Before You Start Automating Your Documents

Dec 2, 2017

Yes, automating your documentation can reduce drafting time spent by you and your employees by 70%. That said, prior to beginning the process, it’s important to evaluate just which types of documents are best suited for automation. In fact, the process starts a few steps before approaching the Legito editor, or any other for that matter.

Have a look at what I’ve learned from years spent advising our customers on automating their own documents in Legito.

What should you do before you begin automating your documents?

The first step – Choose suitable documents 

Document automation isn’t free. It’s an investment that has to be returned.

Your investment in document automation consists of:
– Software licence fees
– Time your employees invest drafting automated templates
– Potential costs of outsourcing this automation, should you choose to do so
– Costs for training your employees (if done right, this can be a minor investment

Your investment in document automation is returned by reducing:
+ Time (and costs) spent drafting documents (70% in average)
+ Time spent on document administration (management)
+ Time spent reviewing documents
+ Risk of damages caused by unauthorised changes in documents
+ Risk of damages caused by formal mistakes in documents

+ In addition, it also helps you keep your knowhow in-house, which decreases the resources needed to onboard new employees.

Like any investment, devoting resources to document automation needs to make sense. That’s why it’s important to evaluate which types of your company’s will provide the greatest return after automation. This is very individual and depends heavily on a company’s specific legal needs.

I use the following criteria to help customers decide if a document is worth automating:

  • How long is the document?
  • How often does your company use it?
  • How many different wording options does it need to contain? 

Depending on the length of the document, automating a single option of a document’s text (e.g. a contract for a fixed period or a permanent contract) can save you anywhere between 1 min and 1 hour. This is why using those three criteria above can really come in handy as you decide how (and where) to invest your resources in automation.

– Bad use case:

I intend to automate a Power of Attorney.

Automating it myself would take 3 hours of my time, or alternatively I can spend one hour of my time and 100 Euro to have it automated for me.

The document is 1 page long. Our company uses it roughly 10x per year. It only contains 2  selections from options for wording – (i) Power of Attorney for conclusion with an employee, other person or a company and (ii) Power of Attorney for a fixed term or permanent. Since the document is so short, each automated option will only save me roughly 3 minutes, equating to

10 x 2 x 3 = 60 minutes
saved per year on drafting Power of Attorney.

The return on investment (ROI) in this case is very slow, making it unsuitable for automation.

+ Good use case:

I intend to automate an Employment Contract.

Automating it myself would take 20 hours of my time, or alternatively I can spend 10 hours and 300 Euro to have it automated for me.

Altogether, the Employment Contract and all its related documents are 8 pages long. Our company uses it 200x per year. It contains 20 automatable selections from wording options (e.g. type of employment and salary, probationary period, overtime work conditions, termination, etc.). Each automated option saves me an average of 6 minutes, so it’s

200 x 20 x 6 = 24 000 minutes (approx. 400 hours)
saved per year on drafting Employment Contract.

Return on investment (ROI) in this case is very fast, so automating this file makes complete sense.

To help you visualize this, here’s a

Long document,
Used often,
A lot of options
Long document,
Used sometimes,
Average amount of options
Long document,
Used rarely,
Few options
Mid-size document,
Used often,
A lot of options
Mid-size document,
Used sometimes,
Average amount of options
Mid-size document,
Used rarely,
Few options
Short document,
Used often,
A lot of options
Short document,
Used sometimes,
Average amount of options
Short document,
Used rarely,
Few options

very fast fast average slow

For the table above, here’s how I defined each attribute:

  • Long documents (or bundle of documents) = more than 8 pages
  • Mid-size documents (or bundle of documents) = between 2 and 8 pages
  • Short documents (or bundle of documents) = less than 2 pages
  • Used often = document is drafted at least 100x per year
  • Used sometimes = document is drafted between 20x and 100x per year
  • Used rarely = document is drafted less than 20x per year
  • A lot of options = more than 40 options or places for automatically inserted data
  • Average amount of options = 4–40 options or places for automatically inserted data
  • Few options = less than 4 options or places for automatically inserted data

This is a simplification of the concept and there are additional factors that influence the viability of automating a document. These include translation (bilingual documents), mass generation (e.g. increasing the salaries of 300 employees at once) or if your documents contain calculations (e.g. business offers or financial documents). 

Second step to automation – Research your documents

Take a look at several recently created examples (10-20) of the documents you intend to automate.

Such research helps you understand what changes you have been repeatedly making to a document. These places of repetition are exactly the parts of your document that are best for automating.

To find changes in your documents faster, I recommend using the “Compare” feature in Word.

You can skip this step if you already know what options you want to automate.

Third step to automation – Mind map

The third step is to visualise all options you intend to automate in a mind map. You can easily create such a map for free using Coggle.

Example of mind map for document automation. Click at the picture to get the mind map in full size.

Of course, if you don’t like mind maps, there are many other ways to summarize the options to be automated.

Fourth step to automation – Automation in Legito or Word template drafting 

Now it’s time to automate your template in Legito or any other tool.

If you would like to outsource your automation to us or any other specialists, you will need to draft a Word template with instructions for all the options in a mind map.

Example of Word template for automation in Legito. Click at the picture to get it in full size.

Think your company can benefit from automating some of its document drafting?

You can find more information on our document automation page or, better yet, let’s talk about it! Just drop me an email at

Start Automating Now

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