The Realtime Benefits of an Automated Digital Document Workflow

By Shawn Herring, PandaDoc

Today’s business climate is charged with two connected trends, both unleashed by the pandemic — the need to digitally transform and the burgeoning remote workforce. Your company’s business is already being transformed from the outside, even if you have not yet begun to transform internally.

In today’s hyper-competitive environment, where disruptors to your industry can change in a heartbeat how business gets done, you may not have many opportunities to respond. So, you’ve got to get it right, you’ve got to do it quickly, and you’ve got to react in realtime to change.
An automated digital document workflow is essential to capturing this opportunity. According to the McKinsey Report cited above, 32% of CIOs cite a high demand for collaborative tools, guides, training, and operating norms.

A digital workflow fosters responsiveness, flexibility, and efficiency. It helps speed up the responsiveness of document creation, approval and distribution from hours to minutes. The back and forth that happens behind the scenes is slashed or eliminated because you can easily integrate pre-approved information. Data changes can be easily inserted within a document. Mistakes are minimized, such as misspelling someone’s name or sharing the document with someone not meant to receive it.

Third-party research from PandaDoc demonstrates that a strong majority (56%) of professionals prefer electronic contracts over paper versions because they are easier to create, collaborate on and complete than paper versions and offer increased productivity.

Automated digital document workflows provide realtime editing, collaboration, insights, and speedy execution.

A Better Experience — And Insights

Digital documents not only solve many issues around speed and workflow, but they can also deliver insights and a better overall user experience.

Insights garnered from a digital document enable businesses to evaluate and understand the process from a macro perspective, leading to more effective and efficient document creation and distribution.

You’ll be able to see what’s working and what isn’t and get answers to questions such as “Are there employees that are getting documents completed on time, more often than others? How do I make this process more efficient? What’s working? What’s not? Do I need to change my process?”

Digital documents also enable a more dynamic, more professional final product that represents your company at its best. Templates speed up the design process.

The traditional document, whether a PDF or a Word file, is very much a static, siloed affair: “This is done, now let’s get a signature.” There isn’t the opportunity to engage and interact with the document in realtime.

The document digital workflow fosters collaboration and facilitates conversations between stakeholders, who can communicate directly with the document creator instead of having to go through various points of contact to get a response. This provides a better experience for everyone involved, as well as faster response times.

Working Remotely and the Science of Being Intentional

Streamlining the workflow is the essential piece that allows you to respond faster, in all instances but especially in an environment where employees are working remotely. Pre-approved document workflows eliminate the need for multiple virtual meetings and allow you to review the documents at your convenience.

Imagine a world without sticky notes pinned to your computer reminding you to make changes or emails flying back and forth to discuss a client proposal.

Working remotely requires that you and your employees are more intentional in how you connect. You won’t run into Sam in the hallway; you can’t pop over to Kourtney’s desk to ask a question about a proposal or to remind her that the data changed.

Your documents also need to become more intentional. Document ownership is traditionally held by an individual creator. However, this decentralisation of document creation can lead to an ad-hoc process, with every document owner implementing his or her own workflow process.

In legacy environments, employees may not know who should be involved in the document process. They’re often finding out in realtime: “Oh, my sales manager needs to see this,” or “Legal needs to see this now.”

Particularly in larger companies, employees may not know who needs to review and approve the document, as it may be different every time, depending on the nuances.

Ad hoc does not work, does not scale, and doesn’t promote better efficiency or accuracy. When ownership is held within the company’s operations team or another central resource, it ensures that the processes followed and the templates used are aligned throughout the organisation. It also ensures that up-to-date legal and regulatory information is integrated into the necessary documents every time.

This doesn’t mean that every single document should have to be approved or processed through a centralised team. What is centralized is the process, the templates, and certain types of information, such as data the company shares with clients or legal disclaimers. 

Dynamic Documents That Operate Like an App

Businesses are moving away from legacy, static PDF or file-based document management solutions to dynamic documents that operate like apps, with automated workflows allowing for editing and collaboration in realtime, meaningful insights, and speedy execution.

Documents can be accessed anywhere, anytime. Templates can be set up to provide a running start to document creation. The entire workflow is automated, from start to finish. This includes the review and approval process prior to sending, as well as notifications, e-signatures, and document storage. 

With this dynamic environment, the document workflow functions more like a conversation. Reactions are experienced in realtime. The document can be modified or edited at any point to reflect new data or changes within the company.

Integrations with other communication apps, such as Zoom allow documents to be shared within the realtime dialogue for immediate response to and approval of proposals. There’s no wait time; your client isn’t saying, “Send it to me, and I’ll talk to you in a week.”

PandaDoc’s recent survey confirms that, along with security, the top elements sought by employees when employing digital documents are ease of integration with software and technology, functionality, and access to a template.

Inside today’s business climate, the desired future is to spend way less time in the workflow, have realtime conversations around documents, and provide flexibility and ease of use for your teams to operate the way they want to with their documents. A digital document workflow gets you, thereby taking much of the “work” out of your workflows!

Shawn Herring is VP Of Marketing, PandaDoc