Putting Online Forms to Work after a Natural Disaster

Friday, August 26th, 2016 by admin

No location is immune to natural disasters and, when one strikes, local governments must sprint into action to contain damage and prioritize recovery efforts. Local responders have tremendous responsibility after disasters, even when they know they will receive state or national help eventually. Some of the countless tasks local governments must attend to include:

  • Providing initial emergency response through service agencies
  • Activating an emergency operations plan and in some cases, an emergency operations center
  • Coordinating responses between public and private organizations
  • Notifying state emergency management of the extent of the problem

Online forms

Massive coordination is necessary for fastest recovery from natural disaster.

In many cases, if basic services (like electricity) remain available, residents are advised to shelter in place, but these residents may still be coping with property damage. By placing assessment and help request forms online after a natural disaster, local governments streamline response time and have an easier time triaging damage so they can allocate resources optimally.

Maui Regroups after Tropical Storm Darby

In July 2016, the county of Maui in Hawaii was hit by Tropical Storm Darby and, even though the area dodged the worst of the potential damage, residents faced extensive cleanup afterward. Heavy rainfall was the main problem, with parts of Hawaii experiencing seven inches of rain in only three hours, with the result being widespread flooding.

The County of Maui placed damage assessment forms on the county government website so residents could document the damage they personally experienced. They were not claim forms like the ones filed with insurers or disaster recovery agencies, but informational. By gathering information about what damage happened in exactly what locations, the county could allocate recovery resources where they could do the most good in the least amount of time. This type of response would have been far more difficult had they tried it with paper forms filled out by hand.

Floods and Summer Storms

Floods and severe storms are common in the U.S. in the summer and, when residents have a quick, convenient way to document damage to their property, less time is wasted trying to sort out where to send recovery crews first. The forms themselves can be made to trigger certain actions. For example, if a resident documents a tree falling on his roof or car, the completed form could automatically trigger an escalated response compared to neighbors who had less damage. Forms can easily be designed so that residents can attach photos of damage to submit along with the forms.

Winter Storms

Online forms

Online forms can be used to request checks on the elderly and report winter storm damage.

Winter storms can be particularly difficult for vulnerable populations like the elderly and families with very young children. Assuming electric power has not been lost, allowing people to reach out by completing online forms can help ensure that the most vulnerable receive help if they need it. Even non-local friends and family could be involved. Say a family is worried about an elderly relative who is snowed in and has health problems. An online form requesting a check on that person’s well-being can put minds at ease and help ensure nobody is inadvertently forgotten in the aftermath of a snowstorm.

Wildfires

Wildfires can be devastating and, often, families must evacuate their homes. When they are allowed to return, they may find they’re returning to nothing but charred rubble. Online forms can be made mobile-friendly, so residents can document and report on the damage they experience using a phone or tablet, which can be a huge benefit when services like electricity haven’t been restored. Responders, too, can use mobile-friendly online forms when they respond to a request for help so that all actions are documented and time-stamped. Trying to accomplish all this with paper forms filled out by hand is time-consuming and prone to errors.

Workflow tools that help local governments create and process online forms allow for each county or municipal area to create custom forms and workflows that make sense for local needs.

PerfectForms is an online form software that includes extensive workflow tools that allow non-technical workers to create custom online forms and workflows that are not only easy for residents to complete, but that also can interact with spreadsheets and databases for easy record-keeping.

PerfectForms has a friendly drag-and-drop interface, so no coding is required. That means forms and workflows can be made to order by the very people who use them most. We encourage you to watch our demo and see for yourself the nearly infinite possibilities for time and monetary savings that PerfectForms facilitates.

Posted in Form Design | Comments Off on Putting Online Forms to Work after a Natural Disaster

Can Your BPM Software Handle These 3 Workflow Types?

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016 by admin

Business processes are made up of conditions and actions. In other words, if this specific thing happens (someone requests building keys for the new hire, say), then this happens (the request goes through an approval chain). Up until the internet age, business processes had to be mostly or completely manual.

BPM software

Now, however, workflow tools exist that allow organizations to turn manual business processes into automated ones. Automated workflows can be always “on” and don’t depend on someone being available to hand out or retrieve a stack of forms. Automated workflows are initiated in a number of different ways, but they are designed to do specific things automatically when certain conditions are satisfied.

For example, an automated request for building keys for a new hire may be initiated automatically as soon as the new person is assigned an employee number. The request may be automatically routed to the people in the approval chain for action. No paper needs to be filled out or manually routed. Here are three major types of workflows your business process management, or BPM software should be able to handle.

Standard Workflows

The standard workflow or business process is triggered when someone meets the starting criteria of that particular process. For example, in an e-commerce business, if someone fills out a form on a landing page, that action could trigger a “thank you” email to be initiated. This business process could also trigger the sending of an internal “heads up” email to the person in charge of the landing page where someone visited and filled out a contact information form.

You can probably imagine a host of other types of standard workflows that BPM software could automate and streamline. One example common to many types of organizations is when workflow tools create a business process that alerts an IT specialist when an employee fills out a help request form online.

Fixed-Date Workflows

Fixed-date workflows are business processes that are set to happen based on the calendar. One example of a fixed-date workflow would be a reminder email about an upcoming webinar that is sent out one week before, one day before, or one hour before the webinar commences. Many businesses, both B2B and B2C, send out coupons or special offers that are triggered by date. They could, for example, send out coupons for discounts on school supplies starting August 1st.

Property-Based Workflows

BPM software

Property-based workflows are similar to fixed-date workflows, but instead of being triggered by a calendar date, they’re triggered by some other time-based event. For example, a business that provides cloud software could have a property-based workflow that sends a reminder to a client a month before their subscription lapses. Or, an e-commerce business might send out coupons or a free gift to customers on their birthday.

Regardless of whether a business process is standard, fixed-date, or property-based, it may be triggered manually or automatically. You could, for example, manually enroll email addresses in your monthly newsletter. Or you could allow a potential customer’s action on your website (say, liking a product on social media using social share buttons on a webpage) to automatically trigger a process (such as a thank you message).

You Need BPM Software with Power and Flexibility

Business processes is a broad territory. They may be simple or extremely complex. BPM software should have both power and flexibility and be able to scale to whatever workflows you need. It should include tools that can be used without having to know how to program, so that the people who use the workflows can design them to do exactly what they need.

PerfectForms is BPM software that contains powerful, flexible workflow tools that can create standard, fixed-date, and property-based workflows with an intuitive, drag-and-drop interface so no programming is required. PerfectForms integrates easily with databases, spreadsheets, web forms, and other software, so business processes improve with minimal disruption and maximum efficiency. Best of all? You can sign up for a free trial of PerfectForms and see for yourself how easy and powerful this BPM software is and how its workflow tools can streamline and revolutionize your business processes.

Posted in Workflow | Comments Off on Can Your BPM Software Handle These 3 Workflow Types?

Combine Productivity Skills with Workflow Tools for Best Results

Monday, August 22nd, 2016 by admin

Workflow tools in the absence of context can’t do very much. Fortunately, workflow tools are designed to make processes easier for your team members and, quite often, with a brief training session, workflow automation can lead to tremendous advances in the efficiency of the workflows they use every day.

Workflow tools

For your investment in workflow automation software to pay off, make sure your team’s basic productivity skills are up to scratch. Do they have a strong work ethic? Do they want to be more efficient? How do they benefit from workflow automation? How will the new workflow tools help them pursue a higher level of excellence?

Start with Workflow Users

Workflow automation software doesn’t have to be a major IT project anymore. With today’s solutions, you can begin with the very people who use a workflow. Take, for example, the team that puts together technical reports. If you want to design the best possible workflow for getting technical reports out the door, the natural place to begin is with your team: writers, editors, graphic artists, desktop publishing personnel, and print shop employees. In years past, you would have to translate their needs into terms programmers could understand, and results weren’t always that terrific. When users themselves help design workflows, real progress can be made.

Learn What Specific Problems Are with Current Workflows

Where does the process tend to get bogged down? What do team members wish was different? Learn from the people who actually do the work what it would take to make the effort more streamlined and prevent bottlenecks. How much do they believe they could accelerate a process if they had the right workflow tools? It’s important to ascertain the level of security required for a process, how it’s handled now and how it might be handled better. If, for instance, you had a manual, hard-copy-based workflow for reports, ensuring security may mean locking the drafts up at night. What happens if someone forgets? Automated processes, by contrast, can build security right in, so only authorized users can participate.

What Aspects Can Be Addressed By Workflow Automation Software?

Your workflow automation software can’t take market research results and turn them into compelling prose, but it can make editing and approval cycles easier and faster. When paper documents and forms have to be schlepped from one approving authority to the next, you have many opportunities for things to go awry. But when all approval forms are completed and submitted electronically, the chance for errors drops drastically, and the entire approval cycle can take place in a much shorter time period. Likewise, if data used to be manually entered from information on forms, your workflow software can be made to extract the data automatically and put it into a spreadsheet or database for you, saving time and reducing mistakes.

Workflow tools

Training to Go Along with Automated Workflows

It’s important to get input from workflow users right from the start. It’s also important to keep them in the loop as workflows go from manual to automated. When all relevant personnel are kept informed as sub-processes and, eventually, the whole process are revamped and automated, nobody is taken by surprise and the learning curve won’t be as steep.

Ideally, by the time you have automated as much of a workflow as you can, your team should understand what is being done and how their tasks will change, and they should be eager to put the new tools to work.

Automation Plus Training Equals Outstanding Productivity

Automation is powerful, but it’s most powerful when it is combined with productivity training and regular communication and collaboration with workflow users. Workflow automation software has advanced rapidly, and today the non-programmer has access to workflow tools that can revolutionize and streamline just about any process.

PerfectForms is workflow automation software that requires no coding and can be adapted to virtually any workflow, from publishing to regulatory compliance to building maintenance requests. With its drag-and-drop interface, PerfectForms allows the people who use and are affected by workflows to design online forms and workflows to their exact specifications. Take a look at some of our case studies to help you visualize the amazing results that can be accomplished when businesses combine the power of workflow automation software with motivated teams committed to excellence.

Posted in Workflow | Comments Off on Combine Productivity Skills with Workflow Tools for Best Results

Connect to data source like a pro and use operators

Friday, August 19th, 2016 by titanseo

Hello PerfectForms community,
PerfectForms provides the ability to send and receive information to and from many sources by utilizing our connection dashboard. The connection tab in the dashboard makes integrating with Directory Services, Databases, Web Services and even other forms pretty simple for a basic connections. Today I would like to let you know about an easy to use functionality within our connection tab that will allow you to step up your connection game. In SQL operators are used to specify a condition in a statement. This functionality allows the user to return data where the sent parameter and the condition are met. With PerfectForms, you are able to use operators as you would in SQL all with an easy to understand interface. By using Operators you can fine tune your connections and increase the performance of a connection heavy application.
From the connections dashboard, operators can be used with Database, Directory Service, Form, Google Spreadsheet, and Text File connections. The Operators available for use consist of the following:
          • ( = ) Equal to
                    o Checks if the values of two operands are equal or not.
          • ( < ) Less Than
                    o Checks if the value of left operand is less than the value of right operand.
          • ( > ) Greater Than
                    o Checks if the value of left operand is greater than the value of right operand.
          • ( <= ) Less Than or Equal to
                    o Checks if the value of left operand is less than or equal to the value of right operand.
          • ( => ) Greater Than or Equal to
                    o Checks if the value of left operand is greater than or equal to the value of right operand.
          • ( LIKE ) Like
                    o The LIKE operator is used to compare a value to similar values using wildcard operators.
          • ( AND ) And
                    o The AND operator allows the existence of multiple conditions in a request.
          • ( * ) Wildcard
                    o Matches one or more characters.
In PerfectForms most operators are specified in the connection dashboard while configuring your send parameters. This functionality is able to be used with Text, Date, Time, and Numeric Values. Operators enable you to isolate specific data from a source with ease. By default, any send parameters in PerfectForms are created with an ( = ) operator. By simply double clicking on the ( = ) you will be provided with alternate available options.
connect
An example of leveraging operators would be the following:
If I was looking for information by a date I would simply leave the operator as the standard ( = ) and send a date I would like to receive my information by. Any data I specified in my return parameters would come back in relation to the date sent. Now what if I wanted to return data by a range of dates such as “How many sales I made in June?” To return this data you would need to specify a date greater than or equal to “June 1” and less than or equal to “June 30”.
          • Date <= 6-30-16
          • Date => 6-1-16
This configuration is achieved by using multiple send parameters with the operators configured accordingly. By adding additional parameters the configuration is automatically utilizing the ( AND ) operator. By sending select dates through these parameters you can pull back all information desired within the data range you specify in your form design.
If you have the need to build a search this is where ( LIKE ) comes in handy. ( LIKE ) will automatically allow a wildcard return. This will allow the ability to search text without case sensitivity. For example, If I search “eric” my search will return Eric, Derick, Erick. If fewer characters are used the return is broadened, ‘ric’ will return Eric, Derick, Erick, Rick, Ricardo, etc.
NOTE: A LIKE statement is best paired with a Connect and Search behavior. A connect and search will allow you to browse the returns and select the data to apply to your application.
There are two operators that can be used in PerfectForms that are not selectable from the drop down, the ( AND ) and ( * ). Although the ( AND ) operator is not selectable, you can easily specify ( AND ) by simply adding another send parameter to your list. Specifying a ( * ) is a little different, this operator must be sent through the connection with the data by adding an ( * ) where you would like the wildcard functionality to take effect. For example, If I wanted to return a list of people with the last name “Jones” I would send “*Jones.” By doing this I could expect my returns to be:
          • Tom Jones
          • Jessica Jones
          • Bryan Jones
NOTE: If you would like to always use a directional wildcard you can preconfigure the wildcard by sending a formula. In the formula, you can send ( * ) + “Your Field.” This will allow a wildcard connection from your form without manipulating the forms actual data.
Now that we have gone over operators you should be able to tailor your connections to your form process. This can help to ensure you are only returning relevant data and minimize the behaviors needed to isolate the useful data which will improve the performance of your form.
Thanks for reading, and happy form building.

Use Systematic Workflow Solutions to Ensure FMLA Compliance

Monday, August 15th, 2016 by admin

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was signed into law in 1993. In the intervening years it has been used more than 100 million times.

Workflow solutions

The FMLA aims to improve work-life balance.

Designed to help workers balance work and family life, the FMLA provides eligible employees of covered employers (those with 50 or more employees) with unpaid, job-protected leave for a range of family and medical reasons, including:

  • Birth or adoption of a child
  • The care of a spouse, child, or parent experiencing a serious health condition
  • Recovery from a serious health condition preventing the employee from performing essential job functions
  • Qualifying situations surrounding a military member who is a child or parent on covered active duty

Under the FMLA, employers must maintain employee health benefits while they’re on leave and restore them to the same, or an equivalent, job after their return. Certain notification, certification, and recordkeeping provisions are included in the FMLA, and the law is enforced by the US Department of Labor.

The Right Workflow Solutions Benefit All Parties

Administering the FMLA requires several steps, none of which may be omitted. A high-level summary of the steps would include:

  • Displaying the FMLA poster and general notice
  • Employee request for FMLA, or the employer learns the employee’s leave may be FMLA-eligible
  • Determining if the employee is eligible for the FMLA
  • Providing notice of eligibility, rights, and responsibilities to employee
  • Certification of medical need (if required)
  • Employee requests leave under the FMLA
  • Employer grants or denies the leave and notifies employee
  • Employer maintains employee health benefits during leave
  • Employer restores employee to same or equivalent job at end of leave

The right workflow automation software can turn this process from a cumbersome, error-prone ordeal to a streamlined, digital workflow with built-in checks and balances that prevent and preclude common human error.

Visibility into the Process Is Reassuring

One of the greatest benefits of electronic workflow solutions is the visibility it grants to users. At any point, authorized workflow users can learn the status of the process. When workflow solutions exist only on paper and are carried out manually, ascertaining the status of a process can be difficult and frustrating. A form may have made it to one decision-maker’s desk, where it has resided without being acted upon yet. Some desk piles are proverbial black holes. Once documents enter, they are rarely seen again. Or, it could be in transit, yet another place where documents seem to have a habit of getting lost. Workflow automation software, however, allows you to build transparency into work processes so that authorized users can know the current status of a given item at any time.

Workflow solutions

Learning the status of a digital workflow document is straightforward.

Creating an Audit Trail for FMLA Requests

Employers subject to the FMLA are required to make and preserve records pertaining to use of the FMLA under the recordkeeping requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Employers are required to keep records for at least three years and to make them available for inspection, copying, or transcription by Labor Department representatives in the event of an audit. Creation and preservation of records is far easier with an electronic FMLA workflow than a paper-based system.

Workflow automation software enables the creation of an automatic audit trail as the process moves along. You can know exactly what step was taken, when it was taken, and by whom. Among the information that must be maintained under FMLA records are:

  • Basic payroll identification information
  • Pay rate
  • Compensation terms
  • Hours worked per pay period
  • Adjustments to wages
  • Total compensation paid
  • Dates of FMLA leave
  • Copies of employee notices and all other required written notices
  • Documentation of employee benefits including paid and unpaid leave
  • Premium payment records for employee health insurance
  • Dispute records from problems related to the FMLA

Preventing Problems Always Easier than Coping Later

There is much wisdom in the old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The more problems you can prevent through smart workflow solutions, the less time you’ll spend later addressing headaches like lost forms or disputes over what a missing record contained.

PerfectForms software allows you to create custom online forms and workflows for even complex, exacting processes like administration of the FMLA. Not only can you create an electronic footprint at every step of the FMLA process, you won’t have to worry about storing all that paper, or about finding a record, should you need it later on. PerfectForms lets workflow users create workflows to their exact needs, whether for FMLA administration or any other work process. We invite you to watch our demo and discover the power and flexibility of the workflow solutions you can create with PerfectForms.

Posted in Workflow | Comments Off on Use Systematic Workflow Solutions to Ensure FMLA Compliance

Why Small Businesses Benefit Most from Workflow Automation Software

Friday, August 12th, 2016 by admin

If you run a small business, you might think workflow automation software is something only big businesses need or use. On the contrary, small businesses can often benefit disproportionately from using workflow software to create online forms and automated workflows. The state of the technology today is such that affordable, easily scalable, workflow software is well within reach of the small business.

Workflow automation software

Smaller businesses of all stripes benefit from workflow automation.

Smaller businesses can’t afford to be bogged down with cumbersome processes and paper. When they can create custom online forms and make them into automated workflows, they save considerable time, and time is money. Here’s why smaller businesses benefit greatly from using workflow automation software.

Small Businesses Often Have the Advantage of Agility

Often, one of the biggest advantages the small business has over the larger competitor is that it can change direction more quickly, responding to customer needs faster than a large enterprise can. This agility can be what brings clients to the smaller businesses. Small business agility is enhanced when workflows are streamlined, automated, and adaptable.

Changing a manual form or process can be time-consuming and costly, and it can take time to adjust to and see the benefits. Online forms and workflows, on the other hand, can be modified more quickly, and all workflow users are “on the same page” at every step, so adjusting to revisions is quick.

Less Time on Administering Workflows, More Time on Core Business

Ultimately, the small business that uses workflow automation software spends less of its precious resources on administrative and clerical tasks, allowing more focus on the core business. This can be particularly welcome in the very small business, where each employee or partner is typically required to wear multiple hats and be responsible for multiple types of work. Let automation take care of what it can, and then you can focus your energy and attention on providing your products and services and standing out from the competition.

Turnkey Systems Exist, but Are They the Right Choice?

You’ll find that there are many specialized turnkey systems to automate specific workflows. For example, you may explore IT service desk software that automates clunky, manual interactions between IT users and IT help. These have merit, but they do one job and often don’t incorporate enough flexibility to be useful in other capacities.

Workflow automation software

Workflow automation software is a broad solution that can be easily adapted to whatever type of forms and workflows you need. You could create one online workflow for IT services, and then just as easily create another for documenting customer service. Your office manager could then create a workflow to ensure no steps are omitted when onboarding a new employee. Same software, multiple uses.

How Small Businesses Benefit from Workflow Automation Software

The main way that small businesses benefit from online forms and workflow automation is through lower costs and improved efficiency. The more operations can be made paperless, the less clutter you have and the lower your error rates. If your workflow automation software is cloud-hosted, you don’t have to buy and install servers to run it. You simply subscribe to the number of “seats” you need, and can get started right away.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that, because your small business is non-technical or “bricks and mortar,” that you would not benefit from workflow automation. Small businesses of every type, including yours, can benefit from workflow automation software. From dog grooming to translation services, the less time you spend on manual processes, the more time you have to focus on the reason you started your business in the first place.

PerfectForms is workflow automation software that is flexible, scalable, and easy to use – even for non-technical people. With the choice of cloud or on-site hosting, you can put PerfectForms to use in a wide range of applications right from the start. It has an intuitive, user-friendly, drop-and-drag interface that means no programming is required to create online forms, workflows, or to make forms interact with databases, web pages, and other electronic forms. It’s also mobile-friendly, so if you send out field technicians, they have their online forms and processes with them.

Best of all? You can try out PerfectForms for free. If you run a small business, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by signing up for a FREE trial and test driving it yourself.

Posted in Workflow Software | Comments Off on Why Small Businesses Benefit Most from Workflow Automation Software

Version Control Made Easy For Forms and Reports

Thursday, August 11th, 2016 by titanseo

Hello PerfectForms Community,
Have you ever needed to make a change to a form after it was published? With PerfectForms, you have the ability to make changes without affecting the live version and publish new versions without invalidating previously published versions. Today we will be discussing utilizing the Version interface within PerfectForms to continuously edit and publish your workflow application.
Before getting started we will explain the Version interface. To access these features click on any form or report from the dashboard, you will then see the following:
version 1
Within the Version section will be a set of options; Latest, Published, and Draft.
          • Latest – Used to access the last published or saved form design
          • Published – Used indicate you would like to select a previously published form design
          • Draft – Used to indicate you would like to select a saved form design that was not published
The ability to use a published or draft version is only made available after the form has been published and/or saved more than once. By selecting Published or Draft a corresponding drop down will become available. This dropdown is used to select the version numbers that are created while designing and publishing your form. Published versions will be indicated by whole numbers while Draft versions use fractions. To open a previously published version of the form simply perform the following steps:
          • Click Published
          • Select a version number
          • Select Design
The steps to open a Draft are mostly similar:
          • Click Draft
          • Select a version number
          • Select Design
If you would like to revert to a previous version you simply need to select the version you desire, click Design, then click Save As a New Version. At this point, you will either be able to make changes or publish the copy. When reverting back to a previous version it is important to keep in mind that any changes made after the selected version number will be lost.
As with any technology thorough testing is key to a successful launch. Testing your form holistically becomes easy by creating an alternate form from your completed work and publishing it. This will allow you to run through your process as your end user would without negatively affecting the active form. In order to test a published copy without affecting the live version please follow the next steps:
          1. Open your unpublished copy to the Designer
          2. Click File
          3. Click Save As New Form
          4. From here you can point all the notifications to your email of choice
          5. Save the design
          6. Click Publish
Once you have completed the steps you can run through a battery of tests without fear of impacting the active version.
Tip: While editing a form you must refrain from deleting fields you no longer need. This will cause data loss or other data related issues. If there is a field you are done with simply set the field to Hidden and move them out of the way.
Now that you know how to use versions you should be able to successfully and safely test your forms. By using versions you are easily able to test and improve the overall quality of your forms. If you have any additional questions feel free to post them in the comments below and I will try to answer as soon as possible.
Thanks for reading, and happy form building.

Online Forms to Help Your School Manage Student Parking Better

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016 by admin

Some American school districts don’t have bus systems, relying on cars to get most students to campus. In high schools, students with drivers’ licenses can be responsible for their own transportation and that of younger siblings. While this can make things easier on parents, it makes student parking management an issue that the school or school system must address to prevent chaos and preserve safety on campus.

Online forms

Safety demands that schools that allow students to drive themselves develop a parking management program.

Policies to govern efficient use of parking resources are a good start. In fact, there are turnkey parking management systems available. For many schools, however, online forms created with their general workflow automation software solution can be the basis for a powerful, customized parking management system that can be tailored for each facility’s needs. Parking problems are not always due to lack of parking supply, rather to inefficient parking management. Here are some ideas for handling student parking.

Assign Permits Based on Role

Giving the same type of permit to everyone and having a daily Darwinian competition for the best spaces tends to result in frustration. To prevent a free-for-all every morning and afternoon, consider assigning parking permits based on criteria like whether a student is an upperclassman, how long a faculty member has been with the school, or even how many siblings arrive together by car.

Information collected from online forms can be processed by your workflow automation software to assign parking based on grade, academic program, access to outbuildings (for athletes, for example), and other criteria.

Consider Staggering Arrival and Departure Times

Staggering arrival and departure times by grade can make things easier on parents who ferry their children to and from school, and on the students who are responsible for their own transportation. Staggering arrival and departure times by even a few minutes can help reduce traffic and parking conflicts. Once again, online forms can gather the information necessary so that each student (and staff member, if applicable) knows what time he or she must arrive and when it’s time to leave in the afternoon.

Use a Numbering System and Track it in a Database

Each permit holder should have his or her own permit number, which is attached to his name and other school ID information in a database. Numbers may be assigned sequentially, randomly, or by lottery, and should indicate which lot permit holders are required to use.

Online forms

Parking management can’t prevent every problem, but it can make day-to-day operations smoother.

Some schools assign specific parking spaces. A numbering system is necessary for making such a system easy to manage. Workflow automation software can be equipped with a simple algorithm to generate a number for each parking permit, and to associate it with a particular student, grade, academic program, or other criteria.

Give All Permits Expiration Dates

When you use workflow automation software to create any school-related process, there’s generally an associated time frame. Textbooks may be allocated by semester, and audio-visual equipment may be checked out using online forms by the class period or day. Likewise, when you use online forms to manage your parking system, you should make sure each parking permit has an expiration date attached. This prevents misuse of permits, and allows “fresh” tracking of cars each school year. If your school staggers arrival and departure times, reassignment of parking permits each year is essential.

PerfectForms is workflow automation software that schools in America and around the world have used to manage the data collection and resource allocation tasks that keep schools running smoothly. In addition to using it to make online forms for processes like field trip requests, discipline documentation, and student registration, you can use PerfectForms to create a parking management workflow. Students (or parents) can enter the required information and submit their requests online. The workflow goes stepwise through the process of assigning a permit number, informing the recipient of rules, and even creation of a hang tag that can be printed out and hung from rear view mirrors.

The best part is, you don’t have to know anything about programming to accomplish all this, because PerfectForms has an intuitive interface that makes sense, whether you’re planning a cafeteria menu or assigning textbooks. Take a look at some of our case studies to get an idea of the range of uses to which PerfectForms can be put. Schools of all sizes are some of our most ardent fans because of the power, flexibility, and ease of use PerfectForms incorporates.

Posted in Best Practices | Comments Off on Online Forms to Help Your School Manage Student Parking Better

5 Ways Flexibility in Your Workflow Designer Makes IT Services Better

Friday, August 5th, 2016 by admin

Providing IT services quickly and consistently is essential for businesses and organizations of all sizes, and in all industries. Ideally, IT services should be aligned with the needs of the organization itself, the employees who use the IT infrastructure, and customers as well.

Workflow

When IT doesn’t function properly, the entire organization can suffer.

Using a workflow designer to create custom IT services workflows is an excellent decision. Many organizations already use a workflow designer to create electronic forms and workflows for other processes (like HR processes). Pre-packaged IT service software may not meet a given organization’s needs. Here are five ways the flexibility of your workflow designer can make your organization’s IT services better.

1. By Allowing You to Tailor IT Services to Your IT Users

Perhaps your organization already uses workflow tools to accomplish other tasks, like onboarding new employees or requesting building maintenance. A flexible workflow design solution allows you to make the electronic forms and workflows harmonious with the ones people use for other processes, so the learning curve isn’t steep. You can even carry over the “look and feel” of your other workflows with characteristics like colors, logos, and fonts.

2. By Helping You Collect Valuable, Actionable Data

Flexible workflow tools that allow automatic collection of data every time a form or workflow is accessed builds a knowledge base that can be used to improve services, detect trends, and recognize problems. For example, you may discover that more IT service requests come in on Thursday than any other day. With this information, you could adjust staffing so that more people are available at peak times, optimizing your resource allocation.

3. By Allowing Visibility into the Entire Service Process

People want to know what’s going on behind the scenes, even if they don’t understand the technicalities of it. When you order something online, you want to be able to track your order and know what’s happening with it. Likewise, the right workflow designer allows your IT users to not only request help when they need it, but also to be able to review its status, know what has been done, and where the request is in the help queue.

4. By Helping You Refine Processes as Needs Change

Workflow

All your field technicians are getting tablets. Can your IT service personnel cope with the potential uptick in service requests?

Pre-packaged IT services software can’t always adapt to changing circumstances as readily as you would like. An influx of new mobile devices for field service technicians may be difficult for “canned” IT service desk software to cope with, but with a flexible workflow designer, you can create workflow tools that accommodate changes quickly and easily. If a new reporting requirement is implemented, your workflow designer can create a reporting workflow without disrupting everything else.

5. It Replaces Inefficient, Cumbersome Manual Processes

Sometimes new companies start out with a one person “IT Department” who happens to be good with computers and who tries to help people having difficulties. The “process” may involve hastily jotted down sticky notes, that can easily be lost, and phone calls that can quickly be forgotten in the rush of a busy day. Workflow tools allow you to create fast, automated workflows that ensure the right people are informed in a timely manner. Those phone tags and sticky notes become things of the past.

Organizations that use workflow tools for processes like reserving equipment, logging visitors, assigning office furniture, and others, can, with the help of a powerful, flexible workflow designer, create custom workflow tools for provision of IT services. Your organization’s IT service needs are unique. With a workflow designer like PerfectForms, you have the power to define IT service processes and quickly develop the online forms and workflows needed to deliver those processes.

PerfectForms has a user-friendly, drag-drop interface, so non-programmers can easily create online forms and workflows that make sense to the people who use them. It has a virtually unlimited range of uses, across departments, in all types of organizations. Providing efficient, accurate IT services can be one of the best ways to ensure a smoothly running organization. PerfectForms makes this possible without the need to hire programmers. We would love for you to watch our demo, so you can see for yourself just how powerful and flexible a workflow designer solution PerfectForms is – for IT services or any other type of workflow you can imagine.

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How Forms Software Benefits Civic and Charitable Organizations

Monday, August 1st, 2016 by admin

People who start their own businesses are keenly aware of the need to be cost efficient. The less money and time you spend on inefficient processes, the more money can go toward your bottom line, and the more time can be devoted to core business strengths.


Forms software

Charitable organizations can plan fundraisers and awareness events better and quicker with online forms and workflows.

Similar principles apply in the nonprofit and charitable sector, because money and time not devoted to administrative tasks is money that can go toward the aims of the organization. You may not think of online forms and workflows as having a place in the world of nonprofits and charitable organizations, but often investment in workflow automation software brings a fast, positive return on investment.

Imagine Custom Online Forms that Adapt to Changing Needs

The limitations of paper forms make themselves apparent in due time. Perhaps they ask for information in a format that’s no longer meaningful, or they’re labeled with the date of last year’s event. Online forms are readily adaptable to changing needs, and there are no worries about reams of forms going unused in storage closets, because paper is cut out of the equation. If this year’s gala theme differs from last year’s, your online forms can reflect this. If your organization now has an Instagram account, you can easily modify online forms to include your Instagram handle and draw more followers.

Feed Data from Forms into Databases or Spreadsheets

Workflow automation software can not only create the perfect online forms, whatever your needs, they can interact with other software, such as database or spreadsheet software. When one event captain reports his or her fundraising results on an electronic form, the data from that form can be automatically fed into a spreadsheet so you can easily calculate statistics.

Conversely, if you need to draw data from spreadsheets or databases to fill in forms or produce custom reports, your workflow automation software ought to be able to accomplish this. Don’t settle for workflow automation software that requires programming skills to use effectively. Better solutions are available and affordable.

How Online Forms Can Streamline Charitable Projects


Forms software

Online forms let you spend time carrying out good works, not shuffling paper forms.

Instead of using paper sign-up forms for volunteers, use online forms that are always legible and won’t be lost in transit. Have all your fundraising volunteers record their donations via online forms, and you worry far less about data entry mistakes and miscalculations. If multiple forms are involved in carrying out an event, they can be linked into foolproof workflows so that no steps are omitted and events proceed smoothly for volunteers and participants. It’s easy to incorporate “lessons learned” into your workflows. You may realize that next time, each volunteer team should have a checklist for their responsibilities so everything is done on time.

Keeping Administrative Costs Down

With paper forms and the manual workflows that go with them, you have many expenses. Paper and ink cost money, and if the information on forms must be manually entered into a database, that process takes time and is prone to error. Handwriting can make a “4” look like a “9” so a critical phone number may be entered wrong, and coffee spilled on a form can render someone’s name unreadable. All these problems take time to discover, diagnose, and fix.

Online forms and workflows do away with virtually all these problems, saving money and time, and improving accuracy throughout any workflow. PerfectForms is workflow software that allows you to create beautiful custom forms either from scratch, or using one of the many built-in templates in the software. These forms can be assembled into workflows that are fast, accurate, and that notify key people when their input is needed.

Best of all, you can do all this without knowing the first thing about programming, because PerfectForms has an intuitive drag-and-drop interface. You can easily make sign-up sheets, collection reports, checklists, and more, in an environmentally friendly, paperless manner that’s faster and more accurate. Have a look at the PerfectForms demo to see how easy it is. You’re sure to think of several ways online forms and workflows can make your charitable or nonprofit organization more efficient and effective.

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