What to look for in a document generation tool

By: Partner | 7.5.16

Today’s post comes from our partners at Apsona. They’re experts in Salesforce add-ons that support your data management, document generation, reporting and charting. In this piece they’ve outlined what to look for in a document generation tool. Check them out on the AppExchange here.

Apps should be easy to use, speedy, and responsive, and document generation tools are no exception. When you want an invoice prepared or a thank-you letter set up, you need a two-click process that’s reliable and unintrusive. However, with every app claiming that they’re “easy to use” and “responsive,” these terms have become so broad that they’re almost cliches. So in this post, we’ll outline some requirements for a great document generation tool that ensures its efficient and user-friendly.

Ease of Use

Most apps are designed to make life easier for their users, and document generation apps are no exception. The biggest need we see from users is template flexibility: you should be able to build your template layout exactly like you want to. From adding your logo to finishing with your signature, you need to be able to customize your documents to fit the many needs of your outreach.

For example, look for a solution that allows you to make up your own merge field names. No more copy/pasting! You shouldn’t have to look through a list of allowed names from another list, and then copy/paste them into the template one at a time. This ensures you’re using the most natural name (sometimes an individual is best, sometimes you need to refer to the account) makes the template creation process faster and far less tedious.

You should be able to reuse templates in multiple contexts. For example, suppose you create a thank-you template with generic field names that you made up. You should be able to share this template with your colleague, even if they work in a separate Salesforce instance with completely different custom fields. If you’re required to use org-specific field names in your template, such reuse isn’t possible.

Similarly with Excel templates, your solution needs to be accessible to the Excel amateur. Any user should be able to use any Excel formula or function they wish, and since pivot tables and charts are such a fundamental part of Excel-based data analysis,  look for an app that allows you to create them based on your dynamically-generated data.

Responsiveness

To find a web app that’s truly responsive, look for one where all the heavy lifting is done within the browser. This is markedly different than older approaches where servers do all the work and the browser functions as little more than a display. When you compute within the browser, there’s lower network traffic, which means you don’t need to call a serve and wait for a response every time you need to fetch a piece of data. This results in faster response times as well as lower network bandwidth usage.

A second benefit of having the browser do your work is added security. Since all of the data crunching happens in the browser, your data is exchanged only with your Salesforce instance and never makes a transit to any third-party server. This keeps your data safe from malicious attacks or server outages.

At Apsona, we genuinely care about your user experience. We take these guidelines into consideration and always try to consider what makes your job easier. If you’d like more info about Apsona’s Document Generator, please visit our website, check out our youtube channel or drop us a note. We’d love to hear from you!

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