Our team was recently challenged to provide a solution that would save sales representatives hours of work effort a week and more in response time in sending personalized PDF documents to their clients while meeting US Security and Exchange Commission legislative and executive management reporting requirements.
The initial design stages indicated a solution based on automating the out-of-the-box 'Mail Merge' functionality. However, the complexity of preparing 'automation-ready' Word templates would have required a new process that included additional training and increased corporate risk which, when analyzed in detail, would have shifted many of the productivity gains by field sales to their executive administrators. Third-party document management tools were reviewed but deemed both too costly and would have increased an already complex CRM deployment. A candid follow-up requirements review session with legal indicated a simpler approach - PDF Watermarking.
The essence of the PDF Watermarking solution was leveraging Dynamic CRM APIs along with iTextSharp PDF APIs to 'stamp' uploaded PDF templates (regular PDF documents) creating personalized PDF documents. For our solution the stamp was the corporate name of the client (Account name) applied at the time the template was uploaded.
In keeping with our corporate desire to simplify solutions and reduce cost, the entire out-of-the-box Sales Literature architecture was leveraged to manage uploaded PDF documents. With minimal additional coding, Account personalized PDF documents were automatically attached to Sales Literature items and linked to related Opportunities.
Sales staff now were able to 'self serve' themselves to personalized PDF documents and attach them to Outlook or CRM emails. This solution negated the response time delay and work effort in requesting such documents while the administrative 'prep' process was reduced to training executive assistants how to upload PDF documents into Sales Literature items. An additional hoped-for outcome was increased adoption of the CRM tool as users saw increased value in time saved. A future benefit will be the availability of these personalized PDF documents for mobile sales reps once a mobility solution is deployed.
Additional features of this solution included implementing a button solution that would attach all related Sales Literature items to a CRM email and a tracking methodology for externally sent emails - these will be discussed in other Solution Overview postings.