Powerful and Flexible Document Assembly System
Powerful and Flexible Document Assembly System
In today’s challenging business environment, firms are being pressured into coming up with new and innovative ways of increasing fees and improving productivity. One of the major challenges is that clients are demanding ‘more for less’ and this is placing downward pressure on hourly rates. Another challenge is that competition is increasing as firms try to boost their income. As if this isn’t challenging enough, it gets worse - since expenses continue to grow and it simply isn’t sustainable to keep on reducing expenses year after year. But while this more for less dilemma is making it tough for many firms, it also presents an opportunity if firms can use it to their advantage.
As you no doubt already know, there are very few ways to increase fees if hourly rates remain static. Firms might look to increase their marketing spend to generate new business or they might account for their time more diligently. They might also look at merging or acquiring another practice to bring in additional work while leveraging economies of scale on overheads. However, there is a real danger that if productivity isn’t optimised, any growth in the firm will simply bring with it an increase in expenses. This means that firms must find ways of operating more efficiently, since this is the only sustainable way to improve the bottom line.
It is now an undisputed fact that the best way in which to improve productivity is through the use of technology, and one only needs to look at the large international firms for proof of this. Unfortunately there are thousands of software programmes on the market, and most of these bring no benefit whatsoever. There are, however, some technologies which have been proven to increase productivity, and one such product is document automation – also known as ‘document assembly’.
In past years many experts believed that document automation was only suited to complex repetitive documents, but recently this view has changed. Today it is believed that the quickest return on investment comes from automating general correspondence throughout the firm, since these documents make up around eighty percent of all documentation produced in the office. Also, by automating general correspondence fee-earners can type their own documents, which is the modern trend among younger professionals.
Without a document automation system, secretaries typically recall previously created letters, which they then edit and re-print. This has a few problems: Firstly, it sometimes happens that information from the previous letter is forgotten in the new document, which can be embarrassing for the firm. Secondly, this often means that the letterhead which is re-used is outdated, and there are many stories of deceased and departed Partners still being listed on the firm’s letterhead. Another problem is that the secretary or fee earner will often save the completed document on their local drive, which means that it isn’t backed up. If their system crashes all of that information might be lost. With a document assembly system, all documents are properly named and automatically saved to a central repository. In addition, the system makes use of a master letterhead, ensuring that all letters are produced on the latest stationery. There is also another benefit of having a single letterhead, which is that when it is updated it only needs to be changed in one location.
It is not only the letterhead that causes problems, because partners and secretaries invariably have their own preference for fonts and styles. As a result, there is no standard for correspondence, and this presents a poor image to the firm’s clients. With a document automation system, all fonts and styles are enforced, ensuring that correspondence looks professional - every time.
But by far the most important benefit from a document automation system is the re-use of information. In its simplest and most logical form, this means that users can run previously created templates or agreements and contracts, saving time and benefitting from the expertise of more experienced fee-earners in the firm.
Another example of re-use of information is a clauses utility, where any number of selected clauses may be inserted into a document on-the-fly, saving time and increasing accuracy. But by far the most important example of re-use of information is that the document templates can import information (such as client contact information) from the firm’s accounting system, saving time and increasing accuracy while avoiding embarrassing misspelling of your client’s name.
This re-use of information means that the firm actually increases fees, since a fair price can be charged for work done. In the case of a template, your intellectual property can be sold again and again, which will allow you to offer your clients a more competitive price. It also means that creating the agreement or contract will take much less time than it would to draft it from scratch. Yet another benefit is that junior fee-earners will be able to create contracts with less supervision. There is obviously some bespoke work which doesn’t lend itself to automation, although these departments typically also produce letters, emails, and other general correspondence – all of which can be automated.
Although most firms generate a lot of contract documents, these are seldom used to create a precedent library since Partners tend to hold onto their own templates. Using a document automation system, precedents will be organised into an easily accessible library, which means that fee-earners will be able to locate the precedent they need quickly and easily. As mentioned earlier, this means that junior fee-earners can benefit from the experience of senior fee-earners at the firm. And since most of the wording in the template is static, there will be fewer mistakes, which means that proofreading time will be reduced.
By automating general correspondence first, firms will realise a quicker return on investment. Once the initial templates have settled down, more sophisticated templates can be added to the precedent library. And since letter templates are ‘locked down’ in terms of letterhead and formatting, secretaries and fee earners could be allowed to create their own basic templates, increasing productivity still further.
Document automation is no longer simply ‘nice-to-have’. It is absolutely essential if firms wish to increase productivity and improve their bottom line. Besides speeding up document generation significantly, the re-use of information helps firms to increase fees without having to increase their hourly rates. Document automation also organises the firm’s intellectual property, so that it can be leveraged by all fee-earners in the firm.
It has been said that those firms who choose to continue operating without document automation will soon find that they have been left behind by more progressive firms, and by then it may be too late for them to catch up.
XpressDox is a powerful and flexible document automation system which automates the production of all types of documents. Templates containing variables are created in Microsoft® Word for Windows, and when these templates are run in Word or via The Internet, an Interview of questions is displayed automatically. Once the Interview is completed, the answers are merged into the template to create a professional looking Microsoft Word and/or PDF document.
For the template User, options are kept to the minimum, ensuring that very little training is required for them to begin using the system productively. Help and validation may be added to the Interview which will assist the template Runner to answer questions appropriately. Templates may be run from Microsoft Word or via almost any Internet browser, and completed documents may be recalled and edited at a later stage if necessary, saving time.
For the template Author, XpressDox offers a number of features and functions to make the template designer’s life easier. For example, there is extensive help on each command which may be accessed by pressing the F1 key. The system includes a Command Editor, which contains command wizards to assist the template Author during the command building process.
One of XpressDox’ major competitive advantages is the fact that it can be deployed in a wide variety of environments, including Microsoft Word, Microsoft Outlook, via a browser, in the Cloud, hosted on-premise, launched from a website, on a tablet computer or Smartphone, or even as an Application Programming Interface (‘API’) component where it is launched from within a third party application. This flexibility makes XpressDox the logical choice for firms that have a decentralised branch infrastructure, or where fee-earners operate remotely from the office.
Yet another advantage is that all XpressDox templates and documents are created in standard Microsoft Word format. This allows XpressDox to integrate with most of the document management and accounting systems on the market, and it also means that any macros or other Word add-ins will work perfectly alongside XpressDox. The system integrates with most databases including SQL Server, Access, Excel, MySQL, Universe, ODBC, and even Outlook. It also integrates with Salesforce.com, the Sugar CRM system, DocuSign, as well as Thomson Reuters Elite, Interaction, and any other application which uses one of the supported databases. These integrations allow users to merge data from their in-house systems into templates with ease, saving time and improving accuracy.
XpressDox is available in various product versions to meet the varying needs of users in a wide variety of industries. XpressDox Lite is the entry level system, which is ideally suited to small firm use. It includes only five of the most often-used template commands which means that anyone can learn to use it and be up and running in less than twenty minutes.
XpressDox Author is for the document template designer, while XpressDox Runner is for the end user. For larger firms that need more control, XpressDox Supervisor manages the data-source integrations, naming conventions, and user-rights. XpressDox Server allows authorised users to securely run templates from the Internet Cloud, while the XpressDox On-Premise Server allows users to run templates via a browser, but only within the firms Intranet, ensuring security. The XpressDox API is for software developers who wish to build the XpressDox ‘engine’ into their own applications. Lastly, the XpressDox Web Integration Server is for integration with websites, or web applications.
In summary, XpressDox may be as basic or as sophisticated as you want it to be. In its simplest form, Lite templates can be created within minutes of installing the system, and in its most sophisticated form, XpressDox includes every command a document template designer will ever need - regardless of the complexity of the requirement or the size of the firm.
Standard Microsoft Word format Probably the most important advantage XpressDox offers over its competitors is that templates and completed documents are stock-standard Microsoft Word format. This means that all of your styles and paragraph numbering formats will still function perfectly inside XpressDox templates. It also means that any macros or quick keys will work as they should. The real benefit comes when completed documents are saved into a document or content management system such as Worksite© or OpenText© in exactly the same way as regular Word documents would be saved. This simplifies operation and reduces the amount of training on XpressDox. Macros used for saving Word documents into the DMS will still operate perfectly with XpressDox, and to save even more time, XpressDox can populate Word’s document properties from data captured during the interview, thereby ensuring that documents are named appropriately and saved into the correct folder in the Content Management System.
Support for all Microsoft Word versions XpressDox supports all versions of Microsoft Word for Windows, from Office 2003 through to 2013 and even Office 365. The system also creates Word documents on most browsers including Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox and Safari, and for web-implementations the XpressDox Server may be hosted on-premise or in the Cloud.
Built on the latest technologies XpressDox is built on the latest technologies using proven best practices, ensuring that it will continue to function for many years into the future, protecting your investment. It also means that XpressDox will integrate with almost all other applications and technologies on the market.
Integrates with most data sources No other document assembly system on the market is able to integrate with data-sources as easily as XpressDox. For example, XpressDox integrates seamlessly with most databases including SQL Server, Microsoft Access, Outloook and Excel, ODBC databases, and MySQL. By extension, XpressDox will integrate with any software programme which uses one of these databases - for example Thomson Reuters Elite®. It doesn’t end there: XpressDox also integrates to Salesforce.com and Sugar CRM.
Foreign language support Although Interview field names in XpressDox templates may be in almost any language, XpressDox provides full authoring functionality in English and French as standard.
Single template works on all platforms Once the template has been authored using Microsoft Word for Windows, the same template will run on all current versions of Word – even on a Mac, as well as any browsers, tablet computers, in the Cloud, or on your Intranet. This saves a significant amount of authoring time.
XpressDox is the fastest system on the market XpressDox is the fastest system on the market, especially when it comes to reading data from external sources such as databases, accounting and CRM systems. It also assembles long documents much faster than any other system on the market.
Comprehensive command and function library XpressDox includes all of the commands that you will ever need to build your precendent library. In addition to the more basic commands, there are also commands which handle gender, plurals, repeating elements, clauses, calculations, date functions and more. If you need even more power than that, XpressDox provides access to the full library of xslt functions.
Powerful conditional logic No other system comes close to the power of XpressDox when it comes to conditional logic – also known as ‘if…then’ or the ‘relevance engine’. The system allows any number of nested conditional statements, and these are shown in different colours to assist the template Author during editing of the template. If a condition is true, the conditional fields will be displayed in the interview, and if false the additional questions will not be displayed.
Easy conversion from other document automation systems XpressDox includes a powerful and flexible template conversion utility which converts most HotDocs®, GhostFill® and Word merge templates to XpressDox format. It is even possible to teach the converter any unrecognised commands which will be remembered for future conversions.
Suited to all sizes of enterprise XpressDox offers a version for all sizes of firm, from single practitioners through to huge firms with thousands of users spread over a large number of branch offices. The XpressDox Lite version is perfect for those small firms who simply want to insert variables into a document, whereas the XpressDox Author provides the full command set. For firms who wish to deploy templates over the Internet, the XpressDox Server version (browser) can be installed on-premise or may be run securely from the Cloud.
Extensive help available for Users and Authors There are a number of help options for the end-user. Firstly, help text may be added to any field, and conditional help is supported, which simplifies operation for end users. Secondly, hyperlinks may be inserted into the Interview which link the end-user to a specified web-page on your website for even more comprehensive help. Questions on the Interview may be made mandatory, and validation rules may be set for any field, which improves accuracy during capture. Apart from the help which may be added to the Interview to guide the template Runner, there is also extensive help for the template Author on the XpressDox website. In addition, the Command Editor includes template building ‘Wizards’, and examples of commands may even be inserted into your template for re-editing.
Security and access control For larger implementations of XpressDox, the system makes use of Windows Authentication to restrict access to specified template folders. Very large firms that require Ethical Walls would use an application such as IntApp® alongside XpressDox. For on-premise Server implementations, access to the system is via the firm’s Intranet, ensuring privacy, and for Cloud or hosted versions, all communication is via https.
Firm’s corporate image on Interviews XpressDox allows you to insert your logo onto all Interviews, ensuring that the system takes on the firm’s corporate image. Fonts, colour and size may be specified throughout the Interview. It is even possible to change the centrally stored logo for special occasions, such as when the firm wins accolades or awards.
Utilities for increased productivity In addition to the Command and Function toolset, XpressDox provides some runtime utilities for Microsoft Word. The first of these is a useful number-or-currency-to-words function which will convert numbers in a Word document into words in the User’s choice of language. This not only saves time, but it improves accuracy since longer numbers can be tricky to convert into words. The second utility is the Clauses function, which allows the Microsoft Word user to include previously saved clauses of any length, on-the-fly. In addition to the Utilities, XpressDox allows the user to re-edit a completed document, which presents the original Interview populated with the previously captured data. The user can run multiple templates for a single set of data, or feed multiple sets of data into a single template. Template datasets not stored in one of the popular databases or third party applications are stored as industry standard XML files.
Flexible data fields
Interview constructed automatically
Standard MS Word format
Run in Windows, Apple, Android
Supports all Word versions from 2007
Extensive user help
Comprehensive command library
Sophisticated conditional logic
Repeaters and multiples
Gender and plurals handling
Numbers to Words/Currency
Radio buttons and Checkboxes
Word Desktop or Browser
Cloud or On-Premise Server
Integration with AJS Accounting
Use data from databases
Integration with Salesforce
Integration with DocuSign
Integration with Sugar CRM
Integration with SQL Server
Integration with MySQL
Integration with Microsoft Excel
Integration with Microsoft Outlook
Document routing via email
Corporate identity on Interview
Assembly to Word or PDF
Full xslt command set
Interview in most Western languages
Author in English, Afrikaans or French
Contact us today to arrange a demo of our products by phone, email, visit our offices or fill in the form and will contact you: