Creating a PDF automatically: How we can automate PDFs
PDF files are still the status quo when it comes to official, digital documents. They are (mostly) not editable afterwards, which is both the benefit and the challenge. If you send an invoice, of course you want it to be uneditable. If, on the other hand, you receive a document for correction as a PDF, then it can be quite a hindrance that it cannot be changed. But let's assume that you want to create a PDF automatically, for example for evaluations, reports or quality analyses, and then make them available to other people - how can we automate such PDFs? We explain with the help of 3 examples and numerous tools that are possible for this.
There are often documents that have to be available as PDFs and in principle always contain the same information: Forms for clients in which only the name and address change, processed quality analyses based on the same checklist or questionnaires and forms that are evaluated.
Instead of manually creating new, individual PDFs for these recurring processes, we can automate such PDFs and save a lot of time.
Example 1: Automate contract with DocuSign and DocuPilot
A contract is an official document that usually has to be available as a PDF file. In most cases, the same data is always adapted in a contract: Customer and company information, contract duration, signatures or the date. This information is most likely also available in other applications, such as CRM or a database. Instead of manually copying this data into a contract document, saving it as a PDF and uploading it to a digital signature application such as DocuSign, all this can be automated. If you want to create such a PDF automatically, you need a database or CRM with the information, DocuPilot, a template creation software, and DocuSign, a software that enables digital signatures.
The information on the customers is taken from the database, inserted in DocuPilot at the right place using placeholders, moved to DocuSign and provided with the signature fields at the right place and sent to the persons concerned.
This saves you from manually inserting the same information in the same places and saves you time and errors.
Example 2: Automate forms and feedback as PDFs
Surveys and feedback are valuable, especially from clients and staff. While the survey is usually the least time-consuming part of the process, the subsequent analysis can be time-consuming. There are now many great tools to create a form and have it filled out digitally, such as Typeform, Jotform or even a simple form on your WordPress website.
By supplementing these very forms with various building blocks, we can have PDFs generated automatically. For example, an individual offer can be generated on the basis of such a form: The customers enter their master data and this information is automatically supplemented by a predefined quantity.
What tools are needed for this?
As mentioned above, a tool is needed for the query: Typeform, Jotform or WordPress are just a few examples. However, any cloud tool that provides forms is conceivable. This can then be connected to the CRM. Here, too, the keyword is cloud tool: Pipedrive, Hubspot, Salesforce, 1CRM, FreshSales and many more are conceivable. If we integrate these two tools with a so-called iPaaS software, such as Make or Zapier, we can generate your PDF automatically and save you a lot of manual work.
Example 3: Automate project and turnover reporting or cost structures as PDFs
It is important to keep an overview. This is exactly why reports and evaluations were invented. Often these are created according to a predefined schedule, for example once a week, monthly or depending on the project status. The data for this comes either from project management or financial accounting. Most likely, you also use a tool for this, such as Plutio, Monday, Asana or Trello. These are all cloud tools that help you to keep track of everything.
The information needed for an automatically generated PDF is therefore already available in a tool. It only needs to be bundled and inserted. We can also automate this: By integrating the project management or financial accounting tool, we receive all the necessary information for the report. This information is then qualified and inserted into a template. In this way, PDF files are created weekly, monthly or individually that reflect the current status without costing you a lot of time in creation.
As with the first example, all you need to do is use cloud tools. We then automate these via Make or Zapier and let the different applications exchange data automatically.
Example 4: Automatically generate quality analyses as PDF
Quality management is indispensable and also an activity that can be optimally supported by digital applications. Checklists and queries can be used by your team to record the quality of your own services or products in a standardised and structured way. However, the picture is similar to that of a form query: the collection of information is not very time-consuming and comparatively simple, but what happens to the data generated in this way?
If (among other things) a PDF is to be generated automatically, we can realise this by connecting the query tool. Depending on which items are ticked off on the checklist and which notes and comments are added, we can have the quality analysis generated automatically as a PDF. This PDF file is then automatically assigned to the responsible person and sent. In this way, not only is all the relevant data made available, but it is also distributed automatically.
Again, it is important that all tools used are cloud applications. The integration is then done by other software such as Zapier or Make.
Generate PDF automatically and save time
The previous examples are really simple, but that's exactly why we put them there: If you want to automate PDFs, this can have very different reasons or concern processes. Such application examples should make it clear to you that this does not require any great magic, but rather a suitable choice of tools and programming interfaces, so-called APIs, which enable us to exchange data between applications.
Once automated, such automatically generated PDFs can save a lot of time and manual work. And let's face it, who likes to copy data from one application into a PDF document? It is precisely such copy and paste tasks that lend themselves ideally to automation.
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.