The Ultimate Guide to Document Workflow Automation [+ Examples]

Do you think that document workflow automation can help you save time and money? If you answered yes, you are correct.
Approving with Interest Rate
Market Interest Rate
Loan Application
U.S. Passport
Mike Williams
Date of Birth
Date of Expiration
Tax Returns
Mike Williams
Annual Income
SS Number
Standard Deduction
Pay Stub
Mike Williams
Total Pay
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Federal Taxes
FICA - Medicare

According to research, workflow automation can:

  • Help you save up to 77% of time spent on repetitive tasks, and
  • Reduce operational costs by a mind-blowing 90%.

Our clients have seen similar results. Direct Mortgage, for example, was able to achieve an 80% cost reduction per processed document and achieve a 20x faster time-to-approval by automating its document-related processes.

The possibilities are endless, especially for document-heavy industries, like the finance, legal, and healthcare sectors.

What Is Document Workflow Automation?

Document workflow automation is the strategic use of technologies that help businesses automate document-related business processes. It can include automating tasks such as routing, tracking, and processing documents. 

By leveraging technology, businesses can minimize manual handling, reduce human error, and ensure compliance with regulatory standards without going through grueling manual adaptation processes.

What Can You Automate, Exactly?

Some businesses (and automation solutions) focus only on automating document workflow management. This means they automate intermediate steps, but not actual document-related tasks.

→ For example, workflow management software — and more specialized document management systems — typically focus solely on automating document intake and triage. They may be able to automatically route documents to specific specialists, request approvals from supervisors, or give notice of upcoming deadlines. However, they won’t be able to automate strictly document-related manual processes, such as data extraction.

So, solutions focused solely on automating workflow management won’t actually automate your workflow — just the management part. Human employees will still need to classify documents, extract data, and perform other document tasks manually. 

Task automation is more in the realm of document processing solutions, like Document AI.

Here is a quick comparison between the two: 

Document Workflow Management Tool
Automates the management of documents (e.g., document intake and triage)
Management automation
Document Processing Tool
Automates document-related tasks (e.g., document classification, data extraction)
Real workflow automation

How Can You Automate Document Workflows?

Document workflow automation involves using advanced technologies and methods, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA). They help create intelligent systems that can understand, categorize, and process documents with minimal human intervention. 

AI systems can learn from their past experiences and improve their accuracy over time, becoming increasingly effective at handling documents. RPA systems, on the other hand, act based on pre-defined rules. As opposed to AI, they can’t learn new rules on their own simply by observing data. So, AI systems are a step up from RPA systems.

Businesses can further integrate such systems with other software, such as CRM and ERP software, and enable wider-scale document workflow automation. That way, the data can flow between systems, reduce the need for manual data entry, and increase overall data integrity.

Example of Document Workflow Automation: Finance Industry

Finance companies typically have one of the most document-heavy workflows. 

Banks, insurance companies, and mortgage companies, for example, deal with a plethora of documents every day, from bank statements and paystubs to insurance files.

Using document workflow automation tools, like Document AI, can help them automatically classify such documents, extract data from them, and normalize that data for easy review.


Businesses send, upload, or route documents to Document AI. Initiating document automation workflow triggers the following actions:

#1 Automatic Document Classification

→ classifying multiple docs into appropriate categories

  • Category A: Paystubs
  • Category B: Bank statements
  • Category C: Tax returns

#2 Automatic Data Extraction

→ extracting data from structured and unstructured documents

  • Employer information & deductions
  • Instances of overdrafts or third-party transfers
  • Income information & tax payment info

#3 Automatic Data Normalization

→ converting data across documents to a single, unified format

  • Non-normalized: Doe John / Normalized: John Doe
  • Non-normalized: Overdraft 123 / Normalized: 123
  • Non-normalized: Payment Date January 1 2023 / Normalized: 01/01/2023

Automating these tasks helps companies save money and time they’d usually spend on manual document processing. But each automation also has some extra benefits:

  • Automating document classification helps employees find what they need in less time. 
  • Automating data extraction eliminates the need for manual data entry and reduces the risk of human error.
  • Automating data normalization (i.e., ensuring all data is presented in the same format) facilitates human reviews and leads to overall better accuracy.

Document AI can, for example, automatically convert diverse currency values into one consistent format and help you review your documents at a glance.

Some solutions, like Workflow AI, can take things a step further. They can also validate data against pre-set criteria or other documents to ensure authenticity, and even generate useful insights and reports, such as candidates’ risk profiles, based on analyzed data.

Workflow AI can, for example, also help you detect duplicate information and documents.

Using AI or similar workflow automation systems also offers additional industry-specific benefits. 

For example, they help finance companies better tackle anti-money laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) regulatory requirements. Automated workflows can, for instance, ensure that documents are cross-referenced against global databases, bolstering existing compliance efforts.

Get a Custom Document Workflow Solution For Your Business

See what Document AI can do for your business in less than 30 minutes. No strings attached.

What Are the Benefits of Document Workflow Automation?

Automating document workflows offers numerous benefits, including:

  • Increased operational efficiency through the reduction of manual and repetitive tasks.
  • Improved accuracy and consistency in document handling and data extraction.
  • Enhanced regulatory compliance due to better document traceability and adherence to protocols.
  • Streamlined collaboration and communication within and between departments.
  • Greater scalability, allowing businesses to handle increased volumes of documents without added strain on resources.
  • Improved employee satisfaction. Employees can focus on more strategic and fulfilling work, while automation solutions handle repetitive tasks. 
  • Better decision-making capabilities. Accurate and readily accessible data enables leaders to make informed decisions more quickly.
  • Enhanced customer experience. Accelerating business processes often leads to faster responses and resolutions, increasing customer satisfaction.
  • Reduction in environmental impact. Reducing paper-based business processes supports sustainability initiatives.
  • Cost savings. Cost savings result from two factors: (1) decreased need for human effort, and (2) reduced paper consumption and storage.

3 Steps to Successful Document Workflow Automation

Here are three critical steps to take before integrating automation solutions into workflows.

Step 1: Create a Plan

Developing a robust plan is the cornerstone of successful document workflow automation. It involves assessing current document handling processes, identifying bottlenecks, and determining the objectives of automation. It involves asking questions like:

  • Who needs access to documents within the organization?
  • What types of documents do we typically deal with?
  • What type of document tasks do we typically perform?

This stage is crucial for setting the foundation for subsequent steps. Clear objectives, for example, can guide the selection of technologies and processes. 

For example, if your goal is to increase accuracy, you may want to go with a more expensive or custom large language model. Alternatively, if the main objective is to accelerate your workflow, you’ll want to look for models with fast inference times.

Step 2: Determine What Document Tasks to Automate

Next, identify which document-related tasks are ripe for automation. Here, it’s important to weigh the complexity of the tasks against the potential benefits of automation. 

One document task can be significantly different from another one. For example:

Data Extraction
Fairly simple
Benefits: eliminating manual data entry, reducing the risk of human error, accelerating repetitive tasks
Data-Driven Decision-Making
Fairly complex
Benefits: minimizing the risk of human error, automatically triggering other processes with little to no wait time in between

Simple, repetitive tasks that require little human judgment are typically ideal candidates for automation. However, even more complex tasks can often be automated with more advanced systems, like those powered by AI.

Assessing the potential return on investment (ROI) for automating specific tasks can also guide decision-making. Look at factors such as the volume of documents processed, the time taken for manual processing, and the costs associated with errors and delays. This will help prioritize tasks for automation based on their potential to contribute to cost savings and efficiency gains.

It's also crucial to consider how the automated tasks will fit into the larger ecosystem of the organization's workflows. Proper integration ensures that automated tasks complement existing processes and contribute to the seamless operation of the business.

Step 3: Find the Right Document Automation Solution

Finally, the last step is choosing the right document workflow software. You should consider:

  • Whether a solution meets your specific business requirements
  • How easily you can integrate it with current systems
  • The level of customization different solutions offer
  • Technical support and security that comes with different solutions
  • Scalability — a good document automation tool should not only fit well with your current operations but also be able to grow with your business and adapt to future needs.
  • User experience — your solution should be as easy to use as possible, so your employees don’t need to go through grueling training before using it.
  • Robust data analytics capabilities — the ability to track and analyze the performance of your document workflow can help you pinpoint areas for improvement and quantify the benefits of automation.

You can also conduct a pilot program with a shortlist of potential solutions. This allows your team to test the functionality and performance of each tool in a controlled environment, ensuring that the chosen solution can meet the demands of your document workflows.

For example, our clients can pay a small Proof of Concept fee to get a prototype of Document AI trained on their documents and custom schema. That way, they can check its accuracy first-hand.

Interested in getting Proof of Concept for your business? Leave your email address here and we’ll get back to you with more details.

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5 Best Solutions for Document Automation

Here, we’ll compare the pros and cons of some of the best document workflow automation solutions.

1. Document AI

Unlike any other solution on this list, Document AI is completely custom to every business. Rather than offering a ready-made solution, we build it specifically for your custom schema and documents. 

It’s also incredibly versatile. We can train it to handle any type of document, from receipts to bank statements, and perform any document task relevant to your business. This can include anything from document classification to data normalization.

Finally, we either host the solution on our cloud or integrate it with your other systems, depending on what matters more – wider-scale automation or cost-efficency?


  • Trained on your data
  • Customized for your specific use case
  • Able to learn on its own thanks to machine learning capabilities


  • Requires bigger investment than ready-made solutions

2. DataSnipper

DataSnipper simplifies data extraction and cross-referencing between documents and Excel data. It has a user-friendly interface and performance metrics dashboard, which can come in handy. Cross-referencing helps maintain data integrity and accuracy; performance metrics help optimize your workflow.

However, DataSnipper is by and large focused solely on Excel. It works as an Excel add-in and requires users to import documents, such as PDFs or images, into Excel in order for it to work. 

Once the documents are imported, DataSnipper can identify, extract, and reconcile data found in those documents.


  • Automates critical document tasks
  • Easy to use


  • Not customized for different use cases
  • Low versatility
  • Poor integration capabilities

3. Docsumo

Docsumo is an AI platform that automates a number of document processing tasks, including document classification and data extraction. It offers a satisfying level of versatility, allowing users to send documents via emails, API, cloud drive, or local machine and process unstructured data, too.

Customers can choose between using pre-trained models and training the models on their data. While this is a great option to have, not all businesses are ready to train AI models themselves. It requires significant technical expertise, not to mention time-consuming — data preparation alone, for example, can take months. 

Still, Docsumo probably offers a satisfying level of accuracy even when powered by pre-trained models.


  • Very versatile
  • Good integration capabilities
  • Machine learning capabilities


  • Only a DIY, and no done-for-you customization option
  • Can’t be adapted to other use cases by users
  • Can’t be hosted on company infrastructure

4. PandaDoc

PandaDoc offers an all-in-one document automation solution that streamlines the creation, distribution, and electronic signing of documents. It's particularly useful for teams looking to enhance their document workflow while maintaining brand consistency.

The platform provides a range of templates and customization options, enabling businesses to create professional, branded documents quickly. Its electronic signature feature also expedites the approval process, making it easier to close deals and finalize agreements.

With that said, PandaDoc is probably not the best solution if you’re looking for a more robust and feature-rich tool. It may not be suitable for companies with document-heavy workflows, or those who need ways to extract and preserve important data.


  • Drag-and-drop document builder
  • Intermediate integration capabilities (native CRM integrations)


  • Document creation is template-based
  • Doesn’t seem to have any document classification or data extraction capabilities

5. Avokaado

Avokaado could be described as a contract management system, providing a secure and efficient way to manage contracts from creation to execution. Its focus on collaboration and integration with external systems makes it a good choice for industries that rely heavily on contractual agreements.

It simplifies contract management by automating the drafting, negotiation, approval, and storage of contracts. Its centralized system ensures that all parties have access to the most up-to-date versions of documents, reducing the risk of miscommunication and errors.

The platform's dynamic template library and clause library also make it easy to build contracts using pre-approved content. However, if you’re looking for a more multi-purpose solution — i.e., need to automate other document tasks, and not just those pertaining to contracts — you should probably choose another one.


  • Helps streamline content management 
  • Semi-flexible integration capabilities


  • Doesn’t support other document types
  • Contact drafting is based on ready-made templates and may lack personalization

Get Your Custom Document Automation Tool Today

The right automation tool can transform your document management system — and make you drastically more efficient. To get those results faster, choose a tool that adapts to your needs, like Document AI.

Instead of coming ready-made, Document AI is entirely customized for your specific workflow and trained on your data by our experts. Development takes as little as 6 to 8 weeks. 

See how it works live today.

John Doe
Pay Stub
Total Pay
Net Pay
Federal Taxes
FICA - Medicare
Medical Record
Patient: 77248
Patient Demographic
Billing Cadence
Current Progress
Current Patient Response
Extract patient names, medical conditions, lab results, and any other data that speeds up administration, patient care, and your other processes.
Employment Contract
From our CEO
James W.
Samantha T.
Extract data like legal citations, contract dates, and specific clauses, and streamline your research, document drafting, and other legal tasks.

Extract Data

Extract data from documents in exactly the fields you need with zero human intervention.
John Doe
Pay Stub
Total Pay
Net Pay
Federal Taxes
FICA - Medicare
Sarah Moore
Pay Stub
Total Pay (USD)
Net Pay (USD)
Federal Taxes
FICA - Medicare
Convert diverse currency values into one consistent format, standardize date formats, and scale numerical values for faster financial analysis.
Medical Record
Patient: 77248
Patient Demographic
Billing Cadence
Current Progress (Months)
Current Patient Response (SO2)
Medical Record
Patient: 77198
Patient Demographic
Billing Cadence
Current Progress (Months)
Current Patient Response (SO2)
Convert diverse date formats into a unified structure, standardize units of measurement, and normalize any other data you need to maintain consistent records.
Employment Contract
Format: PDF
James W.
Samantha T.
Employment Contract
Format: PDF
Alex S..
Morgan W.
Standardize various contract clause formats, date representations, and other data you need for efficient legal research, drafting, and analysis.

Normalize all your Data

Normalize all your data with just one click, so you can compare it at a glance, make informed decisions faster, and integrate it into your databases and other tools more easily than ever.

Get a Custom Document Workflow Solution For Your Business

See what Document AI can do for your business in less than 30 minutes. No strings attached.


Can document workflow automation solutions also help me with document creation?
Yes - some document workflow automation solutions can help you with document creation, too. For example, Document AI isn’t intended for document generation. We can, however, empower it with additional, Content AI capabilities at client requests.

This isn’t the case with ready-made solutions, but some may indeed have already built-in content generation capabilities.