3 Advantages of Document Automation

Technical documentation on average, takes 1 hour/page for writing, 30 minutes/page for reviewing, 2.5 hours for editing/page and a further 25 minutes/page for proofreading. You add that all together, that’s 4 hours and 25 minutes for a thorough review of a single page. All documentation which contains technical knowledge such as contracts and other business documents follow the same organisational approach: using headers to sign-post the details of the content. As noted, this takes up lots of time per page. Document Automation as the name implies, takes data and text various sources and incorporates them into pre-defined document templates. This brings 3 major benefits for business. So down below, we shall outline what these benefits are and why they increase productivity and efficiency in profitable projects.

1)   Faster Document Generation

This is the most obvious benefit, with lawyers stating 82% of time savings stem from document automation. By creating templates through automation, you can input the text and data you want the documents to contain into standardized templates. Additionally, it reduces the time reviewing a draft and ensures all members in a project can access the template before it’s produced, rather than waiting for a complete written draft. This keeps communication in real time, ensuring errors and suggestions are addressed clearly at the beginning for producing a document. Thus, collaboration between departments becomes streamlined and more efficient. 

2)   Compliance and a Unified Understanding 

With better collaboration stemming from faster document generation, this ensures that all documents are compliant with laws and regulations. This is because it reduces human error in the drafting process where the writing of a drafter may be difficult to comprehend as we’ve mentioned in our previous article on contract complexity. In this, document automation removes the guesswork of ensuring documents are accurate and intuitive to read as the automation system does this for you. This keeps everyone on the same page not only with legal rulings, but also ensuring the correct definitions do not get lost to differences in interpretation. 

3)   Retention of Knowledge and Expertise

With documents that get produced quickly and with assurance of compliance, this ensures all members to a project both old and incoming are updated on day one. By keeping to a consistent template rather than documents which have been drafted by different people, it keeps the documentation uniform. This allows members to build up familiarity with the style and format which ensures they pick up information quicker. It is a well-known fact that humans are creatures of habit, so let’s play to those strengths. This also applies even if a skilled member leaves the project momentarily or completely as the templates provide a continuous bank of expertise to ensure assignments are completed with minimal delay. This is a huge saver as 40% of productivity gets lost to task-switching.

Conclusion

Document automation saves time that is wasted creating, reviewing, redrafting, and proof-reading documents. This reduction in production times also gives more time to collaboration which ensures the needs of clients are flagged up and implemented before the first template. Another problem document automation resolves are incomprehensible documents which can occur due to writing styles. This is because document automation keeps templates standardized, allowing project members to familiarize themselves with the format to the point the reviewing and understanding the data becomes intuitive. This allows everyone in a project to fully understand the assignment each step of the way, regardless of whether they are an attorney or a businessperson.

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The Hidden Costs of Contract Complexity

In 2019, the GDP of the world was $87.5 trillion. This is the result of millions, if not billions, of transactions for the purchase and sale of goods and services, with each transaction regulated by some form of contract. Even with minor improvements to our horribly inefficient contracting process, the global GDP in 2019 would have surpassed $90 Trillion.

It’s about time we have access to an extra $2.5 trillion. Luckily, lawyers and other allied legal professionals can make this happen. However, to get there, we have willingly rethink and simplify contracts, since they are the basic building block of all commercial activity.

We’ll be organising articles into two parts. The first begins at Value Leakage by looking at the areas where this occurs most acutely: 

a)     When the contract is formed.

b)    Post-execution contract management.

Then, we’ll look at the key catalyst which causes these problems to happen: Contract Complexity. Finally, we’ll finish by exploring tools to help us get back that $2.5 trillion and more.

1)     Contracting and Value Leakage

A. Contract Formation Losses

When parties start to discuss the possibility of a deal and it ends when a contract is signed or accepted is called the contraction formation phase.

These are the three losses which occur:

1. Transaction costs

The costs of finalising a contract varies vastly. B2C transactions at their most efficient, have zero contraction costs in an app store or on an online checkout service. B2B contracts are a different story. Top performers spend $49,000 on a complex contract while others will spend more than $100,000 per contract.

By democratizing the contract costs enjoyed by the top performers of today would reduce the economic loss by at least $3 Billion per million impacted transactions.

2. Cycle times

Transaction cycles are as varied as transaction costs. B2C transactions often take seconds – think of the time it takes for you to install an app on your phone for example. However, B2B transactions commonly take weeks, or even months. For example, most companies take on average, 21.5 days for a transaction while top performers spend 11.5 days.

The link between negotiation cycle times and cost are clear. Bringing cycle times to the same level enjoyed by today’s top performers adds roughly 10 extra days of economic activity per year under these contracts. With the global daily GDP being roughly $250 Billion, you can imagine the significant impact the time saved would have.

3. Abandoning Transactions

It’s not easy to complete a transaction. At the bare minimum, parties must agree on product fit, delivery schedules, pricing, etc. Hurdles such as agreeing on contract terms increases the likeliness a buyer will give up on a transaction. 

One recent study showed, “57% of B2B buyers did not complete a purchase for their companies because the vendor checkout process took too long.” With the average B2B contract requiring over ten days to complete, it is clear contracting is one of the largest catalysts of abandonment-inducing delay.

Streamlining the contracting process by even one-tenth of the current rate would raise the global GDP by as much as 1%, translating to over half a trillion dollars.

Together, the three types of losses during the contract formation stage are staggering.

B. Losses Post-Execution

If you thought the contract formation leakages were staggering, wait until you see the value leakage once the contract has been signed. Studies consistently show the average company suffers equal to almost 10% of revenues in annual contract value leakage.

This comes from the result of non-compliant goods or services, billing errors, etc. Including consequential losses (e.g. lost sales due to an inability to perform, etc.) raises the value leakage numbers drastically. 

While the formation and post-execution phases differ in nature, they share the same problem of contract complexity which we shall delve into down below.

The remainder of this post explores the impact of contract complexity and steps that can be taken to drive improvement through simplification.

II. Contract Complexity

There’s a reason we scroll to the “I accept” button without double-checking during consumer purchases. Trying to waft through multiple pages of legalese and numerous embedded policies, secondary agreements, etc. is overwhelming. Luckily for these sorts of transactions, the risks of blind acceptance are often miniscule. 

A. B2B contracting

The complexity is magnified in the B2B space. The dollar amounts at stake are significant, requiring businesses to conduct meaningful assessment of risk. This makes the resulting contract analysis and negotiations lengthy which are made more complex by the contracts lawyers make and only they can understand. 

As mentioned earlier, the more complex the contract, the longer the negotiation cycle times. Worse still, the likelihood each party will draw a different conclusion due to personal interpretation is proportionate to the complexity of individual contract provisions increases.

The presence of complex legal provisions shifts the focus away from the business issues that ultimately determine the value of a contract. Members of WorldCC (World Commerce & Contracting) observed the reduced focus on business issues during contract negotiations disengages key businesses leads at the contract formation stage, leading to significant value leakage during post-execution. Therefore, it’s not surprising that sub-optimal delivery occurs when the businesspeople in charge for performing under a contract don’t understand the key provisions in a contract properly. 

B. Types of Contract Complexity

There are two characteristics which contribute to contract complexity:

a)     Qualitive Complexity

b)    Quantitative Complexity

We most focus on these areas to simply contracts effectively.

1. Qualitative Complexity

To put it plainly, qualitative complexity is when a contract is drafted in a way which is hard to understand. The key point here is not what a seasoned lawyer may find intuitive, but what the average businessperson who is going to negotiate the business transaction and/or managing the contract post-execution understands.

Unfortunately, many contracts fail at this hurdle for several reasons:

a.     The contract fails to address the crux in the formation of the business relationship, forcing parties to rely on sources beyond the contract to make sense of what they are trying to achieve. It is generally agreed amongst economists that the more complete a contract, the higher the economic performance it shall generate. This problem can be difficult to resolve since contracting parties can’t foresee every eventuality in a prospective relationship, particularly those of a long duration and/or an expansive scope.

b.     Clauses within contracts can be drafted in an ambiguous manner, making them impossible for even seasoned attorneys to interpret definitively. TermScout recently reviewed 327 standard, click-accept agreements used by a wide range of IT vendors and found that roughly 25% failed to achieve high levels of clarity. It’s a staggering number given the agreements reviewed were all based on standard contract contracts which get used hundred, if not thousands of times. On top of that, they were drafted without time limits and can justify an enormous investment of legal resources to ensure they are primed for use. Negotiated agreements (one-offs created under extreme time pressures), suffer substantially higher levels of ambiguity.

c.     Finally, even if a contract addresses a point that is clear to a highly skilled attorney, it may do so using legalese that is at best partially intelligible to the businessperson who is responsible for the business deal or managing the contract post-execution. Increasingly organizations are making efforts to write their contracts in plain English, but these contracts often are still insufficiently user-centered and difficult for non-lawyers to understand.

In October 2020, the WorldCC conducted a survey of over 475 organisations which showed the uncertainty about the meaning of key provisions is the biggest threat to realizing a contract value. The root of this uncertainty is a lack of clarity which comes from the aforementioned factors. 

2. Quantitative complexity

Quantitatively complex contracts are when its length, including all referenced or nested documents, exceeds what a user can efficiently process.

A great example is the AWS Customer Agreement which, at first sight, is approximately 14 pages in length. This may not be bad for page count, until the reader discovers 14 different sets of nested or referenced terms. One of these sets of nested terms alone, the Amazon Service Terms, has 82 different clauses that are augmented by other sets of referenced terms. One nest leads to dozens which coupled with the difficulty of locating them all into a coherent body is a colossal task for the reader.

This type of structure and volume of contract terms is not unique to Amazon. Companies, particularly large ones, have extremely diverse product lines and logically, want to use one agreement to cover as much business as possible. In many cases, this converges with the needs and wants of consumers. After all, who would want to renegotiate terms every time they do business with a supplier?

C. How to Address Contract Complexity?

There is no one-for-all antidote for addressing contract complexity. However, there are at least three things we can do to make meaningful improvements to contracting processes.

There are multiple contract review services such as KnowableContract Standards, and TermScout. These services mitigate the challenge of assembling and analyzing contracts for companies.

Most of this analysis, however, focuses on the legal terms in the agreement, and not the business terms. Despite this, these assist with the complex contracts in multiple ways.

First, they relieve the companies of the burden of assembling the data set—at least where standard contracts are involved, alongside the trouble of analyzing that data. They also can translate legalese into plain English. 

Second, they can provide better transparency into issues with a vendor’s contract, by highlighting unclear drafting, unfavorable provisions, noticeable gaps, etc. This transparency will help drive standardization within vendor agreements which, as discussed below, stands to significantly resolve the complexity problem.

1. Standards

Contracts are complex since the business relationships they cover are multifaceted and may be wide-reaching and/or of long duration. Covering the nuances of such, especially as it evolves over time, is challenging. Doing so in a small number of pages, in terms that everyone can understand, is a colossal task.

Using standards for contracting, however, can make this challenge more manageable in at least several very significant ways.

a)     Independent standards administered by a trusted third party evolve naturally over time, reducing the need for the parties to foresee the future and address all possible contingencies themselves.

b)    Standards used on a repeated basis become familiar to people in the relevant industry. This makes them easy for those administering a contract to understand and work under. When a standard attains sufficient adoption, companies can align their business systems and practices to it.

c)     Incorporating standards by reference shortens contracts and significantly reduce negotiation times without compromising breadth. This is like how nested terms work today, but unlike tailored nested terms drafted by parties with vested interests, independent standards come with a level of trust and consistency that can make the process easier on all parties.

D. Sources for Standards

While the use of different types of standards could have a very positive impact on contracts, all the required standards do not exist yet. Some of the potentially more promising areas for further development are as such:

D1. Laws

A significant proportion of contract complexity stems from differing laws and regulations across jurisdictions. For example, roughly one-third of the 14 sets of nested terms in the AWS Customer Agreement referenced come form, in part, differences in laws.

While expecting a single global set of laws which regulate all aspects of commerce is unrealistic, examples that exist show that some enhancements may be possible.

For example, the EU uses the GDPR and other laws and regulations to standardize at least certain governing rules across its members. Various countries have come together to adopt conventions relating to various aspects of commerce. The United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods, routinely get disclaimed and are of relatively limited impact as an example. Others, such as the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (aka The New York Convention), get used quite broadly. Theoretically, it is possible additional conventions could get adopted across jurisdictions, reducing international business complexity.

The U.S. has great potential for further amalgamation of standards. As of now, the U.S. federal government has shown little inclination to exercise its authority over interstate commerce to set out a single set of regulations, even in such areas as telecommunications where the benefits of creating a single federal framework are indisputable by logic. This, however, doesn’t disregard the authority exists and could be used more.

D2. Policies/agreements

Building upon the greater standardization of laws, room exists for standardization of the policies and agreements mandated by various laws such as HIPAA and the GDPR.

These could be administered by independent third parties to assist up-take. For example, WorldCC developed a set of balanced contracting principles which can apply to a multitude of contract types. The economic benefits of using standard contracts within industries are significant. In many cases, industries have proactively driven this transition on their own, e.g., residential home sales, ISDA agreements, etc. These cases involve high volumes of repeatable transactions, parties having similar levels of bargaining power, and/or strong time pressures for conducting the agreement. Where these pressures are not present, inertia and the set ways of buyers and sellers impede this shift.

D3. Operating practices

Contracts layout the ground rules a party will follow in a particular area, with data security as a prime example. Data holders have plenty of obligations (under contract, regulation, and/or common law) to ensure their vendors protect a gamut of information. The appropriate measures for protection continuously transform as hackers become increasingly skilled.

To an extent, vendors have attempted to standardize their approach to data protection by agreeing to submit to periodic audits conducted by third parties and some defined standard (e.g., System and Organization Control (SOC) audits). More room exists for these standards and audits to become more prevalent.

2. Contract Terms and Structure

Contracts in their many forms are business tools which define what parties plan to do together. They are ultimately about communication and to do this, should be written as plainly as possible to be comprehensible for all stakeholders. The likelihood increases when contracts standardize the terms and structures, they employ in comparison to being largely bespoke documents. Several groups, including the WorldCC have made advances in developing standard contract terms and structures which are both balanced and intuitive. 

This is not to diminish the commendable work lawyers put in to construct a contract since their contributions are critical for assessing and quantifying risk. On top of that, they ensure contracts are enforceable. Rather, we suggest lawyers can become better business partners by recognising the costs of complexity their contract drafting creates and placing greater emphasis on creating business-friendly agreements.

User research conducted by WorldCC reveals plainer, more user-centered contracts reduce sales and negotiation cycles, sometimes by as much as 50%. This research further highlights contract users have a stronger opinion towards companies with contracts that are understandable and easy to navigate. These benefits branding recognition and generates greater collaboration among internal and external stakeholders. The combination of these factors have a noteworthy impact on the value companies obtain from their contracts.

3. Tools

Naturally, this doesn’t quite resolve the use of nested terms which means contract users need a quicker way to access information without triggering multiple windows. To do this, companies need more flexibility in their data structures. With this at the fore, Unwynd.io provides a fully customisable setting to edit, create and organise information to the requirements of every user whether as an individual or a corporate business. Through a feature called syntax highlighting, users can associate each color with a specific group of key terms to allow readers to intuitively understand the clauses references within a sentence and its source at a first glance. For greater clarity, these can be paired with special meanings based on certain grammatical rules which helps cross-reference information between one or more documents.

Unwynd.io also assists whenever a clause or a term needs to be updated through its version control system. As discussed in a previous article, Git provides a full edit history which means every update in a project is tracked. This allows for greater standardisation as a full copy of a contract can be accessed and updated by parties connected to a project as they see fit. This keeps contracts compliant to rulings while ensuring the agreed terms evolve with the project. All information required thus comes together into a dedicated project environment which interconnects documentation into one place for those who need to access the contract. 

Conclusion

The world’s economy and its participants suffer from inefficiencies in the contracting process. Most of this inefficiency stems from the qualitative and quantitative complexity of contracts. While simplifying contracts cannot happen overnight, new tools are being developed which can allow companies to start making significant process. As this happens, we should expect to see gains in both the contract formation process and in post-execution contract management.

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5 EDITING TOOLS SOFTWARE DEVELOPERS USE… AND SO CAN YOU

Software developers routinely handle large volumes of complex, heavily structured files filled with intricate syntaxes and little margin for error.

Does this sound like your own line of work…?

Here are some of the most common techniques developers use to streamline their workflow and how you can incorporate them when dealing with richly formatted, plain natural language.

  • Integrated Development Environment (IDE)
  • Syntax Highlighting
  • Brace Matching
  • Predictive Typing / Auto-Complete
  • Dynamic Version Control (Git/GitHub)

Integrated Development environment (IDE)

Software engineers and web developers customarily use what is referred to as an integrated development environment or “IDE”. As the name suggests, those platforms offer an integrated workspace for developers to edit, debug, compile or interpret source codes.

But the key takeaway for our own purposes is the ability to operate multiple files simultaneously within the same project environment. This means users can declare a dedicated “project” folder and effortlessly import, use, or refer to sections of text which were used in other text files pertaining to the same project.

This is known as the “DRY” principle (as in “don’t repeat yourself!”) which aims at reducing repetition of software patterns and replacing it with abstractions to avoid redundancy.

This allows for surgical precision when it comes to referencing certain variables or concepts defined in other sections without having to replicate definition sources.

This can also come in particularly handy in document-intensive industries, such as large-scale construction, infrastructure, healthcare, and banking which comprise of massive volumes of documents defining complex legal, financial, and technical mechanisms all relating to the same project.

In complex legal transactions, it is not uncommon to have few 100s references to other concepts in only few lines of text! And spread across multiple text files relating to the same subject matter. Applying the DRY concept would substantially reduce the risk for errors, which would not be a bad idea when dealing with language naturally designed to reflect certainty and predictability.

Syntax highlighting

Color-coded syntax highlighting is used by programmers to display source code in different colors, each associated with a unique meaning . This feature facilitates reading and writing in a structured language… one that is not open to interpretation.

Sounds like your own professional syntax?

Syntax highlighting makes both structures and syntax errors visually distinct and content becomes easier to read and understand. Highlighting does not affect the meaning of the text itself; it is intended only for the human eye, which proves to be effective when applied to other business (and social) languages just as well.

Syntax highlighting improves the readability and context of the text; especially for structured content that spans several pages. The reader can easily ignore large sections of comments, code or text and find errors only by skimming through pages.

Most IDEs, for example, highlight certain data types in pre-defined colors. Consequently, spotting a missing separator becomes much easier because of the contrasting color of the text.

Research shows that syntax highlighting significantly reduces the time taken for a programmer to internalize the semantics of a program, enabling them to pay less attention to standard syntactic components such as keywords.

Using unwynd, you can use syntax highlighting with plain natural language by either configuring your own syntax or using the default modes based on your own preferences.

Brace Matching

Brace matching (or bracket matching) is another important feature used predominantly among developers. This makes it simple to see if a brace has been left out or to locate the matching brace based on location of the cursor, sometimes by highlighting the pair in a different color.

The purpose is to help the writer or reader navigate through the written content and spot any improper matching, which would cause ambiguity or conflicts of language in heavily structured text documents (such as corporate and legal documentation).

This sounds trivial, but lawyers can sometimes spend years in costly litigation arguing about the parties’ intention in light of omitted brackets.

Predictive typing / Auto-complete

Predictive typing or sometimes referred to as “auto-complete” is an input technology used where one key or a set of keys are associated with certain pre-configured rules or concepts. Each key press results in a prediction or terms or sentences.

Auto-complete could allow for an entire word to be input by single keypress making the whole typing experience more efficient and, inevitably, more cost-effective. It makes efficient use of fewer device keys to input writing any types of files.

This can also considerably reduce the margin of errors when referring to previously defined concepts. To reduce drafting ambiguities, it is important to refer to defined concept with the precise concept that has been associated with the definition.

Predictive typing can play a key role in ensuring that defined terms, concepts, or other time/cost-sensitive concepts are used in the appropriate manner. Click here to learn more about what predictive typing can do for you.

Dynamic version control (Git/Github)

We would not cover the topic fully without addressing the world of version control. Who isn’t familiar with the good old file naming techniques “V1”, “Version 2”, “dated 04122020” or “comments by John D.”?

There is a solution for this too!

Git is a distributed version-control system for tracking changes in source files which has been around for 15 years and is designed for coordinating work among programmers. But it can also be used to track changes in any set of files in distributed, non-linear workflows.

With the use of pre-configured functions, a programmer can “commit” its own changes to a dedicated branch which can later be merged to the “master” branch once any possible conflicts have been addressed. Git will keep track of all changes made to a particular file across the entire lifecycle of the project workflow.

While Git is free and open-source software distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License version 2, it requires a fair amount coding experience or at least some degree of proficiency in command-line interface. It is not readily available for use by non-developers.

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Fix Documentation Redundancy with Git: A Version Control System

UK offices lose over one million hours a week and £20 million in time due to misplaced documents. Similarly, a global survey showed 83% of employees recreate documents because the initial version was unlocatable on their corporate network. These trends speak of a lack of version control which has led to document mismanagement. While Git is lauded for its versioning capabilities for software development, it remains largely unprecedented in documentation management due to the lack of a GUI (Graphical User Interface) which utilises its full prowess. Git ensures the complete edit history of documentation are synchronised rather than disconnected throughout a project. Thus, we’ll go how the versioning features of Git help solve documentation redundancy and mismanagement.

The Necessity of a Documented Edit History from Start to Finish

Renaming a document from version to version doesn’t tell you exactly what changes were made and who made them. Alongside the lack of clarity between edits, it wastes time to thoroughly analyse them. Git acknowledges there is one project, so every new addition is neatly packed up into an edit history full of timestamps, alongside who made the edits, when the project is updated. The edit history is beneficial for projects as it allows project members to call upon a previous timestamp in case an edit was not satisfactory. This also allows for better productivity since every employee can focus on tasks that had yet to be addressed, rather than having two or more people unwittingly do the same one due to an absent edit history.

Git allows for efficient drafting due to the ability to make a copy of a file which includes the full edit history. This permits experimentation since the edits to the copy won’t affect the file on the corporate server. So if an idea works – great, you can merge it with the server file. If not, you can delete it without disrupting anything. No harm, no foul. In a large-scale project, everyone attached to a project can make their own copies, their own provisional edits and merge them with the server file when appropriate. This eliminates the need to send copies through communication networks. So rather than having an inbox or folders with seventy drafts and a gamut of untracked edits to sift through, everyone can access the one file with every timestamped edit available. Quite the timesaver, right?

Conclusion

In summary, Git provides a complete edit history in a project and allows employees to make provisional changes without affecting the file on the corporate server. In a network, you can see exactly who made the changes and when, which helps bring more security to a project. This eliminates redundancy and keeps documentation in one place as opposed to scattered on cloud services, various computers, drives and folders. Git prevents project development from being held back by poor document versioning, enhancing productivity and reducing redundancy throughout the duration of a project.

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5 Problems Solved by an Efficient Document Management System.

The more your business grows, the more documents you’ll eventually accrue, and the more paperwork you collect. This isn’t a bad thing in and of itself – it’s a sign of success! – but it can lead to document overflow and make finding a particular file or paper difficult or impossible.

However, your organization can alleviate this issue by investigating document management systems.

Wrong Versions of Files Worked On

Nothing can set a day’s worth of progress back faster than employees working on the wrong version of a specific file. This is a huge time sink and can result in significant losses in time, money, and employee productivity.

It’s all too easy for an employee to send the wrong version of the document to a client or colleague, leading to future confusion and more time debt accrual when you could be progressing your firm’s goals. Either buying an existing document management system or building a SharePoint document management system are great ways to solve this problem permanently.

Manual Document Merging

Company employees are often forced to merge documents manually when they don’t have an efficient document management system instead. It’s a massive time sink because employees have to cross-reference both versions (or more than two versions) of a single document over and over by hand.

Document management systems are much more effective solutions to this need since they can automatically merge different versions of a document and much more accurately catch any discrepancies between versions.

Can’t Find the Right Document When Necessary

Larger companies often have thousands of documents to sift through. If someone at your organization needs a particular file or document, a clerk or another employee could spend hours looking for that document depending on how well organized your files already are.

In contrast, efficient document management systems can help you easily access any documents necessary, and at much faster speeds compared to even the most skilled human worker. Furthermore, document management systems always include search functions, allowing clerks to look up documents they need at a moment’s notice.

Office Space Taken Up by Traditional Document Storage

The more files you have, the more space you have to dedicate to cabinets and other storage solutions for those physical documents. Even the most compact file cabinets will eventually occupy a lot of space in your office as you buy more of them – that’s space that could be better used for seating clients, for employee desks, and other uses.

Document management systems allow you to compress all of your files into digital versions, eliminating the necessity for excessive file cabinets. This also improves each document’s shelf life since the digital versions will not degrade over time like paper.

Insecure Document Storage

Lastly, efficient document management systems can benefit your organization by providing security. Regular document storage solutions are usually insecure and are thus vulnerable to unrestricted access. Document theft can harm even small companies.

Document management systems can provide standardized repositories and only allow authenticated organization members to access certain documents. Some systems even offer multilevel security provisions to protect high-level or sensitive documents from unauthorized access.

All in all, it’s clear that efficient document management systems are key tools that no business should be without.

By Angela Scott-Briggs

Read More https://techbullion.com/5-problems-solved-by-an-efficient-document-management-system/

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We Created Document Dysfunction. it Is Time to Fix It.

It is time for some of us building software to take a hard look in the mirror.

​For years, we promised technology would solve the world’s information management problems, but 85% of business information is still “dark data,” potentially useful insights lost in a rising tide of disconnected documents, emails, Slack conversations, voice-to-text messages, and myriad other forms.

​As the digital transformation accelerates, the sheer volume and opacity of documents make it harder to ensure quality, consistency, accountability, and regulatory compliance.


We call this problem “document dysfunction,” and it affects nearly every type of organization, from finance to health care to real estate to government and more, impacting millions of citizens, customers and companies.


What does document dysfunction look like?

  • It’s a bank with thousands of loan documents, but zero visibility into the terms and conditions that impact the value of those loans.
  • A government agency with hundreds of project agreements that need to be audited and updated due to a regulatory change.
  • A commercial real estate firm with hundreds of contracts, but no insight into millions of dollars in underlying obligations.
  • A health care system with dozens of doctors spending “pajama time” every night recording and writing patient notes in a laborious and disconnected process.

​Now multiply those cases by hundreds of thousands of companies and organizations around the world. That’s document dysfunction.


It is not enough to shrug our shoulders and say “hey, we just make the tools… we are not responsible for how people use them.” It’s time for the tech industry to step up and help solve these problems.


Right now, there are lots of smart people working to use artificial intelligence to tackle mind-boggling problems like asteroid mining or AI enhanced humans.

We think that is great, but we are focused on using AI to solve much more mundane problems. We are a document engineering company, and we think AI can solve the information management problems that afflict businesses large and small.

​If that sounds boring compared to human settlements on Mars, that is okay.

We think “Boring AI” could be a pretty big deal.


We envision a world where documents that are written for humans can, quickly and securely thanks to AI, be understood as data by computers. Even better, we envision a world where AI helps people construct documents that are engineered for maximum data reuse from the start, fostering human creativity and unlocking billions of dollars in increased efficiency, improved compliance, and business insights for companies around the world.


We know we are not the only people thinking about these issues — researchers and academics and other luminaries have been raising these issues for years. But we think science and technology have advanced to the point where we can finally solve these problems.

​We see five principles that can lead us to more effective solutions:


First, we need to bring together multiple scientific domains in innovative and powerful ways.


Of course, we need to apply artificial intelligence in natural language processing using machine learning methods like neural networks or Bayesian techniques. But we also need other disciplines like image processing and recognition, semi-structured information, declarative markup, and even approaches inspired by natural sciences like the theories of cognition and evolution. Breaking down the walls and combining these disciplines will give us new ways to solve these very hard problems.


Second, instead of “Big Data,” we need AI that understands “Small Data”– the unique sets of business documents distinctive to individual companies.


There is a lot of this “Small Data,” and each company’s small data is different. What people call Big Data artificial intelligence these days is usually just highly supervised machine learning on massive datasets. The preparation of those datasets is labor intensive and prohibitively expensive for most individual companies. We need algorithms that are smart enough to figure out your specific documents in your company or even your division within your company, in a potentially small volume, with only minimal learning and guidance.


Third, this focus on company-specific “Small Data” will enable us to maintain the privacy and security of each individual customer.


As an industry, it’s fine to develop and hone algorithms using massive amounts of publicly available documents and data sets, but we should not use learning from one customer to train algorithms for use with other customers. At a time when some are looking to combine data from multiple customers to increase their insights, raising questions about privacy and security, we believe it is better to treat each customer’s data as its own unique universe.


Fourth, past attempts to use AI to try to solve business data and document problems have failed because they focused on the wrong altitude — helping to complete words or sentences instead of applying AI to the document as a whole.


Algorithms need to understand the structure and strategy behind a company’s business documents, not just the co-occurrence of individual words and phrases. If we can create tools that can understand the different portions of a document, and their unique usages in an individual company, COOs will have powerful new ways to accelerate performance, monitor accountability, and ensure legal and regulatory compliance.


And fifth, to be truly effective, we need solutions that do not disrupt existing workflows or require massive investments in staff training, IT development, or armies of consultants.


From the start, AI should enrich the tools and routines that frontline workers already use to get their work done. The past 50 years have proven that you cannot force employees to adapt to straitjacket templates, you have to provide solutions that fit into how they already work, and reduce their repetitive tasks to foster their creativity. The more users accept the AI’s help, the smarter and more helpful the AI will become. It’s a virtuous cycle.

​It is fashionable to say that “AI is going to take our jobs,” but we can do better. Companies that focus on AI to cut costs may do okay in the short run, but companies that use AI to empower their frontline workers and drive their strategic advantage will be the real winners.


The future isn’t about AI making human beings obsolete. The future is about AI making human beings and companies more productive, effective, and creative.


We don’t think that’s boring at all.

And we look forward to working with others across the industry to make that future a reality.


We want to start a public conversation about these issues.


Tell us your document dysfunction horror stories, or your dream for how technology could give you greater efficiency and control. Or maybe you completely disagree and have never met a dysfunctional document in your life. Or maybe you think our principles are all wrong — we’d still like to hear from you!

Join the document dysfunction conversation on Twitter.

Learn more at Docugami.com.

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