Product Guides

4 Elements & Features Every Document Generation API Needs

June 8, 2022
Author
Inkit Team

Manually creating and preparing documents is a huge productivity drain in the long run. 

From emails to presentations to PDFs, much of our professional life is spent on document management and generation.

Then, you have to consider converting, editing, organizing, sharing, documents, and more. 

Fortunately, with the right document generation platform, most of your document management worries become automated and your time will be spent much more efficiently.

But not all document generation tools are created equally.

So, if you’re wondering what features you should be looking for in order to maximize efficiency, here’s what we’ll cover below:

  • What Is A Document Generation Platform And How Does It Work?
  • Why Document Automation Will Benefit Your Business
  • Document Examples To Automatically Generate In Most Industries
  • How Do Document Generation Platforms Work? Document Generation API Overview
  • 8 Factors To Consider When Choosing a Document Generation Platform
  • 4 Essential Elements You Should Look For In Every Document Generation Platform

First things first, what’s in a document generation platform?

What Is A Document Generation Platform And How Does It Work?

Document generation is the process of creating typical documents used within a business such as invoices, contracts, sales proposals, work orders, and more. 

This is also referred to as document automation, in which the generation is done automatically. 

Document automation refers specifically to the use of systems and workflows that assist in creating electronic documents. Traditionally, this was done manually. But with a proper document generation platform, you'll be looking at ready-to-go documents tailored for your specific business needs.

The way this is done is as follows:

  • You create templatized documents of the same documents or forms you create manually. 
  • You use a document generation platform to pull the data from one source (e.g. customer data, contact forms, user info, etc.).
  • You automatically generate documents based on the said data. This way, you can create 100s of reports or contracts without manually inputting the data.

See our document templates for an automated PDF generation guide for a more detailed breakdown of this and the most common documents you can generate.

Why Document Automation Will Benefit Your Business

If you can automate your document generation, you’ll find a few benefits that will affect multiple areas of your business. A few benefits such as:

  • Reducing the risk of error by employees.
  • Higher efficiency and faster document creation times.
  • Work consistency and compliance.
  • Better organized document management.
  • Professional appearance for customer documents.

Wondering what document generation looks like more practically?

Let’s take a look at some industry examples and document types you can automate.

Document Examples To Automatically Generate In Most Industries

In most lines of business, document generation is a crucial part of daily tasks and workflows. 

Creating templates or purchasing template-based document generation software can help automate and improve the efficiency of these daily processes. 

Examples of industries that would benefit from this type of software include: 

  • Healthcare to automate patient information records, patient responsibilities and rights documents, invoices, insurance documents, medical history checklists, and more.
  • Finance to create confidential reports, invoices, finance action plans, credit reports, and more. 
  • eCommerce.
  • Utility companies.
  • And more.

Meanwhile, some other examples of commonly used document templates include:

  • Invoices
  • Cash receipts
  • Financial statements
  • Medical test results 
  • Patient information records
  • Customer confirmation letters
  • Customer request forms
  • Terms and conditions 
  • Agreement 
  • Insurance claims
  • Price quotes
  • Order confirmation
  • And more.

Now, if you’re wondering how exactly you can automate the generation of hundreds of confidential documents, here’s how the tech behind this works.

How Do Document Generation Platforms Work? Document Generation API Overview

Document generation API is a cloud-based service that allows you to add automated document rendering to existing web solutions. An application programming interface manages communications between your platform and server to create documents with custom designs and fields.

Even though PDF rendering tools can generate documents in different formats (e.g., Excel, Microsoft Word, Docs, etc.), PDF format is the most common. 

It’s an industry standard for all official communications, claims, requests, and agreements

PDF is also highly secure and flexible. That’s why most document generation software APIs convert HTML data sources to PDF docs. If you need automated document creation software API, chances are you will also use an HTML to PDF converter.

APIs offer you a bit less freedom of choice than custom functionality. Nevertheless, they include all the features necessary for quality document management automation. You can choose how to handle documents and customize their design with simple settings.

But when it comes to choosing a document generation platform, you’ll find that you have a lot of options - in terms of features and functionality.

So, if you’re not sure where to start, let’s take a look at some considerations and essential document platform elements.

8 Factors To Consider When Choosing a Document Generation Platform

Custom development of document generation capabilities is expensive and time-consuming. 

You need to engage software engineers, cover the entire software development life cycle, and maintain the document rendering functionality. 

Under such conditions, a third-party API document generator is an optimum solution. It’s affordable, secure, and quick to implement. 

Now, here are some considerations when choosing your document generation platform. 

1. What document formats you need (PDF, HTML, etc.).

API documentation generators support different formats. You may convert HTML to Excel or create text docs. Nevertheless, HTML to PDF rendering is the most common option.

By converting documents to PDF, you provide users with official communications they can download and sign electronically. PDFs are also highly secure and look equally well online and printed.

That’s why, looking for an API documentation generator, focus on API PDF generators.

2. Choose an API PDF generator with document customization 

Standard document conversion tools don’t offer the level of document customization required in web platforms.

They only convert the source file into another format.

So, for example, if you run an eCommerce store, you should choose an API PDF generator with rich personalization capabilities and a template editor.

The software should also allow you to add headers and footers, change page numbers, margins, size, and other parameters. 

It’s essential to automate multiple kinds of documents and adapt PDF templates to your business and operational needs.

3. Make sure it supports document retrieval and automatic deletion

API documentation generators like Inkit Render offer additional document management capabilities. 

They enable API developers to layer document retrieval. As a result, end users can download the files after they generate PDF documents. It allows storing PDFs locally or printing them for paper-based use. 

With quality API PDF generators, you can also choose when the document rendering software automatically deletes the copies of files. This feature is convenient if you handle documents with retention deadlines.

Out-of-the-box PDF generation
The easiest way to automatically generate and manage paperless documents at scale.
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4. API Documentation generators with tech support

While integrating a document generator API, you should have someone to rely on. 

That's why we recommend picking a vendor that provides a detailed API reference, developer portal, API docs, and code samples

The vendor’s step-by-step instructions will allow you to connect the software without mistakes and unexpected issues. 

When there is tech support, you may always ask them to help with integration.

5. Paid or open-source tools for at-scale rendering

Open-source tools are not suitable for at-scale professional document rendering for many reasons. 

First, they have limited functionality and won’t allow you to achieve the necessary extent of automation. Vendors that support open-source API PDF generators don’t invest in upgrading the offered solutions. 

They also don’t hold responsibility for maintaining the software and regular updates. Therefore, you will have to do it yourself, which results in additional hassle and continuous expenses. 

Apart from that, open-source API documentation generators don’t ensure as good data security as paid solutions. 

And since documents usually include personally identifiable information, security is life-critical.

If you’re looking for more information on this, see our guide on whether you should build from scratch or buy an API for a detailed breakdown of the framework.

6. Access control and audit log

Software interoperability enhances data sharing but also complicates access management and compliance. It may be challenging to create different access rights for different teams

Meaning, that only specific people with specific permission settings will be able to access sensitive or important business documents.

To simplify this, you’ll want to choose a document generation API with user role setup management and an audit log. This will enable you to limit access to documents across teams and grant permissions to selected people.

User roles are essential to prevent data leakage and breaches

They also help to configure document management rules as you decide what team members can perform what tasks. 

For example, you may allow some people to generate and delete documents, while others have only view rights.

7. APIs that allow scaling data processing volume

You can rarely predict how many documents you will handle in a year. 

If you expect your business to grow, you’ll want to choose an API document generation platform that scales with you.

This will enable you to switch from one subscription plan to another smoothly. 

Hence, make sure to research the document processing capabilities of the selected API PDF generator beforehand. If you see it has strict data limitations, it’s better to consider another option.

8. Compliance features and data security

Documents like invoices, bills, or medical test results include lots of personal details. 

Hence, to stay regulatory compliant, you need to handle them carefully. 

Besides, many industry-specific regulations introduce record-keeping and data-storage rules

It means you need an API documentation generator that automatically stores reliable document copies.

Be sure to see what makes document automation possible for 5 other factors to consider if document automation is right for you.

Now, let’s take a look at some essential document generation features.

4 Essential Elements You Should Look For In Every Document Generation Platform

1. API integrations 

Since you likely already have a workflow and other systems in place to improve workplace efficiency, it’s important to find a system with API integrations. 

Finding a document generation system that allows merging data or integrating with your current business tools will ease the transition into the new system.

Some common document generation integrations may include:

  • With your CRM.
  • Accounting software.
  • Marketing tools.
  • Zapier.
  • Analytics.
  • Website.
  • Raw data tools.
  • And more. 

2. Automated workflow

Another characteristic of a great system will be the ability to automate your workflow. 

With the right system in place, you’ll be able to create a repeatable process that requires less hands-on time. 

Templates, packages, and other types of systems should be able to integrate with CRMs, billing systems, or other databases to automate error-free document creation. 

This will allow companies to batch-produce documents on a schedule or on-demand. 

Some use cases for automated workflow as part of your document management may include:

  • Automatically alerting all team members about their tasks.
  • Notifying team members and stakeholders in case of any changes.
  • Automating reporting processes.
  • Automatically archiving or deleting a document after a certain period of time.
  • And more.

3. Centralized workspace

Along with creating automated workflows and scaling work production, your company will find having a system with a centralized workspace highly beneficial. 

Having the ability to share instructions and information based on teams, projects, departments, or even the entire company all in one dashboard will result in effective and timely communication. 

With all of the system characteristics mentioned, they all will result in reducing errors and improving the efficiency of your company. 

4. Security and compliance features

While this is important more so for some industries than others, there are several benefits of having security aspects within your system. 

As with any online software, there is a risk of data theft and other security threats with the use of cloud data storage. 

The ideal software for your document generation will have many security features such as firewalls, encrypted data transfer, and SSL compliance to ensure your data is secure.

Sectors that might benefit from this the most may include:

  • Government and defense.
  • Financial and insurance organizations.
  • Healthcare companies.
  • Information and telecommunication teams.
  • Transport and logistics.
  • And more.

Wondering what else you should be looking for in a document generation platform?

See our guide to 8 essential elements of a good document management service!

Using Automated Document Generation To Save Operations Teams Time And Money

Finally, to sum up, one of the biggest benefits of using a document generation platform is the ability to save a lot of time and money.

In fact, most business 59% of businesses going paperless with document generation achieved full ROI in less than 12 months. For others, it was under 18 months.

But that’s only the beginning of the benefits.

Be sure to see our full guide on automated document generation to learn how you can start saving time and money!

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The easiest way to automatically generate and manage paperless documents at scale.
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