The Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) is the largest Stock Exchange in the Southern Hemisphere and 16th largest in the world.  By using a document automation solution based on MacroView ClauseBank and custom .NET templates, ASX has achieved a significant reduction in the time taken to prepare documents related to listings on the Exchange.  The solution helps to ensure that the resulting documents comply with the ASX corporate branding and style guidelines and also fosters the active involvement of staff in maintaining up-to-date content for future documents.

The Challenge

Chris Dobbs, Listings Compliance Adviser, ASX

When Chris Dobbs first joined the ASX in 2017 as a Listings Compliance Adviser, his very first question was, “Where are all of the document templates?”

Like many organisations both large and small, the ASX has found it challenging to manage all of its information in the one place. Knowledge has often resided within key individuals and it was easy for content and legal references to go out of date, styles and branding to be inconsistently applied and out of step with the current ASX Style Guide. As a new starter, Chris found himself overwhelmed with the amount of time needed to pull together the same basic content and the reformatting effort required to prepare standard ASX compliance documents.   

He saw an opportunity for significant process efficiencies by standardising content and making it available to ASX users in a more structured manner. With the support of his peers he was given the task to explore process improvements and get the house in order. Chris spent months cleansing and collating a massive library of ASX content. He noticed immediately there was a small number of core documents that were used regularly that he wanted to turn into a “shopping cart” of drafting options – enter MacroView ClauseBank and the document automation specialists at MacroView.

Tailoring the Solution

Australian Stock Exchange

The ASX had already been working with MacroView DMF as its email and document management system using Microsoft SharePoint for several years and this was an opportunity to tap into MacroView’s world-class document automation capability.

MacroView ClauseBank is an easy to use add-in that streamlines document preparation in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Outlook. It provides users access to a menu of approved content conveniently managed in Microsoft SharePoint (either on premises or online) and provided the ideal framework for the ASX to use as a document automation solution to:

  • Significantly improve user productivity – MacroView customers regularly report productivity gains in excess of 500%
  • Improve brand compliance and the quality of documents produced using standard ASX document templates and styles
  • Ensure compliance and risk management with an automated work flow for ASX subject matter experts to periodically review and update content.
MacroView ClauseBank displays a menu of standard, approved content. Selected content items are retrieved from SharePoint and inserted in the document that is being drafted.

The first challenge was Market Announcements. Long-time ASX users took for granted the operational quirks unique to the various ASX trading platforms, that a new starter would have no way of knowing. Chris was particularly keen to build ASX’s various operational process into the templates because he didn’t have this inherent knowledge. Chris says:

“One of the things I love about technology is that it distributes knowledge around for everyone to use”.

MacroView developed a suite of ASX brand-compliant templates in Microsoft Word using Microsoft Content Controls. Intuitive instructions mean that users can simply work through their documents in situ and be prompted for inputs in context where required (refer screenshot below). The fact that controls are linked also means that the user only needs to enter the same piece of information once for it to be splashed across the entire document and/or package of documents created, reducing the amount of user inputs and clicks.

Users complete the document by working through Content Controls. Response text is inserted at all relevant points across the document.

Another critical issue was that documents released to the market are nearly always time sensitive. You can’t be fumbling through a file share looking for the correct market announcement. If a stock needs to be suspended you need to have the right template immediately on hand, it needs to be timely and accurate, otherwise there is hell to pay. MacroView developed a custom ASX ribbon in Microsoft Word as a single easy access point to create and format new ASX documents (refer screenshot below):

New Document button in Microsoft Word displays a list of available templates for creating ASX brand-compliant documents.

Getting It Right

There were many challenges that needed to be addressed and fine-tuned along the way. For example, when ASX users first started testing the system in UAT there were 25 second delays to open clauses which were discovered to be caused by a security layer in ASX’s infrastructure that needed to be resolved. MacroView worked very closely with the ASX to configure the environment to deliver the optimum user experience.
The ASX also needed to manage change by giving users time to adjust and trial the templates, and respond to their concerns. Chris notes that he received more than 100 email comments on changes made to the footer for Market Announcements alone,

“There is no way around it – these issues need to be properly vented. To stay agile, we found we needed to think in squiggly lines, rather than take a linear approach. We often had many pots on the boil at once and whichever one sung first would often dictate my work for the day”.

The core design principles adopted to drive the project included:

  • Principle 1: Provide a great user experience
    It had to be intuitive, make users work faster and be tailored to the way they work.
  • Principle 2: Make the creation process iterative
    It is impossible to get things right the first time. We needed to allow ourselves to make mistakes and to seek collaborative feedback from stakeholders.
  • Principle 3: Give it a life of its own
    The system needed to be decentralised and work by itself. The system should be focused around subject matter experts that have ownership over the content, but everyone should be involved in continually updating the knowledge.

Delivering Results

“MacroView ClauseBank really shines when working with larger documents. We are reducing 50 page documents down to eight and the process time for preparation from four or five days to just four hours.”

Chris Dobbs, ASX

It took a while to get everyone on board with the new and improved way of doing things. Chris delivered many internal presentations and invested significant time listening to the business needs and concerns from the various ASX stakeholders, which paid off when he received positive feedback from users that found the new system intuitive and easy to work with.

After the initial success with Market Announcements, the focus shifted to Checklists, Letters, Management Papers and various other templates and content. Making sure that the content library was comprehensive enough for users to trust as their single source of truth, whilst being flexible enough to adapt various content to the particular needs of the drafting situation was always a key focus. Chris says:

“In a sense it was a mini eco system and we had to get it right”.

The other constant was managing the fine line between providing users with the right balance of document automation without over-engineering the technical solution. Chris comments:

“MacroView ClauseBank really shines when working with larger documents. We are reducing 50 page documents down to eight and the process time for preparation from four or five days to just four hours.”

This project has been an exciting opportunity for the ASX to “create” something – actually making a difference to change the way people think, work and behave. Chris notes:

“I have found it a very fulfilling project to be a part of – not just to sit back and complain about what is wrong. I definitely recommend document automation to any organisations looking to make the jump”.

For More Information

  • MacroView DMF Video Overview Playlist of short videos that show how MacroView DMF 365 software provides a great experience for managing documents and emails in Office 365 while you work in Outlook, Word and other popular Windows desktop applications.
  • MacroView ClauseBank Video Overview Learn how MacroView ClauseBank integrates Word, Outlook and PowerPoint with SharePoint to make preparation of documents, emails and presentations more efficient, at the same time reducing the risk of missing, out-of-date or badly-formatted content.

For more information about this and other solutions based on Microsoft Office and SharePoint for generating and managing documents and emails contact MacroView Solutions or visit the MacroView Channel on YouTube.