peers began to earn much more over the next 30 years.
If you intend to keep up with the automation revolution, you need to think carefully about what you need in an automation solution. Here are some of the things you should think about:
Your automation software must be highly secure. In 2018, 8% of Fortune 500 companies were hacked. You don't want to be one of them. That means the company you choose for document automation better be on top of its security game. High security should be the default, not an afterthought.
Your automation software must work with your data formats. The most common way people work with data in professional occupations is Microsoft Excel. At a bare minimum, your automation solution should update your documents when you to enter and update data in Excel, including tables, charts, and calculations. Less common, but just as important, professionals need the same capability but with a database like Microsoft SQL, MySQL, MariaDB, Mongo DB, or SQL Lite. In addition, some users have online or offline questionnaires that output CSV or JSON files, and a good automation solution will effortlessly allow you to integrate that data into your documents. Finally, most users will need to be able to insert images, logos, PDF files, and signatures into their documents. Make sure these come standard with any automation software you choose.
Your automation software should generate the output formats you need. Depending on your business, you may need PDF, webpage, Kindle, or presentation formats. Ideally, each of these will be generated by the same Word file, which will save you hours whenever there is an update to the underlying content or data. Imagine having the same content in both PDF and webpage formats; now imagine five numbers change; with the right automation solution, updating all five numbers in both documents takes a single click; with the wrong solution, you could be hunting down 5 to 10 individual numbers and changing them manually.
Your automation software should remove all three dimensions of work repetition. Repetitive tasks are the biggest cause of wasted time, lost potential, and poor employee morale at work. It is therefore vital to eliminate repetition every chance you get.
The first dimension of repetition is design.Your company likely has a style guide that specifies the colours, fonts, chart styles, and logos you should use. Because these rules are the same across dozens, hundreds, maybe thousands of documents, there is no reason to apply the rules manually.
The second dimension of repetition is numerical data. It is common for the same numerical information to appear in multiple places in a document: for example, once in a chart, once in the main text, and once in the executive summary.
The third dimension of repetition is document structure. Many documents that professionals create have structural similarities, as well as differences. For example, a business valuation report would always include a description of the business being valued. Then, if the business has many branches, there will be a sentence on the location of each one; there will be a sentence describing the industry the business operates in; and there will be a sentence about recent acquisitions if applicable.
Millions of professionals automate documents in Microsoft Word because it requires little to no additional training and the results can be spectacular.
The value of your time, as a professional, is undoubtedly high. That means the time cost of you learning new software can easily outstrip the cost of the software itself. It is therefore important that the automation solution you choose is easy to learn. Because 95% of professionals are already familiar with Microsoft Word, it is the obvious choice for most professionals who want to adopt automation and work smarter, not harder.
Of course, automation is only worthwhile if the results impress your clients and colleagues. The results must be spectacular. Otherwise, why bother? Thankfully, when paired with the right 3rd party addins, Microsoft Word is the ideal platform for generating outstanding PDFs and webpages automatically. The result often looks like a professional designer created it, yet you don't need any design or code writing skills.
Whether you are at the beginning of your automation journey or looking to increase your use of automation, we can help!