Mail Merge: An Early Step in the Direction of Document Assembly
The trek toward a fully deployed enterprise document assembly system begins with a first step. For many organizations, this first step is probably the establishment of a template that serves to provide formatting (fonts, styles, pagination) for each of its documents. But not long after that, the organization may deploy MS Word’s mail merge functionality, a method for getting structured data — be it in a database, spreadsheet, etc. — merged into a Word document.
As the enterprise continues towards systematizing document production, it will probably go beyond mail merge and incorporate keystroke macros, which will allow staff to eliminate repetitive keystroke sequences during the document production process. If the organization really has envisioned the benefits of robust automated document production, it may move beyond keystroke macros to scripted macros (building programming logic into its macros).
However, most organizations don’t realize the quantum leap of complexity between keystroke macros and scripted macros, which require either VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) or VSTO (Visual Studio Tools for Office), both of which require a deep understanding of software engineering principles and probably specific experience with either VBA or VSTO.
It’s the complexity gap that generally drives organizations towards a powerful document assembly platform, such as the industry leading HotDocs.