Woodpecker prerequisites

Before getting started with Woodpecker, follow these steps and best practices to ensure successful installation and operation on your computer.

Make sure you have:

  • MS Word, any version that is 2013 or later.

  • Javascript enabled in your operating system’s native browser: Internet Explorer on PC or Safari on Mac. Even if you don’t use these browsers by default, Word will use them to render Woodpecker. Instructions for enabling Javascript can be found here.

  • No firewall settings that prevent the installation of Word Add-ins or prevent Add-ins from accessing the internet.

  • Access to one of the following browsers: Chrome, Edge, Safari, Firefox for accessing the Woodpecker dashboard.

Best practices for implementing document automation

Group documents together by practice area or matter type

Organize templates for each practice area or matter type within folders in your Document Collection. Not only will this help keep your templates organized, but will also save you time when populating multiple templates at the same time.  

For example, when using Multi-populate, you can select an entire folder of templates to Multi-populate, rather than having to manually select each file. 

Standardize field names

If you are going to be using Multi-populate, it is essential to keep your field names consistent across your templates so Woodpecker can map common fields across different templates.

The best way to do this is to use our Reuse Fields function.

Alternatively, when you create a template, you can export your field names, types, and options into a CSV file to add to a shared master document for team members to reference. 

Decide how to group data into fields

Ask yourself: does it make more sense in your template to have “Client Name” and “Client Address” as separate fields or does it make more sense to separate these pieces of information into two different fields? 

For example, if you use “Client First Name” or “Client Last Name” elsewhere in the document (for example: in a salutation), it might make sense to break up “Client Name” into two fields: “Client First Name” and “Client Last Name.” 

If you reference the “Client City” or “Client State” in the document, it might make sense to enter that data into two separate fields, rather than using one “Client Address” field. 

Use a standardized naming system for templates

A consistent and descriptive file naming convention drastically improves usability of your templates. 

Using a template naming convention empowers your team to navigate files quickly and makes searching and finding templates easier by ensuring file names reflect file contents.

File naming best practices: 

•       Short but descriptive. Too few details create ambiguity; too many limit understanding. 

•       Avoid special characters or spacing. 

•       Use meaningful abbreviations. Document the use and meaning of abbreviations in your file name conventions so they are applied consistently.  

•       Use capital letters and underscores instead of periods, spaces, or slashes.

•       Document your decisions including what components you will use in file names. 

Example: 2020June_EstatePlanning_POA_WP  (WP for Woodpecker template) 

Walk before you run

It’s tempting to want to automate your most complex documents first, as these are usually the most time-consuming to draft, iterate, and proofread.

We strongly recommend you start with a simple document, such as a Client Engagement Letter or Power of Attorney instead.

This will give you a chance to explore the basic functionality of Woodpecker, become familiar with the interface, and get the hang of the logic in a natural progression before you move on to using more advanced features.

Decide what data will be stored in your Clause Library (Woodpecker Pro or above)

The Woodpecker Clause Library allows you to share frequently used information across multiple templates. When you make updates to the content in a Clause, all of the templates referencing that Clause will be updated as well. 

You can get creative with what you store here. For instance, some teams use the Clause Library to store the addresses of office locations, so those addresses can be easily accessed by all templates and all team members. 

Prepare your documents for Auto-template

There are a few ways that you can help ensure that Auto-template identifies all of the potential fields in your document:

1.     For Auto-template to most effectively analyze an existing template, make sure that any placeholders are surrounded by square brackets like this: [Client Name].

2.     Another option is to surround placeholders with left and right angle brackets: <Client Name>

3.     Auto-template can also identify highlighted words and phrases so if you haven't surrounded placeholders with brackets, highlights will work just as well.

4.     Avoid documents where the placeholders are simple blank lines. Auto-template is able to identify specific patterns of information, but not empty spaces.

If possible, use a document that has been previously prepared for a recipient and has information already filled in like a person's name, their address, or a date, for example.

Have more questions about best practices?