Tier Software Applications & Their Differences

Market Research undertaken by Knackly with their ‘2021 Customer Survey & Document Automation Industry Analysis’, found that most American law firms are creating documents with one of four tool types:

  1. Microsoft Word
  2. Document modules within client or case management applications (Tier One Solutions)
  3. Basic or moderately-equipped, stand-alone SaaS/desktop programs (Tier Two Solutions)
  4. Advanced, full-featured, stand-alone SaaS/desktop programs (Tier Three Solutions)

Traditionally, each “tier” is sequentially more capable, yet more complicated to master. Easy programs can only do easy things, and powerful solutions may boast impressive features, but the secrets to mastering them are layered deep, and training is complicated!

The Tier One Solutions aren’t very challenging to learn, and they operate within your familiar CRM, but our customers say they hit the limits of these pretty soon. Most are merely integrated mail merges and basic, “if/then” options. Client management platforms like Clio and Smokeball include document creation tools, but other Tier One Solutions are stand-alone packages like Woodpecker Legal and LawYaw provide similar functionality through integration. For simpler documents and matters, these are adequate, but only to a point.

Most Tier Two Solutions introduce basic, conditional logic, single lists, external intakes, and, perhaps, an interview process, but the learning curve begins to creep and so, too, does the limit of these platforms. Examples of these include Documate and The Form Tool.

Tier Three Solutions, however, are robust and fully featured packages – capable of building (almost) everything you need in your documents. HotDocs is one of the industry’s largest Document Automation platforms (others include XpressDox and Contract Express) and, prototypical of Tier Threes, it’s certainly powerful. Complex conditional logic, nested lists, external intakes, list filters, signing blocks, and other features are all part of HotDocs and most Tier Threes.

However, it can require months or even years, to master these applications! And even then, their automation remains limited. HotDocs, for instance, still has the ability to re-use people in different lists, but it is complicated and time-consuming to set up.

If you’re currently considering Document Automation, you may find some of the other Hub Resources useful.


Kim Mayberry - Knackly
Kim Mayberry – CEO, Knackly

Going Beyond Tiers

Knackly Document Automation software is built on newer architecture that doesn’t bloat or require excessive resources as you grow. We built it to be easier, and to solve the problems we all know existed in all three tiers of software available.

Knackly performs all the functions expected in Tier Three Solutions, but is remarkably easy to master. Our support team will help you with our Jumpstart services. Regardless of your eventual choice, we want you to find the best solution for you. Our Document Automation Industry Review & Document Difficulty Breakdown will help you identify the complexity of your documents and which Solution Tier is right for you.