Companies that have moved from paper-based forms and processes to electronic forms continue to see huge improvements in efficiency and reduced costs. If you choose the right platform for this move, the return on investment can be realised very quickly.
#1 Why make the move
Paper forms and manual processes are slow, inefficient and error prone, it’s that simple! Most paper-based processes at some point become digital meaning that at some point someone has to manually transcribe the form data or scan a paper form to get a digital copy of it. This entire situation could be avoided if the collection of the data at the start of the process is done electronically.
With the current COVID-19 situation this becomes even more important as we attempt try to follow social distancing protocols and avoid any unnecessary physical contact. Routing paper-based forms around an organisation for physical signatures is not only slow but nowadays it’s simply dangerous.
#2 How to move
There are numerous forms solutions and apps readily available. They vary not only in terms of functionality and cost but also in terms of their integration points. When choosing a potential solution, you should not simply focus on the cost and available features but also on what technology you already have and how any new forms solution can be integrated with your existing applications and services. For example, while many forms solutions are hosted online accessing the data captured by them and reporting on it can sometimes be difficult or require additional tools. Our product, Sintel Forms Studio is designed on SharePoint so if you already have SharePoint or Office 365 then it’s a great option as all the data from your forms is stored in your environment.
#3 What to look for
There are few key features that you should be looking for when considering a solution. They may not all apply to you however I’ve seen situations where companies think they don’t need a particular feature initially and later it becomes very critical for them. Just because you don’t need a feature right now doesn’t meant that it would become important for you in the future.
- Responsive forms
- Built-in workflow
- Mobile apps
- Offline Forms
- Image previews and annotation
- Anonymous forms
Your forms should look great and work the same regardless of the type of device they are used on whether it’s a PC, Tablet or Smartphone.
A Form is never just a form and often requires some logic or automation to send it for review or approval.
Your users may want to store forms on their device to enable them to submit them at any time without having to log into a website to access them.
You may need to complete forms even when you have no internet connection on your device such as when you are travelling.
You may need to collect handwritten signatures from people to authorise a request, confirm a delivery or sign off a job.
You may wish to attach photos to a form and enable users to preview and annotate them.
You may wish to share forms with anyone including people outside of your organisation.
TIP: Updates and support
This one is often overlooked but it’s crucial. Try to choose a product or solution that is updated regularly with new features and one with great product support. Make sure to check out the release history and customer feedback or testimonials (if available) of any product you are considering using.
Regardless of the solution you choose for moving from paper-based forms to electronic forms the important thing is that you consider doing this as soon as possible. With Sintel Forms Studio our customers and partners see cost savings and increased efficiency from the moment they roll out their very first form and these benefits increase exponentially as they roll out additional forms.