The work of the school administrator is never done. Yet most school administrators would like to have time to get to know students and be involved in some of the non-administrative aspects of operating a school. Teachers and administrators are known for doing what it takes to get everything done, and improving time management practices can help them get things done more efficiently.
Better time management is part attitude, part determination, and part choosing the right tools to help. Here are 5 ways school administrators can manage their valuable time better.
1. First Step: Set Priorities
Even before the new school year starts it’s important to make choices about what is most important on a short term and long term basis. Priorities will depend on how long most of the faculty have been on board, whether the student population is changing significantly (due to re-zoning, for example), and broader school district priorities. But once you make goals and prioritize them, it’s far easier to say no to extraneous projects and tasks.
2. Use Electronic Attendance Tracking
The roll books that look so promising and clean at the beginning of the year usually look pretty beat up by the end of the semester. Fortunately, electronic attendance tracking is easier than ever. At its simplest, electronic attendance tracking can be done by the teacher on a laptop or touch screen, and results can be instantly forwarded to the office. Some schools add QR codes to student ID cards and take roll by having them scan their cards before class.
3. Make It So You Only Have to Handle Things Once
There may not be a way to have an entirely paperless school, but if you and the rest of the administrative staff commit to handling paper once rather than marking it with sticky notes to be read later or putting it into a specific stack on your desk, you can minimize paper clutter. Most people have a hard time getting around to dealing with the papers they set aside for later, and committing to not setting anything aside until later prevents this problem.
4. Eliminate the Use of Paper as Much as Possible
Fortunately, you can cut down on paper usage, which saves both time and resources. Electronic attendance tracking is one way. Other ways include electronic maintenance requests, electronic requests for personal days off, electronic scheduling of facilities, and electronic memos rather than paper ones. Another terrific advantage of making paper processes electronic is no filing cabinet is needed to archive files, and you can automatically create audit trails if you want.
5. Schedule Closed-Door Time
We’re all used to being “always on” at work and at home. Have you ever sat down with your family to watch a television program and taken out your phone to check your email? Sometimes “always on” doesn’t work, though. Scheduling regular closed-door time – even if it’s only a few hours a week – can make the rest of your time easier to manage. Checking voicemail and other mundane tasks can be dispensed with more easily if you make it clear you don’t want interruptions.
Excellent time management requires the right attitude, setting goals, and ensuring you have the technology to make cumbersome tasks more efficient. PerfectForms is electronic form and workflow software designed for use by non-technical professionals to make perfectly customized electronic forms and workflows, drastically cutting down on paper usage, reducing error rates, and making processes significantly faster.
Educational institutions from public school districts to colleges and universities have used PerfectForms to revamp processes to reduce resource use and minimize the amount of time administrators spend on busy work that doesn’t serve the goal of better educating students. PerfectForms is the ideal technology tool for time management in the educational setting, and best of all, you can try it out for free. Sign up for a free trial, take PerfectForms for a test drive, and see the many possibilities available for managing your precious time and resources better.
A workflow is simply a way of doing things. You have “workflows” for getting the kids out the door to school in the morning, for changing the oil in your car, and for the many tasks you take care of at work. Sometimes businesses develop workflows organically, which can be great at first, when everything is done on a smaller scale. But workflows don’t always scale up well, and trying to use the same process to get 400 orders shipped that you used when you only had to ship 40 may be highly inefficient.
Workflow automation software can help. Companies in every industry use workflow automation software to define, map, automate, and refine workflows so that they’re most efficient. Workflow automation software helps you make the processes you use every day more efficient and less error-prone.
Signs Workflow Automation Software Would Benefit Your Organization
While most businesses can benefit from workflow automation software, if you want to be really sure, look for the following signs that your workflow processes are not optimal:
• Employees spend a disproportionate amount of time on “low-value” tasks like searching for documents or manually transferring papers.
• Workflow isn’t steady: some employees are slammed, while others don’t seem to have enough to do.
• Processes reach bottlenecks because decision-makers are needed, but hard to find at the right time.
• Employees avoid some tasks, and it’s holding your business back from reaching its goals.
If you notice these phenomena, particularly if you notice more than one of them, it’s a good sign your organization could benefit from workflow automation software.
An Example of Automating a Workflow
Suppose you still use the same workflow for business travel reimbursement that you did when the company was only made up of three people. An employee returns from a conference or client meeting with a pocket full of miscellaneous receipts and sits down with a business travel expense form. He fills out the form to the best of his recollection, attaches receipts, then puts it on the desk of whoever processes travel reimbursement. That person reconciles the form with the receipts, and if there are no problems, approves it and delivers the form to Accounts Payable, where a reimbursement check is cut.
When you automate the workflow, particularly if you make it mobile-friendly, an employee can submit electronic receipts, or even phone snaps of receipts. She can enter expenses as she encounters them, or during a boring airport layover. By the time she’s back in the office, the electronic travel reimbursement form has been approved by the appropriate employee (who received an email alert that a new travel reimbursement request had arrived), and Accounts Payable has received the approved form and is ready to cut a check or perform a direct deposit.
Flexibility Lets You Adapt Workflow Software to Countless Tasks
Workflow automation software should be highly flexible, so you can easily adapt it to any number of tasks. Common workflows that organizations automate include things like IT help requests, new employee on-boarding, requests for paid time off, expense reporting, and fleet vehicle reservation. There’s essentially no limit to the ways good workflow automation software can be put to work making processes more efficient and cutting down on errors and miscommunications.
Programming Ability Not Required
The best news is you do not have to know how to write programming code to make workflow automation software do amazing things. With a user-friendly solution like PerfectForms, you drag and drop elements into place to create online forms, and then connect them into logical workflows, where forms are automatically routed to the proper recipient, who can then be alerted by email that his or her input is required. PerfectForms even lets you make processes mobile-friendly, so if a decision-maker is out of the office, he can approve or deny a request using a smartphone or tablet.
Efficient processes that are error-free benefit organizations of any size, in any industry. PerfectForms makes it easy and affordable with cloud-hosted software that’s intuitive to use and that interacts with web pages, spreadsheets, and other software, with no programming required. Better still, you can try PerfectForms for free and see for yourself how to automate and streamline workflows. There’s virtually no limit to the number of work processes that can be improved with powerful workflow automation software like PerfectForms.
Human Resources is tasked with a bewildering array of tasks. The HR professional has to be knowledgeable about employment law, benefits administration, workplace policies, and much more. It’s no place to be bogged down with inefficient processes.
If your HR department struggles to get everything done, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate processes and see what can be automated. Here are 5 common processes you can streamline and accelerate with workflow software like PerfectForms. And as a side effect, you’ll save money and have fewer errors to deal with. It’s a win for everyone.
1. Submission of Employment Applications
Online employment applications make life easier for all parties involved in the hiring process. Applicants can receive submission confirmation and won’t have to worry about their paper application being lost. Hiring managers can access many people’s applications easily, without dealing with stacks of paper. And if clarification is needed on any aspect of an employment application (such as citizenship or visa status), HR can be flagged right away to pursue it. Online employment applications save money on printing and paper, reduce clutter, and won’t be ruined by spilled coffee.
2. New Employee On-Boarding
So many administrative tasks must happen when a new employee joins your workforce. Not only must you ensure payroll and tax withholding are correct, you have to ensure benefits applications are submitted, a cubicle or office is assigned, and the new person has furniture and a workstation. Trying to do all this on paper is self-torture for the HR professional. The more on-boarding tasks can be put online, the faster it is for the new employee and for HR. If your workflow software allows data to “waterfall” to all relevant fields in multiple forms, your new hire can type his or her Social Security number (for example) one time and have it automatically populate every form that requires it.
3. Submission of Contracts for Contract Employees
If your organization uses contract employees, you must track them and keep records differently than you do with regular employees. When your contracts are electronic, there’s no worry about losing them, or locating them if a question arises about a contract provision. Contractors can be notified that their electronically signed contract was submitted and accepted so there’s no question as to contract status. If a legal question arises surrounding a contract, you’ll have no trouble bringing up all relevant documents for the legal team to look at, so questions can be answered more quickly, and miscommunications cleared up right away.
4. Performance Appraisals
Performance appraisals only happen at specified times, so they’re not a daily part of the routine for managers and directors. That means when it’s performance appraisal time, an interruption could easily result in an appraisal form becoming lost in a stack of papers. If it’s not found, it means starting all over. But when performance reviews are online, a partially completed form can be saved and worked on later. The workflow can be designed so a manager or director can tell at any time how far along he or she is in the appraisal process. Copies can be automatically forwarded to specific employees, as well as HR, so recordkeeping is easier too.
5. Requests for Paid Time Off
When your requests for paid time off can be coordinated with your scheduling system, you can avoid being short-staffed and help ensure that everyone is able to take vacation days when they want to. Paper requests for paid time off, on the other hand, are all too prone to mistakes and loss. With PerfectForms, you can make your custom forms interact with databases, spreadsheets or other software packages, even if you don’t know how to program. By linking your requests for paid time off to your scheduling software, you can schedule time off more quickly and have fewer worries about under- or over-staffing at any time.
There’s simply no reason your HR team has to rely on antiquated processes anymore. PerfectForms lets you create custom forms and workflows that make sense for how you get things done. You don’t have to be a programmer to create forms that look and function exactly how you want, or to create electronic workflows that are fast and ensure that no steps are skipped. Check out the PerfectForms demo and see for yourself how easy it is to empower your HR team with fast, accurate, efficient workflows. For a department with as many responsibilities as HR, time and accuracy are especially important, and PerfectForms makes it easy.
Forms came about as the industrial revolution gained traction. Before then, there was little need because there wasn’t as much in the way of office work for industries. But as the paperwork that accompanies manufacturing increased, businesses looked for ways to make office work proceed as efficiently as the assembly line. Hence, forms were developed.
Paper or electronic, a well-designed form is a tool for gathering and processing information in a uniform manner. Today a shift away from paper forms and toward electronic forms is ongoing as people realize the time and accuracy advantages that electronic forms offer. If your organization uses forms (and whose doesn’t?), you want the form-making process to be straightforward and effective, so that forms perform as intended. Here are 5 ways to create forms more easily.
1. Sketch New Forms on Paper to Get Creative Juices Flowing
If you’re making a paper form into an electronic form, you may not need to change the layout. In fact, making an electronic form look like its paper counterpart, right down to the colors, fonts, and other features, eases the transition for end-users. When the electronic form looks just like their paper form, they know what to do.
If you’re creating an electronic form from scratch, try sketching it out in a few different ways to get a better idea of what you want the final product to look like. With good workflow software, you should be able to translate your final sketch into an electronic form easily.
2. Choose Software That Allows Flexibility
For maximum utility, your forms should be customized to your exact needs. The right workflow software allows this, so you end up with custom-tailored forms that are clear and logical. Use familiar words in form instructions, and consider using drop-down lists for users to choose answers from where appropriate. If your electronic form has open-ended questions, allow a sufficient number of characters for users to type their answers. Make sure the fonts you select are readable in terms of size, color, and contrast with the background.
3. Avoid Matrixes
Matrixes, which are form tables with both top and side headings, may save space, but people find them tricky, even if they use matrixes every day (like bus or train timetables). Separating out a matrix into individual questions and answer blanks may seem counterintuitive, but people have an easier time filling out forms this way. It may require dividing up your electronic form into multiple “pages,” but collecting information in these smaller “chunks” can keep end-users from feeling overwhelmed.
4. Ask End-Users for Input
Who will use the forms most? Once you identify these people, ask them if they have ideas about how form layout should look. They may have a perspective you hadn’t considered in terms of order of questions, placement of instructions, or size of blank fields. The goal with forms is to collect data consistently and quickly, and the people who will be using them every day can offer you valuable insights into why questions need to be ordered a certain way, how to divide up lengthy forms, and who should receive automated alerts when a form is submitted.
5. Use Software That Lets You Create Workflows as Well as Forms
Electronic forms have many advantages over paper forms. Electronic forms that are part of streamlined electronic workflows are even better. Choose workflow software that not only allows you to create custom forms exactly how you want them, but that lets you link them together into electronic workflows. Workflow software can be made to do all the form “handling” for you, alerting key personnel when their input is needed and ensuring that everyone who needs a copy of a completed form receives one. By combining forms and workflows using workflow software, you significantly reduce your organization’s time burden for paperwork.
Paper forms and manual workflows are outdated and generally too slow for the modern business. Workflow software allows you to transform paper-based processes into electronic ones that are faster and more accurate, so every step of a workflow is accelerated. PerfectForms is workflow software designed for the non-technical user. With a virtual canvas, you can drag and drop form elements into place, and then place them into logical workflows so that no steps are neglected, and key personnel are notified at every step. Take a look at the PerfectForms demo and see for yourself how to make your forms work for you, and not the other way around.
Education is a form-heavy industry. When an organization is tasked with educating and keeping up with hundreds or thousands of students, forms are absolutely essential to keeping vital data organized. For decades, these forms were on paper and carried with them requirements for resources, ink, and storage space, and sometimes questions about what could be tossed out and what needed to be archived.
Most of these form-heavy processes at schools and universities can be automated by making forms available on the school network and routing them electronically to where they need to go. Schools can drastically cut back on paper usage, reduce the need for storage space, and best of all, make sure forms arrive at their destinations promptly, with an automatic audit trail to refer to should there be any confusion or misunderstanding. Here are 7 processes that are ripe for automating at educational institutions.
1. Admission Applications
Whether you’re running a preschool or a graduate school, electronic admissions applications benefit everyone. There are no worries about illegible handwriting, missing pages, or juice-stained forms, and applications can automatically be routed to the right person. You can even arrange for automatic email or text alerts for key personnel to be triggered whenever an application arrives.
2. Attendance Records
Electronic attendance records can be automatically date and time stamped, and teachers can click “present” or “absent” for each student and immediately send a report to the office. What’s more, attendance data can be automatically routed into a database so that it’s easier to gather statistics on absences for school districts to use. And teachers can do away with attendance notebooks and their shortcomings.
3. Building Maintenance Requests
Paper maintenance request forms are infuriatingly slow, and there are many chances for mistakes or miscommunications between the time a broken window is discovered and the time someone is dispatched to fix it. Electronic building maintenance requests won’t get lost or damaged, and they reach maintenance workers immediately, so problems can be taken care of right away. They also create an automatic log of all requests and fulfillments.
4. IT Service Requests
The phone and the paper form are highly inefficient ways to request IT help. But when IT service requests are electronic, they can even be used on mobile devices, so those requesting help can be confident their request will reach the right person. Data collected from IT help requests can be collected over time to detect trends, track costs, and forecast budgets more accurately, and records for repairs can be automatically generated.
5. Human Resources Forms
Whenever your educational institution ads new teachers or any other type of worker, a number of HR forms are necessary to ensure their wages and tax withholdings are correct. Making these forms electronic allows easy access, so new hires can complete them before their first day at work. You can even design HR forms so that information entered once (like a social security number) automatically populates relevant fields on multiple forms simultaneously.
6. Course Registration
Even in a very small school, manual registration involving paper forms can be an enormous hassle, particularly when courses fill up quickly and students must make alternate schedules. When you make course registration electronic, students can learn at a glance whether a course they want is full and what other times are available. And with electronic course registration, mistakes are less likely, and instructors receive their enrollment lists promptly.
7. Orders for Yearbooks, Graduation Gowns, Etc.
Big occasions associated with schools and universities can also benefit from electronic rather than paper forms. Compiling a yearbook order is significantly faster when students order them with online forms. Likewise, graduation planning is more efficient and accurate when you don’t have to worry about paper forms. Electronic forms won’t get lost, and records and reports can be generated at any time.
There’s practically no limit to how many processes schools and universities can streamline and automate with electronic forms. Naturally, you want those forms to be specifically tailored to your needs, and Perfect Forms lets you do that. With an intuitive drag-and-drop interface, PerfectForms lets you create pixel-perfect forms and then just as easily link them into electronic workflows, saving time, effort, and resources. If you would like to learn more about automating processes with PerfectForms, we encourage you to contact us at any time. We would be delighted to answer your questions.
Purchase orders are paper or electronic documents sent from a buyer to a vendor when placing an order for goods or services. They usually contain the name of the item, description, color, and size information where applicable, and the agreed-upon price. Vendor acceptance of a purchase order constitutes a contract between vendor and buyer.
If you’re a buyer for your organization, you draft purchase orders. Your vendors prepare invoices and receipts that usually contain information similar to what’s on your purchase orders. New or very small companies may create purchase orders as needed, on a case-by-case basis. However, once you’ve been in business for a while, even if your company remains small, you will most likely want to find ways to streamline the purchase order process. Here are some ways to do that.
Assign a Purchase Manager
Maybe your business isn’t large enough to justify having an entire purchasing department. But having a purchasing manager is a good idea. When you have one person who manages purchasing activities, you reduce the risk of duplicating orders, develop stronger relationships with vendors, and can generally streamline the product receiving process and pay invoices more quickly. Having a single point of contact for purchasing is a great starting place.
Evaluate Your Current Purchase Policies
Does your organization have a purchasing policy? If not, it should, because such a policy can help you develop the most efficient purchase order processes. Your purchasing policy should answer several questions:
• Who has authority to make purchases for the organization?
• Are there limitations on the dollar amount that can be spent without further approval?
• How many vendors should be compared before selecting one?
• How can we avoid conflicts of interest with suppliers?
• What do we do if a legal issue arises?
The Problems With Paper Purchase Orders
Having a paper-based purchase order process tends to lead to document overload. Multiple documents may be needed to cover the complete purchase order cycle, including requisitions, quotes, advice notes, packing slips, and invoices. That represents a lot of paper, ink, and storage space over time. Developing an electronic purchase order procedure eliminates many of these problems and ensures purchase orders won’t be lost or damaged. Electronic purchase orders are also great for preventing duplicate purchase orders and keeping track of when goods are received.
What Types of Purchase Orders Should You Have?
Depending on the size of your company and the nature of the things you purchase, you may elect to have multiple kinds of purchase orders. For each of these, you’ll want to archive electronic copies for internal files, vendors, and your accounting personnel. Some organizations choose to create a “blanket” purchase order in addition to regular purchase orders. Blanket purchase orders are used when organizations routinely order inexpensive products from a single vendor, and they cover specific items to be delivered over a designated time span (like a year).
Steps When Goods Are Received
The purchase order process isn’t complete once the purchase order is submitted. Your purchasing manager or other designated person (a receiving manager) should examine shipments to make sure they include what was agreed upon and that shipments aren’t damaged. Any invoices sent with products need to be collected so accounts payable can take care of them. Your purchasing manager or receiving manager should know what your different vendors’ return policies are so if there are problems, returns can be taken care of right away.
You Have the Power to Develop Custom Purchase Order Forms and Workflows
Perhaps you think all of this sounds nice, but you don’t have the time or resources to have a developer create an electronic purchase order process for you. It turns out, you don’t have to. With a solution like PerfectForms, non-IT people can drag and drop elements onto custom forms, and then manage the custom forms in to custom workflows, all without ever writing a line of code. You can streamline your purchase order process and just about any other business process you can think of, including HR processes, maintenance requests, or registration procedures.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking electronic purchase orders are only for big enterprises. PerfectForms empowers anyone to do this, and better still, you can try out PerfectForms for free. It can be made to integrate with popular platforms like Salesforce as well as with web services, spreadsheets, and databases. There’s absolutely no reason your organization has to cling to inefficient paper-based purchasing procedures.
Outstanding workflow software is the ultimate flexible toolkit that organizations in just about any industry can use to become more efficient, save money, serve customers better, and have a healthier bottom line. With workflow software, you break work processes down into steps, automate any steps you can, and step the users of those processes through them methodically, so no steps are left out, and nobody remains uninformed.
Virtually any business process can be improved with workflow software, from the simplest (requesting building keys for a new employee) to the most complex (putting out a year-end shareholder report). If you have ever wondered whether your organization could benefit from workflow software, read on to see just a few of the ways it can be used across 7 industries.
1. IT Services
Exceptional IT service requires a high level of organization and documentation. But who has time to document everything manually? Workflow software lets you set up processes step by step, and automate steps that don’t require handling computer hardware. The process may start with an end-user submitting a help request using an online form, the system notifying the next available IT worker, and then stepping the IT worker through the process of diagnosing, repairing, and documenting the process.
Whether you publish a trade publication, financial prospectuses, or informational health brochures, several steps are required from idea through end product. Workflow software can ensure that the right approving authorities receive content expediently, and that content automatically flows to the next step in the process. The process may continue through making a print request, approving galleys, and then submitting the final version for mass printing. Workflow software reduces errors and ensures no steps are missed.
Marketing organizations have to keep client information organized and must be ready at a moment’s glance to see where any marketing project is in its lifecycle. With workflow software, critical information about each client can be entered and used to inform steps further downstream. Client A may want marketing collateral to hand out at a trade show, while Client B may want a social media campaign. Workflow software helps your team keep it all in order and prevent any client needs from slipping through the cracks.
4. Human Resources
Workflow software and human resources activities go together perfectly. Organizations that provide outsourced HR services can streamline processes in countless ways with workflow software. They could use workflow software to create a uniform process for on-boarding new employees, collecting all data and forms necessary to ensure that payroll, taxes, and benefits are administered correctly. Workflow software can also be made to create an audit trail which can be tremendously useful for future reference.
5. Couriers and Messaging Services
There’s a certain amount of chaos expected with courier and messenger services. By nature, these businesses are fast-paced and constantly changing. Workflow software can ensure each courier completes all necessary steps in a delivery, including getting signatures and logging deliveries. When workflow software is mobile-friendly it’s even better, because couriers can take care of process steps on their mobile devices, logging deliveries the moment they’re complete.
Insurance is a form-heavy industry and when you can make forms electronic instead of paper-based and connect them into logical workflows, claims can be submitted and processed more efficiently. Policies can also be written and delivered to customers much more quickly. Insurance adjusters can benefit from workflow software that’s mobile-friendly, because it can help them log critical information from the exact site a claim originates, eliminating many manual tasks, and helping claims get into the system promptly.
Whether it’s a preschool or a large university, educational institutions use many forms, and the more you can uncouple from manual, paper-based procedures, the better. Online registration forms, requests for services, and creation of records and reports can all be streamlined using workflow software. Not only can educational institutions make processes more efficient, they can reduce their costs for paper and ink, potentially save thousands of dollars, and reduce their environmental footprint simultaneously.
Workflow software isn’t just for Fortune 500 companies and enormous public institutions. PerfectForms is a workflow software solution that can work beautifully for your startup, or your established business that you want to make more efficient. With its intuitive, drag-and-drop interface, non-IT personnel can create online forms and workflows easily and even make them mobile, producing a fast return on investment. If you want to learn more about how PerfectForms can help your organization, we encourage you to contact us at any time.
Perhaps you wonder why you should bother with workflow software. After all, you have a productive team, and everyone knows their roles and responsibilities. But what workflow software offers is a way to help everyone perform their roles and responsibilities more efficiently and with fewer errors.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that workflow software is only for huge enterprises with complicated workflows. In fact, it can work for organizations of any size, in any industry. The concept of workflow software definitely deserves your consideration. Once your team is proficient at using it, you can expect lower costs, faster processes, and a happier workforce. All these things positively affect your organization’s bottom line. Here’s how to ensure your workflow software implementation goes well.
Establish Your Baseline
With workflow software, as with a roadmap, you can’t figure out how to get where you’re going unless you know where you are. Document your workflows as they are right now – not as you would like them to be. Be honest, and don’t leave out any steps, especially if they highlight inefficiencies. There’s no secret code for how to do this. Your documented workflow for your email newsletter, for instance, might look like this:
• Writer completes copy and sends it to her marketing supervisor
• Marketing supervisor reviews and edits copy
• Marketing supervisor gets senior marketing manager’s approval
• Marketing supervisor delivers final copy to the newsletter editor
• Editor produces newsletter and submits to marketing supervisor for final approval
• Editor schedules release after obtaining approval
Don’t Overreach With Your First Project
While you will undoubtedly find many possibilities for applying workflow management software to processes, it’s best to start out with a small, clearly-defined process that you can get your arms around. For example, your first project may be replacing the paper forms that new hires must complete with electronic forms that are automatically delivered to the proper recipient upon completion. Once you do this, and iron out any unexpected problems you encounter, you’re more prepared to apply workflow software to another, larger process.
Solicit Support from End-Users, Stakeholders, and Managers
For workflow software to have the greatest positive effect, you need support from a number of people in a number of roles. The importance of support of the end-users who are responsible for performing the processes cannot be underestimated. If end-users believe that workflow software is being imposed from “on high,” they will probably feel threatened or suspicious. You also need the support of management, who will need to understand what your workflow software is expected to accomplish in terms of productivity, cost savings, or other measures.
Automate Processes That Will Have Noticeable Impact
Automation is great, but it can’t achieve much in the way of results if it’s applied to a process that’s infrequently used. For example, automating time sheets by replacing manual forms with electronic ones that automatically funnel data to a spreadsheet or database for calculating wages, taxes, and withholding can make a tremendous positive difference in your payroll process, even if you only have four or five employees. Automating, say, the key distribution process when you plan to move offices in six months won’t accomplish much.
Treat Workflow Management as an Iterative Process
Workflow software is a tool, and like the sharpening stone a chef uses for his favorite knife, it helps people do their work better. And since markets, customers, and workplaces change, processes have to evolve as well. Consider workflow management to be an iterative method, where you regularly review processes and identify new ways to make them better. That’s an important way to sharpen your competitive edge.
Don’t be intimidated by the term “workflow software.” Solutions exist that allow the non-programmer to map out, automate, and fine-tune processes using a friendly, drag-and-drop interface. PerfectForms makes it easy to create and automate workflows, and create the electronic forms necessary to accomplish these workflows as efficiently as possible. It also interacts with other applications you already use, like Salesforce or SAP, and a built-in connection agent lets you create custom interfaces with other applications without programming. We invite you to contact us at any time to find out more about PerfectForms and would be delighted to answer any questions you may have.
BPM stands for business process management, which is a methodical approach to making workflows more efficient, effective, and adaptable. BPM software helps organizations map out processes, identify areas of improvement, automate steps in processes, and measure the outcomes to see if they deliver positive results.
CRM is customer relationship management. CRM software is designed to help businesses manage their business relationships by leveraging the data and information associated with each customer. CRM software allows organizations to store customer and lead information, account information, and sales opportunities centrally so they are accessible in real time.
It makes intuitive sense that skillfully combining BPM software with CRM software can be a wise business move, and an increasing number of businesses are doing it and reaping the benefits.
What Happens When You Effectively Combine BPM and CRM?
Integrating BPM software with CRM software lets you improve the efficiency and productivity of both, and sometimes create new opportunities from this powerful combination. Suppose someone in your company’s credit department is assessing how credit-worthy a potentially big customer is. She has tools dedicated to evaluating credit, but taking a look at the potential customer’s CRM data can help confirm the wisdom of extending credit to them. The result can be smarter business decisions and fewer missed opportunities.
Aligning BPM with CRM Improves Outcomes for Both
If your company elects to use BPM software, making your CRM solution a part of the initiative allows you to blend customer-centric focus into your everyday work processes, helping you keep up with customer needs better. BPM software that coordinates with CRM software can help you have a more comprehensive system for customer experience management. The ability to quickly find and make use of vital customer information allows your team to deliver the best possible customer experience.
Benefits of Aligned BPM and CRM
When you strategically align your BPM and CRM solutions, you can expect several benefits, including:
• Better recognition of selling opportunities
• Faster resolution of customer problems
• Better data management and higher quality data
• Improved ability to forecast revenues
• Fewer mistakes compared to accomplishments
• Higher return on investment for both your CRM and BPM software investments
Get The Most From Your BPM Software
Your BPM solution should equip your team with features like mobile-friendliness and should offer cloud hosting for maximum flexibility. It shouldn’t require a programming degree to use, and it should offer built-in integrations with popular CRM solutions so you don’t waste time creating integrations from scratch. Look for BPM software that gives you the flexibility to tackle workflows on any scale, from making a single, commonly-used form electronic instead of paper-based to coordinating activities across multiple departments or throughout your organization.
The purpose of CRM software is to help companies built stronger, better relationships with customers. The purpose of BPM software is to eliminate wasteful steps in processes while reducing error rates and clarifying process user roles. Put the two together effectively, and you can make magic.
PerfectForms offers users an intuitive interface that lets them drag and drop elements into place on a virtual canvas to create customized electronic forms and workflows. It includes built-in integrations with Salesforce, SAP, and Google Spreadsheets, as well as a powerful Connection Agent that lets users make custom integrations without programming. Watch our demo and see how easy it can be to add the power of BPM software to your organization while making your CRM solution even better.
We’ve all used PDFs, and in many contexts they make perfect sense. Though originally created to preserve a document’s data and presentation in a platform-neutral way, the PDF has evolved into something more complicated, less usable, and less useful for many purposes. It can be used to create online forms, but it wasn’t made for this purpose, and isn’t ideal.
The PDF can be great for making documents for people to download and print, but it’s not a good solution if you want to create forms. Forms that can’t be filled in online have to be printed out and filled in by hand, which doesn’t save time or effort and is more prone to errors. PDFs that can be filled in online have their share of problems, and a lot of people don’t like them.
Here are some of the problems associated with PDF forms, how to avoid them, and how to create online forms that get the job done and are user-friendly.
Problem: PDFs May Not Look Right Depending on the Browser
Some browsers use integrated PDF viewers, which sounds tremendously handy. However, you can’t be 100% certain that your PDF forms will look the way you want them to in every browser your forms’ end-users may choose. While browsers with integrated PDF viewers can be made to use plugins so that they view PDFs the way other browsers do, the average user may not know this, and may find switching to a plugin to be too much trouble to bother with.
Problem: You Can’t Be Sure Your End-User Can Use Your PDF Forms
So you’ve looked at your PDF forms in every browser you can think of, but even if they look fine, your problems may not be over. Depending on which version of Adobe Reader your end-user has, your form may or may not work. One sure way to infuriate end-users is by having them fill out a form only to get a message upon submission that they can’t save the form unless they have Adobe Acrobat in its full form.
Problem: PDFs Make Your Web Pages Less Usable
While PDFs are still handy for distributing documents that should be printed out, using PDFs for content or forms online gives your page users an inferior experience. HTML pages and HTML forms are much better in terms of usability, readability, and compatibility. If you have the choice of creating HTML online forms or PDF online forms, HTML forms are clearly preferable. In some cases, PDF forms are problematic enough to offer no real advantage over paper.
Solution: Flexible Forms That Integrate Easily
There was a time when if you wanted to create online forms you had to start an IT project, hire a programmer, or know HTML. That was one reason why people created PDF forms. Now, however, you do not have to hire (or be) a programmer to create HTML forms, so there’s really no reason to rely on PDF forms anymore. PerfectForms lets the non-programmer create online forms that are easy to use and that can be integrated into workflows.
Create Outstandingly Useful Forms Without Programming
PDF forms may have been useful at one time, but their limitations make them far from ideal. When you use a solution like PerfectForms, you use a visual “canvas” interface to drag and drop form elements into place exactly where you want them. You can make them look exactly like your paper forms if you want, so people intuitively know how to fill them in. You don’t have to worry about end-users having the right browser plugin or the right version of Adobe Acrobat, and printing out and filling in forms by hand becomes a thing of the past.
PerfectForms can send and receive data from third party systems through an API or web services, without programming. It also has built-in integration components for Salesforce, SAP, and Google Spreadsheets, and comes with a Connection Agent that allows you to integrate your forms with other entities, like databases. If it’s time for your organization to ditch the PDFs and create an electronic forms and workflow solution that’s flexible and customizable to your exact specifications, we encourage you to drop us a line at any time. We’re more than happy to talk to you and answer any questions you may have.