The “10 Commandments” of Excellent Workflow Design

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017 by MEDIA MEDIA

Form software

It’s a good thing we don’t have to handle engraved stone tablets in business these days. Even paper is being phased out of many business processes.

With form software that also functions as workflow software, businesses in every industry can create online forms, accelerate business processes, and help their employees put forward their best work. Here are the 10 commandments of excellent workflow design.

1. Thou shalt choose software that excels in creation of both forms and workflows, so that thy time won’t be spent learning more software packages than necessary. When form and workflow software have been integrated skillfully, let no man put them asunder.

2. Thou shalt not use paper forms except when absolutely necessary, for they deplete natural resources, can be lost, and are sometimes difficult to read. Paper forms can also necessitate file cabinets that can measure up to three cubits tall.

3. Keep thy employees from taking thy department’s name in vain by providing them with forms and workflows that make sense and are logical. Employees destined for needlessly complex forms and workflows may weep for 40 days and 40 nights.

4. Thou shalt eliminate unnecessary steps from workflows, that thy employees will honor you all the days of their life. Employees that toil at processes that have smitten unnecessary steps are joyful.

5. Honor thy end-user by ascertaining their needs before designing the forms and workflows that they will be using every day, that their days with your company may be abundant and gratifying.

6. Thou shalt use automatic alerts with online forms, so that workflows may continue without unnecessary stoppages. Let the alerts ring out to all appropriate email accounts, that all in the land may rejoice in steady workflow progress.

Form software

Workflows that stay on track are a joy for the entire team.

7. Thou shalt avoid form and workflow software that does not integrate with other software your business uses. It is a thing of great beauty when your form and workflow software shares data with databases and spreadsheets without despair.

8. Thou shalt eliminate duplication of effort by allowing online forms to auto-populate multiple fields that require the same input. To toil endlessly, entering the same data repeatedly, makes an employee quick to anger, and breaks his spirit.

9. Thou shalt prevent errors from entering forms and workflows by using field checks, that thy end-users may correct their mistakes before their forms are submitted. For when a form or workflow step is completed without error, thy employee and their supervisors may rejoice.

10. Thou shalt provide workflow transparency, that thy end-users may always know the status of a workflow. For if they do not know the status of their workflow, there may follow wailing and gnashing of teeth.

PerfectForms is both form software and workflow software, allowing you to create perfectly customized online forms and business processes that help your business run as efficiently as possible. Whatever your industry, online forms save time, money, and the frustration of tracking down and correcting errors. Online workflows help ensure compliance with regulations, can provide an automatic audit trail, and allow authorized users to learn the status of the workflow at any time. Automated alerts can be built in, as can field-checks that help ensure all errors are corrected before forms or workflow steps are submitted.

Whether your business employs five people or 500, and whether you’re in the business of baking cakes, shoeing horses, or providing insurance, the right forms and workflows make your business better: faster, more accurate, and more cost-effective. We invite you to watch the PerfectForms demo video. Discover for yourself the many ways custom forms and workflows can help your business sharpen its competitive edge.

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The Triumvirate of Perfect Form & Workflow Development

Monday, July 10th, 2017 by MEDIA MEDIA

Form development

Creation, deployment, and reporting are the three pillars supporting excellent form and workflow development.

When you build a custom form or workflow, you want to get it just right. Doing requires three key components:

  • creating the form or workflow
  • deploying it
  • reporting on it.

Naturally, each of these key steps is made up of many more sub-steps, but beginning with a high-level “create-deploy-report” approach helps ensure you start out right and cover all the bases.

Both form development and workflow development depend on excellent planning so that the end result of efficient operation will be realized. Begin your form or workflow development process with a good plan and you’ll spend less time tweaking it later. Here’s how.

Step One: Create

With form development, the creation step involves defining what should go on the form and in what sequence. You can start with a simple list of the fields you want your form to contain. Once a draft of the form is created, you can test it under conditions the end-users are likeliest to experience. You may find that you’ve omitted an important field from your form, the field sequence is not optimal, or that your form isn’t as user-friendly as you would like.

Creating workflows is similar, except it may involve multiple forms which are connected through a series of steps. Start with a list of discrete steps, create a draft workflow, then test it thoroughly to see if there are any places where things can go wrong. You need to correct problems and weak points before your workflow goes live.

Step Two: Deploy

When you have the right form development software, deploying the form you have created should be as easy as clicking on “Publish.” Before your form goes live for all users, however, it may be wise to have a selection of beta testers to try out the form. Find out what happens when they type the wrong type of data into a field (e.g., if they type a name into a numerical field). Learn where the weaknesses lie so you can modify your form prior to complete implementation.

The same is true when deploying workflows. Test them under a variety of conditions before making them available to all users. If workflows will be used on mobile devices, test them on phones and tablets to see how they look and if they cause any device issues.

Step Three: Report

Form development

Does your form and workflow development software provide easy reporting? It should.

Whether in form development or workflow development, reporting is the key to continuous improvement. The right software will make it easy for you to generate reports that not only provide valuable information (such as how many widgets were sold online last quarter) but also can point to problems with a form or workflow.

Continuous Improvement Should Be Your Goal

Careful development results in forms that fulfill your needs for a long time to come, but you shouldn’t expect a form to remain static and without revision forever.

If, for instance, your form automatically calculates sales tax, and a sales tax law changes resulting in the necessity of a new calculation, you will need to update your form. Likewise, if a new step is required in a workflow because of a new regulation, for instance, you will need to make modifications so that your flow will be correct and current. 

With PerfectForms, outstanding form development and workflow development are at your fingertips. The friendly user interface makes it easy to drag and drop form or workflow elements into place, and it’s easy to test forms and workflows thoroughly before deploying them to users. PerfectForms is mobile-friendly, so traveling employees or field technicians will have the forms and workflows they need at all times, wherever they go.

You can test drive PerfectForms for free by signing up for a trial. If better forms and workflows are in your future plans, PerfectForms is there to help you make them a reality.

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The Synergy of Forms and Functions

Thursday, July 6th, 2017 by MEDIA MEDIA

Form

You’ve heard the phrase “Form follows function,” which are words attributed to architect Louis Sullivan more than a century ago. While it was said in reference to architectural form and function, it applies to countless other aspects of life.

You can also take the phrase quite literally, using it to refer to actual forms that your business uses. When you know what the form is supposed to accomplish, you can design it so that it does so in the most elegant and logical way possible. After all, if a form doesn’t accomplish its goal, then why have it?

Here are some form design principles that can help you create forms (and workflows) that do what they’re supposed to without wasted effort, and that will be pleasing for users as well.

Dispense with “Form Follows Precedent”

Maybe there’s a form that your business has used for years that you’d like to take from paper to your company network or the web. That makes sense on many levels, from a resource-saving perspective as well as a time-saving one. While the right form software will let you create an online form that looks exactly like the paper one (which can be good since people already know what to put where), you don’t necessarily have to follow a paper form as your precedent.

Again, it’s about thinking of what your form (or workflow) is supposed to accomplish, then creating it so that it does so in a straightforward and intuitively sensible way. Times, technology, and business practices change, so it makes sense that your forms and workflows do too.

Is Your Form or Workflow Solid and Useful?

In the original architectural meaning of the phrase “form follows function,” the designation specifically meant that buildings – primarily urban skyscrapers – should be designed based on their function. Specifically, these buildings should be both solid and useful. They should stand up to the stresses they will encounter, and they should perform as expected. The same can be said of just about anything humans create, from furniture and clothing to business forms and workflows. All should stand up to the stresses they will face, and all should function as expected.

Form

Solid and useful forms and workflows help offices run smoothly and efficiently.

Is It Beautifully Designed?

There is no requirement or regulation that says that forms and workflows must be beautifully designed, but isn’t work a better place when they are? A form, whether on paper or on a screen, that is easy to read, uses space wisely, and is aesthetically pleasing makes work a little better, just by doing what it is supposed to elegantly. Workflows, though you can’t really see them, are no different. When the steps of a workflow, including the steps involving forms, proceed logically and with minimal hassle, the workflow is enjoyable to use. Beauty, in this case, doesn’t necessarily refer to an aesthetic quality, but people know it when they encounter it.

Form and Function Should Work Synergistically

Form and function don’t flow in one direction but feed into one another when they’re designed synergistically. This principle is behind many modern technology designs, like the iPhone. People naturally gravitate toward products that not only work as expected, but that are also beautiful, comfortable to hold, and easy to use. How might the late Steve Jobs have designed your form or workflow? You can bet that extraneous steps would be eliminated and that every remaining step would serve a function. The right form and workflow software allows you the flexibility to design as you see fit and to modify designs for continual improvement.

PerfectForms is form and workflow software that understands the “form follows function” principle. It offers an intuitive user interface that lets you create electronic forms and workflows custom-tailored to your organization and user needs. We invite you to watch our demo video. You’ll see for yourself how PerfectForms marries form and function beautifully, and how businesses like yours benefit.

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Why Planning Is Pivotal to Electronic Form Design

Monday, July 3rd, 2017 by MEDIA MEDIA

Workflow software

Do you remember in early days of the internet, when ordinary computer users gained the ability to create their own website? What could be more empowering than allowing everyday people to have their own “home” on the web from which to share whatever they wanted to?

You may also remember early websites that were clashing, confusing collections of bright colors, flashing text, and showcases for every font the user could get their hands on. In other words, just because people had the tools to create their own website didn’t mean they would automatically create a good one.

This phenomenon happens whenever new technology catches on. People understandably want to use all the great new tools at their disposal. Electronic form software is no exception. But planning is no less important with newer technology than it was with the old. Here’s why planning is absolutely essential to outstanding electronic form design.

Electronic Forms Can Be Cumbersome and Confusing Too

Paper forms can be confusing to the uninitiated. In the blank labeled “Number” do they want your phone number? Your employee ID number? And why are the blanks for “Yes” and “No” so big while the blank for writing your entire address is so small? Is that number that didn’t quite photocopy correctly a “4” or a “9”?

Many of these confusing elements can be carried over to electronic forms. Furthermore, creating a new electronic form has the potential for fomenting confusion and exasperation. In other words, just because a form is electronic doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better. Planning is the key to making sure it is better.

Planning Helps You Put Collected Data to Work

Say you’re in charge of creating electronic forms for the work process of new employee onboarding. Planning ahead helps you realize things like the fact that the first time the new person enters their name, that data can automatically populate “Name” fields on other, related forms, cutting down significantly on repeated data entry.

Or suppose you’re in charge of the workflow that reimburses travel expenses. If you set up your electronic forms to gather data like the flight cost and hotel room rate and copy them to relevant spreadsheets or databases, at the end of each quarter you’ll easily be able to create reports showing how much was spent on each and how that compares to previous quarters.

Workflow software

With the right form software, data entered once can be repurposed repeatedly.

Always Keep an Eye on the Business Process You’re Intent on Improving

Your electronic forms must serve the workflow in which they play a role. No electronic form is an island, and the different people in their different positions who participate in a workflow have their own ideas for what they want from an electronic form. Before sitting down with your form software, speak to the people involved in the workflow. Test out “beta” versions of electronic forms and collect feedback. And before deploying the final version of your electronic form, test it thoroughly with the people who will be using it every day, making adjustments as needed.

Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should

It can be easy to get carried away with new electronic tools. When programs like Photoshop became widely available, they empowered true artists to take their abilities to amazing new levels. They also empowered bored college students to make hilariously inappropriate photos, and the ambitious home user to turn perfectly acceptable snapshots into “art projects” that fell short.

Electronic form software puts amazing abilities into the hands of people who use forms and workflows, but that doesn’t mean that planning them is no longer important. By taking the time to plan form layout in the context of the users and the workflows that utilize them, you can reap maximum benefits from electronic forms.

PerfectForms is a form creation software with an intuitive, drag-and-drop interface that makes it easy to create pixel-perfect electronic forms. PerfectForms is also workflow software that allows you to link forms together into workflows, and set permissions on entire forms and workflows, or only on parts of them. With PerfectForms, it’s easy to make changes and customize forms and workflows to your exact needs. That way nobody is stuck with an electronic form that’s confusing, and workflows can tick along at a faster pace. Best of all, you can test drive PerfectForms for free by signing up for a trial. If you haven’t tried electronic form software, or even if you have, let us show you what you’re missing.

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Adding Intelligent Behaviors to Your Forms and Workflows

Friday, June 30th, 2017 by MEDIA MEDIA

Workflow software

One of the reasons electronic forms are so popular is because they reduce the hassle of dealing with paper and the expense associated with paper forms. In addition to helping your business reduce paper usage, electronic forms can go further, using intelligent actions to help ensure that information entered into them is complete and accurate.

The ability to complete these intelligent actions depends on your choice of form and workflow software. Not all types of form software are advanced enough to allow intelligent form fields. But this capability is well worth the investment. Here are some of the ways you can add intelligent behavior to your forms, and benefits you can enjoy after doing so.

Calculations Made Automatically

Suppose you create a form for purchases where the rightmost column contains line-item cost. You could place a form field at the bottom of this column that automatically adds line-items to get the total. Or suppose your school has a form on which test scores are entered. The form could be made to calculate an average test score per classroom. Does your business prorate per diem travel allowances based on how many hours a person is away on days they travel to and from their destination? If so, your form could ask the user enter the total hours they were away on those days and have the form automatically calculate the pro-rated per diem.

Field Checks for Accuracy

Let’s say you work in a mental health care facility and on one of your intake forms for patients, the user must input a number on a scale of 1 to 5 based on patient mood. Adding intelligence to your electronic form means that if someone accidentally tries to input a “6” or otherwise unusable number, the form will immediately flag the error.

Or say a form takes in data to create an in-house phone directory, and you need phone numbers to be entered in a certain format, like (XXX) XXX-XXXX. Should someone try to enter their number in another format, again the form could pop up an error message so it can be corrected before the form is submitted for further processing.

Question and Page Skipping

Once again, when considering a business purchasing form, let’s say your company has a rule that purchases over a certain dollar amount require additional approval from a department head. If a form user is making a smaller purchase, there’s no need for them to fill in that additional information or obtain the department head’s approval.

Workflow software

Allowing users to skip non-required questions or pages is a huge time-saver.

If you make your forms so they automatically skip those questions or pages once the dollar amount is determined to be low enough, you’ll reduce unnecessary work and save time for everyone.

Other Conditional Actions

If your online form or workflow has requirements that apply only under certain conditions, you can build those conditions into the form for convenience. Suppose you want to set a condition where, if a purchase is approved, comments by the approving authority are optional, but if a purchase is denied, a comment is mandatory. When you build this condition into the form, the person who denies approval cannot proceed until they put information into the comment field. 

When a form is used frequently, having your form software generate a name for each instance of form use makes it easier to retrieve forms and the information contained in them. Your form could, for example, concatenate the name of the form (Purchase Request), the form user’s employee ID (13911, for example), and the date (080817) to end up with something like “PurchaseRequest13911080817.” If information needs to be retrieved later, knowing the user’s ID and/or the date on which it was created helps in locating the exact form instance to be searched.

PerfectForms is a form creation software that has all these capabilities and more. It allows you to easily preview and test forms before deploying them, and it allows you to create complex workflows through an intuitive process that is similar to creating a flowchart. We encourage you to learn more about adding intelligent actions to forms by having a look at our training videos, including the one on adding form behaviors.

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How Strict Should Form and Workflow Access Rules Be?

Monday, June 26th, 2017 by MEDIA MEDIA

Workflow software

Whether or not your industry is bound by strict regulations, access to online forms and workflows should be clearly defined.

When you use your form or workflow software to create an electronic form, security should be a chief concern. Some industries are bound by strict regulations, so electronic forms and workflows have to be compliant and well-protected. Even in industries that don’t have to comply with regulations on the level of HIPAA or Sarbanes-Oxley, form and workflow security must be ensured at every stage.

When anyone can access every form, or when anyone can access every field within a form, there is potential for abuse. Suppose an unscrupulous person were filling out an expense reimbursement form. If there’s nothing stopping them from editing the “total” field of the form, it would be all too easy to pad reimbursements and embezzle money. Here’s what you should know about determining access to your online forms and workflows.

Defining Who Has Access to Forms

Some forms or workflows only need to be accessed only by certain users. Your field technicians and their managers, for example, are the only ones who should be allowed to access mobile forms detailing service calls. If only a handful of people should have access, you can set the default access for the form as “disabled” or “hidden,” and then create a list of exceptions for the people who are allowed to use the form.

Likewise, if you run an e-commerce business and offer a customer satisfaction survey, you only want customers, and not customer service staff, to be able to access those forms and input data.

Defining Which Fields Allow Access

Many situations will arise when a form is used by a large number of people, yet you may not want them to be able to access every field or otherwise advance the workflow. If you have dozens or hundreds of people with access to a purchase order workflow, they will need access to certain fields, like those defining the model number and vendor of the product they want to purchase, but they should not have access to other fields, like fields approving the purchase. These fields, which should only be accessed only by approving authorities, can be disabled (so they show up “grayed out”) or hidden altogether for users who do not have the authority to fill in those fields.

Who Is the User and What Is the Form or Workflow Stage?

Workflow software

Users and workflow stages must be managed with access rules to prevent abuse.

To ensure that all the people who need it have access to a form and certain fields in it, consider your user base and answer the questions:

  • Who is the user? Are they authorized to access this form?
  • What stage is the user in the workflow? Do they have approval authority or need to know?

When you answer those questions for each form and each field, you can create rules and exceptions that will ensure that everyone who needs a form has access to it, while also ensuring that only approving authorities have access to certain form fields.

Strict Default with Managed Exceptions Works Well

One approach that works well is to make default access restricted. Then define exceptions to it. If you don’t want anyone to be able to return to a completed form and change information in it, you can deny access to users except when the form is initially being completed.

Likewise, you could set the default for an approval step to be disabled or hidden except when an approving authority is using the form. This ensures forms are easy to access and use, while also ensuring that unauthorized form and workflow users can’t modify things like costs, or assignment grades.

While managing form and workflow security may appear to be complicated, it’s easy if you use form and workflow software that makes creating access rules for forms and fields simple and straightforward. PerfectForms allows you to set form and field access rules to be as strict or as lenient as you need, and it steps you through the process using a visual rules editor that is intuitive to learn.

PerfectForms allows those who create online forms and workflows to easily define access for each combination of user and workflow stage, to eliminate worries about unauthorized users approving purchases or altering important data like dollar amounts. We invite you to watch our training videos, including the one on setting access rules to see for yourself how simple and powerful PerfectForms is when it comes to ensuring your forms and workflows are secure and accurate.

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What Is LDAP Synchronization and How Does It Improve Workflows?

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017 by MEDIA MEDIA

Workflow software

If your network uses an LDAP, you can put it to work for you in your forms and workflows.

The acronym LDAP stands for Lightweight Directory Access Protocol. It is a special set of software rules that allows people to easily locate files, devices, individual accounts, and organizations on a network. The network could be public, like the Internet, or it could be a private network that is only for use by a single organization.

An LDAP directory is arranged into a tree hierarchy that begins with a “root” directory and branches out into more detail to include organizations, departments, departmental subunits, and individual people, files, and shared resources like printers. The data located in an organization’s LDAP can be extraordinarily valuable when it can be communicated with the organization’s form or workflow software.

How LDAP Can Help with Online Forms and Workflows

One of the main reasons companies turn to online form and workflow software is that it helps cut down on duplication of effort. Electronic forms aren’t lost or damaged the way paper forms are, so there are far fewer re-dos with electronic forms. Synchronizing your LDAP takes this convenience even further.

Suppose a user logs into a workflow with their employee ID and password. When your workflow software is integrated with your company’s LDAP, which includes employee data like name, phone extension, department, and other important information, the LDAP can automatically feed the workflow user’s data into the workflow so they don’t have to spend time typing it in again.

Ensuring the Integrity of Your Data

To prevent corruption of your LDAP, your workflow software should only allow one-way integration. In other words, your workflow software can use data from the LDAP, but it can’t send data to the LDAP. That way the LDAP remains a singular “truth source” that won’t be damaged or corrupted by someone using workflow software.

Workflow software

Workflow software that only allows one-way LDAP integration helps protect data.

Beyond that, ordinary security measures, like requiring two-factor authentication for employee sign-in, or otherwise limiting who can use a workflow to authorized personnel will allow an organization to enjoy the benefits of LDAP synchronization while minimizing the risks to LDAP content.

Benefits of Synchronizing LDAP with Your Workflow Software

Time savings that result from synchrony between your LDAP and your workflow or form software can be substantial. Rather than re-entering commonly used data like an employee’s name, ID number, department, date-of-hire, and other data, your workflow software can automatically synchronize with the LDAP in order to pick that data up and funnel it to the appropriate form fields automatically. Assuming the data in your LDAP is current and accurate, you can prevent errors in form-filling from propagating throughout a workflow.

PerfectForms is electronic form and workflow software that can be easily integrated with your LDAP. By doing this, authorized workflow users can fetch LDAP information and use it in a form or workflow without having to retype it, thus minimizing errors. You can make exceptions easily, like when someone still in your personnel LDAP is no longer with your company. You can choose LDAP data from any number of data “branches” and import it painlessly, saving everyone time and making workflows far more efficient.

In addition to being LDAP compatible, PerfectForms lets users create pixel-perfect forms and workflows by dropping and dragging elements into place, with no programming required. It offers both the flexibility and the power organizations need to manage data, forms, and workflows easily, and with the utmost accuracy. If you’re interested in the possibility of connecting your LDAP to workflow software, we invite you to view our training videos, including the one on LDAP synchronization. You’ll be astonished at how easy it is to do!

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Well-Designed Workflows for All Aspects of Healthcare Delivery

Monday, June 19th, 2017 by MEDIA MEDIA

Workflow software

Increasing healthcare costs affect patients, insurers, providers of medical care, and many far-reaching aspects of the economy as a whole. Electronic health record (EHR) systems are more common than they used to be due to incentives for medical practices to adopt them.

While EHRs can literally be life-saving because of their ability to coordinate care among multiple providers, they can’t handle all the work processes that go on in a medical facility. Well-designed workflows are just as necessary for non-clinical aspects of running a doctor’s office or clinic. Workflows are standard processes that eliminate redundancy, prevent mistakes, and generally help processes move forward like the proverbial well-oiled machine.

Well-designed workflows in combination with powerful, flexible workflow software can help ensure that the many non-medical tasks involved in operating a medical business run as efficiently as possible, with the fewest possible mistakes. Here’s how.

Step One Is Reducing the Need for Paper

Eliminating the use of paper in work processes is one of the biggest steps – if not the biggest step – in improving workflows. Paperwork is slow, can be lost or damaged, and takes up space. Furthermore, finding a particular piece of information on a hand-completed paper form can take an inordinate amount of time. Electronic form software lets businesses of all types create fast, easy-to-use online forms that won’t be lost or misplaced, don’t require filing cabinets, and that can be searched easily when information from a form is needed. And of course, businesses that reduce paper usage save money on supplies.

Allow Patients Themselves to Help

Electronic form software can be just the thing to allow patients to help you and, in the process, help themselves. Secure online forms can allow patients to fill out histories and other medical information before they arrive for their appointment. This makes the patient intake workflow more efficient and pleasant for everyone. Secure patient forms can be designed with fail-safes that help ensure mistakes don’t enter the workflow, by incorporating drop-down menus and instant format checks that help ensure all form fields are filled correctly.

Optimizing Non-Medical Workflows

Workflow software

Non-medical workflows are indispensable to operating a medical facility optimally.

While the medical processes that happen in a clinic or medical facility are of primary importance, the non-medical, behind-the-scenes workflows are just as critical to the success of the business. These workflows take many forms, such as what is done to exam rooms between patients, how patients are processed as they leave, ensuring that clinicians have the tools and supplies they need and that disposable supplies are tracked to prevent shortages. Workflow software that makes it simple to create custom workflows allows each medical facility to make the most of their space and personnel, rather than trying to adapt ill-fitting, one-size-fits-all workflows that are of limited help.

Technology Can’t Make Up for Poorly Designed Processes 

Even outstanding technology can’t make up for workflows that are needlessly cumbersome or complicated. Before designing electronic forms and workflows it’s essential to map out the goals, whether that’s saving so many minutes per patient or reducing storage needs by so many filing cabinets. Revisiting old workflows regularly and identifying steps that could be combined or eliminated is another best practice for ensuring high-quality workflows. Once the workflows themselves are defined and each step’s purpose is understood, technology allows you to reap the benefits.

PerfectForms is not only powerful electronic form software, but also powerful workflow software that can be adapted to virtually any process in any type of business. With all of the cost pressures brought to bear on the healthcare system, it’s absolutely essential that wasteful work procedures be reconceived so that they’re as streamlined and sensible as possible. PerfectForms, with its intuitive, drag-and-drop interface makes it easy to design, test, and implement electronic forms and workflows, helping businesses in just about every industry, including healthcare, enjoy greater efficiency and lower error rates. We encourage you to watch the PerfectForms demo video to be inspired on the many ways PerfectForms can be put to work making your business run better.

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Streamline Marketing with Workflow Software, Best Practices

Friday, June 16th, 2017 by MEDIA MEDIA

Workflow software

Marketing dollars must be spent wisely to ensure you get the highest return on your marketing investment.

Setting aside a budgeted amount for a marketing push or a new ad isn’t sufficient for making sure you make the most of your money. While you don’t need to create needlessly complicated workflows that disrupt creativity and slow processes unnecessarily, you do need consistency to ensure your marketing team stays on the same page.

While marketing taps into creativity and intangible qualities, that doesn’t mean that your approach to getting the job done should be vague and ill-defined. With the right workflow software and attention to some key best practices, you can help your marketing team spend wisely and get the most from their creative efforts.

Here are some tips and best practices to consider.

Don’t Underestimate the Complexity of Content Marketing

The internet is littered with dead blogs that people stopped maintaining because they didn’t realize how much work was involved. It’s easy to think, “Oh, I’ll have someone pop off a blog post every day and the web traffic will take care of itself.” In fact, there is a lot of editorial planning, review, and monitoring of competitors involved in having a strong content marketing campaign.

Likewise, your social media marketing campaign requires attention and planning to avoid being monotonous or striking the wrong tone with your audience. Understand up front that marketing in general and content marketing, in particular, is complex and requires meticulous planning and execution.

Take a Stepwise Approach

You probably won’t be able to get by with a single, overarching marketing workflow, because different marketing channels have different requirements. The person in charge of your company Twitter account follows a much different set of steps than the person in charge of producing a video commercial.

Begin by listing your marketing channels and what your goal for each of them is. Each channel should have an associated list of tasks. For example, maintaining your Facebook page should involve X social media posts per week, scheduled during certain hours of the day, and each should include a still image or short video clip. Each radio spot should run for Y number of days, with Z of those spots occurring during morning drive time.

Document the Steps of Each Marketing Campaign

Workflow software

Documenting the steps of a marketing campaign helps prevent duplication of effort and ensures all details are accounted for.

Likewise, each defined marketing campaign should have documented steps. The campaign for your end-of-summer sale may include a certain number of promoted Tweets, a video commercial, and a contest on Facebook. These will be assigned to the appropriate people, who will document their steps so at any given time the team can see the status of that particular campaign.

The right workflow software will allow you to incorporate automatic notifications, which can be terrific for cross-departmental or cross-team communication. For example, after the advertising video is shot, the person in charge of social media can be notified that still frames from the video are available to be put on Instagram to promote anticipation for the video.

Develop a Smart Marketing Approval Workflow

Marketing approval workflows may feel like a burden, but they don’t have to be. A solid marketing approval workflow is one of your best tools for ensuring that each and every marketing dollar is spent wisely. You may start by creating a template your creatives can use for briefing a project. After this briefing, key stakeholders can access feedback forms to help fine-tune the ideas. Your marketing approval workflow must also take into account legal compliance, ensuring that as the workflow proceeds, all legal obligations are fulfilled and documented.

Excellent marketing practices depend on outstanding creative practices, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still business processes too. The right form software coupled with the right workflow software empowers you to create marketing workflows that make sense for your organization and the goals you want to accomplish with your marketing campaigns.

PerfectForms is form and workflow software in one, with an intuitive, drag-and-drop interface that requires no programming skills. You can design, test, and deploy workflows for marketing quickly and easily, and fine-tune and modify them as needed with minimal disruption. Better still, you can try PerfectForms without obligation simply by signing up for a free trial. We invite you to see just how powerful the right workflow software can be for your marketing processes or any number of other business processes.

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5 Workflows to Make Your Small Business More Planet-Friendly

Monday, June 12th, 2017 by MEDIA MEDIA

Workflow software

“Green” doesn’t just refer to sustainability, but to more dollars on the bottom line.

Sustainability has gone from being a buzzword and “feel good” proposition to being good business. Waste is one of the biggest resource drains on any type of business. The businesses that get a handle on wastefulness are the ones with more comfortable profit margins.

Significantly boosting the planet-friendliness of your business doesn’t have to require installing solar panels on the roof or other major changes, because you can do quite a bit simply by rethinking your workflows. With the right workflow software, you can streamline your workflows while minimizing the waste your company generates. Here are five workflows that can make your small business more environmentally friendly.

1. Incorporate Sustainability into Your Vendor Selection Workflow

Reviewing vendor contracts on a regular basis is smart to begin with. While it’s good to have strong, long-lasting vendor relationships, it’s also good to know all your options. Therefore, when it’s time to review vendor contracts, or when it’s time to establish a new vendor contract, ensuring that consideration of the vendor’s sustainability is factored into your choice is an excellent way to reduce your company’s environmental footprint. When you put out requests for proposals or otherwise solicit vendors, make it a point to learn about their sustainability practices before choosing.

2. Ramp Up Digital Advertising

Print advertising may not be dead, but digital advertising is thriving, particularly mobile advertising. People tend to have their phones within reach at any time of the day or night, and if your business isn’t taking advantage of powerful social media and digital advertising as part of your overall marketing strategy you could be missing out on a lot of sales. Just as you review vendor contracts regularly, you should review your marketing strategy and workflows regularly. Some of the newer advertising platforms (like Instagram advertising) are astonishingly powerful and cost-effective, using far less in terms of resources than reaching a comparable number of people through print.

3. Encourage “Green” Commuting and Work Practices

When your business workflows are available on your company network, you open up possibilities of workers telecommuting. Studies have shown that working from home does not lead to slacking, and having employees telecommute just one day per week can significantly cut down on the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere. If telecommuting isn’t possible for your business, consider adding helpful workflows, such as an app that helps people connect with people in their part of town for carpooling, or that helps employees learn their public transportation options for commuting as an alternative to driving themselves.

Workflow software

Online workflows can make telecommuting a possibility for your employees.

4. Make It Easy for Employees to Recycle

Don’t keep recycling bins in an out-of-the-way corner, or people won’t use them. Put aluminum recycling bins in the break room and paper recycling bins next to the printer and copier. Provide paper recycling bins for the offices of people whose work requires a lot of paper use. You could even have fun monthly contests that reward environmental responsibility. People who regularly recycle could have their names put into a hat for a prize drawing or the department that recycles the most aluminum cans this quarter could be rewarded with a pizza luncheon.

5. Focus on the “Reduce” in “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle”

We’ve all heard the phrase “Reduce, reuse, recycle” as a prompt toward more planet-friendly behavior. While all of these actions are good, some have more impact than others. Specifically, reducing resource use in the first place has a greater effect than using resources, then having to find ways to reuse or recycle them. Workflow software that eliminates paper from your business processes is a fantastic way to reduce resource use. Any time you use form software to create an electronic version of a paper form you cut down on the physical resources required to accomplish tasks.

PerfectForms is more than form software. It’s comprehensive form and workflow software that can be one of your best allies in making your business more environmentally responsible. Creating pixel-perfect electronic forms and online workflows with PerfectForms doesn’t require programming because you can drag and drop essential elements into place. PerfectForms is mobile-friendly for your employees on the go, and it’s one of the best investments you can make if you want to reduce the physical resources your company relies on. Best of all, you can test drive PerfectForms for free by signing up for a trial. Check it out and see how the right workflow software can make your company friendlier to our planet.

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