Electronic Checklist: A Great Starting Point for Workflow Software

Thursday, March 21st, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

Few tools help more people maintain more motivation to reach goals than the simple checklist.

Mechanic with checklist

The humble checklist is responsible for accomplishment of many goals.
Electronic checklists do away with the need for pen and paper, and keep records automatically.

While big goals are necessary, they can feel overwhelming at times. Checklists help us break down the tasks that get us closer to our big goals and check off our progress as we go. In fact, the simple act of checking things off a checklist activates the “reward” system in the brain, causing a quick burst of dopamine. In other words, it feels good to check things off a checklist. Psychologists recommend people use them in daily life partly for this reason.

Paper checklists have served people for ages, but electronic checklists are better, especially now that we carry mobile devices around all the time. In fact, the electronic checklist can be an excellent first use of workflow software.

Checklists Customized to Different Business Roles

Rare is the business role that isn’t improved by the electronic checklist. Some of the most common types of checklists used in businesses include:

  • To-do lists, which can be customized to each individual
  • Task checklists that break down a process step by step
  • Troubleshooting checklists
  • Coordination checklists (that are used by multiple people)
  • “Discipline” checklists that help people avoid making decisions before due consideration

Having electronic checklists on a phone or tablet is ideal, because it’s paper- and pencil-free, so fewer physical resources are needed, and the lists won’t be lost. And electronic checklists can have features built in that enhance productivity.

Checklist Features that Aid Productivity

With the right workflow software, you can create custom, mobile-friendly electronic checklists with productivity-enhancing features. For example, if steps on a checklist should be done in a particular order (as is often the case with a troubleshooting checklist), if a user skips a step, the checklist can instantly deliver a pop-up notification stating that a “prerequisite” step was not checked off.

Bicycle messenger with table

Notifications and alerts make electronic checklists more useful and ensure processes are completed in full.

If completion of one person’s checklist indicates that some other person’s action or input is needed, the electronic checklist can send a notification to that person that the process is ready for their input. And electronic checklists can be made to collect data for later perusal or reporting. Someone could see, for example, that a troubleshooting checklist was completed ten times in a month for a particular piece of equipment, and decide whether it’s time to dig deeper or consider replacing the equipment.

An Excellent Introduction to Learning Workflow Software

Another great thing about the electronic checklist is that it can be an excellent introduction to workflow software. Workflow software can be put to countless uses, and at first, the endless possibilities can seem daunting. However, when people go through training on workflow software, developing an electronic checklist complete with data collection and notifications can be an outstanding first project for software users to try.

The great thing about good workflow software is that once a user successfully creates a workflow, they’re likely to think of other great workflows that can be developed. Creating an electronic checklist can be the perfect springboard to development of other useful workflows.

The quality of electronic checklists depends in part on the quality of the workflow software you use. PerfectForms is workflow software with a user-friendly interface and no programming. Users simply drag and drop form or workflow elements into place, so it’s easy to experiment and go from idea to execution quickly.

Electronic checklists can be amazingly useful, but you will soon want to use PerfectForms for countless other types of workflows, such as workflows for onboarding new employees and workflows for submitting expenses for reimbursement. We encourage you to browse some of our many case studies to see how flexible and powerful PerfectForms is. You’re sure to use it for electronic checklists and innumerable other important business processes. 

Does Your Workflow Software Support Outstanding Workflow Management?

Friday, March 15th, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

A workflow is a sequence of steps through which work passes as it goes from initiation to conclusion. Automated workflows are those where some or all of those steps are automated. 

Woman viewing a flowchart

Going from concept to well-executed business process requires outstanding workflow software.

If the purpose of a workflow is to achieve a result or complete some process, then the purpose of workflow management is to achieve better results, often by managing the “people” part of the workflow. For example, in a complex workflow, some people’s tasks may be done in parallel rather than in sequence, because they don’t affect each other. This can accelerate completion of the overall workflow. Excellent workflow management depends upon excellent workflow software.

Workflow Software Should Allow Visualization of Workflows

In the early days of automated workflows, the only way to visualize a workflow was through a flowchart or other diagram, or by reading through computer code if you could understand it. Today, you should expect a clean, intuitive interface from workflow software, so that you can visualize a workflow in its entirety and component by component.

Being able to visualize a workflow lets you see where things may be done better in another order, or where steps that don’t affect each other can be done in parallel rather than in sequence. It’s hard to manage a workflow that you can’t envision.

Conveniences in Automated Workflows Can Improve Workflow Management

Workflow software includes form builders, because forms are a critical part of most workflows. The right workflow software will allow you to build conveniences right into the forms to promote better workflow management. For example, pre-filling of certain form fields can save considerable time. Suppose the workflow created for the hiring process includes numerous forms that require the job candidate’s name and contact information. Once the first form of the process is completed, subsequent forms can pre-fill name and contact information fields automatically, so there’s no duplication of effort. 

Other conveniences in automated workflows include automatic notifications to personnel whose input is required, automatically date- and time-stamping steps as they are completed, and saving data from the workflow for future reporting purposes. 

Reporting viewed on a laptop

Reports using data collected by a workflow help with continuous workflow improvement.

Reporting Is an Underappreciated Component of Good Workflow Management

To improve a workflow, you have to know how well each workflow component performs, and reporting features allow you to do this with ease. You could, for example, record time to completion for a workflow and examine how that data trends over time. Then, should you choose to modify the workflow, you could compare time to completion for the modified workflow to that of the original workflow. 

Workflow software should include powerful, easy-to-use reporting features so you can collect and analyze workflow data. The reports generated can help you envision ways to improve the workflow, and can guide you when you create new workflows. It’s an excellent method for keeping good workflow management high on the priority list.

Workflow management requires understanding automated workflows inside and out, and you can’t do this without the right workflow software. PerfectForms is workflow software with an intuitive, drag-and-drop user interface that allows workflow creators to drag and drop elements into place. Visualizing the entire workflow, and different components of the workflow is a snap.

Additionally, the form-building tools PerfectForms offers allow users to include workflow accelerators like pre-filled form fields, and checks and balances that ensure that the correct data is always entered into forms before they are submitted. And PerfectForms offers powerful reporting features that let you track and manage workflows so you can improve them in ways that make a real difference. Why not test drive PerfectForms for free by signing up for a trial? Workflow management is a strong competitive differentiator, and PerfectForms equips you to manage workflows with skill and ease.

How Automated Workflows Help Manage ‘Living’ Data

Wednesday, March 13th, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

It’s easy to think of the data you collect as static and permanent. But much of the data businesses use is in constant flux.

Engineer collecting data

Your online forms and workflows can go a long way toward ensuring your business operates only with the highest quality data.

For example, the contact information for a client may change. If you fail to note this change, you needlessly slow down the business process, and risk losing the client altogether. But managing living data is more than just getting rid of old data and replacing it with new data. Occasionally, for instance, you may end up with a new version of a document that is inferior to an older version, and being able to revert back is essential. Automated workflows can help you manage the “living” data your business encounters every day. Here’s how.

Excellence in Online Forms Aids Quality Assurance

So-called “dirty” data is data that is inaccurate, incomplete, or otherwise erroneous. The online forms you use to collect data can make a measurable difference in the quality of data collected. When online forms have built-in checks and balances to ensure that numbers go in number fields, that figures fall within accepted ranges, and the like, you maximize the chances of collecting (and ultimately using) “clean” and accurate data. 

Suppose some scientific value measured in a laboratory always falls within the range from zero to one. Online forms requiring this data can set a rule rejecting values that fall outside this range. Then, if someone should inadvertently try to enter a value like 1.5, the form can pop up an error message immediately so the value can be corrected before proceeding. The result? Cleaner data.

Version Tracking Prevents Confusion, Allows Reversion

Collaboration is a wonderful thing in the modern workplace, but it requires management. If multiple people collaborate to author a report, it’s essential that everyone use the same document version at all times. 

Automated workflows can be designed to ensure that this happens without fail. A workflow “owner” can create a new document version either as needed or at prescribed time intervals, numbering and archiving older document versions as updates occur. Not only does it help ensure that all collaborators are on the same page (literally and figuratively), but if a new document version has too many errors or problems, it’s easy to revert back to an earlier version and regroup.

Men collaborating

Collaboration works best when workflows ensure everyone is working with the right version of a document or other data set.

Mobility Assists with Real-Time Data Capture

Online forms for data capture are far more useful when they are mobile-friendly. Companies that use field technicians, or where employees capture other data outside the office benefit tremendously from mobile-friendly online forms. 

The forms themselves can include necessary checks and balances to ensure only correct data is entered, and automated workflows can archive older form versions automatically. This type of form and workflow interaction is also tremendously valuable for creating reports, especially when the reports track data points over time.  

“Dirty” data is a real problem for business, and data must be managed, cleaned, and updated regularly for business to proceed at its fastest pace and to achieve its best results. How a business designs online forms and automated workflows can go a long way toward ensuring that the data the business uses every day is as accurate, current, and complete as possible.

PerfectForms is workflow software that makes it easy to create customized, mobile-friendly online forms and automated workflows with all the backstops, checks, and balances necessary to capture clean data and manage it skillfully. 

Designing online forms and automated workflows is easy because of PerfectForms’ intuitive drag-and-drop interface, and building in rules, alerts, and instant error messages is easy as well. If you’re interested in the solution that not only powers efficiency and accuracy, but also helps ensure your data collection and management efforts pay off, please contact us at any time. We would be delighted to talk with you about the best ways to collect and manage the data your business relies on.

Add These Checks and Balances to Optimize Online Forms

Friday, March 8th, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

Errors in online forms are inevitable, but there are several things you can do to ensure those errors are corrected before the form is submitted.

Online forms with mistakes waste time, but you can prevent many mistakes with simple design constraints.

Excellent form design is perhaps the most important way to minimize errors in online forms. Forms should be pleasing to the eye, have plenty of white space, and be kept to the minimum number of fields necessary to collect the information you want. Cut out any questions that are not strictly necessary, particularly with customer-facing forms. Shorter forms tend to get more conversions than longer ones. 

Beyond that, you can add a number of checks and balances to your online forms that can cut down on the number of errors that make it through. Here are a handful of tips that are tried and true.

Use Color-Coded Fields for Mandatory Information

Researchers in Switzerland actually studied which works better to designate mandatory fields in online forms: asterisks or color-coding the mandatory fields. Color-coding worked better. It made mandatory fields easier to identify at first glance, and made it easier to see what proportion of total form fields were mandatory. The study reported that color-coded mandatory fields resulted in fewer errors, faster form completion, and greater user satisfaction. 

Suggest Default Entries for Fields That Rarely Vary

There will be form fields that are almost always completed with the exact same information. For example, if 90% of your organization consists of engineers, a form asking for “job title” will most likely be completed with “engineer,” so you can have that as a default in a drop-down menu to make form completion faster. 

Likewise, a form that is almost always filled out by people in your Chicago branch can have a default “location” field pre-filled with “Chicago” (but with the ability to be overwritten by the form user). Even the fastest typists appreciate getting to skip fields in online forms, and you can avoid a lot of errors this way.

Default field info that minimizes typing for form users? Yes, please!

Impose Constraints that Prevent Erroneous Data Entry

Suppose someone is filling out a form requesting paid time off next summer. Just as airlines and hotels do, you can impose constraints that won’t let them, for example, erroneously enter a return date that’s before the departure date.

Likewise, if the value of a certain field always falls within a specified range of numbers, you can make that form field reject any numbers that fall outside that range. A field that must include numbers can be designed to reject text typed into it. These seemingly small constraints can prevent plenty of errors.

Use Inline Validation to Allow for Quick Error Correction

Have you ever completed an online form and clicked “Submit” only to receive a pop-up box telling you there were half a dozen errors that must be corrected before the form would go through? It’s incredibly frustrating, and even if the pop-up box tells you what the errors are, it’s not that helpful, because you have to go back to the form and find all of them, presumably after you’ve closed the pop-up box!

Enabling form users to correct information as they go is far preferable. Say someone enters an email address and mis-types # for @. A message that pops up immediately next to the form field allows them to correct the mistake quickly and move on. Forms will arrive with fewer errors, and form users will experience far less frustration.

The right form software is essential for designing forms that are error- and frustration-free. PerfectForms allows you to create customized forms using the many templates that come with the software, or from scratch with an intuitive interface that allows you to drag and drop form elements into place. 

PerfectForms also allows you to add checks and balances that ensure a frustration-free experience for users while ensuring that the information entered is correct. Watch our demo video and see how easy it can be to create the custom online forms that will help your business operate more efficiently.

Posted in Form Design | Comments Off on Add These Checks and Balances to Optimize Online Forms

Proof-of-Concept to Everyday Use: How Workflows Make the Transition

Thursday, March 7th, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

Rarely do workflows go seamlessly from concept to everyday use, because it’s impossible to foresee all possible problems at the beginning.

Staging deployment of automated workflows helps address skepticism and assure good results.

Making the transition from idea to regular use can go more smoothly if workflow design is done in stages, starting with proof of concept, proceeding to a small pilot project, followed by training, practice, and deployment. Here’s how to ensure those stages of workflow development happen with minimal problems and backtracking.

Proof of Concept

This is where you come up with a solution to a problem and determine if it’s feasible. Suppose you head a local government department and have determined that citizen requests for oversize trash pickup should be made online rather than in person, on paper, or over the phone.

During proof of concept, you should ask important questions like:

  • Can we afford the workflow software to do this?
  • How will we let people know this is the new way to make requests?
  • How much will we ultimately save in terms of time and physical resources?
  • What objections might people raise to this new way of doing things? 

Pilot Project

A pilot project for your new workflow requires that you know how to use the workflow software and have created the forms people will use online to request services. People in the office have tested out the forms to make sure they work. The people who will eventually process the forms have seen what it’s like receiving completed forms and ensuring they collect all necessary information.

At this point, your pilot project can deploy on a limited basis. Perhaps you can start with a single neighborhood, to gauge reaction and willingness of people to use it. When people in the pilot project neighborhood start actually using the new process, you can collect feedback from them on what they liked and didn’t like, and what problems, if any, they experienced. 

Information collected during the pilot project can be used to fine-tune forms and workflow to prevent bottlenecks, and to determine the best way to prioritize requests. Your pilot project gives you the opportunity to course-correct and make changes before taking the project citywide.

Pilot projects are great for listening to feedback and fine-tuning workflows.

Training and Practice

Once your pilot project has collected the data necessary to correct and fine-tune forms and the workflow itself, you still need to test the final workflow thoroughly before deploying it. Each person involved in the workflow, from clerks to dispatchers to truck drivers, must be trained in how to use it. Ideally, you can have a few practice runs to make sure everything clicks into place as it is supposed to. Only after everyone who will use the workflow has been trained are you ready to deploy your workflow for real.

Deployment

The day a new workflow goes live, make sure all lines of communication are open. That day is not a good day for the workflow designer to be out of the office. It’s wise to have a handful of people designated to switch back to the old way of doing things if there’s a major problem, but hopefully it won’t come to that. 

Once the workflow goes live, the workflow designer and key personnel should take stock after the first day, after a week, and after a month to find out if unforeseen problems or bottlenecks have emerged. This way, they can be handled before they cause major problems. When the workflow is in daily use and doing what it’s supposed to do, it’s smart to write up a report detailing project phases, problems solved, and lessons learned. This will make it easier when new automated workflows are created later on. 

The right workflow software will help you not only design automated workflows, but also take them through every stage from concept to everyday use with ease. PerfectForms, with its intuitive drag-and-drop interface, makes creation of customized online forms and automated workflows straightforward, so you can create, test, train, and deploy on an accelerated schedule. We encourage you to read through some of the many PerfectForms case studies and see the results of automated workflows in a variety of real-world scenarios.

How to Handle Pushback When Implementing Automated Workflows

Thursday, February 28th, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

Most people long for technologies that would make their day-to-day work faster and easier, yet when someone actually proposes such technologies, they may balk.

Shocked businessman

It’s easier to daydream about change than to actually put it into practice.

New ways of doing things are unsettling, because there are so many questions. Will the system make sense? Will jobs be in jeopardy because of automation? Who will people ask for help?

Pushback is inevitable with new technologies, even if some people really want them. Handling pushback and ensuring that the rollout of new automated workflows is successful requires preparation in advance, and commitment to several “best practices” at all phases of the project. Here’s how to do it.

Talk About It and Gain Buy-In Well Beforehand

The last thing you want to do is to spring automation on a work group after it’s already a done deal. Discuss possible workflow improvements even before you design new workflows. In fact, having workflow end-users involved in design of an automation project is smart for several reasons. For one thing, you’ll gain buy-in more readily. For another, people are likelier to embrace change if they have a hand in designing it. As important as buy-in is at the executive level, it’s even more important among the people who will use new workflows in their daily tasks.

Communicate Frequently on Project Status

As a workflow automation project progresses, err on the side of communicating too much rather than too little. During times of change, no news is bad news, and people can imagine all sorts of scary reasons why they’re not being kept informed. Regular communication about project status, expected roll-out dates, and training for new workflows helps everyone prepare mentally for change. Likewise, if there are setbacks, it’s OK to talk about them too. People feel far less threatened by new technologies when they are kept in the loop about how and when the technologies will be deployed.

Pace Deployment Steadily

Turtle

Deployment of automated workflows should be regarded as a marathon, not a sprint.

A major automation project is not the time to rush things. Naturally, you want to start capturing ROI as soon as possible, but it’s far better to create, test, and deploy automated workflows at a pace that allows for course correction, feedback, and thorough understanding at each step. Having workflow end-users involved at every stage is also helpful. What works in theory may not work well in practice, and your workflow users are the experts you need to tell you what works, what might not work, and why. 

Provide Training Before Automated Workflows Go Live

Deploying new automated workflows without training is unfair to everyone. Workflow users may be bewildered, no matter how self-explanatory new workflows are, and this may mean they don’t give a new workflow the chance it deserves. When planning a workflow automation project, be sure to include sufficient time for training. Ideally, your workflow users should be able to learn how to use the workflows, and then practice them in a safe, simulated environment to get used to them before putting them into service for real.

The workflow software you choose for design, creation, and deployment of automated workflows makes all the difference in your success. PerfectForms is workflow software that requires no programming. Since it uses an intuitive, drag-and-drop interface, workflow end-users can look at workflow designs and offer their feedback. In fact, PerfectForms was designed so that workflow end-users could have influence over workflow design, because they’re the ones who will be using the workflows in their day-to-day work.

Any work project that changes how things are done will meet with some resistance, no matter how ready people are for change. By including affected personnel from the start of the project, communicating regularly with them on status updates, offering training, and pacing deployment sensibly, you can cope effectively with pushback. Better still, you’ll have a team that’s ready to go once the new automated workflows go live.

PerfectForms invites you to watch our demo video. In just a quick minute or two, you can see for yourself how PerfectForms empowers businesses to create automated workflows that are custom tailored to meet unique needs. 

Banish Workflow Inefficiencies by Taking These 4 Steps

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

Business inefficiencies can slow growth and cost money.

Concerned mature businesswoman

Tiny inefficiencies add up over time, costing businesses money.

Many businesses turn to automated workflows to increase efficiency and help prevent errors that can more easily enter into old-fashioned, manual workflows. While automated workflows are more efficient and accurate than manual ones, they sometimes have their own inefficiencies that prevent them from operating faster, which can needlessly slow down the pace of business.

Before you start using your workflow software to create workflows, take time up front to predict where inefficiencies can creep in, and design your workflows to avoid such inefficiencies. You won’t always get it right the first time, but good planning can help workflows run as efficiently as possible, right out of the gate. Here are four steps you can take to banish inefficiencies from your automated workflows.

1. Sketch Out Workflows with Help from End-Users

Automating workflows begins with understanding them from end to end. Sketching out workflows with help from the people who use them most can highlight inefficiencies and bottlenecks. Divide each workflow into its most elemental steps, and ask end-users where they tend to experience problems and why they think that is. Knowing where inefficiencies lie in wait is like knowing where the best fishing spots are: it makes catching them easier. 

2. Capture and Route Information Efficiently

HR processes are prime candidates for workflow automation, because so many of them involve repetitive data entry. Imagine logging into an HR workflow (to schedule paid time off, for example) with just your employee ID number and having the right forms pop up with your name and other relevant employee information already filled in. 

Automated workflows are great for capturing data one time and routing it to other necessary places in the workflow without further data entry. With the right workflow software, workflow data can be captured from any number of sources, including existing databases, emails, mobile apps, and websites. 

Data integration concept

Can your workflow software integrate with spreadsheets, databases, and other office systems?

3. Validate Data Right in Their Form Fields

Online forms magnify efficiency on their own. And when online form fields are “smart,” they improve efficiency further. The right workflow software will allow you to specify which type of information goes into specific form fields, so that errors are caught before the form is even submitted. 

Suppose you have a quick workflow for purchase orders under $500. You can use your workflow software to ensure that if someone enters a value into the purchase amount field for more than $500, it is flagged immediately, so the user can correct it or switch to a workflow for larger purchase orders. Validating form data upon entry saves time, reduces errors, and helps you maintain strong workflow efficiency.

4. Choose the Right Workflow Software

If your workflow software is mind-boggling, limited, or requires that you hire a programmer to use it, you’ll have a much harder time creating efficient workflows. Today you can choose workflow software that requires no programming and that allows you to draft, test, and perfect automated workflows before deploying them.

PerfectForms offers you an intuitive, drag-and-drop interface that you can use to create both customized online forms, and the workflows that handle them. It can draw data from sources like spreadsheets and databases, and use input data to auto-populate forms, to minimize or eliminate repetitive data entry. You can also design form fields to accept specific types of data, and to flag errors when wrong data is entered. 

With PerfectForms, you can use automatic alerts to signal other workflow users that their input is needed, and you can collect workflow data for easy reporting later on. Best of all, you can test drive PerfectForms by signing up for a free trial . Workflow inefficiencies can cost your company money and time. PerfectForms offers you the tools you need to banish those inefficiencies.

Partnering Tradition and High-Tech: Online Forms in Agriculture

Thursday, February 21st, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

Agriculture is a hands-on industry, but it interfaces with many other industries as well as with government agencies.

Sheep farmer

High-technology ensures the hard work done on farms serves people efficiently.

Nobody has time for cumbersome bureaucracy, especially the farmer whose days are filled with the countless tasks and processes involved with operating a farm. Agriculture online forms have taken some of the burden off of agricultural professionals by eliminating paper, pens, calculators, and stamps, and the agencies that use the data collected from farmers benefit as well.

Perhaps the uses of online forms in agriculture can inspire you with ideas about how they can be used in your organization as well.

Online Surveys and Censuses: Faster, More Accurate

Ireland conducts an annual census of sheep and goats, and completion of the census each year helps ensure farmers are eligible for various government programs and payments, such as a national Sheep Welfare Scheme and other agricultural programs.

Completing such a census by hand is time-consuming for both the farmer and the agencies supporting them. What’s more, old-fashioned census forms generate significant paper waste, and cause agency workers to have to enter data by hand into their databases. Online forms are faster, more accurate, and more planet-friendly.

Mobile-Friendliness Makes Data Collection More Convenient

An increasing number of people access the web primarily through mobile devices, so it only makes sense that agricultural forms be mobile-friendly. Nobody wants to pinch and zoom pages or type long answers on mobile devices, so a big part of mobile-friendliness is ensuring that forms fit mobile device screens properly.

Additionally, the use of single-tap answers is preferable wherever possible, since typing out words on a tiny mobile screen is slow and painstaking. With the right form software, it’s possible to make forms that use multiple choice questions, allow users to choose ranges through drop-down menus, and otherwise minimize the need to type words into forms. This level of convenience helps ensure timely completion of mandatory forms.

Rural outdoor man using tablet

Surveys that only require single-tap answers make things far easier for survey participants.

Other Online Form Features That Improve User Experience

When forms are built with the right online form software, users who partially complete forms can save their progress and pick up where they left off next time, so they don’t endure the frustration of having to start over. Another feature to look for in online form software is capability for automation of basic arithmetic formulas. That way, the form user doesn’t have to enter a string of numbers and then manually do the math themselves, risking the introduction of errors. 

With online surveys and other forms, completion and successful submission can be reflected through a “Thank you” screen that reassures the user that their data has been entered properly and submitted to the right personnel. Some organizations offer incentives for prompt completion of online forms by putting names into a drawing for a prize when forms are completed by a certain date. There are countless ways that online forms can improve the experience for both form users and for those who collect and process form data. 

PerfectForms empowers users to create custom online forms that are mobile-friendly and aesthetically pleasing. More importantly, PerfectForms interfaces with other common office systems easily, so data collected from online forms is routed to exactly where it needs to go, with no human intervention necessary. And all of this can be done without programming, due to an intuitive, drag-and-drop interface.

PerfectForms is flexible enough to serve industries across the spectrum, from agriculture to e-commerce to insurance, education, and more. Did you know you can test drive PerfectForms for free? Sign up for a free trial and learn how easy it is to create online forms that get the job done in record time, with unmatched accuracy and utility.

Posted in Form Design | Comments Off on Partnering Tradition and High-Tech: Online Forms in Agriculture

How Virtual Reality Is Emerging as an Element of Automated Workflows

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

Virtual reality (VR) represents a “slow burn” disruption happening in the workplace. 

Headsets in office

Expect this to be a more common sight in the offices of the future.

While some companies regularly use VR technology now, it will probably be another three to five years before it becomes commonplace. We’re just now figuring out how to put VR to work, and new applications for it will undoubtedly emerge as everyone gets the hang of the technology. 

It is likely that VR will become elemental to many types of automated workflows as the technology matures. Some current VR applications make sense as part of automated workflows, particularly in the areas of training, 3-D viewing, and collaboration. 

VR in Training Programs

Perhaps the most obvious use for VR in automated workflows is in training. The very first flight simulator (an early form of VR) became available for sale back in 1929! These early designs gave way to more elaborate simulators costing millions of dollars that were used to train airline pilots as well as military pilots. And today, VR can make the experience more immersive than ever.

The range of application for VR in training workflows is potentially huge. Automated VR workflows could step trainees through processes like handling hazardous chemicals, learning how to use equipment, or even “practicing” surgical techniques. Safety training is predicted to be a major user of VR technology as well.

Using VR to Gain 3-D Views of Designs and Plans

Imagine designing a workshop, home interior, or store layout and being able to “walk” through it using a VR headset. This is fast becoming reality as virtual technology advances to where it can turn two-dimensional plans or blueprints into 3-D virtual spaces that can be visited with the aid of a headset. As the technology becomes more common and affordable, such 3-D “step-throughs” may become a part of automated workflows in architecture, interior design, and other professions concerned with the arrangement of space in three dimensions. 

Collaborative Spaces with VR

VR headset guy with globe

VR allows people from all over the world to meet in a single, virtual “room.”

Most companies already use video conferencing as a way to bring geographically dispersed teams together for meetings. Seeing everyone’s face and body language makes such remote meetings more informative and engaging than traditional conference calls. Virtual reality may take it a step further, creating virtual 3-D spaces that could take video conferencing into another dimension, bringing people together in a single virtual room from all over the world. 

Workflows Involving Customers and Consumer Testing

VR technology exists on some level in high-end clothing retailers’ dressing rooms, allowing people to virtually try on clothing. Consumer choice data from virtual dressing rooms could help retailers learn quickly which trends are catching on, and which are not worth investing in, potentially reducing waste while still giving consumers what they want. 

Potential applications for consumer testing are practically endless. Imagine designing a car and allowing consumers to virtually test drive it before the design is finalized. Or having customers customize their own bicycle design and then virtually “ride” it before placing an order to have it built. 

There are already a handful of companies offering VR solutions for the workplace, and you can expect many more to emerge in the coming five years or so. While inserting VR won’t be appropriate for all automated workflows, it is likely to be a smart addition to many of them.

Automated workflows, like those you can create with PerfectForms, power businesses in every industry, allowing consistency, efficiency, and collection of valuable data every day. With PerfectForms, you can create customized online forms and automated workflows for an endless range of applications, from HR to building maintenance to IT and more. 

Even without VR, automated workflows save businesses considerable time and money, raising revenues and streamlining operations. We invite you to look through some of the many PerfectForms case studies and see for yourself how automated workflows transform business operations. 

Why You Don’t Have to Rely on Your IT Team to Automate Workflows

Thursday, February 14th, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

Your IT team is perpetually busy.

Team of programmers

The typical IT department today can’t spare a programmer to help design and deploy automated workflows.

Today’s IT professionals in the enterprise spend their time and mental energy dealing with cloud infrastructure, big data, virtualization, energy efficiency, and interoperability. Or else they’re dealing with a server that has broken or a network that has inexplicably slowed down. Or perhaps they are preparing for a software license audit. One way and another, IT work and maintenance never stop and hardly ever slow down.

Rare is the IT team, even in the wealthiest of companies, that has the time and expertise to design, program, and deploy automated workflows. The good news is that this is no longer necessary for most businesses.

How It Used to Be Done

In the old days, automating a process, or automating steps of a workflow was a major undertaking. While the people involved in using the workflow may have helped sketch it out on paper and make suggestions, there was always some question as to whether the type and level of automation was possible for a given workflow.

Companies that had their own IT departments may have commandeered a programmer to work on the workflow automation project, while others would hire a programmer from outside on a contract basis. Only after programmers learned about the workflow could they determine if automation was possible, how practical or impractical it was, and how big and expensive an undertaking it would be. The end product may or may not have matched what workflow users envisioned. 

Why End-Users Are the Key to Great Automated Workflows

One of the best starting points for improving efficiency and productivity is asking the people who do the work what would make their work easier. Maybe they don’t want to type the same data into multiple spreadsheets or databases. Maybe they resent having to track down superiors to find out the status of a process. What if you could ask workflow end-users what would make their work easier, and then could implement those things without having to hire a programmer?

Hands drawing a flowchart

Workflow software should make it easy to translate ideas into solid, automated processes.

The closer workflow end-users are to the design and creation of automated workflows, the more closely the final workflow will live up to their expectations. Without the layer of opacity that even the most highly skilled programmer brings to the workflow automation process, end-users can gain control over how they do their work, and eliminate many inefficiencies and work-arounds.

The Right Workflow Software Makes It Possible

The key to creating workflows that deliver what end-users expect is having the right workflow software. Today you can use on-site or cloud hosted workflow software that does not require the services of a programmer.

User interface designs have evolved to where workflow elements can be created on a screen, dragged and dropped into place, and then connected into sleek, functional workflows. Practically, this allows workflow end-users to put their ideas into practice more quickly and easily. Workflows can be designed, created, tested, and deployed on a much tighter time scale, so ROI can be realized sooner.

PerfectForms is the workflow software you have been looking for if you want a powerful, flexible way to create automated workflows without having to hire a programmer. PerfectForms’ user interface is intuitive and easy to learn, allowing users to drag and drop workflow elements into place. Anything from the simplest form-completion workflow to the most complex workflow going across multiple departments is possible, and end-users can have a greater say in how those workflows are designed. The learning curve is easy, deployment is fast, and ROI shows up in record time.

PerfectForms invites you to browse through some of our many case studies, which cover a range of industries. Learn how taking the power of automated workflow design into your own hands can improve efficiency, boost productivity, save resources, and increase revenues.