Forms themselves are self-contained workflows, because they guide a user through a repeatable process consistently. Forms may also be part of larger workflows. For example, if a form must be signed by a department head so an expense reimbursement check can be written, the whole expense reimbursement process is a workflow, and it involves the completion of one or more forms.
When organizations take the time to examine forms workflows periodically, they can often identify places where the forms or workflows need to be updated, and can spot inefficiencies that can be addressed. Having a strong forms workflow – usually with the assistance of powerful forms workflow software – can keep organizations moving forward and competitive. Here are some of the things better forms workflows can do for you.
Compel you to Justify Steps in a Workflow
Perhaps one forms workflow was created years ago, when certain rules applied, but some of those rules no longer apply. Your organization may realize that there’s no good reason to continue certain steps of a forms workflow now that they aren’t regulation-bound. Therefore, you can streamline the workflow, cutting out steps that are no longer necessary so that everyone’s time is spent more productively. Technology, personnel, and industry regulations are all dynamic enough to prompt you to review your forms workflows for “bloat” periodically. Once or twice a year is usually sufficient.
Help You Reduce Error Rates
The more complicated a forms workflow is, the more room for errors exists. Electronic forms and workflows can incorporate input rules that paper documents can’t. For example, in a space reserved for, say, a parts number, an electronic form could flag an error if someone instead tried to enter a word. Electronic forms and workflows can also auto-populate multiple blanks from information typed in once to avoid repeated reentry. If, for example, a long ID number needed to appear in three different places on a form or in a workflow, the software can automatically enter it into all three of those places after it’s entered once.
Guide Your Organization to Consistently Higher Quality
Electronic forms and workflows naturally guide users toward consistency and quality. If an entire department uses an electronic form, you can be confident that consistency in that department will improve at the same time that efficiency improves. Paper forms were originally created out of a desire for consistency of information, and to some extent they can do that. But electronic forms can ensure a higher level of consistency, better traceability of processes, and an overall elevation in the level of quality produced by employees.
Trim Costs Considerably
The costs associated with paper forms and manual processes extend far beyond just the costs of paper and ink. The time it takes for employees to complete forms can also be excessive. If forms must be physically delivered to an approving authority for action, there’s another span of time that the process will take up. And if a form is lost somewhere along the line, having to start over is a real possibility. Electronic forms are faster, more accurate, can be delivered automatically, and won’t be lost or damaged. That, coupled with materials savings can trim corporate costs significantly.
Assist with Regulation Compliance
Some businesses must comply with industry or government regulations, and generally they must be able to offer proof of compliance should they be identified for an audit. Audit trails with paper forms and manual processes are cumbersome and there are countless places where errors can be introduced. With an electronic forms workflow, however, every step in the process is viewable by authorized personnel at all times. The completion and delivery of forms can be automatically recorded with time and date stamps to build an audit trail every time a process is completed. It makes regulation compliance much easier and faster.
Using Bad Forms is Bad Form
Only rarely can businesses operate efficiently without some forms-based processes. For uniformity and completeness, forms make sense. But today, paper forms are rarely necessary due to the availability of easy-to-use forms workflow software. PerfectForms is forms workflow software that allows non-technical users to create electronic forms exactly to their specifications using an intuitive drag-and-drop interface. Moreover, related forms and other steps can be put together into coherent electronic workflows, which are faster, more accurate, and easier to trace than manual workflows. You can try PerfectForms out for yourself if you’re interested. Put the power of forms workflow software to countless uses in your organization, starting now.
A purchase order is a document generated by a buyer authorizing a purchase from a seller. Once the seller accepts the purchase order, the document becomes a contract that protects both parties. Information contained in purchase orders includes things like item descriptions, prices, quantities, payment terms, applicable discounts, and shipping specifications.
Businesses use purchase orders for several reasons:
- They make keeping track of purchases easier.
- They can be referred to if a dispute arises between the business and the seller.
- They are evidence of compliance with various regulations.
- They make it easier for businesses to classify spending.
Purchase orders used to be done on paper and, in some cases, they still are. Form creator software makes the entire purchase order process infinitely better. Here’s how.
The Right Software Makes the Entire Process Faster
With form creator software, you can create digital forms that can be submitted electronically rather than completed by hand and routed to various approving authorities before submission to the seller. Digital purchase orders can be made to look identical to paper forms your team may be used to, so the learning curve is short. Electronic submission and approval of purchase orders is fast, accurate, and avoids smudged, torn, or illegible paper purchase orders.
With Better Information Comes Better Planning and Control
An electronic archive of purchase orders is easier to use for creating a long-term picture of purchasing trends, preferred vendors, and recurring problems. You can certainly gather this information with paper purchase orders, but it takes significantly longer and is more prone to errors. The gathering of information necessary during an electronic purchase order process makes it easy to spot, for example, a cash flow crunch indicating insufficient funds to pay for a purchase. This can prevent credit problems and misunderstandings.
Records, Compliance, and Reporting Are Significantly Accelerated
When you use form creator software,
- Maintaining accurate records is faster and easier.
- You’ll have an easier time demonstrating compliance generating reports showing how your company’s purchases are allocated.
- You can generate custom reports showing statistics that matter to you personally. For example, you could run a report detailing how much your company spent with small, locally owned vendors or vendors with good sustainability records.
Purchase Orders Do Not Necessarily Mean “Paperwork”
Don’t think that because you operate a very small business that you can’t benefit from a defined purchase order process. And don’t think that downloading templates and printing them is the best way to start. You can use form creator software not only for an outstanding purchase order process, but also to streamline countless other business processes, like expense reporting, project management, contracts, and surveys.
PerfectForms is form creator software designed for use by non-technical users who, nonetheless, want powerful, flexible, digital forms and workflows customized to their specifications. With a user-friendly, drag-and-drop interface, you can create the purchase order forms and workflows you need quickly and prevent many of the problems you may have had with paper purchase orders.
Once you discover one use for PerfectForms, you’ll envision countless others, like creation of an electronic employee on-boarding workflow, an IT support request process, or a system for managing company assets. Watch our demo and see how much power and flexibility PerfectForms offers businesses just like yours.
If you have been considering using business forms software to improve workflows and processes in your company, you have probably weighed factors like how much time it can save, how it will reduce error rates, and how it will make reporting easier. You have probably thought about the range of business processes you can apply your business forms software for everything from expense reporting to new employee onboarding to managing the transportation pool.
Something else to consider when evaluating options for business forms software is how it can make things easier during tax season. Any tax professional will tell you that what you do year-round makes a profound difference at the times you’re required to pay estimated taxes or reconcile taxes paid with taxes owed. Outstanding business forms software makes tax-related activities less of an ordeal. Here are some ways business forms software can make life easier during tax season.
By Categorizing Business Spending
When you use business forms software to create custom forms to authorize and keep track of various categories of business spending, you make it easier to figure out your true tax liability. For example, electronic forms and workflows developed for approving and tracking advertising spending can help you deduct every dime you’re entitled to. Other categories of business spending important at tax time include commissions paid to subcontractors, records of depreciable business assets, the cost of professional fees, and how much your business spent on fringe benefits, like health insurance and retirement plan administration.
By Collecting Relevant Data Automatically
Not all business forms software is created equal. It’s wise to invest in software that easily integrates with other software and databases. Suppose your company uses electronic workflows to approve and document charitable contributions. If your software can automatically put information about those contributions (such as amount, date, recipient, etc.) into a database or spreadsheet, you’ll have it all in place and ready to work with when it’s time to do taxes. The best business forms software knows how to “play nicely” with your other software and databases.
By Making Sense of All Forms of Business Income
Depending on what your business does, it may have multiple forms of business income. Of course, you’ll have gross receipts from sales of products and services, but you may also have interest and investment income. You may also, for example, rent out some of your unused office or retail space and generate revenue that way.
Additionally, your tax situation may be affected by where, geographically, the income was made. Outstanding business forms software is able to collect all pertinent information about every type of business income so you can be confident it is all reported correctly and that your tax bill is accurate.
By Organizing Information for Your Tax Accountant
Finally, never underestimate the importance of your business form software’s reporting capabilities. Not only can powerful reporting help you make smarter business decisions throughout the year, these capabilities can also make your tax accountant’s work significantly easier. Can you use your business forms software to run reports on all types of deductible business expenses? Can you create another report breaking down business income categories? Can you make a report that shows how much you spend on each type of employee fringe benefit? If so, your tax accountant will have a much easier time and you can be more confident your tax calculations are accurate.
What You Do All Year Makes a Difference at Tax Time
It would be nice if we only had to think about taxes once a year, but generally, if we want to stay in business, we have to consider our tax picture year-round. You might not think that the business form software your employees use to reserve company vehicles or to report reimbursable travel expenses would matter much to your tax exposure, but it very well might.
PerfectForms is powerful, flexible, customizable business forms software designed for use by non-technical people to streamline forms and workflows throughout an organization. It also includes easy and powerful reporting capabilities, and can be made to integrate with numerous types of web forms and business software without having to hire a programmer. We invite you to sign up for a free trial of PerfectForms so you can see for yourself the practically unlimited ways it can boost efficiency, cut costs, and ensure your reporting is always accurate and thorough, not just at tax time, but year-round.
Form creation software is an obvious addition to some types of small businesses. Those in the accounting and IT fields, for example, have clear use cases for form creation software to collect data and keep everything organized.
But many small businesses that you wouldn’t expect to benefit much from form creation software may actually grow and thrive partly due to smart use of such software. It can be used to differentiate a business from its competitors while making customer interactions faster, easier, and more accurate. Here are 7 small businesses that can benefit from form creation software.
1. Food Truck
Few businesses are as customer-centric as food trucks, yet form creation software can help these businesses take operations to a new level. Electronic online forms for ordering in advance, or even paying ahead can greatly increase customer convenience. Making these forms mobile-friendly can make things even more convenient for a busy customer base.
2. Translation Services
Particularly if a translation service covers multiple languages, online form creation software can boost efficiency and accuracy. Not only can clients order services through online (or mobile) forms, they can attach and upload documents or audio files that need to be translated. Terms of payment can also be spelled out and transacted using electronic forms and workflows.
3. Furniture Upholstery
Good practitioners of upholstery may deal with strong demand at times, and form creation software makes it easier to organize and plan. Customers could, for example, use online forms to input information like measurements, whether they will provide upholstery material, and when they want to bring the piece in. They could even upload a photo to get more accurate price estimates.
4. Personal Concierge Service
A personal concierge is usually highly dependent upon his or her phone and tablet. Form creation software can speed the order and payment process up for customers, and can even be made to give customers an estimated wait time. The more mobile-friendly personal concierge forms are, the more convenient it is for customers to request services.
5. Music Lessons
Form creation software can be used by today’s music teacher to schedule lessons, help students keep track of pieces they’re working on, and plan recitals. Busy parents can request a change in schedule with a phone or tablet, and music teachers can reply in between lessons to minimize interruptions. Allowing payment through online forms is also convenient for all parties.
6. Bicycle Repair
Before a repair technician ever lays hands on a broken bicycle, online forms can deliver important information, such as make and model, symptoms, and even photographs of parts that aren’t working correctly. Scheduling bicycle repairs can also be done using electronic forms, and updates on repair status can be delivered automatically at certain points in the process.
7. Dog Grooming
Appointments can fill up quickly for an in-demand groomer, and online forms developed with form creation software can keep everything organized. Mobile pet groomers can particularly benefit from online forms that are mobile-friendly. Make it easy to pay electronically for customers who choose to do so, and the entire process is faster, more accurate, and easier for everyone.
Form Creation Software Isn’t Just for Tech or Numerically Oriented Businesses
If you own a small business that isn’t an obvious candidate for electronic forms and workflows, perhaps you should consider form creation software anyway. It can be used by customers to request and pay for services and provide necessary details, and it can also be used by employees to log their activities and create audit trails.
When you use form creation software like PerfectForms, which is designed for use by non-technical users, you can create perfect electronic forms using drag-and-drop convenience, and you can create them to suit your needs exactly. In fact, just about any process you have now that involves jotting down notes can be made into convenient online forms that are faster, more accurate, and allow for easier recordkeeping and data collection.
Take a few minutes to watch our demo, and let it spark ideas for how form creation software can set your small business apart from the competition. The return on investment can be swift and positive, helping you take your small business to a new level of efficient operation.
Business forms software has a place in practically any business you can imagine. While the use of electronic business forms is an obvious advantage to the accounting or IT services firm, it’s also remarkably useful in non-technical businesses, from styling salons to translation services.
Whenever a business task involves filling out a paper form, or even jotting down sticky notes, the opportunity exists to implement electronic business forms to make things faster and more accurate and to simplify recordkeeping and reporting. Today’s business forms software options are available to businesses of all sizes, with any sized budget, and they’re well worth exploring, whatever kind of business you are in. Here are 6 features to look for when evaluating business forms software.
1. Excellent User Interface
You don’t have to choose business forms software that requires writing code to make forms that look and behave exactly as you want them to. Today’s best solutions are expected to have an outstanding user interface with a “blank canvas” that allows the user to drag and drop elements of a form or a workflow into place. If a user wants to create an electronic form that looks exactly like a familiar paper form, it should be easy to do so. Hiring a programmer should not be part of the expense associated with acquiring business forms software.
It’s not uncommon for a business or educational institution to start using business forms software for a particular task (like expense reporting) and quickly realize all the other tasks that could be streamlined similarly. That’s why it’s important to choose business forms software that allows users the flexibility to create forms for anything from building maintenance to transportation management to IT service requests. You shouldn’t be locked into one method of automating tasks, but should be able to let your creativity and innovation flourish.
Scalability is closely related to flexibility. Perhaps one or two departments automated tasks using business forms software and the results were so good that other departments want to automate their workflows too. Your business forms software should allow you to scale up quickly and easily, and typically the best way to do this is through software hosted in the cloud. Cloud-hosted software doesn’t involve the big up-front costs of buying servers and hiring IT workers to take care of them, but lets you implement as many instances of the software as you need, at any time.
4. Ease of Integration
When business forms software doesn’t know how to communicate with web forms or other software packages, its usefulness is limited. Can your choice of software take data in from other programs, or deliver data to a database you have set up? It should be able to do this without coding or complicated add-ons. The more readily your business forms software communicates with other systems you use, the more you can get out of it, and the more processes and workflows you can streamline and automate.
5. Ease of Custom Reporting
Suppose you collect a month’s or a quarter’s worth of expense account data from electronic expense reporting forms. Can your business forms software take this information and use it to create an informative, insightful report that helps you monitor business operations and spot trends early? Reporting capabilities can be enormously important, so don’t overlook this feature when evaluating your options in business forms software. Excellent reporting capabilities can be used to help you make smarter business decisions.
6. Your Choice of Cloud or On-Site Hosting
Cloud hosting is terrific, and is the first choice for many small businesses. However, there are businesses in which security or confidentiality regulations require that software be hosted locally, on the same site as the business, for optimal control. When your business forms software provider allows the option of on-site hosting, you can have the convenience of sleek workflows, and the confidence of knowing all your data and the software handling it are where you can exercise optimal control over it.
PerfectForms is business forms software designed for users who want powerful electronic forms and workflows without having to program. With PerfectForms you can drag and drop form and workflow elements into place, and you can easily make PerfectForms interact with web forms, databases, and other software programs you use. What’s more, you have access to outstanding custom reporting capabilities, and on-site hosting is an option for businesses that require it. Why not sign up for a free trial? You’ll see for yourself how PerfectForms can transform your workflows and make your business more efficient and competitive.
The quality of your company’s customer support can greatly influence your success. Outstanding customer service can smooth over minor problems, yet poor customer service can derail the success of even excellent products. In recent years there has been a revolution in customer service, with many more channels open to customers and their comments and inquiries.
If it’s time to upgrade your customer support services to take advantage of the web and mobile devices (which many customers prefer as a customer support channel), the right form software can make it not only possible, but extremely successful. Form software can make customer support faster, better, less costly, and more informative long term. Here’s how form software can help you transform your customer support operations.
Accelerate Customer Service Inquiries
Some customers will always prefer phone support, but an increasing number of them prefer communicating using web forms. With web-based customer service inquiries, there’s no waiting for the next available customer service agent, and a written record of the interaction is automatically created with time and date stamps. A customer can submit a support inquiry online (possibly using their tablet or phone, if forms are mobile-friendly), then check back later for a response, or request that the company phone them to discuss the issue. It’s fast, simple, and accurate.
Respond to Customers Promptly
Form software also makes it easy for your customer support team to respond quickly to inquiries. With all pertinent information about the customer, the product, and the problem at their fingertips, they can formulate the best response for the situation quickly, responding via web, phone, or however the customer prefers. There’s no typing in data the customer provides over the phone (which is error-prone), and there’s no answering lines where frustrated customers have been on hold for long periods. Form software isn’t just good for your customers, but for your customer support team as well.
Collect Inquiry and Response Data Automatically
Another terrific advantage of using form software for customer support inquiries and responses is that every time an inquiry or response is submitted, data from those forms can be automatically collected and analyzed. Did a lot of inquiries come in from a particular geographic area? Perhaps the batch of products that went there was damaged in transit. Do most of your customer support inquiries arrive on Tuesday afternoons? You can staff your customer support department appropriately so that work is distributed fairly. The data you collect automatically using form software can be used to make smarter business decisions.
Create Insightful, Informative Customer Service Reports
Think of the insights contained in one quarter’s or one year’s worth of customer inquiry and response data. The right form software will help you create reports that are informative and that make sense. These can be invaluable for reassessing customer support practices, and even for justifying the hiring of additional support agents. Reporting capabilities are one of the best features offered by great form software – a feature that can lead to lower expenses and higher revenues ultimately.
Customer expectations for support have risen as more customer support channels become open to them. An increasing number of people prefer the convenience of web customer support forms: they’re fast, simple, and don’t require waiting on hold for someone to answer a phone line. Many customer support specialists also see the great utility that web forms bring to customer support, allowing them to respond faster, more accurately, and at a lower cost. What’s more, the right form software can be made to create custom reports that make it easy for your customer support team to see what they’re doing well, and where there is still opportunity for improvement.
PerfectForms is form software made to be used by non-technical people. With a drag-drop interface, PerfectForms does not require you to pull someone from IT to help you create pixel-perfect web forms for customer service. You can even highlight your customer support forms with your brand colors, logos, and fonts if you choose. And collecting data from submitted forms can be set up so that you can gauge customer support trends and spot problems early on. Best of all, you can try out PerfectForms for free. See for yourself how much power you have in your hands to create web forms for customer service that can revolutionize how customer support is handled at your company.
It was early 1999. In the conference room of a manufacturing company in Kansas, a software purveyor had finished his pitch by asking if anyone had any questions. The company was desperately worried about the potential Y2K computer threat and saw it – as many companies did – as the opportunity to “upgrade” their software and improve their workflow.
The marketing manager expressed concern that the company was about to spend nearly a million dollars, but the new software would not address one of the company’s most problematic workflow issues. The software salesman says it could be done for an additional $300,000, but it would take at least nine months.
The marketing manager replied, “That’s insane! An idiot could do it in half the time!”
The general manager queried, “Are you absolutely sure?”
“Yes, sir. And it can be done off the system, then integrated with the system.”
To which the GM replied, “Well, you’re the biggest idiot I know. (you had to be there), Make it happen.”
Become an Advocate of Continual Improvement
Workflow improvement is typically viewed by employees either as an unnecessary diversion or someone else’s job. To the contrary, without continual improvement, businesses begin to die. Many employees resist workflow improvement because it means change. They have found their comfort zone and they want to stay in it. Others resist because they don’t understand the reason for the change.
Becoming an advocate for continual improvement gives you a platform for helping both groups of employees buy-in to the concept. This is a matter of endurance and consistency – and setting an example that demonstrates that you not only advocate workflow improvement, but that you also embrace it.
Become an Agent of Change
Every employee makes a choice to be a whiner or a winner. Whiners complain about the way things are, yet they also resist changes to the way things are. Winners may complain, but they DO SOMETHING to address the inefficiencies they see. They are willing to take an active role in improving the processes that are hindering progress.
Let’s go back to that conference room in Kansas for a minute. The marketing manager had absolutely no programming experience. All he knew was that the company should not have to pay an exorbitant $300,000 for a workflow remedy nor could it afford to be without the necessary process in place. Because of his strong advocacy, the GM appointed him as the agent of change.
Become Aware of the Available Opportunities
The key to becoming a workflow genius is not in seeing a problem. Chances are that you are not the only one who sees it. The key is to be the one person who is willing to create and implement the necessary changes. To do that, you will need to:
- Believe that it can be done and that you can do it.
- Obtain the support of upper management (to avoid wasting time).
- Create a provable plan (to demonstrate workability, efficiency, and effectivity).
- Obtain the approval of upper management (to move on to implementation).
- Teach employees why the change is happening (to gain cooperation).
- Implement in stages (to avoid workflow disruptions and unintended consequences).
Don’t Try to Look Like a Genius
Focus on improving the business. Your success will cause others to see you as a genius.
Oh, the guy in Kansas? With the support of management and the help of others who saw the need, he succeeded. He was later named vice president of the company.
Never before in all of history has there been the powerful resources available to improve workflow performance and look like a workflow genius. We encourage you to watch our demo, then contact us and let us show you the tools that make workflow improvement easier to manage. You may be amazed at how we can help.
Reducing your company’s carbon footprint and being friendlier to the environment are certainly “feel-good” actions, but there’s a business case to be made for going green too.
Money you’re not spending on energy-hogging equipment or incandescent lighting is money that can go to the bottom line, and you can save significant waste management fees by recycling to reduce your trash output.
Furthermore, investors and customers are starting to take notice of the environmental and sustainability practices of their favorite companies and brands. There’s also the widespread perception (with some basis in fact) that companies that care about sustainability are more likely to pay attention to other details, like non-wasteful financial practices. Your small business may not have the budget to install solar panels or geothermal heating, but that’s OK. You can make a significant impact through simple, inexpensive everyday practices. Here are 6 simple ways your company can make 2016 greener.
1. Determine How “Ungreen” Your Company Is
When you want to take charge of your finances, step one is figuring out what you’re spending money on. Similarly, if you want to take charge of your environmental impact, you need to measure it first. How do utility bills vary throughout the year? How much paper did you buy last year? How much are you paying for waste collection?
You can use online tools like the EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager to measure and track energy and water consumption and carbon emissions. The results calculated by the Portfolio Manager can help you identify which buildings are under-performing in terms of energy conservation and help you determine investment priorities as well as low-hanging opportunities that let you go greener with minimal effort.
2. Start Recycling Paper, Metals, and Glass
Depending on where your business is located, you may pay for trash collection, yet recycle for free. Prioritizing the diversion of waste into recyclables not only is more environmentally responsible, but can reduce your costs as well. This can be a good foundation for a sustainability strategy. You could even promote some friendly competition between paper-heavy departments as to which can divert more recyclables this quarter.
And when it comes to recycling aluminum cans and plastic bottles, consider this: you’re helping make manufacturing cheaper by increasing access to recycled materials. This type of unofficial collaboration could directly benefit your suppliers who use these recycled materials, ultimately helping keep your own costs under control.
3. Replace Burned Out Light Bulbs with LED Bulbs
Maybe you operate a tiny startup with a small budget, so replacing all your incandescent and fluorescent bulbs with LEDs in one swoop isn’t practical. Make it your practice to replace bulbs as they wear out with LED bulbs, which help cut energy bills and which are less environmentally damaging than incandescent and compact fluorescent bulbs. Yes, LED bulbs are more expensive, but a 60-watt incandescent bulb lasts 1,200 hours, while a compact fluorescent bulb lasts 8,000 hours while using 13-15 watts, and an LED bulb will only use 6 to 8 watts, while lasting for 50,000 hours.
The annual energy consumption for each LED bulb is approximately 30 times lower than for the equivalent incandescent bulb, and you’ll particularly appreciate this during summer, because LEDs generate far less heat during use, lowering the burden on your cooling system. The big advantage of LEDs over CFLs is that CFLs contain mercury, while LED lights do not.
4. Install Video Conferencing Equipment
While there will undoubtedly be occasions when people need to meet face-to-face with clients or attend conferences, video conferencing equipment can substantially reduce travel needs and travel expenses, while reducing your company’s carbon footprint. The cost of video conferencing equipment is reasonable, and the hardware and software are included in many business VoIP phone systems at a slight upcharge.
The rewards can be significant. When a company reduces just one cross-country business trip per month, it can save over $15,000 per year in “hard” travel costs, and roughly the same amount per year in “soft” travel costs like hours lost during transit.
Today, most people are used to Skype video calls, and the transition to group video conferences is not difficult for most people. Video conferencing equipment can also allow you to offer telecommuting as a perk for your personnel, keeping vehicle traffic off the road while boosting employee morale without sacrificing efficiency.
5. Add Some Actual Green to the Office
Indoor foliage not only makes the workplace look more attractive, it also absorbs indoor air pollution and increases the flow of oxygen. Because the process of transpiration evaporates moisture through plant leaves, office plants keep the air humidified better in winter, and studies from Norway have shown that the presence of indoor plants can decrease problems with dry cough, sore throats, colds, and dry skin.
Improving the quality of indoor air in tightly sealed buildings (which most offices are) and helping circulate oxygen can, along with the visual appeal of plants, simply make the office a nicer place to work. Great plants for the office include peace lily, English ivy, gerbera daisies, bamboo palms, and spider plant, which are all generally easy to care for.
6. Don’t Forget to Reduce as well as Reuse and Recycle
Reusing cleaning cloths and recycling aluminum cans are important ways to make your company greener, but perhaps the most important thing you can do is reduce the need for products and activities that are hard on the environment. If your company uses paper for forms and processes, you can cut expenses, be greener, and be more efficient by creating electronic forms and workflows instead. The cheapest paper is the paper you don’t have to buy, and electronic forms and workflows cut down on paper use to a remarkable degree. Of course, you’ll cut down on ink and toner too, as well as requiring less physical storage space for paper.
PerfectForms makes it easy and economical for businesses to convert inefficient paper-based forms and workflows to fast, efficient electronic ones. And you can create electronic forms that look exactly like your paper forms, so the learning curve is minimal for the form users. Your business will save time and money, and deal with fewer errors, all while being more environmentally responsible. And you don’t have to know how to program due to PerfectForms intuitive drag-and-drop interface. Have a look at our demo and see for yourself how much of a difference PerfectForms can make when you want to make your company greener.
Capital expansion is part of the long-termprogress of a business. It may involve acquisition of assets or upgrading of existing assets. Perhaps it involves upgrading or replacing IT infrastructure. What capital expansion does is help businesses enlarge their operational scope. Capital expansion is managed by the capital expenditures process.
Having a capital expenditures process is necessary for ensuring funds are spent responsibly and the company ends up with the real estate, IT infrastructure, or upgraded heating and cooling system it needs. A well-managed capital expenditures process saves time, saves money, and keeps all stakeholders in the loop in terms of monitoring progress.
Typical Steps in the Capital Expenditures Process
Though the specifics differ from one organization to another, usually the capital expenditure process involves several steps:
• Submission of a request (written, often with supporting documentation)
• Verification and request for further documentation and / or description
• Approval or rejection
• Greenlighting the project for the department in charge of the capital expenditures project
Generally, larger organizations – particularly those with multiple or international locations – have more involved capital expenditures processes due to the generally larger and more complex nature of the projects funded.
How a Manual Capital Expenditure Program Holds Back Your Organization
Think of a manual, paper-based capital expenditure process. It’s slow, complicated, and prone to irregularities. A paper capital expenditures request may be routed by hand or through the company mail room, and may ultimately land on the desk of someone who is out for the day, or taking vacation time off. Here it may languish for far longer than it should.
If additional supporting information is requested at one or more points during the process, and this information is also submitted manually, further slowdowns can be expected. And if a form is lost at some point, the capital expenditure process may have to backtrack significantly to get things moving forward again.
Automating the Capital Expenditure Process
The inherent inefficiency of the manual capital expenditure process is why so many organizations elect to automate as much of the process as it can, making paper forms electronic, and routing them electronically rather than manually. Furthermore, an automated capital expenditure process keeps all supporting documentation, forms, and memos in a central location on the company network or in the cloud so that all decision-makers have access to the information whenever they need it.
At any time, an authorized stakeholder in the capital expenditures process can check on the progress of a request, and email push notifications can be incorporated so that whenever someone’s input or action is required, they are notified automatically and can respond quickly.
Focus More on What Really Matters
In short, automating the capital expenditures process makes it faster and more accurate, saving time and money. Another result is that it frees up those involved in the process to spend more time on more important tasks and less time with administrative chores. Investing in workflow software, even if it only results in the automation of the capital expenditures process, can produce a positive return on investment in a short amount of time.
Smaller or newer companies, that may not have big budgets, may think that an investment in workflow software is itself a capital expenditure, but that doesn’t have to be the case. PerfectForms is workflow software that makes it easy to create electronic forms, connect them into logical workflows complete with notifications and alerts, and enjoy the benefits of not having to use a cumbersome, manual process for capital expenditures.
Best of all, PerfectForms has a user-friendly, drag and drop interface that makes it so non-technical people can create electronic forms and workflows without knowing how to program. After automating and streamlining the capital expenditure program, you’ll probably think of countless other work processes that can benefit from using workflow software.
If this sounds like a smart plan to you, why not try it out for yourself? You can sign up for a free trial of PerfectForms and see how easy it is to use a graphical interface to create beautiful, pixel-perfect forms and sleek workflows that really pay off in terms of time and resources saved.
Business process automation is exactly what it says: the automation of processes used in business. They may be simple or complex, self-contained or interdependent. Regardless, business process automation distills processes to their essential elements, automates steps that can be automated, and eliminates a lot of paper, errors, and wasted time.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that business process automation is only for large enterprises. Smaller businesses can benefit disproportionately from business process automation, because they tend to have greater constraints on staffing and resource budgets. Here are 6 ways business process automation can help your business – whatever its size or industry.
1. By Reducing Costs
Manual tasks are performed one at a time and are by nature slower than automated tasks. Sure, some tasks cannot be automated, but a surprising number of them can be. Automated tasks eliminate time-intensive steps like manually delivering papers that need to be signed, and they reduce paper and ink usage as well, because they’re done electronically. Savings in terms of time and resources add up significantly over the course of a year.
2. By Ensuring Quality and Consistency
Business process automation ensures processes are carried out with consistency, because users are stepped through it in a prescribed way every time. That means no steps are inadvertently omitted, nobody can cut corners, and you can expect results of a process to meet standards every time. This can be especially valuable in heavily regulated industries where processes must be tracked and audit trails are required, since business process automation software can automatically generate audit trails.
3. By Making Processes Faster
It only makes sense that automated processes are faster than manual processes. Think about a process like business travel reporting. When done manually, the result is a blizzard of paperwork and receipts, and time spent writing down expenses and per diem amounts. With business process automation, however, expenses, per diems, and even receipts can be submitted electronically (so none of them will get lost), and employees can be reimbursed faster. You can even make the process mobile-friendly so travelers can submit expenses on the go.
4. By Reducing Errors
Consider all the risks of errors with manual processes. Someone could start with the wrong form altogether and have to redo it. If it’s not clear what goes in a blank, guesswork could lead to further errors. Paper forms can be lost, torn, or stained, and every time a paper is handed off, potential for more errors is added. Business process automation eliminates paper forms, and can make it so blanks must be completed with the right type of information before a form is submitted. Fewer errors mean less time spent tracking down and correcting them.
5. By Making Metrics Easier to Track
With business process automation, data can be collected every time a process happens. That data can be made into reports that track the metrics that are important to your organization. How many employees completed safety training? What percentage of fleet vehicles was reserved on a given day? How many customer service calls come in on Mondays compared to Thursdays? The right business process automation software lets you track the metrics that matter for continual business improvement.
6. By Facilitating Collaboration
Suppose you use business process automation to standardize and streamline production of technical reports. Unlike with a manual, paper-based process, an automated process lets all stakeholders see the status of the report at any time. And when drafts are shared electronically, edits and changes can be done significantly faster than if it was all done on paper. Any approval cycle can be automated so that approving authorities sign off electronically, again resulting in time savings. Better, faster collaboration is the end result.
Business process automation is for organizations of all types and sizes. It doesn’t require custom programming or a big IT investment. In fact, you can create automated forms and workflows even if you know nothing about programming. PerfectForms makes it easy, with an intuitive drag-and-drop interface. Your electronic forms can look exactly like your paper forms for a quick learning curve. And forms can easily be connected into workflows that are efficient, less error-prone, and easier to track. Have a look at our demo and see for yourself how PerfectForms puts the power of business process automation in your hands.