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.

For more updates from Mi-Corporation, like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, connect with them on LinkedIn, and subscribe to their YouTube Channel.

It’s Bikini Season, and These Expenditure Forms are Ready

Forms

Processes must be tracked closely, but you can do it without paper forms.

 

Capital expenditure forms are essential in every type of business. You have to keep accurate records so you can understand where business capital goes and track how long equipment lasts. You also need meticulous records for tax purposes. Getting capital purchases approved may be a multi-step process, but it’s important that every step is documented so that a clear audit trail is created

But who wants to waste time manually completing paper forms, making photocopies for all the necessary file folders, and waiting around for the approval cycle to slowly grind its way forward? The capital expenditure cycle may not be exciting, but that doesn’t mean it has to be inefficient, old-fashioned, and unwieldy. Your business is better off with something sleeker and simpler: electronic forms and workflows.

 

Paper Forms: The Business Equivalent of the Victorian Bathing Costume

Paper forms made a lot of sense for a lot of years. Rather than dictating or writing a memo, people could simply write down essential information on forms and send them to the right recipient. For their time, paper forms were great. But now we look at paper forms and it’s obvious how outdated they are. We wonder why we need to use a pencil and paper and then manually hand forms to the right person to request capital expenditure approval when our cat has its own Facebook page that’s updated daily. Paper forms are petticoats and top hats, and we live in the skinny jeans era.

 

Electronic Forms: Sleek, With Just Enough Coverage

Electronic forms cover everything essential and do away with the rest. An electronic form may require just as many fields to fill in as a paper form, but it’s done online, and most people type faster than they write. Custom electronic forms can also specify certain formats, so the data that populates forms has a consistent format, regardless of user. And rather than using company mail or hand delivering a completed form, submission is a simple matter of clicking “Send.” Electronic forms let you do much more, with less time and fewer errors.

 

Electronic Workflows Let You Hang Ten on More Opportunities

When your capital expenditure forms are created as part of a logical workflow, everything is faster, and people know what to expect. You can set up your workflow so that whenever an approval step is completed, all relevant parties are notified. That means you don’t have to wonder if your form was sucked into another dimension, because you can use your network to track its progress at any time. Electronic workflows free up your employees to focus on core business processes and seek out new opportunities.

 

Forms

Don’t let old, unwieldy processes hold your team back.

 

Electronic Forms Keep You from Getting Burned This Summer

Link together capital expenditure forms into coherent workflows, and you can ensure that every “i” is dotted and every “t” is crossed for every capital expenditure request. The people who take care of taxes can be confident they have all the documentation they need, and if someone wants to know, for example, how frequently office copiers are purchased, they can easily search capital expenditure records for answers. Electronic forms and workflows ensure that no steps are skipped and no crucial data is omitted, yet they make the capital expenditure process sleek and problem-free.

 

Conclusion

Perhaps you’re thinking that electronic forms and workflows for capital expenditures would be nice, but who has the time or money to make it happen? The answer is, you do. With PerfectForms, you have the ability to create pixel-perfect forms simply by dragging and arranging form fields onto a “blank canvas” interface. Once your forms look exactly as you want them, they can be linked into workflows using a similar drag-and-drop process. Workflows may contain automatic triggers to notify relevant parties, and they can be made easy to monitor at all stages. And you don’t have to know anything about programming to do it.

Having electronic forms and workflows doesn’t require your IT team to drop what they’re doing to help you, and it doesn’t require a major capital investment. PerfectForms puts the power into the hands of people who use the forms, so they can be custom tailored to workplace needs. You can try out PerfectForms for free and see for yourself how sleek and elegant forms and workflows can be.

5 Ways Better Business Process Automation Can Help Your Company Now

Business process automation is just what it says on the label: automating business tasks that used to be manual and cumbersome. Some business tasks will always require human intervention, but a huge number of tasks can be partially or fully automated, to everyone’s benefit.

 

Business process automation

Why not put your network to use in business process automation? It’s reasonable even for small start-ups.

 

What can you expect if you develop a business process automation strategy for your company? You can expect to benefit right away and over the long term. Here are 5 ways better business process automation can help your company.

 

1. By Accelerating Processes

Think of the old way of requesting paid time off. You would ask the department secretary for a form that you would fill out by hand. Then you would either use company mail or hand deliver the form to someone in HR. That person would work through forms one by one, and if something was illegible or confusing, a series of phone calls to clarify would ensue. If this process is automated, however, you access and complete the form online. When you submit it, an email alert is automatically sent to the person who must act on the request. When your request is approved, you’re automatically notified.

 

2. By Reducing Error Rates

Think of the many ways things can go wrong with manual, paper-based processes. Forms can get torn, lost, or smudged. Some people have terrible handwriting. Some people may enter a date in one format while others enter it in a different format. Business process automation puts electronic forms at everyone’s fingertips, and can be set up so that everyone enters information in a consistent format (like MM/DD/YYYY). No one will mistake “4″ for “9,” and a coffee stain won’t obliterate an important piece of information. Forms won’t disappear under a pile of papers. In short, error rates drop dramatically.

 

3. By Automatically Triggering Prescribed Actions

Suppose you set up an electronic form on your website to collect names and email addresses from people who want to subscribe to your email newsletter. You can set the process up so that not only is the information added to the email list, but so that other processes are triggered as well. You could, for example, automatically trigger delivery of a free e-book or special offer to be sent as a thank-you to the person who signed up. Or you could automatically notify a particular person in marketing to follow up with the lead. And it can all be accomplished instantly and automatically.

 

4. By Reducing Resource Usage

 

Business process automation

Electronic forms standardize data collection and processes, with no paper required.

 

In form-heavy industries, like education and government, offices can easily turn into a blizzard of paper. By using business process automation to create electronic forms and workflows, however, the need for paper, ink, and toner drops substantially. You can reduce your environmental footprint, your need for filing cabinets, and your status as a fire hazard all at once. Faster processes, with fewer errors and less paper to pay for and store all contribute toward a reduced cost of doing business and healthier revenues.

 

5. By Standardizing Information Collection

If your contractors submit invoices on spreadsheets, there is major potential for confusion. Even if they all use the same template, a misplaced comma or decimal point can throw everything off. With electronic forms, you collect the exact information you want, in a format that you specify. You can make it so that if someone submits an amended form, it automatically updates the system or triggers another action. Standardizing the data you collect not only reduces errors, but also makes it easier for new personnel to learn how to process it.

 

Conclusion

If you run a small business, you may wonder who can afford an automated system for IT repair requests, another system for project management, and still another for HR functions. Fortunately, PerfectForms is flexible enough to be adapted to automation in any department. Creating forms and connecting them into workflows doesn’t require programming, just drag-and-drop simplicity. And you create forms exactly like you want them, so they’re perfectly tailored for your particular processes. Have a look at our demo and see for yourself how easy and affordable business process automation can be. PerfectForms combines power with flexibility, ease-of-use, and affordability, putting business process automation well within your reach.

No IT Help? No Problem

Sometimes opportunities present themselves, but you have to work quickly to take advantage. Perhaps you have the chance to impress a potential new client, but in order to do so you need to collect and analyze some data first. If you take this proposal to the IT department, don’t expect them to drop everything and help you.

 

IT help

Is this the response you expect from IT when you need help with a new project? You have alternatives.

 

IT is usually up to its collective eyebrows with end-user problems, slow networks, and everything involved in keeping your network functioning day to day. Writing a data collection program, while it might make a nice change of task, isn’t going to be high on IT’s list of priorities. But you don’t have six months to wait for IT to have time to help you. Are there other options?

 

You Can Collect Data Efficiently With Online Forms

There may well be another option you can pursue without bothering the IT people. Suppose you need to collect a certain type of data and make sense of it to impress a potential new client. You don’t have to know how to program to create user-friendly electronic forms that people will intuitively know how to use. Moreover, you can ensure that once forms are completed, the data in them is used as you want, and the proper people are notified if necessary. PerfectForms lets you create electronic online forms with drag-and-drop simplicity. And you can create workflows with forms to ensure they go where they’re supposed to once completed.

 

Import and Export to Spreadsheets, Databases, or Other Forms

If you have a database full of information you’d like to put into electronic forms, you can do so with the built-in PerfectForms Connection Agent. With access credentials to the database you want to use, you can drag and drop connections from an external database to your electronic forms, and make it so data from the database fills form fields automatically.

Additionally, PerfectForms allows you to export forms data to other forms. This can be terrific when you want to avoid people having to re-enter data multiple times, because something entered once can be made to populate multiple forms. The Connection Agent allows you to not only import data into forms from external sources, but also put information collected on electronic forms into databases, spreadsheets, or other applications. And this too is done without having to know how to program, because the PerfectForms Connection Agent also has an intuitive user interface.

 

Process Data to Present to Client

 

IT help

PerfectForms lets you work fast, so you’re ready when opportunity knocks.

 

You’ve collected data through your electronic forms. You’ve exported data to a spreadsheet, and the spreadsheet crunches your data to give you the unique business insight that will win you that new client. And you did it all without having to pull a programmer off an IT project to help you. From the start your potential client can see how agile and proactive your business is because of your skill at using electronic forms and workflows. PerfectForms can be your behind-the-scenes partner when it comes to making a terrific first impression and winning new business.

 

Impress Potential Clients Without Writing Custom Code

The IT department says that programming is hard, because programming actually is hard. It can take years to learn and many more years to become an expert. Nobody has that kind of time if there’s a potential new client waiting to be impressed. And few companies have the resources to either hire a programmer temporarily or to redirect IT resources to fast-track a new project.

In many of these cases, you can use PerfectForms to do what you need quickly and efficiently, and you don’t have to write the first line of code. At most you’ll need to know access credentials to databases you will be accessing. Whether you want to import data and put it into forms, or export data from forms to a spreadsheet or database, the Connection Agent lets you do so. You can watch a tutorial and see the process for yourself.

 

Conclusion

PerfectForms puts more than the power of electronic forms and workflows into your hands. It also lets you create processes that used to require the help of programmers to accomplish. If this sounds like something that could benefit your business, why not check out our demo or sign up for a free trial of PerfectForms? You don’t have to know how to program to handle forms data in innovative and powerful ways.

My Online Form Is Smarter Than Your IT Dept.

If you oversee a work process, you probably know every detail of what is supposed to happen at every step. And if you still use paper forms that are filled in by hand, you are probably all too familiar with what can go wrong between the beginning of the workflow and the end. Maybe you would like to have an electronic workflow instead, but your IT department is already stretched thin. Who knows when they might get around to transforming your paper-based workflow into a sleek, electronic workflow?

 

online form

Good luck getting IT to prioritize creation of electronic forms.

 

But what if you could bypass the IT folks altogether and create your own electronic forms and workflows? You can do this, even if you’ve never written the first line of programming code, because it can be done through a convenient user interface. With the right electronic forms and workflow solution, your biggest “risk” is that IT will come to you wanting to use your solution to create their own workflows. Here’s how it works with PerfectForms.

 

Forms for Human Resources Needs

Say you work in the HR department. Maybe part of your job involves taking care of reimbursement for property employees buy in order to do their jobs. For example, one of your engineers travels to meet a company representative and give a presentation, hoping to win a new client. But his slide projector is DOA and he can’t fix it, so he purchases a new one out of his own pocket so he can give the presentation.

When your personal property reimbursement form can be completed online and automatically submitted to the proper approving authorities, they can then electronically notify Finance to cut a check for the projector amount. Your engineer can complete the necessary forms even before returning to the office, considerably speeding up the process for everyone involved.

 

Finance and Budget Forms

A new fiscal year is approaching and department heads need to spell out and justify their budgets for the upcoming year. If all your finance and budget forms are on paper, you can count on mistakes, lost forms, and misread information. But if you create electronic versions of all forms used in the budgeting process, and then link them together logically in an electronic workflow, everything goes much more smoothly.

Electronic forms won’t get lost or coffee-stained, nobody has to worry about being able to read someone’s terrible handwriting, and completed forms are automatically routed to the proper receiving authority. These people can then act on forms and electronically send them to the next person in the workflow.

 

Forms for Educational Institutions

 

Online form

Just one classroom can generate an enormous amount of paperwork.

 

Without forms, K-12 institutions or institutions of higher education would soon collapse into total chaos. Enrollment forms, field trip requests, detention forms, transcript requests and much more can be handled electronically, saving busy school administrators significant time and hassle.

Suppose your local community college needs a transcript for one of your former students. They can submit a request via online form, and once you confirm their credentials, you can pull the transcript, copy and mail it, or scan it and send it as an email attachment. If transcripts themselves are compiled electronically, they can be saved as PDFs so they’re ready to go upon request.

 

Create Your Own Custom Form

Every business is different, and chances are your business uses forms in some ways that are utterly unique. In addition to a broad and useful suite of pre-made form templates, PerfectForms lets you create your own custom forms from scratch so you can get them exactly like you want them. And again, there is no programming involved, and your final electronic forms can be made to look exactly like your paper forms, so people are comfortable with them from the start.

Whether you need a form to sign up for the company picnic, to confirm attendance at safety training, or to request a vehicle from the transportation pool, PerfectForms makes it as easy as dragging and dropping form fields into place. Your electronic forms can then be just as easily connected into sleek, efficient electronic workflows.

 

Conclusion

Let the IT department worry about overheated servers and big data, because when it comes to making online forms and workflows, you have it covered with PerfectForms. You don’t have to know how to write code to create custom electronic forms and workflows that speed work processes and reduce error rates. And best of all, you can try PerfectForms for free and see for yourself how easy and powerful it is. Give it a try. You and your IT department will be happy you did.

Expert Interview with smartQ on Workflow Management

PerfectFormsBusinesses today have plenty of options to choose from for managing projects.

And the makers of smartQ, a workflow management tool, understand that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution; each company has to find the best methods for managing their specific needs.

Here, they share about what smartQ can do for your business and offer insight on smarter workflow options:

 

Can you tell us about smartQ?

smartQ is a workflow management tool built around a simple whiteboard view called Kanban. It allows people to visualize their tasks on a virtual whiteboard and move them around between stages of a workflow. Instead of changing a task status, you simply drag it to another stage. This makes it easy to visualize and manage a workflow. smartQ works best with repetitive tasks that go through the same pipeline.

 

What sets smartQ apart from other project management software?

Kanban is not new. It fits Agile methodology well, so many developer tools integrated it. But smartQ was built to be customized for any industry and workflow. Its customization is the main power of smartQ.

 

How does it work? How can clients customize smartQ to fit their unique needs?

You can easily customize smartQ for any workflow. You can customize the stages a ticket goes through and who can move tickets to what stages. It even allows you to define custom fields for your tickets. smartQ also supports creation of tickets from an external form (which can be placed on your website) or email by people not even registered in your smartQ account. This makes it possible to use it for a Help Desk as well.

With multiple projects inside one smartQ account ,you can have different workflows going on. HR could use it to handle the interview process, accounting to handle the invoices, IT to handle the support tickets, and customer support to handle requests from external customers.

 

What are the biggest frustrations your clients come to you with in regard to project management?

Tools out there are either too complex or too simple. Adoption is the biggest issue. While a manager may want a tool with all kinds of reports and analytics, a worker that uses it daily just wants something simple that requires no training. Otherwise, everybody is back to email, Excel files and sticky notes.

 

How do you help them overcome these problems?

With smartQ, we try to keep it simple on the surface while packing a lot of features “under the hood.” Striking this balance can be difficult, though. We have to listen to our clients constantly and adjust.

The fact that smartQ is so universal makes it more challenging. But we are proud that smartQ is used not only by developers, but also financial advisers, travel agents and a wide range of other industries. Check out these case studies:

 

Why is software like yours so important to the success of a business today? What are the risks of not managing workflow digitally?

Going digital is about staying flexible. People work from different locations, across time zones and in different languages. Our own team is spread all over the world.

smartQ is available in 10 languages right now, and we just released the iPad app for it (to complement the iPhone app).

 

How is the way businesses manage projects evolving?

Businesses move online and incorporate a distributed workplace.

There is a tendency to integrate existing tools instead of looking for a huge solution that tries to do it all. Being open in this environment is important. This is why a majority of the tools offer an open API, including smartQ. Third party vendors, or our clients, can use it to built connections to their other tools or create their own data views – custom reports, alerts, etc.

 

What are some of your other favorite tools for helping business owners manage people, projects and clients?

Well, we use our own tools. We use 5pm daily as well for more traditional project management; we use SpiderScribe.net for brainstorming, Firefly to discuss designs and 8am for a group calendar and client notes.

We also use Google Docs for shared documents, GoToMeeting for video conferences, and Skype for group chat.

Connect with smartQ on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

Watch a demo to learn more about how PerfectForms can help your business.

5 Flaws with Google Sheets

Completing work processes electronically rather than on paper makes sense for just about every business. Some companies figure that since they use spreadsheets for a variety of office functions, they can use them to create electronic forms. While this can be a decent stop-gap measure, it usually doesn’t work that well in the long run, particularly if you want to connect custom electronic forms into workflows.

 

Google sheets

Mobility’s great, except when your apps don’t cooperate.

 

Google Sheets is a popular free option from Google and is often used as an alternative to Microsoft Excel. While it certainly has its uses for spreadsheet functions, there are shortcomings with using Google Sheets to create electronic forms. It can be done, but it’s not ideal.

Following are 5 flaws people have encountered with Google Sheets, and how you can avoid these problems altogether.

 

1. It’s Slow

Google Sheets works across devices, and that’s good, because people want access in mobile as well as desktop environments. But there have been complaints that Google Sheets is slow on mobile, particularly when trying to open large spreadsheets. There have also been reports that it’s buggy on the new MacBooks.

 

2. It’s Not Part of Google Drive, So You Need More Apps

With Google Sheets, Google now handles spreadsheets and other documents through individual apps, rather than through Google Drive. That means you’ll have to install more apps than you might otherwise, and you’ll have to switch between them, something many users find inconvenient. A typical complaint states, “Why do I now need a 2nd app to edit my spreadsheets? The Drive app worked fine, now I have to open another app to edit the spreadsheets.”

 

3. The Mobile App Sometimes Mysteriously Doesn’t Load

Mobile users have reported problems with the app inexplicably not loading, and the presence of syncing issues with the app. Reports have come in that closing a sheet on mobile has caused it to disappear altogether. While people have had better luck working with Google Sheets in a desktop environment, many people really need mobile functionality and have been disappointed, particularly since older Google Spreadsheet versions didn’t seem to have the same problems with mobile devices.

 

4. It’s Prone to Crashing

 

Google sheets

Funny how crashing apps slow automated workflows.

 

In an April 2014 review of Google Sheets on AppOnlineReview.com, the word “crash” appears 49 times. “Keeps crashing,” “crashes when I try to open one,” and “Crashing every time” appear in some of the reviews. Clearly, crash-prone software isn’t ideal for automated workflows, particularly if someone just wants to fill out a form. If you use a crashy app in an attempt to automate business forms, you could end up spending as much time dealing with the software as you did with paper forms.

 

5. It Doesn’t Play Nicely with the iPad

iPad users have experienced problems with Google Sheets, including limited functionality. If a person wants to use Google Sheets to open a Microsoft Excel document on an iPad, the problems are even more vexing. Since Excel sheets aren’t native Google files, they may not appear in Google Sheets after being uploaded to Drive, and this has turned a lot of iPad users off. Automating business processes successfully requires reliable functionality across devices, and Google Sheets isn’t quite there yet.

 

There’s a Better Way

PerfectForms is designed to let you create electronic forms that look exactly like your paper forms. You can then link forms together into complete workflows, with seamless access on desktop, laptop, and mobile devices. Since your electronic forms can be made to look just like your paper forms, user buy-in is more positive, and the learning curve is shorter. And if you need to share forms data to and from other applications, PerfectForms has a built-in connection agent that allows you to do this without programming.

 

Conclusion

PerfectForms makes sense for the company that wants to eliminate paper forms and connect electronic forms into streamlined workflows. The savings can be considerable in terms of printing, paper, and time, and getting started with PerfectForms is quick and easy. Best of all, creating the forms you want and connecting them into workflows can be done with drag-and-drop convenience, with no programming. Check out our demo, or try PerfectForms for free, and see how easy it can be to create custom forms and workflows that are perfect for your business.

Just How Much Money Can Be Saved with Workflow Automation Software?

You don’t have to be a large enterprise to make use of workflow automation software. Yes, there are large automation platforms that big businesses invest in for major automation initiatives, but smaller businesses shouldn’t feel left out of the automation trend. Think of all the consumer-oriented automations you take advantage of every day, like automatic updates, reminders, and status reports on things like your bank account or credit card balance.

 

Workflow automation

Automation has been incorporated into many daily activities.

 

Savings can be significant when you deploy automation software for business, and return on investment can be rapid. Numbers, of course, will vary with each situation, but well thought-out automation is one of the smartest ways to increase productivity and lower costs. Here’s how you can gauge potential savings from workflow automation software.

 

Calculate Your Return on Investment

Return on investment (ROI) is a ratio of net benefits to costs and is reported as a percentage. The basic formula is:

• ROI = [(Monetary Gains - Cost of Implementation) / Cost of Implementation] x 100

Suppose after one year your company saves an extra $5,000 because of the $1,000 automation software you deployed. Your ROI would be:

• [($5,000 - $1,000) / $1,000] x 100 = 4 x 100 = 400%

That would mean for every $1 you spent on the automation software, you realized a $4 return.

 

A Composite Study of Workflow Automation Savings

Forrester recently conducted an economic impact study on workflow automation for process automation platform provider Nintex. They created a fictitious composite company based on average answers provided by several Nintex customers. Return on investment was calculated over a period of three years and was determined to be 176%. They also calculated a payback period of 10.5 months.

Keep in mind that a strong ROI also results in less tangible improvements, such as development of best practices, better regulation compliance, and the potential to use automation software to develop new revenue-producing projects. The Nintex automation platform is expensive, costing tens of thousands of dollars per year, plus training and installation costs. Could your small business get great ROI from a much less expensive automation solution? Absolutely.

 

How a School District Saves $10,000 Annually With PerfectForms

 

Workflow automation

Automation with electronic forms immediately cuts printing and paper costs.

 

The Visalia Unified School District in California supports nearly 30,000 K-12 students plus 2,500 employees across 44 educational sites. The school district identified over 100 paper-based processes to automate using custom online forms created with PerfectForms software. They calculated the cost of their paper forms and found that they were spending from $0.20 to over $1.00 apiece in some cases.

One particular form accumulated more than $10,000 per year in printing costs alone, and automation with PerfectForms eliminated that cost. But that’s just a baseline savings. Automating forms also saves the district the costs associated with manually submitting and processing forms, making form processing significantly less labor-intensive.

In fact, the school district chose PerfectForms because of its affordability, powerful features, and intuitive user interface. With PerfectForms, the Visalia school district was able to automate accident reports, transportation requests, and requests for substitute teachers, and made their electronic forms look exactly like their paper counterparts, for an easier transition and short learning curve.

 

Conclusion

Handling paper forms is expensive, cumbersome, and prone to errors. Smart businesses of all sizes are creating electronic forms and putting them together in electronic workflows that speed things up considerably while cutting down on errors. And when forms are submitted electronically, they aren’t lost or damaged en route.

PerfectForms offers an easy-to-use interface that lets you create forms with drag-and-drop convenience and then easily connect them into workflows. You can even include automated alerts so that people receiving completed forms are notified immediately. PerfectForms is affordable, powerful, and user friendly, and it allows businesses to automate processes without major upheaval or IT initiatives. If you would like to know more, contact PerfectForms at any time with your questions. Or try out PerfectForms for free and see for yourself how straightforward and easy it can be to automate workflows.

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

Digital formsMost of us have had time to get used to 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 the Mi-Corporation? When was your company founded? Where are you based out of? What need did Mi-orporation 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 form software that can be used on any product 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 SQL lite 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?

The Mi-Corporation 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 sighning the contracts electronically, DSS can invoice customers sooner, leading to better cash flows and more accountability as well.

There 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 staff spend 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-flll 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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