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Document automation saves time and reduces risks

21.6.2021

Document automation helps save time and reduce risks while employees can focus on the most essential things in their work and the organization becomes more efficient.

A document automation solution was recently implemented for our customer. We have worked with the customer’s organization for a longer period in the field of data processing and process automation.

The initiative for the solution came from our client, who inquired about the possibility of automatically searching and retrieving information to a Word file on the standard contract template they use. Contract handlers spent a considerable amount of time first having to retrieve customer data and product data from various systems to copy and paste all the data into the quotation template manually.

Document automation puts contracts in order

We built the new solution using the ready-made Word template of the Power Automate application, which is part of Microsoft’s Power Platform services, from which the document is generated with automatic data. Using SQL connectors, the Power Automate workflow searches and retrieves data with variable values ​​entered in the sales tool.

The tool also automates the calculation of the price according to different variables to make the work of processors easier. The price list in Excel was first exported to a database from which the price, which is affected by different variables depending on the content of the contract, is retrieved with an SQL query.

Microsoft Power Automate is a powerful tool for building complex workflows too.

Document automation boosts the sales process

The solution supports the process where the seller sends the necessary information to the contract handler for processing. Various parameters, such as the different characteristics of the products, the additional services to be attached to the contract or the length of the contract period, affect whether one or more versions of the offer are made available to the customer.

As the offer progresses to the signing of the contract, the seller requests from the processor the contract papers for which the additional service of the contract has been selected. The contract handler processes the contract through a user interface built with the Power Apps tool, which initiates a background Power Automate workflow for document automation.

Document automation with always correct and up-to-date contract terms

The distribution of contract terms in connection with contract documents is also automated so that they can be viewed at any time online with up-to-date information. This ensures that the terms and conditions in force at the time of entering into the agreement also accompany the customer.

In this case, the automated workflow copies the condition to SharePoint at each time the contract is made and distributes the PDF of the contract terms to the customer using SharePoint’s sharing feature. The PDF sharing link will therefore be attached to the agreement.

Simple and limited data set as a basis for document automation

Document automation is a great solution when the data set is simple and limited enough. The data used in the case of our customer applies to standardized and well-defined sets of contracts. The information can be retrieved directly from the price list with the parameters given in the sales tool without the contract processor having to do anything, such as calculate prices manually.

The document automation workflow in the contract process works as expected and saves a lot of time in the customer’s operations, while reducing potential errors. In particular, the automatic calculation of prices and the search for contract terms with the most up-to-date information, have delighted both sellers and contract processors from the customer’s point of view.

The purpose of the solution is being extended to other types of contracts. In the future, the level of automation of the process will be taken further to include the generation of PDF files submitted by salespeople. For now, contract processors check the details of offers and contracts before saving them as a PDF and sending them to sellers.

Document automation: a solution to various challenges

With document automation, the creation of different documents can be controlled with forms and workflows can be built for different types of follow-up actions. Word templates for Power Automate are easy to deploy. If your workflows are complex or have a lot of variation, then a SharePoint-based solution requires the use of several different Power Automate templates.

It should be noted, however, that the Power Apps / Power Automate license required here costs. Power Automate and Power Apps are also available in Logic Apps, which is Power Automate’s “big brother” running on the Azure cloud service. Through its usage-based pricing, utilization of tools is likely to be cheaper if use is more occasional.

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Contact me or my colleagues if you would like to hear more about document automation

Jere Palanne
CTO, Partner

SOLU DIGITAL ESPOO

c/o Innovation House Finland
Tekniikantie 2
02150 Espoo

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Yliopistonkatu 26 B
20100 Turku

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