5 Tips for Successful Business Process Automation

Companies that are able to successfully employ business process automation (BPA) have an easier time controlling costs, and can raise productivity substantially. But BPA shouldn’t be implemented in a vacuum. Rather, it should be part of an overall strategy for increasing business efficiency.

Business process automation

Business process automation can increase efficiency and revenues.

Exactly how you implement BPA depends on what your company does and what your particular workflows consist of. One common type of BPA that works across industries is automating core administrative processes like on-boarding new employees or requesting IT services. But however your company’s BPA takes shape, there are several points you should keep in mind to ensure success. Here are 5 of them.

 

1. Define What You Want “Success” to Mean

What do you want a process to be like once it’s automated? Do you want to cut administrative processing time down from three days to one day? Do you want to eliminate the use of paper forms for a particular workflow or department? Do you want to be able to process a certain increased number of forms per day? By defining what you want BPA success to look like, you make a stronger business case, because both the people involved in the process and those in management are able to understand the benefits of automation.

 

2. Automate Current Processes That Work Efficiently

Automating workflows doesn’t necessarily mean overhauling them completely. If you have a workflow that is highly efficient and makes sense, but that you’d like to speed up, start with that exact workflow and determine which parts can be automated. If you have a highly efficient team manually processing paper-based travel reimbursement requests, how can you make things faster and easier? Perhaps using electronic forms, having all form “hand-offs” occur electronically, and disbursing funds via direct deposit would further streamline an already good process.

 

3. Executive Support and “Ownership” Are Essential

Executive and managerial buy-in is essential to the success of any BPA initiative. Furthermore, having a designated project leader for each initiative helps ensure success. When the people in HR know the name of the person in charge of automating the employee on-boarding process, they know who to contact with questions, and everyone has a “point person” for submitting feedback as the process unfolds. A BPA initiative without clear leadership or executive support cannot be as successful as it would be otherwise.

 

4. So Is Interdepartmental Cooperation

Business process automation

Silos hinder business process automation; collaboration facilitates it.

Some business processes cross departments, and therefore cooperation and collaboration amongst those departments is critical. Whoever is in charge of a particular automation project should work closely with stakeholders in each department that is involved and keep lines of communication open. Otherwise, one department is liable to feel as if another department is “taking over” and that they’re being squeezed out of the automation process. All affected departments should have a say in how automation takes place.

 

5. Measure and Adjust As Necessary

Don’t be surprised if once you automate a process you find flaws that you hadn’t considered before. Once automation is in place, you need to measure the results of the automated process, see what’s working well, and what could stand improvement. The specific key performance indicators you use will vary depending on what process you’re automating, but it’s important to define and measure them before and after automation to learn how big a benefit automation confers. With a flexible automation solution, making modifications as necessary should be fairly straightforward.

 

Conclusion

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that BPA is only for companies with deep pockets and large internal IT departments. Businesses in industries like education, insurance, and healthcare have successfully used PerfectForms as their engine for automating processes, without having to write any programing code.

With PerfectForms, you can make electronic duplicates of the paper forms you use now, so the people who use the paper forms will know how to use them electronically. What’s more, you can link electronic forms into workflows that can significantly accelerate processes like employee on-boarding, travel reimbursement requests, maintenance requests, and a nearly unlimited number of other business processes. Why not try PerfectForms for free and see for yourself how you hold the power of business process automation in your hands today?

How Designing HTML Forms Can Be Surprisingly Easy

There was a time when, if you wanted to create online forms, you had to know hyper-text mark-up language (HTML) and cascading style sheets (CSS). Web designers still learn these skills, but tools now exist that allow people who don’t know how to program to create electronic online forms and automatic workflows.

HTML forms

You can create HTML forms without knowing HTML.

While you can learn a few basic HTML commands in a few days, mastery of HTML and CSS for creation of custom electronic forms that are linked into workflows can take years. And even once you’re fluent in using them, you will probably still experience some degree of trial and error when creating forms and workflows this way.

PerfectForms makes it so you don’t have to know HTML, CSS, or any other type of programming to create custom forms and workflows that look terrific and accomplish what you want. Here’s how easy it can be to design HTML forms without knowing HTML by using PerfectForms.

 

Plan Ahead

If you’re generally happy with your paper-based forms, but want to speed up the form-handling process, you can start there. When electronic forms look just like the paper forms people are used to, there’s very little in the way of a learning curve for users. If your paper forms aren’t great, you can plan for an improved electronic version by sketching out what you want the form to look like, or marking up an existing form to indicate what you want to change. Once you know what you want your form to look like, PerfectForms gives you a blank canvas onto which you place the various form elements.

 

Drag and Drop Elements Into Place

With PerfectForms, rather than writing HTML and CSS code, you drag and drop elements into place on the canvas. First, you specify how many pixels wide and tall your form is. Then you can drag text, pictures, buttons, and blank fields for entering text or numeric input right onto the canvas and position them where you want. You can modify their size, fonts, and colors to coordinate with your company logo or to color-code forms by function. For example, IT request forms might be green, while vacation request forms are blue.

 

Use Radio Button Groups for Either / Or Choices

HTML forms

Radio buttons and drop-down menus make form completion quick.

Suppose you want to set up a workflow so that once a supervisor approves an expense request, the originator of the request and the appropriate person in the finance department are automatically notified. You can provide “radio buttons,” with one for “Approved” and the other for “Denied” to make it quick for the approving authority to render their decision. Once your form is created, you can create a workflow with automated alerts triggered by specific form actions (like approvals or denials). This lets stakeholders know where their forms have progressed to in various processes.

 

Drop-Down Menus Assist With Multiple Choice Form Fields

Some form fields involve selecting from a set group of answers, and with PerfectForms you can create drop-down menus that present these choices for people completing the form to choose from. This not only makes filling out the form faster, it also avoids spelling errors, and prevents people from making choices that are not valid. Suppose you create a form for ordering t-shirts for the annual company picnic. You could create one drop-down menu to allow people to select the correct size and another drop-down menu to allow them to select amongst the available colors.

 

Styles and Themes Allow for Consistency

If you want your department’s or your company’s forms to all have a similar look and feel, you can specify styles and themes so that forms are consistent in terms of font, colors, graphics, and even things like drop-shadows under blank fields. Once set up, styles and themes make it easy to create new forms that have the correct look and feel so that even first-time users of the forms are comfortable with them. Styles and themes allow you to enjoy custom-designed electronic forms without having to hire a designer, learn HTML, or bother the IT department.

 

Conclusion

Organizations in numerous industries have discovered how PerfectForms allows them to cut down drastically on resource use by making forms electronic, and how to automate complex processes so they’re considerably faster and more accurate. Doing what PerfectForms does used to require hiring a programmer and/or a designer, but now, creating beautiful, functional forms that can be linked into automated workflows can be done without writing any programming code at all. If you’d like to know more, please drop us a line at any time, or try out PerfectForms for free and see for yourself how easy it is to create visually stunning HTML forms.

Expert Interview with Al Mackin on Improving Online Forms

Improving online formsAl Mackin, co-founder and CEO of Formisimo, says that overall, one of the most important things business owners can do with their online forms is to make them much easier to complete. Shorter forms routinely have higher conversion rates and can help reduce some of the friction that forms can create between users and businesses.

But there are other ways to improve online forms, too.

“Ask better questions, be conscious of context, remove blockages and make your form smarter so your users have less to fill in,” he says. “Think about what the experience you’re creating for your users with your form and try to improve that experience.”

Al recently spent a few minutes answering questions for us about Formisimo and the best practices for building and using online forms. Here’s what he had to say:

 

What is Formisimo?

Formisimo is an analytics platform for improving online checkouts and forms. We track user every user interaction, crunch that data, and then identify the pain points. We reveal data like where customers drop out, where they make the most corrections, and where they spend the most time. This data shows our customers what they can change in order to increase conversions.

 

What are the benefits of using Formisimo?

Formisimo helps you to understand how your users are behaving in any form on your website. You’ll see a greater degree of insight into user behavior and form performance than with any other analytics tool. We’ve been built from the ground up to tackle the huge problem of checkout and form abandonment.

Whether you use Formisimo on a signup form or a checkout, you’ll be able to identify pain points field by field. These insights are used to optimize your form and increase your conversion rates.

The tool is easy to install, requiring just 60 seconds of time, and you’ll start to see real-time data almost straight away. Our most powerful reports are updated overnight, and we reveal insights in beautiful, easy-to-understand reports.

 

What are some best practices for building online forms for checkout, registration or inquiry?

Any changes should be tested, as all websites are different; but these are general rules to follow for any form:

  • -Keep it as short as possible. Cut or delay any questions that aren’t vital to completing the conversion. For lead generation forms, cut questions in order to increase conversions and then nurture leads better. On ecommerce sites, don’t force shoppers to create an account before they go through the checkout; build it into the thank you page instead.
  • -Don’t repeat questions for security or data integrity (e.g. “retype password.”) Most web users don’t like the effort of retyping and will copy and paste, replicating any error. Get the user through the process as quickly as possible.
  • -Keep users focused. Only have one call to action on landing pages and isolate checkouts from the main site to remove distractions. Shrink down the navigation and any other links on the page, and remove anything that would excite the user and take them back to another part of the site.
  • -Alleviate tasks. As well as cutting unnecessary questions, you can make it easier for users to give information. For example, when adding credit card details, code your form to detect the card type from the card number. You can also allow mobile users to scan new payment cards with their camera.
  • -Maintain trust. Show that your checkout is secure and that you won’t misuse their personal details, and don’t trick users into joining your marketing list. If you’re asking for very personal or non-standard information, explain why you need it.
  • -Make your form accessible. Code your form fields to be easily navigated with a keyboard, ensure field labels are associated with form fields, and avoid using CAPTCHA.

 

What are the most common mistakes you’ve observed in how forms are used on business sites?

The biggest blocker to conversions is too many form fields. It may be that the form is asking for information that the user isn’t ready to give (like a phone number), or simply that the user suffers from form fatigue after being daunted by the effort of answering many questions.

Forms are one of the main ways that marketing information is gathered, but users don’t feel any incentive to provide details that will result in targeted selling. Either gather marketing information more gradually with smart forms, or offer incentives (like 10 percent off their next order) when an account is registered.

On the same note, mobile users need to be able to complete forms even faster. They experience increased difficulty filling in forms on smaller devices and are subject to myriad distractions.

We also see poor error handling in many forms. If users submit a form only to have it return an error or multiple errors, they’re very likely to give up on the process. We recommend:

  • -Good labeling and more flexible data formats to avoid errors in the first place.
  • -Inline validation so users can see and correct errors as they occur.
  • -Useful error messages placed next to the problem field so it’s clear what and where the problem is.
  • -Validate and correct user data automatically, and use loose validation. Phone numbers can be input in many different ways; don’t punish your users because they’re not keeping to your strict view on how they should be added.

 

What metrics should business owners be following on their online forms?

Our reports chart the important metrics you need to know:

  • -Form conversion funnel at three stages, from form visitors to starters to conversions.
  • -Drop off points
  • -Time spent in form fields
  • -Most corrected fields
  • -Number of fields completed before user submits
  • -Performance by country, device and browser

 

What’s the most surprising information your clients learn about their forms while using Formisimo?

Some clients have discovered that parts of their form are broken, which they didn’t know until they could clearly see lots of users dropping off at a specific point. Validation errors are often the cause of the breakage; they don’t cope with anything other than a strict, standard format, and they punish users for not adhering to it.

They’re surprised to see the areas that users hesitate at. When you see the same form every day, you become accustomed to using it,; and it’s only when you see how real customers engage with it that you realize there are flaws.

Our clients are often shocked at the impact a small change in their form can make to the conversion rate and how many customers they’re losing.

 

Outside of forms, what other areas of the site are useful for business owners to analyze?

It’s important to understand the journey your users take through your site and with your product. Do you know how they get to the product page, or are you just assuming they follow the path you’ve designed?

Slow loading sites have higher bounce rates, so check that you aren’t losing conversions because users are getting impatient. There are some great ways to trim down your code and reduce the numbers of assets loading on a page, and keep in mind that users may not have a fast-connection.

Website copy is another big factor for conversions. Copy is your main method of communicating with and persuading your prospects. Testing different copy should be part of your optimization strategy.

 

What are the most interesting or exciting innovations you’ve observed in how online forms are being used or assessed?

It’s great to see developers devising ways to reduce effort for users. Things like postcode lookup, card detection with mobile phone camera, automatic reformatting of data and alternatives to CAPTCHAs make it quicker and easier for user to fill out forms.

It’s getting easier for non-technical marketers to create forms, too, which helps reduce development time and expenses. More analytics services are expanding to offer form analytics as well. The importance of fixing the end of the funnel is being recognized now, but Formisimo remains the most powerful form analytics solution; and we work out of the box on 99 percent of all forms and checkouts.

Connect with Formisimo on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter.

Sign up for a trial with PerfectForms.

How a Data Avalanche was Smartly Handled by One University

Whether in a business or in a school, “on-boarding” new people is administratively intensive and fraught with potential for mistakes, particularly when many on-boarding processes are done manually.

 

Data

Some tasks can’t be automated, but registering and on-boarding new students can be.

 

In a higher education setting, processing an influx of new freshmen every year is an enormous undertaking, and it has to be done correctly to ensure that student records are accurate and that students are able to use their ID cards for their many intended purposes. A few years ago, the Business Affairs department at the University of Tennessee Martin knew there had to be a better way to process the yearly inundation of new students than the manual process they had been using.

 

The Problem

The old way of doing it definitely had its limitations. Six manned digital camera stations would be set up during new student orientation. While registering for orientation, students would stop by the photo stations, where photos were taken in batches of approximately 300. Then a batch of pictures would be processed and uploaded to the school’s ID card program, with cards printed out later in batches.

To receive their ID cards, students would later have to go back to the orientation registration area and line up by the photo stations to wait for someone to hand them their cards. It wasn’t terribly efficient, and most new students had plenty of other things they would have rather been doing than waiting in line for their ID cards. Process Improvement Facilitator Mike Abney of UT Martin looked at his options for creating a better process.

 

Solution: Automated Online Student ID Request Form

PerfectForms caught Abney’s attention. Not only did it have a very reasonable price point with the convenience of cloud hosting, it was flexible and powerful enough to take on any number of manual forms and make them digital, without the need for programming. Using PerfectForms, UT Martin created an automated student request form online. When applying for orientation, students could now go to a web page and upload a photo.

Instead of standing in line at photo stations two separate times, IDs could be made well in advance of orientation day. When students arrived on campus, their ID cards would be ready and waiting for students in their orientation packets. Students who registered for orientation but forgot to upload a photo could be reminded via email so they could be sure their IDs would be ready when they arrived on campus.

 

The Savings: Time, Money, Sanity

 

Data

UT Martin’s new system was considerably easier on students and staff members.

 

With the new system based on electronic online forms created with PerfectForms, the school no longer needed to set up photo booths and hire photographers. The process of herding students through the process was eliminated, and moreover, the school was able to have student assistants supervise ID card creation so that regular staff members could focus on other important tasks. It’s safe to say that students appreciated avoiding long lines and having more time to explore the campus with their new ID cards waiting for them upon arrival.

 

An Award-Winning Approach

This student ID card initiative actually won an award for its ingenuity. At the Professional Development Group’s First Annual Best Practices Awards in April 2010, UT Martin was recognized for this easy-to-manage, money-saving approach. The award validated Abney’s commitment to successfully automating what had been a labor-intensive, time-consuming process. Later on, Abney was able to use PerfectForms to bring dual enrolment wizard workflows, admissions and registration forms, student vaccination forms, and purchasing forms online as well, streamlining several other formerly cumbersome processes.

 

Conclusion

The student ID initiative at UT Martin is just one example of organizations putting the power and flexibility of PerfectForms to work to streamline processes, cut waste, and save money. With PerfectForms, even non-programmers can create beautiful, pixel-perfect custom forms and use these forms to create logical workflows. Results include lower error rates, faster processes, and an end to lost paper forms, along with savings on resources like paper and ink. We invite you to watch our demo and see for yourself how powerful and easy to use PerfectForms is.

Expert Interview with Steve Burge on Web Design Training

Web designing trainingConsidering most small and medium-sized businesses don’t even have an IT department (and if they do have one, they have to juggle company computers, servers, email and the website with very few resources), it might not hurt to cross-train employees on IT skills. One savvy place to start is web design.

“It’s not cheap or easy to hire someone specifically to build your website,” says Steve Burge, CEO of OSTraining.com. “If you can train your IT people, your marketing people and even some of your other staff, your team can run the website and it will really reflect your organization’s personality.”

The team at OSTraining offers everyone from beginners to more tech-savvy users training on a variety of CMS platforms as well as SEO, ecommerce, security and more.

We recently checked in with Steve to learn more about OSTraining and CMS trends business owners should be following. Here’s what he had to say:

 

What’s your professional background?

I’ve been both a teacher and a web developer. I worked as a teacher for nearly a decade in Japan, Mexico, Australia, the U.K. and the U.S. and loved it. But I never made much money as a teacher, and I started creating websites to pay the bills.

By the time I moved to the U.S., my evening job as a web designer was paying better than my day job as a teacher. So, I started building websites full time. Thus, web design became my second career.

After a few years and a few dozen websites, I was spending too long in my office staring at the screen and missed the social interaction in my previous career. I started to feel the urge to teach again. A friend asked me to teach a Joomla class in Chicago: I tried it and loved it. That reintroduction to teaching led to more classes across the country.

We kept growing, and by 2010 I ended up combining my two careers and becoming a full-time web design teacher.

 

Tell us about OSTraining. What services do you offer?

We teach people how to build great websites, focusing on WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. Our training is online, available 24/7, and really comprehensive. We start with the basics, then work our way up into more advanced topics such as SEO, ecommerce, theme design, security, etc.

 

What sets your training videos apart from other online tutorials?

The biggest difference is that we provide expert support, while most other online training companies provide no support or subpar support. Many of our members have stuck with us for years simply for the support. Also, we’ve been told by our students who have also taken other training courses that our videos are a lot more professional and teach the material more clearly.

 

What do you think are the biggest frustrations users have with learning new software programs?

A lot of users think that design will be easier. They may have used Dreamweaver or other point-and-click software such as Squarespace or Wix.

Unfortunately, many current CMSs do a bad job of making design easy for users. They have to learn many of the fundamental features of the platform before they can start designing.

 

Who should be checking out your training videos?

Anyone who wants to learn how to create or manage websites. We teach using simple, plain English so that absolute beginners and non-techies can learn.

 

What are the most popular training videos you offer? What topics are users most interested in?

Our Joomla, WordPress, and Drupal beginner classes are by far our most popular classes. Afterward, our Intro to Coding classes (e.g. HTML, CSS, and PHP) are the next set of most popular classes.

 

What topics do you think more users should check out?

More people should go through our security classes. We highly encourage it even if you won’t be the main person dealing with your site’s security. There are few things more important for your site than keeping it secure.

 

What software, application or CMS trends should business owners be following today?

The most important trend right now for businesses is the continued rise of mobile devices. Websites need to be mobile-friendly and work on any device – phone, tablet, or PC – to make it a better experience for the user.

Google has also started making significant algorithm changes to give a boost to mobile-friendly sites. That will continue in 2015 and beyond.

Watch the demo to learn how PerfectForms can help your business.

Connect with OSTraining on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube.

How Workflow Software Can Boost Your Sales Process

Your company’s sales process is its revenue generator. Therefore, the more efficient your sales cycle, the faster revenue can come in. With a fast, efficient sales cycle, your sales professionals can focus on lead generation and closing deals without having to spend an unreasonable amount of time on administrative tasks.

 

Workflow

Automate workflows so you can focus on the interactions that make for great sales relationships.

 

Some parts of the sales cycle are “high touch” and require the interaction that only a qualified sales professional can provide. Building offers into the process by cross-selling, solidifying relationships with customers, and offering customers gratitude are human-centric tasks. But many other parts of the sales process can be automated with the right workflow software.

 

The Sales Process Requires Taking in a Lot of Information

Money and products aren’t the only things transacted during a sale. Before and after the sale, a significant amount of information is exchanged. Customer contact information comes in, and product or service information goes out. Quotes are requested and fulfilled, and after a sale closes, customers may be asked to provide their opinion on the product or service.

All this information is valuable to promote the constant improvement of your sales process. One way you can ensure you take in all the information necessary is to create an electronic sales checklist that designates all the steps in the sales cycle and breaks them down. Once you’ve completed the sales checklist, you will at the very least know how qualified a lead is. At most you’ll have a new customer relationship to nurture.

 

Forms That Can Be Automated and Incorporated into Sales Workflows

Keeping all the data taken in during the sales process organized is easier if you automate forms and incorporate them into your sales workflow. A number of different types of forms can be automated using workflow software. For example, you might consider automating

• Lead forms

• Sales inquiry forms

• Customer satisfaction forms

• Customer service inquiry forms

• Product satisfaction forms

• Customer surveys

The right workflow software will let you integrate your custom forms with your website and your customer relationship management solution.

 

Workflow

Custom forms let you keep all customer and transaction data organized and available.

 

Integrating Forms With Salesforce

Automated workflows that can be integrated with Salesforce can streamline the sales process even more. PerfectForms offers the option of Salesforce integration that lets you easily query data, add, update, or delete data, collect metadata, and run utilities. This is a terrific way to customize Salesforce to your company’s specific needs without having to hire (or be) a programmer. PerfectForms also offers integration components for Google Spreadsheets and for analytics and enterprise management software SAP.

 

Electronic Workflows Ensure You Won’t Lose Critical Data

One of the most important reasons electronic workflows benefit your company is that you don’t risk losing critical data the way you do with handwritten notes and forms. In fact, you can make workflows that allow data entered once to populate multiple forms, cutting down on error rates and accelerating things even more. With the administrative parts of your sales process incorporated into a logical, electronic workflow, not only can the process proceed at its fastest pace, you’ll always have access to all critical information, even on mobile devices if you so choose.

 

Conclusion

The heart of the sales process is the building and sustaining of relationships that create value for your customer. Some parts of it require the human touch. When the administrative parts of your sales process are automated through electronic forms and workflows, your sales professionals can focus on person-to-person sales relationships.

PerfectForms is the perfect solution for automating your sales process. With PerfectForms, you create custom forms either from scratch or using templates that come with the software. And you don’t have to program to create beautiful forms and efficient workflows, because you create them using a friendly drag-and-drop interface. Best of all, you can try PerfectForms for free. Give it a try and let your imagination roam. There’s virtually no limit to the ways you can use PerfectForms to streamline your company’s sales process.

5 Tasks Your Business is Spending Too Much Time On

As your business grows, so do your responsibilities. Tasks that can easily be handled in-house or manually when your company consists of three people can become overwhelming once you have 10 people. If you’re used to simply coping with incremental increases in workload, you may not realize how much time you spend on administrative and repetitive tasks until you’re overwhelmed.

 

Business

Record the time you spend on manual processes. You might be shocked.

 

To know what should be automated or outsourced, ask yourself a couple of questions. First, ask yourself which tasks you are most likely to put off until the last minute because you hate doing them. Then honestly ask yourself about which tasks you’re just not good at. Everyone has tasks at which they excel and tasks the make a total mess of, so don’t feel bad. Tasks on these lists (especially tasks that appear on both lists) are the ones you should concentrate on either automating or outsourcing. Here are 5 tasks that businesses frequently spend too much time on.

 

1. Payroll

Payroll is demanding and complex, and it’s one of the most commonly outsourced tasks. Payroll services are often reasonably priced, especially when you consider the cost of, say, a tax reporting error. Make it easy to gather information to send to payroll by creating custom online time reporting logs. They can be automatically routed to the proper approving authority, and then turned over to the payroll service for fulfilment.

 

2. Social Media Management

Many businesses figure that social media can simply be squeezed in between other tasks, but that’s only true if you want a social media presence that’s inconsistent, lackluster, and doesn’t do your brand any favors. Hiring a social media manager or outsourcing it can ensure consistency and solid brand-building online. If you want your employees’ ideas and suggestions for social media posts, create an electronic submission form for your social media manager to work with.

 

3. Mileage Reporting

If you have employees who work in the field, you know how big a hassle manual mileage reports are. Make mileage reporting electronic and mobile-friendly, and your drivers or other field workers can enter mileage data easily after each job. Forms can be automatically sent to designated recipients, so you don’t have to worry about paper mileage forms being lost or illegible. Accuracy and efficiency should both improve.

 

Business

Paper mileage logs are error-prone and inefficient, both for drivers and those who process them.

 

4. Business Travel Planning

When it was just you and your business partner, arranging business travel wasn’t that big an issue. But now that you have 12 people, most of whom have to travel occasionally, automating as much of your business travel planning as possible pays off. Create an electronic form employees can use to fill in where they need to be and when, plus other relevant information, and your travel administrator has a much more organized approach to arranging travel.

 

5. Correcting IT Problems

A very small business may simply rely on whoever is “good with computers” to deal with common IT problems like balky printers or login problems. But this rapidly becomes inadequate as you add more employees. Standardize how people request IT help through an online form, and your IT team won’t lose handwritten requests or spend half their time playing phone tag to find out what’s wrong. A haphazard approach to IT services wastes money and time.

 

Conclusion

Automating just for the sake of automation won’t help your business that much. You want to automate tasks that will create a positive return on investment after automation. For example, if automating mileage reporting allows your accounting clerk to process 10 mileage forms in an hour rather than five, you’re almost certainly getting a positive ROI.

 

Investing in an electronic forms and workflows solution like PerfectForms lets you automate countless business tasks. Using a drag-and-drop interface, you create custom forms and can link them together into process workflows. Your creativity is the only limit on how many ways you can use PerfectForms to make your business run more efficiently. Why not try it out for yourself? You could soon have automated processes that cut down on overhead, improve accuracy, and are reflected on the bottom line.

How to Get Your New Employees Set Up and Ready to Work Faster

The first day for a new hire probably feels similar to school orientation. New employees have a lot on their minds and a lot to accomplish, and they’re probably concerned about making a positive first impression. Perhaps you as a supervisor or HR worker are anxious to make a great first impression as well.

 

Employees

The sooner new hires can get down to work, the happier everyone is.

 

How Day One goes can set the tone for an employee’s career with your company, and it’s important to not only make the new person feel welcome, but to ensure that all legal requirements are taken care of so that neither the employee nor the company has to deal with consequences of, for example, incorrect tax withholding. Following are some ways to help your new people get set up and ready to work as expediently as possible.

 

Take Care of Legal Employment Obligations

Correct contact, wage, and tax information is absolutely essential. Your employee wants his or her paycheck to be accurate, and you definitely don’t want the company to get in trouble with the IRS. If new hires can complete forms online, and if the data they enter can be used to populate multiple forms, everyone saves time, and there are fewer chances for mistakes. Plus, electronic forms won’t get lost in the blizzard of paper that often waits on new employee desks.

 

Getting Your New Employee the Gear They Need

Typically, new employees will need to have a phone, computer, and office supplies. In addition to providing a starter pack of office supplies, you can make it easier for your new employee to requisition a computer, phone, and other electronic gear they need if it’s done via electronic form. Not only can electronic forms eliminate confusion caused by misunderstood instructions or unclear handwriting, they won’t get lost, and are submitted to the person who needs to act on them immediately upon completion.

 

Make Sure They Can Get Into the Building

You’ll also need to make sure your new employee can get to where he or she needs to be. On the first day, new employees may need to apply for a parking permit, request keys if necessary, and have a photo ID made. Some employees may need a nameplate for their desks or doors, and they may need business cards and company stationery also. When requests for these items are linked together online in a logical workflow, you can be confident that new employees will get what they need without delay.

 

Employees

Granting building access to new employees should be a top priority.

 

Ease the Process of Signing Up for Fringe Benefits

New people usually have a set window of time in which they must sign up for benefits like health insurance or savings plans. Signing up with online forms ensures accuracy and speed, and you can help ensure new people don’t forget to sign up for benefits by sending out regular email reminders beforehand. You can also automatically send out confirmation emails after employees submit benefits forms so they know their requests went through. Doing all this on paper is asking for problems in the form of hard-to-read entries, or forms that are misplaced at any number of points of handoff.

 

Eliminate Pen and Paper from as Many Steps as Possible

The more you can eliminate pen and paper from new employee on-boarding processes, the better. And you can create the online forms you need with a solution like PerfectForms. With PerfectForms, you can use a number of pre-made templates or create forms all on your own. Because you drag and drop form fields into place and have powerful customization options, you can make online forms that look exactly like your paper forms, so people intuitively understand how to complete them. Then you can connect forms into workflows that allow both new employees and HR to complete their tasks quickly, and with minimum hassle.

 

Conclusion

With PerfectForms, you won’t have to ask the IT team to create custom online forms, because you can do it yourself without having to write any programming code. Drag-and-drop functionality makes creating forms and workflows intuitive, fast, and amazingly cost effective. And you’ll cut down on use of resources while reducing your company’s environmental footprint. Why not try out PerfectForms for free? It’s easy to see how much better PerfectForms can make on-boarding and countless other business processes.

6 Ways to Expedite Your Hiring Process

The hiring process is one of the most strategically important processes your business accomplishes. Every new employee, on some level, will improve your business or harm it, and you want to maximize chances of the former by having a hiring process that is thorough and well-documented.

 

Hiring

Hiring well is critically important to your company’s continued success.

 

While much of making a hiring decision is qualitative and has to do with who will fit best with your company’s culture, there’s an awful lot of the hiring process that is standardized and needs to be accounted for. Creating custom electronic forms for these objective aspects of hiring can speed up the hiring process by reducing errors and ensuring that all necessary steps have been followed. Here are 6 ways to expedite your company’s hiring process.

 

1. Make It Easy to Create a Performance-Based Job Description

The people in each department who are responsible for determining when someone new needs to be hired should have a standardized way to create a job description so that HR has all the information it needs and to help keep the process on track. An electronic form spelling out estimated costs and the key accountabilities of the job help ensure hiring resources are used optimally.

 

2. Create a Hiring Scorecard

Each candidate should have an associated hiring scorecard. This is a simple form that ensures that he or she meets requirements for education, certifications, and experience and makes it easier to compare these elements amongst candidates. If you use valid, EEOC-compliant pre-employment personality assessments, the results of those can be included in your hiring scorecard.

 

3. Develop a Hiring Checklist

Developing a custom hiring checklist (similar to this one) helps ensure that every necessary step in the hiring process is completed. Steps included on your hiring checklist might include:

• Obtaining hiring authority approval

• Posting advertisements for the position

• Creating an interview committee

• Developing interview questions

• Checking references

• Performing a background check

• Scheduling new employee orientation for those hired

 

4. If You Test Candidates, Create a Standard Test Evaluation Method

 

Hiring

If you do pre-employment testing, make sure you have a standard way of evaluating the results.

 

If you test job candidates, whether using written tests, role-playing, problem solving, or simulations, you should create a standard method for evaluating the results. A custom electronic form with fields for results of pre-employment tests can help hiring managers differentiate candidates with the necessary skills and rank them based on test results and other parts of the application and interview process.

 

5. Collect Input from Others Involved in the Hiring Process

More than one person should be involved in the hiring process. One person’s opinion is just that, and chances are the person you hire will interact with more than one person. You can create a custom electronic form for the position you’re hiring for where those involved in evaluating the candidates can record their input on important factors, like how familiar applicants are with tasks, and how well they mesh with company culture.

 

6. Implement an Employee Referral Program

An employee referral program can be a terrific resource for companies in competitive fields. Make it easy for your existing employees to refer potential job candidates by creating an employee referral form that is automatically forwarded to the appropriate hiring authority, whether a department head or someone in HR. Collect standard information like the person’s contact data and which job in your organization they would be well suited for.

 

Conclusion

Many parts of the hiring process are qualitative in nature, but there are numerous steps involved that must be documented, and there are ways to standardize parts of the hiring process so you can make the fairest comparison among applicants. Many of these standardized steps can be implemented via electronic forms and workflows for consistency, low error rates, and speed.

 

PerfectForms lets you create beautiful custom electronic forms without having to write programming code. You simply drag and drop elements into place on a “canvas” interface. Once forms are made, they can be connected into efficient workflows, complete with automatic notifications of all interested parties. Creating custom forms for the hiring process helps ensure no steps are missed and that hiring managers can access all the data they need to make the most responsible hiring choices. If you have questions or would like to learn more, please contact us at any time. We would be happy to answer all your questions about custom electronic forms and workflows.

Beyond The Dotted Line: Expert Interview with Gautham Pandiyan Of Mi-Corporation On The Many Uses Of Digital Forms

Digital formsMost of us have had time to get used the usual benefits of electronic forms – like saving time and energy for employees, as well as sizable savings of both money and resources from removing the paper trail.

That’s just the beginning of it, however, as you will see over the course of our interview with Gautham Pandiyan of Mi-Corporation.

Mi-Corporation’s flagship product is the Mi-Forms Suite, an enterprise-class mobile forms solution flexible enough to engage any device and any database.

Gautham took a moment us to tell about Mi-Forms, the advantages of having all of your forms available on any device, as well as the values of rich data and many more useful applications for digital forms you might not have thought of yet.

 

To start, can you introduce us to Mi-Corporation? When was your company founded? Where are you based out of? What need did Mi-Corporation set out to fill?

Mi-Corporation is an award-winning mobile data software company focused on helping organizations automate their field data workflows. Mi-Corporation was founded in 1999 to help organizations boost efficiency & productivity by digitizing paper-based processes using mobile devices.

 

One of Mi-Corporation’s most popular products is the Mi-Forms, an enterprise-class mobile forms software that can be used on any device anywhere. Could you give us a basic overview of Mi-Forms, as well as some possible applications?

Mi-Forms is a best-of-breed mobile data capture software platform which allows an organization to design & deploy electronic form apps to any device, to collect any type of data (such as GPS coordinates, photos, voice, barcodes & more) both online & offline, and to export that data to any enterprise systems using 90 APIs & web services.

The end result is that a customer can rapidly develop these data capture applications, complete with workflows & data synching, to make their processes digital and more efficient and to obtain real-time data.

Examples of Mi-Forms Applications include:

  • Pesticide inspections done by the NC Department Of Agriculture to keep the citizens of NC safe by regulating the applicators.
  • Clinical trial documentation by the NIH & IDCRP to help derive insights to cure various infectious diseases.
  • Safety inspections by Transport for London to keep the transportation infrastructure safe for the citizens of London.
  • Sales order entry documentation for Doyle Security Systems to streamline the processes & timeliness of taking customer orders.
  • And many more…!

 

What are some advantages of having forms available on any device? What are some kinds of data that can be gathered on different devices?

Flexibility is the biggest advantage of the “any device” capability of Mi-Forms in today’s BYOD world. If a customer decides to make a switch from iPads to Windows 8 devices, the transition is fairly smooth if they are using Mi-Forms. If a user forgets their iPad Mini one day at home, they can use their Android Smartphone instead for their mission-critical data workflows.

Mi-Forms software allows users to gather almost any type of data, including but not limited to:

  • Text fields, checkboxes, radio buttons, etc.
  • Handwriting (with ink & conversions on some devices)
  • Voice recordings and voice commands
  • Barcodes (to lookup databases and values)
  • GPC coordinates
  • RFID tags
  • Data from external handheld devices (On Windows Tablets, Laptops)
  • And many more!

 

One of Mi-Forms’ main benefits is the ability to gather “rich data.” What are some examples of rich data, and how can it be leveraged to help a company stand out from their competition?

Some examples of rich data include multimedia data like those outlined above, but also include data that can be dynamically displayed based on lookups to back-end databases, line of business systems and more – even offline. Mi-Forms Software has stronger offline capabilities than most other platforms in the market based on its ability to replicate data sets from enterprise systems down to a local SQLite database on different devices. The flexibility of the platform, and the top-notch service and support that backs it up from Mi-Corporation, are also key differentiators. Lastly, our 10 issued US patents around the technology is unmatched in the industry.

 

Another of Mi-Forms’ main benefits is faster, easier implementation. How much time and energy does a company stand to save by having ready-made forms available – say, over the course of a month or a year?

Mi-Forms customers have seen metrics-based benefits such as:

  • Having 100x more accurate data
  • Reducing the number of steps in a process by 80%
  • Seeing $675,000/year in cost savings in going paperless
  • Achieving 74% less data-entry time by staff
  • Getting billing complete 25% faster each month
  • Boosting Profit Margins by 11%
  • And more!

 

One of your success stories is with Rochester, New York’s Doyle Security Systems, who used your software to dramatically reduce cycle time, synchronize communication across departments, and provide top-notch customer service. First of all, how does Mi-Forms help decrease response time and increase customer service? Secondly, what are one or two of your other favorite success stories?

Digital formsMi-Corporation’s Mi-Forms solution helped Doyle Security Systems (DSS) achieve the results that they did (see left) by being adapted well to the DSS business processes through strong collaboration and communication between Mi-Corporation and DSS, as well as the ease-of-use by DSS end-users. By allowing DSS sales and service representatives to complete their estimation process on an iPad rather than via Excel or paper, customers can receive price estimates much faster. Their orders can be approved quicker, leading to more rapid installation and increased customer satisfaction. And in signing the contracts electronically, DSS can invoice customers sooner, leading to better cash flows and more accountability as well.

Digital formsThere are two other case studies of customers seeing success with Mi-Forms – one with NC Department of Agriculture, doing pesticide inspections; and the other with IDCRP, a military clinical trial group, doing clinical trial documentation on army bases around the world. Both have seen great success.

 

Mi-Forms has been used in a variety of industries from government to manufacturing. Mi-Forms can be used to streamline a manufacturing shop floor’s data collection process while improving workforce productivity. First of all, how does Mi-Forms help manufacturers accomplish this? Secondly, you talked about a 2014 research study conducted by the Aberdeen Group where 31% of non-mobility users claim to not trust collected data, 37% of non-mobility users claim that data is not available when needed, and 60% of non-mobility users claim the data-set is too complicated to understand. The numbers for mobile users are significantly lower. Can you talk about some reasons why mobile users may be more open to collected data? How is Mi-Forms being used to help rectify these concerns?

Mi-Forms helped VeriForm Manufacturing achieve 74% reductions in data-entry time, 80% fewer steps in the process, and savings of $8000/month by digitizing the entire shipping list process for delivery of finished product to customers. Other processes, such as inspections of forklifts, have been digitized; and the staff spends less time with data entry and more time with value-added tasks, which helps boost productivity.

Mobile data capture software like Mi-Forms helps organizations monitor their staff in an easier, efficient, and real-time way, since a supervisor in a shop floor can at any time check the status of data submitted by various shop floor operators. The shop floor operators use software like Mi-Forms to make their lives easier, help them avoid the pain of entering data from paper sheets, and assist with validation logic, calculations, and pre-fill right on the electronic device.

Helpful text, instructions, manuals, etc. can also be displayed to make their lives easier. This means users adopt Mi-Forms rather easily, and managers can have real-time visibility into how their production lines are operating, especially with the companion production from Mi-Corpration, the Mi-Analytics Dashboard/Reporting System.

 

This article from CRM Magazine gives 12 tips for generating rich data. Do you have any quick recommendations on how to turn raw data into usable rich data for companies that are trying to go this route on their own?

Data is all about quality and timeliness. We’ve all heard the phrase, “Garbage in, garbage out,” so having clean data is of paramount importance. The more you can check accuracy of the data right from a mobile device/form/app, the cleaner it will be when it hits your systems. And timeliness is important, too, since the longer it is stuck on paper, the less time managers have to make corrections, re-allocate resources, troubleshoot problems, and more.

In turning raw data into rich data, one must also consider how to visualize it. Data itself doesn’t mean much to people, but insights do. Insights often come from graphical representations of data. So think of how to provide useful charts, graphs, tables, etc. that can help people pull meaningful insights from this raw data.

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