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Finding the right document automation service can take a lot of time and money.
Unfortunately, your time will be stretched in 2021. You're bouncing from online meeting to meeting, reading and responding to dozens of emails, and maybe juggling children who would otherwise be in school.
To save you time, we’ve compared 6 popular document automation companies. We've assessed them based on the following criteria:
All of our reviews are based on these nine criteria. With these criteria in mind, read below about the 6 document automation software providers that you should consider in 2021.
Dox42 generates Microsoft Word documents. The quality of the outputs are therefore largely up to the user’s capabilities with Microsoft Word.
Dox42 is easy to use because it is Microsoft Office-based, including Microsoft Word, SharePoint, and Excel. If you are already familiar with Microsoft Word, you should be able to pick up and use Dox42 with ease and speed.
We are currently seeking information from Dox42's about the security steps they have taken and whether all information communicated between your PC and their servers is encrypted.
Dox42 has a Microsoft Word addin that looks modern and up-to-date in the German language verison...
...but the English language version looks out-of-date and you'll often find German language in dialog windows:
Dox42 has a Microsoft Excel addin, although its functionality is limited in scope, having just a few buttons.
Dox42's installation procedure may appear cumbersome at first. After unzipping the contents of the Office Addins installer, for example, you'll be presented with four installation folders:
Inside each folder are files and more folders, although the setup.exe file was all we needed to use to get the Word addin installed:
Dox42 is flexible and can work for many sectors, but it's user base is most concentrated in Manufacturing and Finance.
Dox42 has a Learning Resources page containing a mix of video tutorials, demos, and discussions. The page can feel slightly disorganized, and it's not always easy to find what you need.
Yes. Dox42 makes use of data you already own and control in SharePoint and Excel, so if you want to switch to another document automation provider you can.
Yes, we do. Especially if you want to automate documents using SharePoint, speak German, and work in the manufacturing or finance sectors.
What one or two sectors does the document automation company specialize in? No company can focus on every sector. When new features are considered or bugs fixed, you'll be more likely to benefit if you're in a major sector the company focuses on.
Epsillion generates PDFs and HTML content that look professionally designed. The PDF format in particular gives the programmers total control over fonts, margins, colors, and graphics. The quality of Epsillion's outputs is therefore higher than that of most other document automation providers.
If brand compliance is important to you, Epsillion is one of your stronger choices.
Here is an example of a real estate research report:
Here is an example of presentation PDF:
Here is an example of a dashboard/infographic:
Epsillion is relatively easy to use because it is Microsoft Word- and Microsoft Excel-based. However, the variety of features mean that it can take several hours of practice and training to become an expert user.
Yes. Epsillion's installers are professionally signed and all traffic between your computer and Epsillion's servers is encrypted.
Yes. Epsillion's user interface melds with the latest versions of Microsoft Office and feels up-to-date.
Epsillion's Word addin is modern and fit in with Microsoft Word's user interface.
Epsillion's Excel addin is similarly up-to-date and makes use of both the ribbon and the sidebar to the right.
Epsillion supports high definition screens.
Epsillion is flexible and can be used in many sectors. We believe the two sectors that comprise the greatest number of their users are:
Epsillion has a helpful library of how-to YouTube videos.
Yes. You store data in Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel on your own computers, so if you want to switch to another document automation provider you aren't locked in.
Yes, we do. Particularly if you want professional looking reports and presentations, and you work with complex Excel models (e.g., business valuation professionals).
What quality of output do you need? For some purposes, Microsoft Word outputs will suit your needs. For companies that require strict brand compliance, PDF outputs allow for greater control and more professional results.
HotDocs generates Microsoft Word documents. The quality of the outputs are therefore largely up to the user’s capabilities with Microsoft Word.
HotDocs is easy to use because it is Microsoft Word-based. An interview process walks you through the steps of creating your first document (software asks you a question about your document; you answer). If you are already familiar with Microsoft Word, you should be able to pick up and use HotDocs with ease and speed.
HotDocs says that, "All communication between the various components of HotDocs Document Services is encrypted using SSL/TLS. This includes communication from the browser to the web server, fromHotDocs Developer 10.2to the web application, and among all the various parts and pieces of theDocument Services stack."
HotDocs' Microsoft Word addin looks a bit dated and could use a refresh.
HotDocs doesn't have a Microsoft Excel addin.
Some users have reported that HotDocs doesn't support their high definition screens. As high definition screens become more common, we would like to see HotDocs support them.
HotDocs is flexible and can be used in many sectors. We believe the two sectors that comprise the greatest number of their users are:
We will reach out to HotDocs for confirmation, and will update this section when they provide it.
Somewhat confusingly, if you click on the Knowledge Base link on HotDocs' website, you'll be taken to AbacusNext's support website (AbacusNext is HotDocs' parent company):
There is a link to the HotDocs specific information, but following some of those links simply takes you back to HotDocs website:
We think HotDocs' support documentation could be better organized.
The data you enter into the HotDocs database cannot be downloaded to a CSV file that you can then use with other software. That means your data is locked into the HotDocs system.
Yes, we do. Especially if you want to populate your documents using questionnaires, and want the assurance of a company that has been in the automation sector for decades.
Does the company offer training videos and screensharing training sessions on demand? Those can be important for gaining the trust and confidence of your colleagues as the whole team learns the new system.
You can include all the normal things you would use in a PowerPoint document, plus dynamic content like numbers, charts, and tables originating in Microsoft Excel and PowerBI.
Upslide is for creating one PowerPoint deck at a time. The software doesn't allow you to generate multiple documents at once (batch mode).
Upslide generates Microsoft PowerPoint documents.
You can use Upslide's Library feature to access pre-saved brand-compliant slides and graphics
The software's Slide Check feature helps to ensure that shapes on slides are aligned, and flags potential errors like double spaces and highlighted text.
Upslide is easy to use because it is Microsoft PowerPoint- and Excel-based. If you are already familiar with Microsoft Office, you should be able to pick up and use Upslide with ease and speed.
There is no substantial cloud component to Upslide, and therefore security should not be a concern with this software.
Upslide has a fully featured Microsoft PowerPoint addin, including functionality in the Ribbon and right hand sidebar.
Upslide has a Microsoft Excel addin that can help you create charts and speed up common tasks (like writing CAGR formulas and copying formulas to the right), but its main feature is to indicate that you want a table or chart to link to PowerPoint or Word.
Finally, Upslide has a Microsoft Word addin. Upslide's Word addin can help you choose brand compliant templates and update charts and tables linked to Excel. However, Microsoft Word is not Upslide's focus and the feature set is therefore not as strong as it is in Upslide's PowerPoint addin.
We aren't crazy about how Upslide's Microsoft Office addins force themselves into the 'second from File' position in the Ribbon. You could argue that the unique and feature-packed PowerPoint addin deserves to do so, but it's harder to make the case for Upslide's Microsoft Word and Excel addins. Many users will need the native Microsoft Office features more often than the Upslide Word and Excel addin features.
Upslide specialises in the financial services sector. Many features and the terms used for them (like 'Tombstone' credentials and 'CAGR') will be familiar to people who work in the financial services sector.
Yes. You own your Microsoft Office documents, including PowerPoint, Excel, Word, and PowerBI files. If you decide to stop using Upslide at some point in the future, you will still have access to all of your data.
Yes, we do. Especially if you're finance professional who uses PowerPoint a lot and brand compliance matters to your firm.
Windward Studios Pros
Windward Studios Cons
Windward Studios generates Microsoft Word documents. The quality of the outputs are therefore largely up to the user’s capabilities with Microsoft Word.
Here is an example of Windward Studios creating a letter:
Here is an example of Windward Studios updating an investment performance newsletter:
Here is an example of Windward Studios creating an insurance form:
You can see more examples of Windward Studios output in their helpful template library
Windward Studios is easy to use because it is Microsoft Word-based. If you are already familiar with Microsoft Word, you should be able to pick up and use Windward Studios with ease and speed.
We are currently seeking information from Windward Studios about the security steps they have taken and whether all information communicated between your PC and their servers is encrypted.
The Windward Studios team discusses security on their blog, so that shows a good level of security conscientiousness.
The Windword Studios Word addin looks modern and fits in well with the latest versions of Microsoft Office.
Windward Studios has a Microsoft Excel addin, although the company doesn't have enough information, videos, or screenshots of the addin on its website for us to assess it meaningfully.
We are seeking more information from Windward Studios and will update this section when we have an answer.
Windward Stuidios has helpful written documentation with a search feature:
There is also a small video training library:
Yes. Windword Studios works with SQL databases and other data sources that you own and control. If you want to move to another provider, you are free to do so.
Yes, we do. Especially for people who want to use their favorite programming language and create a wide range of output formats
Ask document automation vendors about their security practices. The most secure software sits on your PC and doesn't communicate with external servers. The best cloud-based vendors use encryption during data transit and storage, and they delete as much user data as they can, on a regular schedule.
Woodpecker generates Microsoft Word documents. The quality of the outputs are therefore largely up to the user’s capabilities with Microsoft Word.
Woodpecker is easy to use because it is Microsoft Word-based. If you are already familiar with Microsoft Word, you should be able to pick up and use Woodpecker with ease and speed.
We liked how the software showed us how many instances of a particular variable existed in the report
However, we found that the counter wasn't always accurate, particularly after deleting one or more instances of the variable. The counter seems to be able to count up, but not down.
In the future, to improve documet-creation speed, we would like to see the cursor automatically positioned after a newly inserted variable, which would facilitate further typing or the insertion of additional variables in rapid succession. As it is, for some reason the cursor is placed to the left of newly inserted variables, so you need to manually click to the right to continue creating your document.
Woodpecker's large library of document templates, which you can adapt to suit your purposes, will help cut the time it takes to learn the software. Ready made templates that you can download, adapt, and use include:
Woodpecker's website doesn't mention security precautions, so we don't know enough to comment.
Woodpecker has an up-to-date looking sidebar Word addin.
Woodpecker doesn't have a Microsoft Excel addin.
Woodpecker was programmed specifically to serve the legal sector.
Woodpecker's training options are among the best and most extensive in the document automation industry. Woodpecker has an extensive self-service learning centre with helpful videos. The company offers easy to schedule live training sessions, and you can choose whether they are one-on-one or as part of a group. Woodpecker also has community discussion forums, where you can ask questions and share tips and tricks.
The data you enter into the Woodpecker database can be downloaded to a CSV file that you can then use with other software. That means your data is not locked into the Woodpecker system.
Yes, we do. Particularly if you're in the legal sector and an extensive online learning library is important for you.
If you decide to change document automation companies, will you be able to take your data with you when you go? Or is your data locked in a database? If you need to upload data to their database, ask for an example of a CSV extract from that database; that will show what you can expect to take with you if you leave.
We are currently considering the following for potential, future reviews:
When choosing a document automation provider, ask for examples of all the output formats their software can generate. Some vendors can only supply one or two document types, others may be able to provide PDFs, HTML, Word documents, presentations, Kindle format, and others.