|One-line Pitch:||– Easily create, share, sign, and track digital documents, on any device, using the systems and data you already use.|
|Highlights||– Control with document guardrails and dynamic content.
– Collaborate without version clashes or reconciling changes.
– Start and end document management from Salesforce, including automatic record updates based on ‘document events’.
– Document Interaction Reporting that gives pipeline forecasting a new lens and points content creation efforts in the right direction.
Conga’s founding mission has been to power the Digital Document Transformation, and Conga Collaborate is certainly no exception to their ethos. With a customer base nearing 800,000 users worldwide, Conga have a track record of high performing products – the most famous being Conga Composer, which has persistently stayed high (if not top) of the AppExchange rankings.
Conga Collaborate (formerly Octiv) is a recent addition (April 2018) to the Conga family, one of a selection of strategic acquisitions Conga made to cover document management end-to-end.
Collaborate matters now because Digital Document Management is a need that can no longer be ignored. Digital document management aims to surpass the ‘document black hole’ that still plagues organisations doing traditional document management, that is, documents that are one-dimensional, static, and lack transparency. The pertinence of digital document management became clear when I spoke with Amanda Lester, Product Marketing Manager for Collaborate, who explained PDF and Word are formats developed in the 1980s. Safe to say, the world has moved on – how we interact with documents has changed, and so have our expectations, revealing the need for fluid and mobile-optimised user experiences. This is why digital document solutions like Collaborate are next generation – important here and now.
I had the pleasure of assessing Collaborate’s features, ideal use cases, setup effort, and potential impact adding this product to your Salesforce Stack could bring.
Even as a first-time user, I feel at ease starting off, which is the mark of a user-centric product. Conga’s intuitive layout makes features accessible, and has the document’s progress visible in a sidebar.
The core design is one half of the equation. Collaborate is a user-centric product thanks to the control admins are granted to customise their users’ experience, offering a guided document collaboration experience tailored to their organisation’s specific processes.
This is new-age document collaboration – a tool packed with features which I will now dive into, highlighted as they are either unique to Collaborate, or simply stood out to me.
Seamless with Salesforce
Conga and Salesforce live side-by-side. In the shoes of a user, document generation can kick-start right from the opportunity, where admins can set up Quick Actions for the most frequently used document types.
Data can be merged from any Salesforce object into the document templates that admins define – yes, any Salesforce object. Up-to-date information, already formatted? There will be no copy-and-paste on our watch!
Skipping forward, when it’s time to send the document for client review, naturally, Salesforce Lead/Contact information is easy to select.
Moreover, admins can define mappings for the recipient field adding to the ‘guided’ user experience; a good example of this would be setting a lookup to automatically populate the opportunity primary contact as the default recipient. Nicely done!
One feature that showed user-centricity to me, is the document guardrails. These ‘lock down’ sections of the document that should not be edited, protecting right down to the word. Yes, editorial controls are restrictive, but offer efficiency for Sales Reps who do not want to interfere with contractual small print, for example. Not to mention peace of mind for the legal team. Editing permissions can be configured by the admin, giving the correct teams the correct editing rights.
With many data source options for merge fields (Document attributes/Recipient attributes/Salesforce records), Admins can easily trace the source in the admin section:
Document content becomes dynamic when the content displayed depends on some attribute of the recipient; a prime example would be displaying the correct terms and conditions according to the recipient’s country. Think about the data you are collecting and the potential dynamic content you could apply, some that spring to mind for me are prospect industry, business size, or department they belong to.
You can create different variations for a field featured in the Document/Recipient/Salesforce, and define which variation should be displayed for which value. Admins can build logic groups in the declarative Logic Builder, a couple of screenshots below:
Logic Rules listed very clearly:
In the editing interface, dynamic content sections are marked by dotted line borders, and can be set by page, by paragraph, even as granular as specific words.
Below you can see Terms and Condition paragraphs that will be displayed if the viewer is from the US, or the ‘International’ variation for any other ‘Country’ field value.
As you would expect, a library of approved assets (images, files, text blocks) is at everyone’s disposal.
This ‘integrated library’ can retrieve assets stored on platform (Salesforce), or retrieved from another repository (Box, GoogleDrive, SharePoint, and others).
Add the curated items via drag-and-drop; for example, marketing have provided a customer testimonial content block that is available to use in your proposal to seal the deal.
In addition, usage of assets in the library is recorded, and information such as usage by Sales Rep and asset type can be fed back to the marketing team to prove what’s sticking – and what’s not.
Many hands can be involved in producing a document behind the scenes at your organisation. Cross-functional teams can use the built-in task feature to delegate internal responsibilities; it’s a lightweight communication method, but isn’t aligned with the standard Salesforce Tasks (Activities Object), and managing these tasks remain within the Conga interface.
I was curious – how can users’ edits not override one another?
The rules are simple: a “first come first served” policy for page editing.
Although any number of users can collaborate on the document, if another user is working on the same page, that page will be locked for editing, with the active user’s icon appearing for transparency. This prevents edits from going unsaved; I’m sure many have experienced the downfall of record editing in Salesforce, when: “The record you were editing was modified by xxx during your edit session”. This doesn’t happen with Conga.
Document Interaction Tracking
The reporting that Collaborate offers bridges the ‘document black hole’. Organisations stuck in traditional document management are still asking questions such as: “has the prospect opened the document?”, “which pages caught their attention? And what content did they skim past?”
The length of time a page was viewed (also known as dwell time) per recipient will give you this insight. Information on value (opportunity value) and urgency (days to close) is shown alongside. Get notified when documents are viewed, and by which recipient, to keep on top of those critical sales proposals.
I’ve already gushed over how Collaborate can be tailored for your organisation’s specific procedures – here’s where Admins can manage the user experience, integrations and everything else you see in the left-hand panel:
Automation on ‘Document Events’
I have cherry-picked ‘Document Events’, as I know this will pique Salesforce Admin interest. Simply put, these are workflows built within Conga. When an event happens, such as the first time a document is viewed, you can define which Salesforce field should be updated with the new value:
Here is a table with some more examples, including Document Events tied to specific templates:
It’s worth noting that documents are stored on their relevant Salesforce record with a related list, for auditing ease and team-wide visibility.
Organisations don’t function without documents, and the use cases are innumerable; however, there are teams that will undoubtedly benefit from streamlined document collaboration:
- Sales: it’s shocking how much time salespeople still spend on generating quotes, proposals, and presentations. Eliminate any ambiguity on product and pricing information, as the most up to date price book information can be automatically dropped into the document.
Above: Order Form example.
- Field Sales/Service: with Collaborate’s mobile-first design, field sales and service personnel can interact with documents from multiple devices (and access offline too).
- Marketing: gain control over what content the sales team are sending to prospects. Marketing teams are able to quickly roll out new content, or recall and update messaging and branding. The testimonial content blocks mentioned above are a perfect example. Moreover, content usage reporting proves to marketing what types of content are preferred by sales, and therefore where to focus content creation efforts.
- Accuracy: You can’t put a price on accuracy when it comes to documents, or maybe you can – the resource leaking from your organisation as a result of errors and version control would shock you, I’m sure! Aside from the monetary/productivity losses, professional reputation is at risk, something that is less easily rectified.
- Shorter Sales Cycles: digital document collaboration accelerates the review & approval stages. Empowering Sales Reps to follow-up straight away boosts opportunity momentum.
- Forecasting: see the sales pipeline through a new lens, using document interaction reporting as hard evidence for determining opportunity probability for in-flight deals.
- Enterprise-friendly product: ready to service the needs of large corporations, such as the ability to ‘white label’ the Collaborate product with your organisation’s own brand when client-facing.
- Peace of mind: for the legal team, knowing that document guardrails are protecting sensitive legal wording means it is not interfered with.
Being part of a tight-knit suite, expect the impact of Collaborate to multiply out when paired with other Conga products, like Conga Sign. A combined solution will take care of processes end-to-end – something that’s unheard of in the current document management reality.
Conga does have a little learning curve, but this is to be expected with a tool this flexible and powerful.
Conga offers resources when you get started, below is a sneak peek at the guided tutorial for new customers:
While Conga’s setup resources are good, that’s not what they talk about. Instead, Conga promotes their consultative onboarding approach, which gives specialist walk-through support, specific to your requirements.
Conga advocates their support services not just for their impressive customer satisfaction track record, but also for their own benefit. By investing resource into customer support, Conga are continuously learning from their customers, who bring new use cases to the table to challenge Conga.
Not only is the product constantly evolving, if you believe your document woes are insurmountable – I’ve got news for you, chances are they’ve seen it before!
This marks the end of my Collaborate assessment. I have captured the key features, ideal use cases, setup effort, and potential impact this Digital Document Management tool has to offer, giving you plenty of information to digest. However, I couldn’t cover everything the tool has to offer – so, if Collaborate has grabbed your attention, I recommend you let the product speak for itself, and take it for a Test Drive.