Employee Spotlight - Document Automation with Steve Thompson
Q: What is your job title? And how long have you been with QuantumRhino?
A: My title is Director of Document Automation, which is not just limited to document automation. A lot of process automation goes along with that, but generally, document automation is my sweet spot. I've been with QuantumRhino since December of 2020, so for about 14 months now.
Q: How would you explain what you do to a passerby at the grocery store?
A: In short, my team streamlines and improves the document automation process within our clients’ organizations by adding the ability to have data-driven document automation, which makes the management and clean-up of their content much, much cleaner.
One of the primary things we do with the document automation tools we use is reduce the duplication of documents that an organization may be seeing. For example, one of our clients has business in approximately 20 different markets. Each market has its own set of documents with about the same amount of verbiage, but the documents differ slightly based on the market. So using our tool set, we can make the process much more innovative so the client doesn't have to maintain 20 different versions of the same document. Instead, they can have one copy that's smart enough to know "in Market A, we use this language, but in Market B, we use this other language." Hence, it makes the solution's maintenance, overhead, and long-term viability much more sophisticated and accessible for the client.
It does take some time to set things up correctly, but if you put the time into designing the system the right way from the beginning, you're going to save yourself a lot of time, money, headaches, and duplication of work down the road.
Q: Gone are the days of going on your computer, opening up a Word document, and inserting “job title here” or “industry there”, right?
A: Exactly yes!
Q: What drew you to QuantumRhino? Was it the leadership team, culture, QuantumRhino’s upward trajectory, or something else?
A: I saw a very well-oiled machine at QuantumRhino; it’s a great blend of outstanding leadership and highly experienced people working in all different facets of the organization, who love to encourage new talent. We have a team of smart people who are eager to learn, no matter their level of experience, and they retain a lot of what they learn. They soak up all that knowledge, and it's not only great for us as an organization, but also for their career development.
Q: As the Director of Document Automation, what does a typical day look like for you?
A: Most days, I meet with clients to gather requirements, figure out their pain points, and how formulating a plan for QuantumRhino can help them. Once I talk to the team and come up with a plan, I'll spend time with clients explaining some available options through different tools we utilize. In some cases, all we need to do is write custom code to provide what they're looking for. But in the majority of cases, we set up established tools and use those to configure the client's systems. Either way, we always strive to provide a sophisticated and streamlined experience for our clients.
Once the plan has been approved, we generate tasks and assignments for our document automation team and detail the work that is needed. I do a lot of the coding, configuration, and setup myself, and the rest I assign to our amazing team of developers!
Q: Generally speaking, when you’re going to the drawing board and coming up with a plan, how many people are involved?
A: Really, it depends upon the scale of the project. Sometimes it's just me, but I will often pull in additional colleagues to talk about the issues the client is having and brainstorm the different options because I value a collaborative approach. Working as a team gives us all a sense of ownership and helps in the realization that we are making a difference for the client.
Unlike other companies, we're not just assigning work and saying, "hey, go do this, go do that," we want them to understand the why behind the solution and tasks assigned for the solution. At every level, the team gets to participate in determining the right scalable solution that addresses the client's needs. That participation helps develop our internal team’s skills as well.
Q: What aspect of your role would you say you enjoy the most?
A: I enjoy working with our up-and-coming talent to help them learn, expand their toolbox, and figure out great solutions and different ways to approach problems. We don't have this issue here, but sometimes the more senior people at a company aren't necessarily willing to share as much because they're afraid another person might come up with a better way to do it. But honestly, if they have a better way to do it and they can show me, or I have a better way and show them, we are all going to benefit from it!
Q: Collaboration drives innovation, right?!
Q: What are some of your favorite or most impactful projects you've worked on here at QuantumRhino?
A: Two really come to mind! One project I'm working on now is working with a client to redo their entire document automation process - and that's a pretty big mountain to climb. They've been on a homegrown system for 20 years, so there is a lot of legacy knowledge about that system and very little actual documentation. As with any system that's been in place for years, many people don't like change and are resistant to it. So, it has been an enormous project to give a streamlined approach to helping them manage what goes into their contracts.
That client also requested a workflow where changes must be approved by legal first and then by IT before they can be used in a live environment, which was an area I had not tackled in the past. QuantumRhino went up against some bigger companies and developed that solution just for them, and we were able to demonstrate to their top leadership why our solution was the best for them and would meet all their needs.
The second client that comes to mind came to us with an interesting problem. They have a dashboard in Salesforce that is available to their 300+ clients. Each client can log in to a portal and see their data on their dashboard. This company decided that they wanted to streamline their approach by sending out a weekly report that showed the information rather than requiring clients to log in to see the dashboard. That one took a lot of time for us to work on and get it to a state that was essentially mimicking what Salesforce was doing, but the client has been running that weekly report for a little over a year now, and we have not had to touch it since we first implemented it. I am pretty proud of that project!
Q: That's incredible! I am confident they, and their clients, are forever grateful for that. Now, what are your hopes for our industry?
A: That's a good one! Nothing groundbreaking. I want to see continued innovation. I don't want to see people get complacent and not evolve. If I didn't want to grow and continue to learn new things, I would probably still be doing the same tedious job I was doing more years ago than I care to mention! As we evolve and as the industry and technology evolve, we need to stay up to date and continue to learn.
Q: What advice would you give to new hires?
A: Always be open to feedback and try not to take it too personally. Naturally, people have a lot of pride in what they do, and if something isn't working, or someone comes along and starts to pick your solution apart, it's easy to take offense. But if you can maintain a positive mindset and realize that constructive criticism is given because the people around you are invested in your success, you’ll continue to grow and go far in both your organization and career. Really, I think just being open to learning and understanding are some of the best tools you can have.
Q: What has been the most important innovation you have witnessed?
A: Definitely cloud computing! I was a little skeptical of it when I first heard of it, and my first exposure to it was working with Salesforce back in 2010. Before then, cloud computing was around, but didn't gain momentum until maybe a year or two before that. Due to the 2008 recession, the company I was working for wanted to streamline and improve processes while reducing hardware to eliminate some of the overhead. They had been using an "on-prem" CRM, meaning the software was installed on a server the organization directly controlled and maintained. I was on a team that was tasked with finding a replacement cloud-based CRM, so that was my first exposure to cloud computing.