PDF files - at the same time the dinosaur and status quo among digital documents, especially when it comes to official documents such as contracts. They are (mostly) not editable afterwards - logically - which is both the benefit and the challenge. When you send a contract or an invoice, you naturally want it to be unalterable. However, it may be that a small part of a PDF should be editable, just certain fields. For example, PDFs can be signed or a template can be supplemented with a name and address. But couldn't you automate such a PDF? You could, in fact. We explain how this is possible.
There are now several tools for signing and preparing for this: DocuSign, HelloSign, AdobeSign, Eversign and many more. They all offer the possibility to upload a PDF or Word file and prepare and send it for signing. What is on the one hand very thankful, as it enables digital signatures, can quickly become annoying when dealing with a large number of documents, as each contract has to be uploaded individually, provided with the appropriate fields and sent to the right person. Time-consuming and not very efficient.
As mentioned above, there are documents that simply have to be available as PDF files. At the same time, however, digital signatures are gaining in importance (at least since Corona). Such PDFs usually contain the same information, especially when working with a document template: Master data of the recipient(s), possibly the sender(s) and a signature field at the end, possibly with place and date. While the latter should be filled in by the recipients, the master data can usually be filled in by you in advance. This results in a recurring structure of your PDF. Ideal for automation.
So automating a PDF like this not only represents a huge time-saver, but can also reduce data entry errors while still being customised.
How can you automate a PDF?
We touched on it briefly above: there are now many tools for digitally signing a PDF file; DocuSign, HelloSign, AdobeSign or Eversign are some of the most common. Which tool you use exactly or whether it is a completely different one plays only a small role, all of them can automate a PDF. The only requirement is that it is a cloud application and has an application programming interface, a so-called API(What is an API?). Via this API, the data can be "fetched" from this software and reused for other applications and process steps. In this way, we can create automated processes across different applications.
How do I fill out a PDF automatically?
So, step 1: You need a cloud application that lets you sign PDFs.
Now you might say, "Wait a minute, I use Eversign and there is a function for templates, isn't there? Absolutely right, but this function is only very limited. For example, a contract template can be uploaded as a PDF but information such as name and address cannot be changed in the original document. To do this, you would either have to add fields from Eversign or create a copy in Word with the correct name and address, save it as a PDF and upload it to Eversign. So the bottom line is that this function is a really small time saver, if any.
So how do we make a PDF file with some fields filled in flexibly, without our intervention? The next component, if you want to automate a PDF, is software that enables us to render a PDF - that is, to read it digitally. For example, there is DocuPilot or CloudConvert. These tools make it possible to read a PDF and flexibly change some fields, such as name or address. But where do these tools get the personal data from? Quite simply, from your CRM or other software in which the information is available. By integrating this tool into the process, we transfer the important information that is necessary for the automatic PDF creation.
Tools such as DocuPilot or CloudConvert then insert this information and the contracts are finalised and sent in the first signature tool mentioned.
Alternatively, there is also the possibility to work with templates. In these, you can define variable fields, such as name, address or company. These fields are then transferred via the API (programming interface, see above). In simple terms, this means that the software knows where to insert the information about the person and the company and then does exactly that.
CreatePDF automatically: How To.
Again, the motto is that cloud applications are used so that the interfaces can transfer the necessary data. For this, it is necessary that your PDFs can be read.
Finally, these pieces of the puzzle only have to be put together. This can be done using software that is designed to link different applications together and exchange data. This technology is called iPaaS - Integration Platform as a Service - and offers us an interface on which we can digitally map the process described above. Through such iPaaS providers as Make or Zapier , we can integrate thousands of apps and certainly automate your PDF. The key is data and interfaces.
Automate PDF on a cloud basis
The word has come up a lot and if you only take one thing with you, it's this: Cloud applications are the key for such a process, but also for many other processes that you want to automate either today or in the future. With the right choice of tools, applications can talk to each other that otherwise would not be able to. All made possible by iPaaS platforms like Zapier or Make. The resulting automations save time, effort and reduce errors - but more importantly, you can use that time for truly more important things than preparing a PDF document for signature.
Are you curious and would like to learn more? Or are you wondering whether your tools and processes are also suitable for generating PDFs automatically? Together we will find individual solutions that are flexible and scalable.
Cloud Integration, iPaaS, SaaS, BPA… Ough, hard to keep track of all these terms. They are currently used frequently (and increasingly) in the context of automation, and it is sometimes difficult to make a clear distinction and distinction. We have already written blog posts on the terms iPaaS, SaaS and BPA, but we’ll take them up again here to make the difference.
But let’s start with cloud integration, because that’s the central umbrella term in which we embed all the other technologies in this blog post.
To illustrate these advantages, an example is suitable that we know well from our everyday work as an automation agency:
The central data to be used here is the data of a major customer. This can be the simplest information, such as the address. This address is required in numerous but completely different processes in the company: on the one hand, for correct invoicing in accounting. On the other hand, in the CRM system, where all the data of the large customer is also stored. But the address is also important in sales, for example, when employees go to the sales meeting on site.
Now the customer announces that the address of the company has changed after a move. This information will reach you by e-mail. There are now two options:
01. The e-mail is forwarded to all affected departments, accounting, sales, customer service, marketing… All persons open their corresponding program, CRM, accounting software, marketing tools (such as newsletter marketing) and change the data already stored there of the customer. This means that in multiple applications, different people do exactly the same thing: change one address. 02. But there is also an alternative: By connecting your applications, thus by integrizing them, the customer’s e-mail, or rather the information it contains about the address change, is automatically passed on to all affected applications: CRM, accounting, marketing, ERP. This does not require any clicks, because the cloud integration detects a trigger, i.e. address change, and thus automatically starts the process.
What sounds unimpressive in a single process becomes more effective when such a process occurs several times a day or weekly. Because there is a lot of data that is available in different applications and should always be correct. If these applications are cloud applications they are suitable for cloud integration.
But cloud integration doesn’t just happen. There are now a variety of applications that enable and implement this. Such tools usually allow us to link the relevant cloud applications on a central platform and define clear rules on when, how, where, how much data should be passed on and what happens to them.
IPaaS, SaaS, BPA, ABC – who can still see through it?
To realize cloud integration, there are various applications and technologies that are sometimes used interchangeably.
Cloud integration cannot be done without SaaS, iPaaS and BPA
Cloud integration is rather an umbrella term that includes numerous technologies, such as SaaS, iPaaS and BPA, and this is also absolutely necessary. Cloud integration is a concept that is made possible by appropriate technologies.
However, all terms share the commonality that they are cloud-based and thus offer enormous potential for growth and scaling. In addition, they are often cheaper to implement and maintain because changed requirements are easy to implement.
As an independent automation agency, we implement cloud integration according to your requirements. We use a variety of SaaS tools and iPaas (strictly speaking BPA) software. Together we find individual solutions that are flexible and scalable.