4 Common Workflow Automation Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

Thursday, January 17th, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

If you’re new to workflow automation, you may be eager to get started as soon as possible.

The right workflow software will help you get to work quickly, but even so, a little planning is wise. Most organizations start by automating a simple work process, trying it out, maybe fine-tuning it a bit, and then moving on to automating other processes.

Organizations that have used automated workflows for a while have the benefit of hindsight, of knowing when great workflow intentions can go astray. Here are four of the most common workflow automation pitfalls. They’re easily avoidable, and they can help you get your workflow automation right the first time.

1. Too Many Notifications

One of the best things about good workflow software is that it allows you to create workflows that notify users of status changes and completion of workflow steps. It can be all too tempting to create notifications at every step, and for every workflow user. The problem is, once the workflow is in regular use, users of it may be inundated with notifications and reminders. Coping with a flood of workflow notifications usually means ignoring them, which can mean ignoring a single notification that matters along with all the others. Try to build in notifications and reminders only where they matter, and only for people who need to see them.

2. Prevention of Manual Error Manipulation

Suppose your input into a workflow isn’t needed until a few steps into the process, but you notice that someone before you has made a mistake. Maybe they obviously put a decimal point in the wrong place. Yet you can’t do anything about it except petition someone to start the workflow over, or let the workflow run to its conclusion with the error intact. Neither of these is ideal. It would be better if authorized users could fix obvious errors then and there, so the workflow can continue correctly. You need checks and balances to make sure people don’t change entries maliciously, but this can be done through specific user authorizations and other security measures.

3. No Transparency into Workflow Status

Automated workflows are wonderful in that some information goes in and something with added value comes out. But that’s not to say that workflows should be “black boxes” with mysterious inner workings. Being able to check up on workflow status is important. You need to know, for example, that your expense reimbursement form is awaiting the department head’s approval before payroll can cut you a check. Workflows should offer enough transparency that authorized users can assess workflow status easily and know at a glance whether things are moving ahead as expected, or whether something has gone wrong.

4. Lack of Documentation

The person responsible for automating a workflow should also be responsible for documenting it. How does it work? What does each step do? Why are the steps in a certain order? This information should be shared with workflow users and other authorized personnel. Otherwise, if the person who designed the workflow leaves the company or is out on vacation, problems can be much harder to fix than anticipated. If someone retires or otherwise leaves, you don’t want to be in a position of having to re-create the workflow due to lack of information about how the workflow they designed operates. 

PerfectForms is workflow software that allows you tremendous flexibility and power for creating a nearly unlimited range of automated workflows. It also requires no programming, and allows for automatic notifications, visibility, transparency, authorized error correction, and mobile friendliness. PerfectForms also has powerful reporting capability so you can measure and track the outcomes of your automated workflows. We encourage you to watch the demo video and see for yourself how easy it can be to create sleek, well-documented, automated workflows that take efficiency to a higher level. 

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Don’t Listen to These Myths About Online Forms and Automated Workflows

Wednesday, January 16th, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

Online forms and automated workflows are standard business practice today, but that doesn’t mean that everyone uses them.

Particularly with smaller businesses, it can be hard to see why the effort to overhaul how business processes are completed would be worthwhile. But rest assured: automating processes and converting paper forms to online forms offers benefits that are hard to envision until you’ve tried it.

Myths about workflow automation still abound, and that’s too bad because it’s hard to think of a business that wouldn’t benefit from it. Here are several lingering myths about online forms and automated workflows, along with exactly why you shouldn’t believe them. 

Automating Workflows Is Too Expensive

There was a time when this was true. Before cloud computing became normal, companies that wanted to automate workflows had no choice but to install workflow software on their own IT infrastructure. This was both time-consuming and expensive – particularly if IT upgrades were necessary.

Today, however, the cloud makes it easy for businesses of every size to access workflow software without the need for on-premises servers and their upkeep. The cloud also makes it easy to scale workflow software up as a business grows, minimizing disruption.

Only Big Businesses Need to Automate Workflows

On the contrary, smaller businesses probably have the most to gain from online forms and automated workflows. Smaller businesses find it easier to be agile and respond to market and customer needs quickly, and automated workflows help them do this. Customers generally like working with smaller businesses because there are fewer layers of management and bureaucracy to penetrate to get the services they want. And when those smaller businesses operate efficiently and quickly, they can command the kind of loyalty that huge enterprises can’t always match.

We’ll Lose Visibility Over Processes if We Automate Them

Automated workflows shouldn’t be regarded as black boxes. Workflows designed so that authorized users can assess status at any time actually increase workflow visibility. In the old days, finding out the status of a workflow involved tracking people down, playing phone tag, asking questions, and hoping for a timely answer. With automated workflows, however, assessing workflow status is largely a matter of logging into the process and checking instantly. Rather than spending most of an afternoon finding out whether a purchase order has been approved, an authorized workflow user can pinpoint the exact status of a workflow in an instant. 

Automating Workflows Is Too Hard

Automating workflows used to be hard, because it used to require programming, and extensive back-and-forth between programmers and workflow users. That is no longer the case, however. Today you can access cloud-hosted workflow software that does not require programming due to advanced user-interface design. 

One of the main benefits of today’s workflow software is not only that it’s easy to use, but that the ease of use makes it more practical for workflow users to assist with design. When the end-users of a workflow have input into how a workflow is designed, it can address needs far better.

One other great benefit of easy-to-use workflow software is that getting workflows designed, tested, and in use is a much faster process than it used to be. The result is less disruption in the workplace, along with a swift, positive return on investment. 

PerfectForms is workflow software that has been used by very small businesses, big enterprises, and everything in between. It can be either cloud-hosted or run on-premises, and it allows creation of custom online forms and automated workflows without the need for programming. 

PerfectForms’ drag-and-drop interface means that workflow end-users can have more influence over workflow design, and that the time from concept to daily use can be far shorter than it used to be. Did you know you can try PerfectForms for free? Simply sign up for a trial and you can see for yourself why the old myths surrounding online forms and automated workflows no longer apply. 

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Make Workflows Better by Integrating Video Conferencing

Wednesday, January 9th, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

Make no mistake: automated workflows can revolutionize business efficiency. But we have all experienced situations where a workflow comes to a halt because specific human input is needed.

Confused man in front of arrows

Sometimes a workflow can’t proceed until you have human, face-to-face interaction to clear something up.

By analyzing and pinpointing exactly where work tends to come to a halt in a process, teams can preemptively insert process steps that address the situation. One popular way of doing so is by adding videoconferencing to automated workflows. This can prevent the type of workflow stoppage that happens because a key team member is out of town, or because everyone’s waiting on a scheduled meeting to happen.

Videoconferencing is no longer expensive and no longer requires sophisticated equipment, and in many organizations, it is beginning to overtake voice-only communication. 

Videoconferencing as a Workflow Element

Videoconferencing doesn’t have to be a mandatory element of a workflow. It can be inserted at key points in a workflow as an option. Sometimes a brief videoconference can bypass the roadblocks and obstacles in a workflow far more efficiently than a series of phone calls or emails can. Ideally, the videoconferencing technologies used as part of workflows is simple to use, and allows people to participate using their mobile devices. This is becoming easier even with consumer-level technology, with one example being Apple’s release of an update that will allow up to 32 people on a FaceTime call.

The “Huddle Room”

Many organizations have had success in designating a small, private meeting area (capable of accommodating around half-a-dozen people) as a “huddle room.” In such a room, small groups can participate in quickly scheduled, brief video conferences for the purpose of moving a workflow along. 

Suppose a new client wants to offer input into a piece of content or marketing collateral. A huddle room is an ideal place to schedule a brief videoconference where stakeholders can get direct feedback on a draft copy, sharing screens and talking face to face. All this can take place in far less time than it would take for draft copies to be routed to individuals, evaluated, and sent back with suggestions.

Video conference

“Huddle rooms” dedicated to brief, small-group videoconferencing, can be designated specifically for meetings that move workflows forward.

Set Goals, Benchmark, and Reevaluate

The keys to succeeding with videoconferencing as a workflow element are the same as they are for workflows in general. Step one is to set goals. What specifically do you want to be able to accomplish using videoconferencing, and in which workflows? Next, it’s important to benchmark current procedures. How much time does a typical workflow take from initiation to completion? How might videoconferencing shorten that time? 

Finally, after videoconferencing has been introduced as a workflow element, it’s important to reassess: does it save time? How much time does it save? How much productivity does it add? This measure should be done only after videoconferencing has been used as a workflow element several times, to control for potential tech-related issues that will almost inevitably crop up the first couple of times you try it.

Online forms and automated workflows can tackle an almost limitless number of business processes. Yet business is still a human endeavor, and real-life, human input sometimes can’t be captured on a form. By introducing videoconferencing as an optional workflow element, organizations provide a convenient, efficient way of surmounting workflow obstacles and maintaining the many benefits of workflow automation.

PerfectForms is workflow software that allows creation of customized online forms and workflows without programming. Adding an optional element for temporarily stepping out of the workflow to consult with clients or other stakeholders by videoconference is easy, and helps keep workflows on track. If workflow automation (or better workflow automation) is a goal for your organization, we encourage you to watch the PerfectForms demo video. It only takes a minute, and you’re sure to be inspired for ways your organization can put automated workflows into service and reap the efficiency and cost-saving benefits. 

Virtual Audits: A Great Reason to Automate Workflows

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

Few words strike fear into the heart of the average person like the word “audit” does. 

Man working on a laptop appearing surprised

Audits are specifically designed to scrutinize and pass judgment. It’s no wonder they’re so stressful!

The average person probably thinks of IRS audits first, and the upheaval, uncertainty, and stress that such an audit can cause. Whatever type of audit is being done, it’s disconcerting, because it is done to prove that you have done what you promised, and who has never slipped up on a commitment?

The good news is that many types of business audits no longer have to be done in person. Cloud technology has made it so that many audits can be done from the offices of the auditor. And even in cases where some on-site, in-person action takes place, it may only be for a small subset of the overall audit process. It’s easier on everyone and there’s no loss in accuracy with audits done remotely.

Many Accounting Audits Are Now Done Remotely

The SEC requires that publicly held companies regularly have their financial statements examined by auditors, who ensure that each company’s books are accurate, complete, and truthful. These audits also test companies’ “controls,” or measures taken to keep accounting errors to a minimum and prevent fraudulent bookkeeping.

Accounting firms that do these audits remotely are no longer considered “bleeding edge,” and many firms are realizing the benefits of doing remote audits wherever possible. For the auditor, it’s more cost-efficient and time-efficient, reducing travel and the costs associated with it. For clients, it’s obviously less stressful to gather and present documents electronically than it is to host a crew of auditors on-site.

Other Types of Audits That Don’t Have to Be Done Manually

Software license audits are less of an issue for companies that use cloud-hosted software (where compliance is built into the subscription process), but companies with major on-site IT infrastructure still face software license audits for software installed on the premises. 

Software license audits are revenue generators for companies like Microsoft, since customers bear the cost if they are not found to be in compliance. But even these audits can be done through customer self-assessments, which can be done quickly by companies with strong IT workflows that record information of interest to auditors.

Man in a server room with a laptop

Software license audits can be made less stressful through automated workflows that record relevant software license data.

Some portions of other types of audits, such as PCI audits (for merchants that process credit card transactions) and HIPAA audits (for healthcare entities that handle private patient data) can now be done remotely, which is faster, more cost-effective, and easier for all parties involved.

Why It’s Smart to Create Workflows That Generate Audit Trails Regardless

Automated workflows that include steps for recording and storing auditable data make sense even if the risk of external audit is low. One reason is that many companies have strict internal audit practices, and automated workflows that generate, store, and report on the information that may be audited save massive amounts of time and stress.

Another reason for creating automated workflows that collect and store certain types of information is the possibility of insider malfeasance. Workflows can be limited to authorized personnel, and when someone accesses a sensitive workflow, their presence in the workflow, including when they logged into the workflow, what steps they accessed, and when they logged out can all be recorded. This can be invaluable when personnel have access to company secrets or other sensitive or particularly valuable data.

Automated workflows that improve audit readiness require workflow software that is up to the task. PerfectForms is workflow software that allows you to create customized automated workflows without programming. It interfaces with databases, spreadsheets, and other office systems so that data can be shared easily among authorized users without duplication of effort. If you’re interested in delving deeper into the possibilities enabled by powerful workflow software like PerfectForms, we invite you to browse through our training videos, where you’ll see how powerful and easy-to-use PerfectForms is.

How Strong Workflows Help You Synchronize and Streamline Data

Thursday, December 27th, 2018 by PerfectForms Editors

Have you ever stopped to consider just how valuable the data collected by your business is?

Data charts

Correctly managed, high-quality data can be thought of almost as an invisible employee, adding value to your business.

In the Information Age, data can be a major company asset, and should be treated as such. Small, non-technical businesses collect data – even if that data is only “collected” in the brains of the people running the company. A florist, for example, eventually comes to learn what times of year orders are heaviest, what arrangements repeat customers tend to want, and the most efficient route for making deliveries on a given day.

Every business should understand the value of the data it collects and make the most of it. That requires that data be “clean” and of high quality, and automated workflows can be ideal for helping collect and manage it. 

Prioritized Workflows with Categorized Data

Once you know what data is of most value to your business, you can prioritize workflows that deal with that data. These workflows should be analyzed thoroughly and updated as necessary, ensuring the data taken in is of the highest quality, and that the data created by the workflow is routed to the right people and stored in ways that make it most useful.

Excellent workflow software is necessary for this task. Workflows may be static for a while, but over time, they have to change to accommodate new customer and client needs, new regulations, reporting requirements, and other necessities. With the right workflow software, you always have the ability to manage your data to your best advantage.

Workflows Specifically for Managing Data

Workflows specifically for managing data can also be valuable. The simplest example of this would be a periodic (once daily or once weekly, say) workflow for backing up data. Nobody likes having to stop what they’re doing to perform a system backup, but a workflow designed to make it easy and efficient can help personnel develop the habit of doing so. Then, in the event of a hard drive crash, natural disaster, or physical move of premises, there’s no question that the data is right there, uncompromised. Data management workflows can prevent many major headaches.

Data backup displayed on a laptop

A simple workflow for regular data backup can prevent countless problems for your business.

Reporting Capabilities in Workflow Software Essential

One of the best data management tools available to many businesses is the reporting features of their workflow software. Reporting capabilities allow you to collect data from workflows, analyze the data, and report on it. These reports often contain valuable insights that help you run your business better.

For example, if your workflow software reporting feature is used to gather and analyze data on customer location, the reports you generate can show you how your customer base in a specific geographic region develops over time. Such information can prompt you to make other changes, like opening a physical office there, or adapting your marketing strategy to target people in that geographic area. The uses for reporting are virtually limitless, and if you’re not taking advantage, you could be missing out in essential insights.

PerfectForms is workflow software that requires no programming. With its drag-and-drop interface, you can create workflows that collect, generate, and manage data, maximizing its business value. And since PerfectForms is so easy to use, the people who actually use the workflows can give their feedback and suggestions and even help develop workflows so that they’re optimized for end-users. 

PerfectForms also comes with powerful reporting capabilities, so you can easily put workflow data into service, generating insights that are data-driven, so there is far less guesswork about how to optimize day-to-day operations and make the business grow. We encourage you to read some of our many case studies, so you can see how automated workflows help businesses across a wide range of industries collect, analyze, manage, and gain maximum insight from the data they use every day.

How Mobile Capture Can Accelerate Back-Office Workflows

Wednesday, December 26th, 2018 by PerfectForms Editors

In 2018, mobile penetration in the United States reached 85%, with smartphones being the overall preferred mobile device. 

Businesswoman with cell phone

People use their phones all the time. Why not allow them to get their work done more efficiently by using them?

With the average American viewing their smartphone 52 times per day, it’s easy to see how thoroughly mobile connectivity has been integrated with ordinary life. All this mobility makes it easier for businesses to not only have remote employees, but also for businesses to make better use of employee time. Add cloud technologies to the mix, and you open up nearly infinite possibilities for employees to use their time off-site, in-transit, or working remotely with maximum effectiveness and efficiency.

One way that businesses take advantage is through mobile-friendly workflows. Electronic workflows are great – far better than manual, paper-based workflows. But why require employees to be at their desk in front of their computer before completing certain workflows? The technology exists that allows them to do it off-site or even in transit.

Mobile Capture in the Trucking Industry

The trucking industry involves a lot of real and virtual paperwork, and of course, truckers spend significant time on the road or at remote delivery sites. There are now workflows that allow truckers to, for example, take photos with their smartphone of important documents like bills of lading and submit them instantly. When this happens, the images are integrated into back-office practices in real time. 

The key is development of automated workflows that allow capture of documents, routing of the captured image, categorization of the document, and automatic insertion into various back-office processes. When an image is received at the home office, an instant notification can then be sent back to the driver as confirmation.

Mobile Capture for Expense Reimbursement

Employees who incur expenses while on travel or working off-site can capture individual receipts using their smartphone cameras and then submit them immediately into their company’s expense reimbursement workflow. In some countries, such electronic formats are even accepted by tax authorities as proof of transactions, eliminating the need for keeping the paper originals. 

Office man with paper recycling bin

There are many better places for paper receipts than taking up space in file cabinets.

Simple automated workflow rules for things like whether the merchant name is recognizable, and whether contrast and brightness are acceptable can either notify the sender to make and submit another image, or process the image to compensate for poor lighting or other easy-to-fix image problems.

Other Possible Mobile Capture Uses

Small, local businesses that don’t have access to the sophisticated mobile capture infrastructure used by big players like UPS can nonetheless develop automated workflows that cater to workers in the field. Suppose a business offers local delivery. Mobile capture could allow the delivery person to easily note the time when a delivery is made, and the precise location of the delivery.

News and media companies can develop simple workflows for field reporters so that when an image is captured in the field, it is immediately sent back and incorporated into a publishing workflow. A driver sent to pick up supplies can photograph a receipt and send it back to the home office for accounting purposes and to estimate when the driver will be back, or at the next stop on their route.

PerfectForms allows businesses in every industry to create sleek, sophisticated automated workflows, including workflows used by employees with mobile devices. This allows greater flexibility in the completion of back-office processes because it can eliminate the need for workers to be at their desks in order to use automated workflows. 

Moreover, PerfectForms is user-friendly workflow software, with a drag-and-drop interface that requires no programming. Read through some of our many case studies and see how PerfectForms has saved companies, nonprofits, and government organizations significant amounts of money due to increased efficiency and productivity. Your business could be experiencing the same!

Just Starting with Automated Workflows? Do These Workflows First.

Thursday, December 20th, 2018 by PerfectForms Editors

Maybe you have recently discovered the benefits of online forms, or can see the clear benefits of automating frequently-used business practices. Perhaps you have workflow software or are ready to buy. But how do you get started?

Man in front of a laptop appearing undecided

Workflow software offers nearly limitless options. How do you know what to tackle first?

While it can be tempting to want to automate everything as quickly as possible so you can start reaping the benefits right away, in reality you’re better off choosing a particular workflow to automate as a pilot project. That way you can learn what works, where there might be problems or push-back, and how to refine an automated workflow before taking it live. 

Once you launch that first automated workflow and work out any unexpected problems, you’re in a much stronger position for tackling another one. With each subsequent automated process, your confidence and experience grow, making automation less daunting and quicker to implement. If you’re ready to get started, here are a few simple and popular workflows you might consider starting with. 

Registration

Does your organization include registration, whether of students, patients, or new customers? If so, automating registration can be a real time-saver and make the customer-facing side of your operation appear infinitely more competent and polished. 

It starts with creating an online registration form, with clear labels for each field the user must complete. Once the user finishes filling out the online form, the data from it can be automatically routed to the places where it is needed, such as your customer database and your emailing list. 

Employee Onboarding / Offboarding

The importance of having a complete, consistent process for bringing new employees onboard and processing departing employees cannot be overstated. Mistakes can be costly, and relying on paper forms slows things down needlessly. With a workflow for onboarding new employees, a new hire can enter relevant information once and the workflow can route the information to multiple forms or databases, eliminating duplication of effort. 

An automated workflow for out-processing employees who are leaving ensures everyone’s obligations are fulfilled, all company equipment is returned, and company network credentials are automatically revoked, so the process is clean and ensures the security of all parties.

Reimbursement Requests

Pile of receipts

Piles of paper receipts aren’t needed by automated reimbursement workflows.

An automated workflow for reimbursement of employees after traveling on business or after making a purchase for the company with their own money ensures speed and accuracy. Receipts can be submitted electronically, with employees scanning or photographing receipts rather than stapling them all together and submitting them. Once an employee submits the proper documentation, the information is routed to the approving authorities, who can then review the request, ask for clarification, or forward it to the person responsible for issuing checks or electronic reimbursement. Records create and store themselves, and employees receive their reimbursement faster.

Maintenance Requests

Even if your “maintenance department” consists of one person, an automated workflow for maintenance requests will save time and money. Playing “phone tag” and using sticky notes to keep up with maintenance requests is slow and error-prone, and an automated workflow does away with those problems. 

Employees with maintenance requests can submit their requests online, and the resulting time- and date-stamped requests automatically go to the responsible party, who can them attend to them in priority order. Such a workflow may also include a form that maintenance workers can use to account for purchases of supplies and time spent making repairs.

Paid Time Off Scheduling

A simple paid time off workflow begins with an employee submitting an online time off request form to their manager. The manager then reviews the request, approving or rejecting it. If the request is rejected, the form is sent back to the requestor with an explanation or a request for further information. If the request is approved, the form is forwarded to HR, where the responsible party enters the vacation days into the system. Such a workflow is infinitely more efficient and accurate than a system based on written or verbal time-off requests.

With workflow software like PerfectForms, you have nearly infinite scope for creating automated workflows like the ones described above. And once you automate one workflow, you’re sure to think of other great ways you can put automation to work for your organization. For more inspiration on how automated workflows can transform your business,  we invite you to read through some of our many case studies.

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Top BPM Trends to Watch for in 2019

Tuesday, December 18th, 2018 by PerfectForms Editors

No one expects the pace of business to slack off in 2019.

Employees in an open office

Excellent processes are necessary to step up to the challenges of a busy, fast-paced new year.

The fast pace of business has made agility a key business asset, and to be agile, a company must have excellent processes. Business process management (BPM) is how many of them streamline and automate processes – particularly back-office processes that allow more people to spend more time on core business objectives. 

Outstanding BPM software is the key to innovating processes in 2019 and beyond. Here are five top BPM trends you can expect to see in the coming year.

1. BPM for Customer Service

Customer service has become an increasingly important differentiator, and companies are beginning to realize that they can’t solve customer problems effectively and efficiently if employees are faced with roadblocks when they try to handle customer service tasks. With BPM software streamlining the back end of customer services, employees are empowered to work smarter and be more responsive to customers. The end result should be a more loyal and enthusiastic customer base.

2. Increased Role of Digital Process Automation

Ordinary digital workflows automate many parts of business processes, but digital process automation (DPA) elevates automation to a new level. Repetitive, rules-driven business processes that do not require human intervention are processes that are ripe for DPA. Robotics are not the only route to DPA, but you can expect robotic machines to play an increasingly evident role in BPA in 2019.

3. Apps and Mobile Continue to Increase in Importance

Ordinary automated workflows free employees from the drudgery of things like filling out forms by hand and hand-delivering them to their intended recipients (or relying on intra-office mail to do so). BPM ascends to a greater level of functioning by adding mobility to the mix. Fewer employees spend their entire workday behind a desk, and mobile friendly, app-powered BPM ensures that they can offer their input from phones and tablets, even if they’re working off-site.

Man using a tablet

Mobility makes automated processes faster and more convenient, helping businesses remain agile.

4. Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things

With artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT), sensors and logic enter business process automation. As just one example, temperature sensors attached to workspaces or products can be used to automatically record data as products are processed, or as workspaces are used to accomplish tasks. A product that for whatever reason exceeds the safe temperature range can be automatically routed out of the process, while supervisors can be notified to check and correct conditions as necessary.

5. Analytics to Drive Process Action

BPM often generates extensive amounts of data that can be used to further fine-tune processes and to influence other processes. Proprietary data is an extraordinarily valuable business asset, and BPM not only helps businesses collect and analyze it, but also turn it into actionable information that can drive or improve processes. BPM software that includes reporting capabilities already uses process data to inform and drive improvements, and companies should take full advantage. 

Without outstanding BPM software powering processes, it’s hard to take advantage of the many adjunct technologies that are poised to improve business processes in 2019. PerfectForms is BPM software with a unique drag-and-drop interface that allows you to create and automate business processes without programming. PerfectForms integrates with spreadsheets, databases, Salesforce CRM, and other office systems, so putting BPM to work is straightforward and delivers a swift ROI. 

Best of all, you can test drive PerfectForms for free by signing up for a trial. What better time than the new year to resolve to improve and automate business processes so your daily operations deliver maximum performance?

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How Online Forms and Workflows Help You Focus on Core Competencies

Thursday, December 13th, 2018 by PerfectForms Editors

When your business hires a professional specialist such as a nurse, engineer, designer, or analyst, you want them to spend the bulk of their time doing tasks related to their role, not doing paperwork.

Architect with plans and laptop

Don’t make your specialists spend excessive time on clunky, paper-based bureaucratic processes. 

While it’s probably impossible to eliminate bureaucracy and still maintain the records necessary to successfully and legally run a business, it’s certainly possible to streamline and automate processes to keep time spent on them to only what is necessary. 

Online forms and automated workflows are the keys to ensuring that necessary recordkeeping and accounting of time and resources are done thoroughly, but efficiently. Taking the time to automate and streamline workflows ensures not only a cleaner, leaner operation, but that your employees can focus more fully on putting their unique skills to use. 

Here are some of the ways online forms and workflows help your business focus on core competencies.

By Ensuring Consistency

When you create an automated workflow for, say, creating a purchase order, you ensure that whoever starts the process will complete all necessary steps, in the right order. That means that the person who approves the process will always have a consistent set of information to consider. 

Furthermore, automated workflows ensure that every user knows exactly what is expected so that over time, they’re able to do their part of the workflow with increasing efficiency, benefiting everyone.

By Minimizing Error-Tracing

Online forms can be designed to minimize input errors and ensure that exceptional situations are handled consistently. Suppose that purchase orders over $1,000 require departmental approval before final approval can be granted. When someone submits a purchase order over that amount, the form can flag it and trigger an automatic sub-process that sends the information to the department head for approval before it rejoins the workflow for further processing. What’s more, online forms themselves reduce errors due to poor handwriting or mistakes in transferring handwritten information into spreadsheets or databases. 

Woman at a desk with a pile of binders

Finding, tracing, and correcting errors with paper processes wastes time that could be better spent on other tasks. 

By Creating an Audit Trail

Few things disrupt business operations like an audit. Fortunately, you can create automated workflows that add time and date stamps to process steps, ensuring you always have an accurate and complete record that all necessary steps in a process were completed. You can also design automated workflows so that only authorized users can access them, and so that their participation in the workflow is automatically recorded. That way if an audit does occur, there’s no frenetic scrambling to collect records and proof, because it’s all already there. 

By Eliminating Paper Shuffling

Finally, online forms and automated workflows eliminate one inefficiency that plagued businesses for generations: paper handling. Online forms won’t be lost, damaged, or coffee-stained, and they won’t disappear under a pile of mail on someone’s desk. There’s no taking completed papers to someone’s office for signatures, or accidentally leaving originals on the copy machine. The elimination of physical paperwork alone represents a tremendous efficiency gain on the part of most businesses. 

PerfectForms is online form and workflow software that is user-friendly, powerful, flexible, and that requires no programming. The drag-and-drop interface ensures that the people who actually use the forms and workflows can have influence in their design, which is valuable because these are the people who know where the bottlenecks can occur, and which steps need to occur in which order. 

If you’re ready to maximize time spent on core business competencies and reduce the time and resources required to handle necessary business processes, we invite you to watch the PerfectForms demo video. It only takes a minute, and you’ll see for yourself how online forms and automated workflows can transform day-to-day business operations.

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Revamping Online Forms for 2019? Consider These Trends.

Tuesday, December 11th, 2018 by PerfectForms Editors

Online forms must function perfectly, or else they can actually slow down business processes.

Unfortunately, we’ve all dealt with malfunctioning, slow, or just plain ugly online forms.

But once you have your online forms working flawlessly, are their aesthetics important? While not strictly necessary, good looks put form users at ease and make the experience of completing them more pleasant. For most businesses this is a worthwhile aim whether the online forms are used internally by employees, or externally by customers. 

A new year is a popular time for making changes, and many companies may choose to reevaluate or upgrade their online forms at the start of a new year. For customer-facing forms in particular, periodically revisiting forms to make sure they collect what is necessary, route data correctly, and look appealing to users is a good idea. If you’re considering a makeover for your online forms in 2019, here are some web design trends to consider. 

Bright Colors and Pastels

One of the best things about online forms is that they don’t have to be as dull as the paper forms of old. Websites are crucial marketing tools, and keeping a website appealing and fresh often requires making changes. Bright colors and pastels have been on-trend for a few years now, as people realize they don’t have to give up aesthetics for function.

Even if your web properties are designed with your company colors and logos as constants, a talented web designer can show you how to skillfully incorporate energetic brights and pastels into your online form designs to freshen up the look and make pages more memorable.

Imagery with Organic Shapes

Custom illustration is becoming a differentiator of sorts, helping websites and the forms on them stand out from those built without imagery, or with dull imagery. Illustrations that are created by hand add a note of authenticity to web form designs, and organic, natural-looking illustrations offer web users a break from what they see everywhere else on the web. 

There’s no reason why online forms have to be “all business.”

A great online form typically has plenty of blank space to make it easy on the eyes, and the addition of “organic” illustrations, without taking away too much of the blank space, can boost aesthetics while setting your online forms apart from everyone else’s.

Bold Typography

There is simply no excuse for online forms that are hard to read. Sure, there are plenty of fancy fonts that aren’t necessarily designed to be easy to read, but among easy-to-read fonts, you still have plenty of scope for creativity. Bold typography conveys a sense of confidence and transparency, that you have conviction and believe in the message. 

But what if your brand is based on a “natural,” or “artistic” style? No worries. There are plenty of bold fonts that convey these attributes while still being clear and easy to read. If you’re not sure what to pick, a professional web designer will know how to steer you in the right direction, and it can be money well spent if it brings in more traffic to your site.

Outstanding Function Will Never Go Out of Style

One thing you can’t forget with your online forms is that they must work correctly every time. PerfectForms is form software that empowers you to create custom online forms with drag-and-drop convenience. It’s great for both internal and customer-facing forms, and you have an almost endless scope for customizing them to suit end-user needs. 

What’s more, PerfectForms is mobile-friendly and interfaces easily with databases, spreadsheets, and other office systems that power your business. If creating beautiful, perfectly functional online forms with easy-to-user form software appeals to you, PerfectForms invites you to watch the demo video. You’re sure to be inspired as to new ways online forms can help make 2019 your best year ever.

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