What is document automation?

What is document automation?

In this crazy digital era, lawyers can’t escape the constant chatter about how best to manage documents and contracts. You’ve got “contract lifecycle management, “document automation,” and “contract workflow automation” all jostling for attention. The real headache is then trying to figure out what they do and, “Is this what I actually need?”. It can be confusing. 

We’re here to help. In this post we’ll break down what document and contract automation mean and demystify it for you.

What does it mean?

The answer is actually very straightforward: it’s automating the creation of a document or contract by an application.

If you’re hungry for a slightly more complex explanation we’ve got you covered. What the “application” does is present a design of systems and workflows that assist in the creation of electronic documents. At Josef, we use logic-based, no-code systems to make sure document automation closely mimics human thought patterns. 

Lawyers around the world are using document and contract automation to save time on the boring stuff, get work to internal clients faster, and focus on higher-value strategic work that matters to the business.

It’s the means by which legal teams can work smarter, not harder.

Ken Carter, General Counsel at media streaming company Bitmovin, sees it as his fiduciary duty to be more efficient – scaling a business isn’t just about growing, it’s about achieving greater results with less effort. Be more like Ken. 

Importantly, Ken understands that document automation doesn’t have to be complex. By using platforms like Josef’s “easy-to-use” no-code platform to automate legal documents, teams like Ken’s can get to results faster.

Why automate documents?

Automating documents and contracts provides numerous advantages to savvy adopters, including the ability to:

  • Increase revenue  (automation of non-billable work!)
  • Increase lawyer retention (less drudgery!)
  • Increase client satisfaction (more efficient and less error-prone legal work!)
  • Increase productivity (time reallocated to higher value work)

And much more. Like a lot more, we wrote a whole guide on the benefits

Who uses document automation?

Document automation is implemented by any lawyer or legal team looking to decrease repetitive work and increase productivity and ROI. This includes:

In-house teams

Allowing business units to ‘self-serve’ means a faster turnaround on simple legal documentation and a better experience for stakeholders. The outcome also helps the team achieve deeper job satisfaction as the repetitive drudgery is no longer on their plates. With automation, in-house lawyers spend their time on high-value, complex work. 

Law firms

Firms of all shapes and sizes are rapidly adopting document automation for a raft of reasons. From improving the client experience to increasing profit margins – by providing direct access to suites of documents and increasing internal efficiencies firms are able to stand out in a saturated market.

Community Legal Centres

CLCs and other not-for-profit organizations are often faced with staff and revenue challenges.  Uptake of document automation has helped these organizations service communities in need. Members of the general public can obtain legal documents they might otherwise be unable to access because they’re unwilling or unable to seek paid legal advice.

What documents can I automate?

Start with really low risk documents or contracts. It will help you understand the tools, to eventually build with speed and confidence when building more complex automations. Some examples include:

Repetitive documents

These are documents that require the same information again and again, like a confidentiality agreement or employment agreement. You already know what information you need.

Low risk documents

Think of those annoying and frankly low risk documents. You know the ones where nothing changes. We’re talking NDAs and standard service agreements. If it’s low risk and involves a manual step to review and store it. You should automate it. 

Valuable documents

Just because something is repetitive, doesn’t mean it isn’t highly valuable to your organization. For example, think about the documents that your sales team uses or a client intake and triage form – these are often repetitive but crucial.

You can also break down the different types of document automation by subject matter and into certain categories like:

  • Document automation
  • Decision-making automation
  • eDiscovery
  • Workflow automation
  • Document review
  • eSigning

Tips to build better document automation tools

  • Choose the right document

    Look for something high volume and low risk

  • Clean up your document

    Is your template fit for purpose?

  • Listen to feedback

    Good feedback leads to great automation processes

  • Think about your workflow and process

    Is it self-serve or light touch?

How do I automate?

Once you’ve decided on a low-risk, repetitive document to automate, we recommend following these steps:

Process Map

Going through the process of mapping the journey before building anything on a third party tech platform will allow you to see where your current process is flawed or what an ideal process looks like. It exposes every stage of the journey for everyone involved, not just the lawyers. 

Build with the user front of mind

When a client or customer interacts with a bot, it’s interacting with your company. And if people don’t like that experience, it won’t leave the best taste in their mouth. User experience design is a strategy that helps improve both the experience and adoption of your bot, aligning the user and organization’s goals. 

Test & Iterate

No matter how well you build the digital tool, iterating and testing is crucial to making sure that you’ve captured all the issues – think of it as proofreading for technology. One cheap and easy way of doing this is to gather a small group of testers and collect feedback through a short survey.

Connect it to your ecosystem 

Once happens to an output once it’s automated? Look for solutions that integrate with platforms like Docusign, iManage, Google Drive, Sharepoint and others to make it possible at the click of a button. Learn more about integrations here.

Learn how to automate today! Download Josef’s free Document Automation Guide.

Get the guide
Learn how to automate today! Download Josef’s free Document Automation Guide.