Guide to business document template management
From design to implementation and distribution across the organization
Designing business document templates
Every day, numerous documents and presentations are created by employees. Employee productivity can be dramatically increased through using the right templates in the document creation process. But how exactly are document templates created? And how can we ensure they are going to be the most efficient document templates?
The answer to this involves many different elements – from designing document and presentation templates to implementing, managing and distributing them.
Step 1: Template design
Why does template design matter?
Template design is vital for your company’s brand. It influences how communication materials are perceived by their audience, regardless of whether they are being used internally or externally. If presentations given by different members of the same company contain different brand elements because they haven’t all used the correct PowerPoint template, then it will impact the perception of the brand.
For usability and brand consistency, it’s important to consider the placement of company logos, icons, legal disclaimers and other elements across different document types. For example, a legal contract template must look professional whilst also containing important brand elements, in a design that enhances usability. A presentation template must be designed with a focus on attention and clarity, whilst also containing clearly recognizable branding.
A further factor to consider when designing document templates is differences in cultural style conventions. Each country has distinct requirements for the information that must be included in legal disclaimers, and every document template must take this into account. As employees create documents so frequently, a well-trusted document template design which has been deployed to all employees is a tool able to save time and enhance productivity across the entire organization.
The template design process
When designing document templates, there are many factors to consider. Depending on the organizational structure of your organization, there may be various stakeholders such as brand teams, marketing teams and document managers. Any colleague involved in creating and maintaining corporate visual identity will need to be involved in the document template design process. Making sure employees consistently use the latest official document templates, including presentation templates, word templates and email templates is vital to maintaining a consistent brand identity.
Given the importance of document templates for business, what is the process for designing the templates?
To begin with, internal stakeholders should create a brand identity manual that includes approved fonts, logo designs, color schemes and graphics, to provide designers with all the necessary brand elements.
Next, the documents that templates will be created for need to be decided. These could be letters, contracts, memos, presentations, and so on. It’s important to carefully consider who the intended audiences are for each type of document, as this will affect the design choice.
Once these aspects have been determined, the next decision is whether to outsource the design process to a design agency or use an in-house graphic designer. When making this decision it is important to consider that the design process can be costly, and it will probably take a significant amount of time for all the document templates to be created.
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Step 2 : Implementing document templates
Implementing corporate document templates into office applications
Once the templates have been designed, the final product will be in a publishing design format. Most templates cannot just be uploaded to create Microsoft Office templates that are ready for use by employees. The final design must be deployed so that the styles, margins, paragraph spacing in Word and layouts in PowerPoint are managed and structured to ensure the final document is as close to the design image as possible. Large companies may have template managers who are responsible for this task, but it is usually necessary to work with a template implementation company to make newly designed templates feasible as document templates in word.
Implementation of corporate document templates
Implementation companies have expertise in the specific code required for creating document templates in Word or PowerPoint. They can enable the template your company has designed so it is compatible with office applications. This is necessary because Office applications give the user a lot of freedom. Implementation companies manage and structure the styles, margins, paragraph spacing for Word and layouts for PowerPoint in an efficient way which minimizes potential mistakes that could be made by employees. This is particularly important if your organization is using intelligent templates, as these require more coding.
Step 3: Add intelligence into business templates
What is a dynamic template?
Through implementation, the position of where data will go within the document template is determined. This means that customer or employee information will always appear in this position in the document, and in the determined style. Elements are unable to be changed or removed by users, meaning employees can trust that the documents created through these templates will be on-brand and compliant.
Intelligent, or dynamic, templates, are ones which automatically load personalized details. When a template is being coded for use in Office, the code defines where data will be positioned within the document template. This means that, for example, the logo will always be placed in the top right corner of a document template, and this cannot be changed by an employee. In the case of dynamic templates, this means that certain information appears in the document template based on who is making the document, and the choices they make. This can include details specific to them, such as their name and contact details in a document template for a letter, or more complex elements, such as insertion of specific legal disclaimers as a result of options that the user selects.
On a technical level, Graphical User Interface (GUI) based tools are normally used to configure dynamic templates. In Word, content controls can be used to insert bindings through following a JSON format. These bindings may relate to the elements that are used to personalize a template, such as dates, addresses, and numbers. It is through this process that personal information is inserted into the document template.
Using intelligent templates is key to increasing document creation productivity. They ensure that brand consistency and legal compliance is maintained across all documents, and also allow personalization to each employee. This means that employees are using less time manually inputting data such as contact information into documents, resulting in more time for them to be productive. Also, through dynamic personalization of documents, far fewer templates are needed, as one base template can contain many dynamic elements, reducing the need for many different versions of the same template. Both Word template designs and PowerPoint template designs can be made dynamic, and these smart templates are the future of document productivity.
Step 4: Managing and distributing quality document templates
Once your business document templates have been designed and implemented, employees need to consistently use them. Templafy’s sophisticated cloud-based software makes it easy for employees to use the most up-to-date document and presentation templates.
Easy access to up-to-date templates
With Templafy, the most up-to-date corporate document templates are available to all employees right within the office applications they are using. This ease of access means it’s an intuitive platform to use. Through dynamic templates, Templafy inserts company and employee-specific information into every document and presentation that is created.
Our cloud-based administration platform means any template changes are rolled out instantly, enterprise-wide. Brand and compliance managers can add, change or delete document and presentation templates in one central location. Assets are also maintained in the same place, so images, logos and text elements are easily controlled, updated and located.
Less templates needed
Templafy works with dynamic, smart templates which means there is no need for employee-specific document templates anymore. For example, instead of having hundreds of letter templates saved across employee computers, each employee will have access to the same document template and their specific information will automatically be inserted. This makes document creation easier, faster and more consistent.
Cloud-based platform works from anywhere, on any device
Templafy is hosted on Microsoft Azure’s cloud service. This means updates to business templates can be rolled out instantly, and also accessed from anywhere. Regardless of location or device, employees are always able access the document templates and assets that are needed for their work.