What Makes A Document Dynamic?
Ira Brooker Written: February 10th, 2021 Updated: February 17th, 2023
From the customer’s view, a dynamic document is experienced dynamically, giving the customer a fully-engaging read with optimized layouts, emblems, and data visualizations.
From the creation standpoint, a dynamic document is a multi-faceted customer touchpoint, combining data and a range of options for everyone involved in its production: the initial software developers, your IT staff, and the very customers who read it. The software behind it is dynamic, working with the data and responding to it intelligently. It is produced dynamically, with infinite design possibilities and multiple delivery options and it.
So, What Are Dynamic Documents?
How we define a dynamic document, from a customer experience perspective, starts with visual appeal. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a powerful graphic could be worth millions of dollars.
It is well known that customers respond to visuals. We live in the age of emojis and memes. Consumption of visual media tends to double, or even triple, each year. This tells us something about our content consumers.
Not only do people gravitate to images because they are easier to consume, but they grasp the viewer’s attention and supply condensed information that has a far-reaching impact. Graphics have more than one dimension to them – they are a language of their own.
This is only part of what dynamic means in the context of a dynamic document.
Dynamic Documents Features
There is a full range of options for dynamic documents, starting with an all-powerful, agile document creation system. One aspect is the different use-cases it provides for.
Need a batch of documents delivered to hundreds, thousands – or hundreds of thousands of customers? There are solutions to deliver in high volume, as well as functionality for sending personalized correspondence on the spot.
For even more engaging communications, you can leverage fully interactive documents. They provide a two-way conversation – the clickable assets within the document actually track customer preferences and adjust to what they click on (and what they don’t).
Three dimensions of use – does this make your documents dynamic? Ultimately, a dynamic document is any communication that interacts with your data systems and makes intelligent decisions for the good of your customer interaction.
A system boasting dynamic documents would have conditional formatting to manage the complexity of a customer base. A workflow can process customer demographics and preference information by several complex ‘if-then’ statements to deliver personalized documents, even in batch runs.
The system would also provide for the editing of subdocuments – not the master template, but subsidiary ones, adjusting to the preferences of a particular cross-section of customers on an ad-hoc basis.
The phrase “dynamic interactive document” simply completes the circle. Where the customer’s experience was already multidimensional – thanks to a tight workflow with several production options at the company’s disposal – the company sees return immediately in the form of data, enhancing the customer experience but also learning from how customers actually use the document.
7 Dynamic Document Production Challenges
All companies face challenges. It might be a simple fix, or one that requires outside help. The last thing your company needs, if it prints a ton of documents, are dynamic document production challenges.
If a challenge does pop up – and, let’s be honest, there’s a good chance it will at some point – it’s important to have the right document production software and support team in place. This is due largely because many document automation systems won’t allow you to do what your company requires.
Why is all this important? The last thing you need is an extended period of downtime while everything gets worked out. According to analyst firm Aberdeen Research, 82 percent of companies have experienced unplanned downtime over the past three years. That unplanned downtime can cost a company as much as $260,000 an hour.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at seven challenges companies face when it comes to dynamic document production.
1. Are You In a Template Hell?
Your company needs a certain number of templates in order to create dynamic documents. But what if, over the years, your employees have created more and more templates? Before you know it, your business is sitting on hundreds of templates.
At some point, if you don’t have a solid template management software system in place, those templates will start to bleed into each other, causing a giant dynamic document production nightmare. Having that software and support team in place can help your company get your unruly templates under control.
Find out What Makes a Document Dynamic
2. Can You Select The Language Dynamically Based On User Preferences?
One of the great things about dynamic document production is your company is able to provide your customers with options. The question is – can your company provide all of the options your customers need?
Some of your customers might want or need their documents in Spanish. Regardless of the language, is this something your company can provide?
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3. Can You Enforce Corporate And Regulatory Standards While Still Allowing Modifications When Needed?
You know better than anyone that times change. Your company needs to be able to change with the times. Is your current software solution agile enough to allow you to modify your dynamic document production when necessary?
Regardless of the reason for the change – whether it’s adjusting corporate policy or following new regulatory standards – you need the right software to allow you to make those changes.
4. Can You Implement A “Review & Approve” Process By Different Stakeholder?
It’s important for certain departments within your company, such as marketing, legal, regulatory, and operations, to be able to see and greenlight specific documents before they’re sent out.
Through the dynamic document production process, you should be able to enable a review and approve process for each of these stakeholders. If not, your company is definitely in need of new document automation software.
5. Can You Make Dynamic Document Production Changes Without Coding?
Many systems require you to call on your IT department any time a change needs to be made in dynamic document production. Not only does this take someone from IT away from something else they could be doing, it’s completely unnecessary.
There is software out there that allows changes to be made by executives. It also doesn’t require them to learn how to code beforehand.
6. Do Your Documents Engage Your Customers?
Proving a positive customer experience (CX) allows your company to reap the benefits for years to come. Engaging with your customers and strengthening that relationship is vital to the success of your company.
7. Can You React To Competitor Moves Or Regulatory Changes In a Timely Fashion?
Staying one step ahead of your competitors is always a constant battle. Your company continues to think of ways to one-up them, while they do the same for you. Let’s say your competitor unveils online they’re having a big sale this weekend. What can you do?
This is time-sensitive, so being able to swiftly adjust your dynamic document production to inform your customers of your own weekend sale is important. Or, if you find out about a regulatory change that goes into effect tomorrow, will your company be able to manage? If you’re unsure, it’s probably a good idea to start looking into getting a new system.
Managing Dynamc Document Templates
For some companies, the extent of document creation is upwards of fifty different document types per customer. Even with a clientele of average size, businesses might have a hard time managing dynamic document templates.
There are ways to scale these document projects for even the most expansive customer bases. The right strategy is really the simplest one: aggregate your data, template components, conditional template rules, and all other customer communication faculties into a single template management platform, then implement the following consistent best practices:
1. DEVELOP A NAMING CONVENTION
Creating a naming strategy is the first step to organizing dynamic documents. Defining categories turns random elements into a toolbox. Classifying document types can even help businesses classify customers and deliver the communications that best suit each of them.
Develop, publish, and adhere to a naming schema for all document templates. Here is a schema example: YYYY-MM-DD – Type of Template – Purpose of Template. This will allow sorting them by year and keep them organized in neat groups.
2. PLACING TEMPLATES INTO FOLDERS
Redundancy is one of the most common issues faced in dynamic document template management. Often so many templates have been created over time that companies simply ignore whatever duplicates are lingering. It becomes difficult to know which version of the template is the most updated, and which needs to be deleted.
Using folders to group similar templates or categories of templates gives you the ability to distinguish latest versions from dated ones, duplicates from similar ones, and organize them accordingly with version control.
3. RECYCLE TEMPLATE FEATURES
Dynamic document creation systems allow organizations to update branding for the entire template library through a master template. The aim is to eliminate the need for parsing so that the old branding is not mixed in with the new.
From one place you can update the colors, logos, and letters – even formatting details – of everything that will be sent out. Now you deliver a unified company message, ensuring that branding is consistent across the full range of documents delivered.
4. ADAPT TEMPLATE VERSIONS
Customer information and preferences change with time, so while the master template is required to make uniform edits throughout communications, there is also need for communications that are highly responsive to change on an individual basis.
Dynamic document systems include both individual and global template editing features. Functions can also be added to interactive documents to track customer information so users can adjust certain elements at a moment’s notice.
Digital & Electronic Signatures For Dynamic Documents
The levels of security achieved with digital documents are perceived to be lower than those of good-old hard copy. Print seems convenient in this regard: stored in a single, physical space and signed with pen by the right people. You know who the documents belong to, and you can be fairly certain they are not going anywhere.
However, upon a closer look, there are downsides to physical storage: the documents take up actual real estate, they collect dust, they are vulnerable to physical damage, and transporting them takes valuable time and resources.
In the past, businesses have accepted these drawbacks over the fear of digital documents travelling across the web and falling into the wrong hands. If a business could match the security of print documents with the flexibility and economy of digital (savings on paper, ink, and office equipment), they would see greater efficiency and better organization in their communications and data storage.
Fortunately, technology has caught up to those fears. Cybersecurity has made digital communications more secure than paper-based ones. Dynamic documents can be easily verified and are legally binding. To mark the legitimacy of digital documents and to make the process dynamic, customers can use digital and electronic signatures.
Digital signatures are for the recipient of any official business document and embedded with signature information – everything necessary to verify the identity of the sender and where the document is signed.
This type of signature is aimed at customers or businesses receiving official documents to ensure that what they are receiving is in fact from the source it claims.
An environment in the dynamic document creation system inserts verifiable identity information to make sure that the document is from the official source and that it arrives at its destination unaltered in any way.
Electronic signatures are where businesses prompt customers for consent to move forward in business processes. Dynamic document composition solutions can integrate with leading third-party electronic signature vendors.
This means that a third-party electronic signature vendor (such as DocuSign, for example) validates who the end-customer is with an encrypted signing portal.
When a customer signs off on a document, the dynamic document system receives a message from DocuSign, then propels the business process forward.
Make Your Documents Dynamic with MHC
The word dynamic can mean a lot of things: the many dimensions of how a customer experiences the document, the many options at a company’s disposal for creating and distributing them, and ultimately the document production system’s ability to integrate with any customer data system.
With digital and electronic signatures, communications are safer and all parties are better aware of what is being communicated. Secure documents that take up less space are certainly more practical, but the value of dynamic documents extends beyond your internal storage.
While you save on office tools, you also provide more convenient solutions to customers by allowing them to sign with you directly from their devices. The hassle of physically mailing documents or meeting in person is eliminated, things move along faster, and customers are more satisfied.
Make your communications more convenient and engage your customers with dynamic documents. Explore the many benefits of interactive documents and personalized communications. Request a demo and try out MHC’s dynamic document solutions today!