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  1. #1
    New Lounger
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    Recommend: powerful, flexible doc template system? (2000 / XP / 2003)

    Hi folks,

    It's been so long since I've been here that I forgot my old username! Glad to see that the boards are still going strong.

    I'm after a recommendation on some software and I'm really not sure what it might be called. I'm looking for what I think of as a really powerful, flexible document templating system. My company (professional services, 200+ staff) prepares a LOT of proposals for client work. People currently re-use existing proposals as the basis for new ones but I'm sure that we could get a lot smarter about how we do this with efficiency and accuracy gains in the process.

    I'd like to be able to offer the people who do these proposals some sort of easy to use interface where they can select the type of proposal as a first step. And then they get to select from a whole list of different options which sections, sub-sections, paragraphs, etc are to be included. Then that produces a fleshed-out skeleton document (if that makes sense) that they are then able to add specific customer, scope, price and other details. Some of the standard bits of text on offer would cover areas like: Why our company, Corporate referrees, Relevant past experience, Staff biographies, Terms and conditions, etc. Preferably I'd like to be able to draw on things like descriptions of past projects that already exist in an SQL database.

    I'm sure I've heard about software that can do this sort of stuff but I can't for the life of me remember any product names. But my info is way out of date anyway.

    So what do you use / recommend / sell?

    Thanks in advance, <img src=/S/smile.gif border=0 alt=smile width=15 height=15>

    Andrew Mitchell

  2. #2
    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    Re: Recommend: powerful, flexible doc template sys

    I believe this category is called "document assembly." But I don't have any personal experience with such products.

  3. #3
    Uranium Lounger
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    Re: Recommend: powerful, flexible doc template sys

    Hi Andrew:
    I don't have any information about software that does this, but Word can do many of the things that you're talking about. You can create Workgroup templates that contain a structure for different types of proposals. Those templates can be divided into categories for different departments. They can be placed on a dropdown menu or toolbar for easy access. These can be augmented by autotext entries that are either specific to each template or contained in global templates (e.g. staff biographies). Finally, you might be able to use mail merge if you were sending out identical proposals to a number of clients that were in your database.

    If you have any questions about this, please post back.

  4. #4
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    Re: Recommend: powerful, flexible doc template system? (2000 / XP / 2003)

    I used to have a sideline job supporting a company which sold Sant ProposalMaster here in Australia. It did what you described and was pretty flexible to setup and configure.

    I cant remember any others at the moment.
    Andrew Lockton, Chrysalis Design, Melbourne Australia

  5. #5
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    Re: Recommend: powerful, flexible doc template system? (2000 / XP / 2003)

    I think HotDocs by Capsolft Development Corporation might be a good solution for you. It is very easy to use and it works with Word, WordPerfect, and others.

  6. #6
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    Re: Recommend: powerful, flexible doc template system? (2000 / XP / 2003)

    You could look at Bill Coan's Simpleprompter & Dataprompter, which are both Word add-ins.

    We use Simpleprompter (Windows version) to construct almost any document (checklists, letters, forms). It is easy to implement, using plain text "fields" to generate dropdown lists, text & numeric prompts & multiselect boilerplate document insertion. e.g. to create a multiselect (tick a box) input screen you would type the following plain text into your master document. [bp2Select multiple boilerplate itemsBoilerplate Item ABoilerplate Item BBoilerplate Item C], where the Boilerplate A, B & C were separate documents. A, B & C could also have prompts which allows you to branch you document. If you make a mistake, you can click Undo and go back to the point of error without losing the input before the error.

    This has allowed us to standardise most of our documents, without having to design forms or macros. It also survives the mailmerge process, which is often the first step in our document creation. It has certainly reduced the time & errors when preparing documents.

    I also did a quick test of Dataprompter and I was amazed at how well it constructed a document. It might be more useful for larger documents where the user knows the pieces they wish to insert when constructing the document.

    Regards,

    Matthew

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