How to leverage Google Workspace automation for document creation

In this case study, I detail how I automated the creation of a set of Health and Safety policies for this client. Automation of documents is one of the most popular processes to automate. Almost everything, such as the creation of invoices and quotes through to general business correspondence, can be automated.

Keep reading to find out how I reduced the time spent creating these documents from 2 hours to 15 minutes using Google Workspace apps.

A Case Study on Document Automation

Background

Beech Hill Safety Limited is a Health and Safety Consultancy specialising in the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. Since 2007, they have been helping clients, contractors, architects, designers and engineers navigate this complex issue. 

For each project they assist on, there is a legal requirement to issue various documents.  This process was manually completed using pre-defined templates, which were changed for each project.  We focused this part of the automation project on the issuance of Health and Safety Policies.

Current Process Challenges:  

  1. A set of Health and Safety policies contains 12 documents.  Within each of these documents with the clients’ details, like name, address, logo, etc.  is updated. However, manually doing this is extremely time-consuming.
  2. Quality Control often highlights errors, missing information or incorrect formatting, which results in rework and delays in delivery. 
  3. Profit margins are minimal due to the costs associated with producing a set of documents.  Consequently, Beech Hill Safety Limited was not actively targeting this income stream, resulting in a loss of potential revenue.

Business Tools already in use:

  1. Google Workplace
  2. Smartsheet
  3. Dropbox
  4. Microsoft Office Applications

Manual Process Map

This is what the process looked like prior to automation using Google Workspace tools.

Automation Design Considerations:

  1. Documents must be version controlled
  2. All documents must be sent as drafts first, and then as final versions.
  3. Final versions must be in PDF format.
  4. Each policy should include the client’s logo (where provided).
  5. All policies must be formatted the same so that they are easily distinguishable as part of a set

Applications used for the Automation:

  1. Google Workspace Applications:
    • Sheet
    • Forms
    • AppSheet
    • Scripts
    • Drive

Reason for automation applications choice:

  1. Beech Hill Safety Ltd already uses Google Workspace.
  2. Staff already know how to use Google Applications.

Automated Process Map:

The Automated Process

When a form is submitted or edited, the automation retrieves each template and creates a copy. Then it updates the new copy with information entered on the form.  Following this, it saves the document and creates a PDF in the correct client folder on Google Drive. Each of these files is saved using the prescribed naming convention and is version controlled. These documents can be immediately sent to the client.

Users retrieve these documents through an application designed with the Google AppSheet or directly via Google Drive.  Previously completed forms are also accessed through this application. This allows users to update project information as the project progresses, or for future document issuance.

Office Automation using Google Apps

Benefits Achieved:

Benefit 1 – Reduced time needed to create or edit Health and Safety Policies

Significantly reduced time spent on the production of Health and Safety Policies. Previously, it took staff around 2 hours per project to manually complete a set of health and safety policies. This process has been reduced to 15 minutes. And, it is expected to be further reduced for annual policy renewals. Project/Client information is already stored on the system and therefore only needs to be updated where necessary. This in turn reduces the time spent on entering data.

Estimated time spent – Manual entry: 2 hours per set of documents

Estimated time spent – Automated entry: 15 minutes

Total estimated time savings – 1 hour 45 minutes

Benefit 2 – Significantly reduced error/rework rates

Previous errors relating to missed field updates, formatting and incorrect naming/versioning of documents have been eliminated. The only errors that could still arise are incorrect spelling or data entered onto the system. However, this is easily corrected by amending the relevant response on the form. When data on the form is changed, the automation will trigger, updating all policies with the new information supplied.

Benefit 3 – Reduced administration costs

This automation has saved Beech Hill Safety Ltd up to 80% in administrative costs per set of policies issued. This is due to the drastic reduction in user input and time required to issue a set of policies.

Benefit 4 – Increased profit margins

Profit margins, in particular for policy renewals, have been positively impacted due to the reduction in administrative costs. It has highlighted an avenue of profit previously neglected due to minimal margins.

Benefit 5 – Reduced software costs

All documents created by the automation are created in Google Docs. The files are stored and shared using Google Drive. Beech Hill Safety Ltd could therefore relinquish their Microsoft Office and Dropbox licensing.

Outcome

Beech Hill Safety Ltd has

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