Manual document preparation has been the norm for the better part of human history. That doesn’t mean it’s the best method to use. Over the last few years, there’s been growing adoption of document automation software.

The best document automation software solutions save time and money – allowing companies to put cumbersome clunky manual processes on autopilot. But what makes the best document automation software stand out and which tools should you use to streamline, optimize, and automate your processes?

Good questions. In this guide, you’ll learn what document automation software is, what the best platforms are, and some key things to look for when you’re searching for solutions.

What is document automation software?

Document automation software can be defined as tools or technology that allow individuals to set up workflows and processes to handle multiple aspects of a document’s lifecycle. This includes but may not be limited to document drafting, signing, storage, and various processes such as renewals and tracking.

Oftentimes, the input used to create the document is pulled from another system or from a form that’s provided to a third party. Data is pulled into the document automation software and a series of processes are triggered. The complexity of the document can range from basic to advanced. The best tools often use conditional logic, data routing, and other functionality to produce complex workflows.

Organizations see different results ranging from hours saved per contract to tens of thousands of dollars saved. Of course, mileage will vary based on your specific needs.

Now, let’s look at some of the best document automation solutions on the market.

Best document automation software

UsefulPDF

UsefulPDF document automation

UsefulPDF is a powerful document automation, contract lifecycle management, and electronic signature platform that focuses on the generation of customized documents. You set up a generic template once and you can use things like conditional logic, role assignment, and specific settings to create unique documents.

Data is collected via forms and once the document is generated using the form inputs, you can set up multiple additional steps. Natively sign your documents with UsefulPDF’s electronic signature software, integrate with third-party tools to trigger more actions, set up email notifications, email the document to others, and so much more.

The initial document creation process can also be done in collaboration with others on your team, vendors, or clients. Just invite them to the specific document you need to collaborate on. When inviting other collaborators to specific documents, you can choose what they can do such as view the document, leave comments, or even edit the document.

Customers have the ability to customize the fonts of the documents, insert images, add their logo to the forms, and ensure it matches their brand. For the electronic signatures, you have even more control over your signatory’s experience. You can set the emails that go out, create automated reminder messages, or even set up redirects after someone has signed.

Taken together, it’s an intuitive end-to-end document automation platform that’ll help you optimize your document processes.

Features

  • Native eSignature
  • Document generation and automation
  • Integrations with third-party tools
  • Insert images into documents
  • Insert tables into documents
  • Conditional logic
  • Data collection questionnaires
  • Robust document editing options like italics, Bold, Google Fonts, line spacing, etc.
  • Commenting
  • Contract negotiation and collaboration
  • Team management
  • Folder management
  • Form editing
  • Custom branding
  • Form welcome and success screens
  • Customize file output types
  • Interview analytics

Cons

  • Currently allows one document created per template

Pricing

The entry-level plan starts at $99/m and increases based on the features you have access to and the number of users on the plan.

Documate

Documate document automation for lawyers

Documate is a document automation and assembly platform that has a clear emphasis on lawyers. It refers to its platform as a legal app builder that allows legal professionals to set up standalone workflows or apps.

It uses client-facing questionnaires to collect data that’s then routed to individual documents. This results in unique workflows that help teams create more efficient processes. Customers can create client portals where the end-user (your clients) can register a free account and pick up forms where they left off.

The service it offers is simple and straightforward but it still gets the job done. While they’re ostensibly for the legal industry, all types of businesses can take advantage of the software.

Features

  • Create templates
  • Team management
  • Data collection questionnaires
  • Client portal
  • Collect payments
  • Zapier integration
  • Custom branding on a subdomain

Cons

  • Limited feature set
  • Only integrates via Zapier or custom API

Pricing

Pricing starts at $99/m and goes up based on the features you need. It’s an additional fee for your own subdomain.

Docupilot 

Docupilot - document automation app

Docupilot is a simple document generation platform that’s not as polished as some of the other document automation tools on this list. With that being said, it has two things going for it. The platform works well and it has a lower entry-level price point than many of the other tools on this list.

If your main focus is on capturing data and turning that data into a custom document then this is a great contender. It has a limited number of third-party integrations, allows you to upload documents in multiple formats, and even create documents from scratch.  

It supports conditional logic, multiple variables, tables, and more. The document editing options are limited but you can number the outputs, determine the format of the final document, and a few others. The last part to take note of is that you can import data from third-party tools and use them to generate new documents.

Features

  • Document editing
  • Upload documents in multiple formats
  • Integrate with third-party tools
  • Generate documents from data provided by third-party tools
  • Number documents
  • Template management
  • Conditional logic
  • Document numbering

Cons

  • The interface looks dated/basic
  • It can be complex to create conditional logic

Pricing

Pricing starts at $29/m for 100 documents and increases based on the number of documents that you need to produce.

Formstack Documents

Formstack documents

Formstack offers a lot of tools and one of them is its document generation and automation feature. It started life as Webmerge before it was acquired by Formstack and rebranded as Formstack Documents.

It gives customers the tools needed to streamline manual document-based processes with data collection questionnaires, multiple data inputs, conditional logic, downloadable files, multiple file output types, and electronic signatures (as part of the Sign product).

Features

  • Document editing
  • Electronic signatures
  • Integration library
  • Conditional logic
  • Data routing
  • Template management
  • Team management
  • Forms for data collection

Cons

  • It has a relatively steep learning curve

Pricing

Paid plans start at $110/m paid monthly and it comes with 2 users.

HotDocs

HotDocs

HotDocs has been around since 1993 and has gone through multiple owners and product iterations. The document management and automation platform is divided into enterprise and small business versions.

It performs the core functions of document assembly such as providing a questionnaire/interview for internal or external use, allows you to calculate values based on inputs from the forms or set values, automatic format changes for inputs/outputs, and conditional logic.

It may not be the most feature-rich platform on this list but it is solid. You can expect it to work with minimal downtime or errors.

Features

  • Questionnaires for document generation
  • Automated document assembly
  • Conditional logic
  • Combine multiple documents into one template
  • Make calculations
  • Change the format of text inputs

Cons

  • The interface looks and feels dated
  • For document creation users – it can be a steep learning curve

Pricing

For small business users, pricing starts at $25/m and you need a minimum of 5 users. Effectively, pricing starts at $125/m.

Woodpecker

Woodpecker is a document automation solution that’s specifically designed for Microsoft Word. It does its best to ensure you cut down on the number of documents you need to create. This is done by using a template-based system and questionnaires.

Within the templates, you can set up conditional logic, calculations, image management, add payment collection, and basic branding options. It also integrates with third-party software tools like CRMs and electronic signature software.       

Features

  • Clause library
  • Template management
  • Payment collection
  • Reuse data in different places
  • Create multiple documents from one

Cons

  • The field inputs can be wonky or confusing at times
  • Minor UI choices that can confuse users

Pricing

The entry-level plan is $59/m paid monthly.

Juro

Juro is a modern contract management platform that automates almost all aspects of the contract lifecycle from creation to execution. Create simple documents from templates and data collection questionnaires, create approval workflows, negotiate the contract right in your browser, and much more.

The approval workflows can be created based on specific rules you set up such as the location of the document. You can negotiate the contract in the cloud with simple redlining software which tracks changes and allows you to approve them.

In addition to the above, Juro also has functionality that allows you to track contract clauses such as expiration and renewals.

Features

  • Contract negotiations
  • Template management
  • Team management
  • Integrations
  • Renewal notifications
  • Approval processes
  • Electronic signatures
  • Simple document automation

Cons

  • Limited to just contracts and not suited for other documents you may need to automate.

Pricing

Pricing starts at $60/m per user.  

What to look for in document automation software?

Conditional logic

Many documents need to be changed or tweaked depending on the situation. Instead of having to create a new template to automate the process, it should be able to react to different form inputs.

For example, if you’ve created a template for LLC operating agreements, there are two main types.

  • Single-member
  • Multi-member

Instead of having to create two templates, one workflow would be able to suffice by using conditional logic. You could hide certain information or display certain information. This would further simplify your document management process.

Document output type

Different documents require different things. Do you want your interviewees to be able to download and make changes to the document? Or do you want it to be in a format that prevents further changes?

Being able to control the output type gives you the ability to set this important aspect of your automation process.

At the very least, your document automation platform should be able to output PDF and Word documents.

Post-creation actions or delivery options

Let’s face it. No single piece of software will be able to handle everything for you. It just doesn’t work like that. Instead, the tool you use should be able to integrate with other tools in your tech stack.

For example, can you send information and completed contracts to your CRM via a direct integration or a webhook? Can you set up notifications, email people that have completed the document, get the document signed, etc.?

Support for team management

Creating high-quality documents is a team sport. It’s essential that you’re able to invite the people you work with and for you to be able to set the permission levels.

Do you want them to be a type of manager? Do you want them to create documents at any time? Do you want another admin user?

Team management is more than just inviting people to the software. Make sure the platform you choose meets your needs instead of forcing you to change your workflow.

Conclusion

Document automation, when done properly, is exciting, saves time, saves money, and even makes you more money. The challenge is often choosing the right tool for your needs.

Do you have complex or simple documents?

Do you also want to sign documents electronically?

What level of team collaboration features do you need?

This collection of the best document automation software is enough to get you started. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, be sure to consider our suggestions for what every tool should have and start your own search.

Let me know what you think in the comments and don’t forget to share.