Partnering Tradition and High-Tech: Online Forms in Agriculture

Thursday, February 21st, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

Agriculture is a hands-on industry, but it interfaces with many other industries as well as with government agencies.

Sheep farmer

High-technology ensures the hard work done on farms serves people efficiently.

Nobody has time for cumbersome bureaucracy, especially the farmer whose days are filled with the countless tasks and processes involved with operating a farm. Online forms have taken some of the burden off of agricultural professionals by eliminating paper, pens, calculators, and stamps, and the agencies that use the data collected from farmers benefit as well.

Perhaps the uses of online forms in agriculture can inspire you with ideas about how they can be used in your organization as well.

Online Surveys and Censuses: Faster, More Accurate

Ireland conducts an annual census of sheep and goats, and completion of the census each year helps ensure farmers are eligible for various government programs and payments, such as a national Sheep Welfare Scheme and other agricultural programs.

Completing such a census by hand is time-consuming for both the farmer and the agencies supporting them. What’s more, old-fashioned census forms generate significant paper waste, and cause agency workers to have to enter data by hand into their databases. Online forms are faster, more accurate, and more planet-friendly.

Mobile-Friendliness Makes Data Collection More Convenient

An increasing number of people access the web primarily through mobile devices, so it only makes sense that agricultural forms be mobile-friendly. Nobody wants to pinch and zoom pages or type long answers on mobile devices, so a big part of mobile-friendliness is ensuring that forms fit mobile device screens properly.

Additionally, the use of single-tap answers is preferable wherever possible, since typing out words on a tiny mobile screen is slow and painstaking. With the right form software, it’s possible to make forms that use multiple choice questions, allow users to choose ranges through drop-down menus, and otherwise minimize the need to type words into forms. This level of convenience helps ensure timely completion of mandatory forms.

Rural outdoor man using tablet

Surveys that only require single-tap answers make things far easier for survey participants.

Other Online Form Features That Improve User Experience

When forms are built with the right online form software, users who partially complete forms can save their progress and pick up where they left off next time, so they don’t endure the frustration of having to start over. Another feature to look for in online form software is capability for automation of basic arithmetic formulas. That way, the form user doesn’t have to enter a string of numbers and then manually do the math themselves, risking the introduction of errors. 

With online surveys and other forms, completion and successful submission can be reflected through a “Thank you” screen that reassures the user that their data has been entered properly and submitted to the right personnel. Some organizations offer incentives for prompt completion of online forms by putting names into a drawing for a prize when forms are completed by a certain date. There are countless ways that online forms can improve the experience for both form users and for those who collect and process form data. 

PerfectForms empowers users to create custom online forms that are mobile-friendly and aesthetically pleasing. More importantly, PerfectForms interfaces with other common office systems easily, so data collected from online forms is routed to exactly where it needs to go, with no human intervention necessary. And all of this can be done without programming, due to an intuitive, drag-and-drop interface.

PerfectForms is flexible enough to serve industries across the spectrum, from agriculture to e-commerce to insurance, education, and more. Did you know you can test drive PerfectForms for free? Sign up for a free trial and learn how easy it is to create online forms that get the job done in record time, with unmatched accuracy and utility.

Posted in Form Design | Comments Off on Partnering Tradition and High-Tech: Online Forms in Agriculture

How Virtual Reality Is Emerging as an Element of Automated Workflows

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

Virtual reality (VR) represents a “slow burn” disruption happening in the workplace. 

Headsets in office

Expect this to be a more common sight in the offices of the future.

While some companies regularly use VR technology now, it will probably be another three to five years before it becomes commonplace. We’re just now figuring out how to put VR to work, and new applications for it will undoubtedly emerge as everyone gets the hang of the technology. 

It is likely that VR will become elemental to many types of automated workflows as the technology matures. Some current VR applications make sense as part of automated workflows, particularly in the areas of training, 3-D viewing, and collaboration. 

VR in Training Programs

Perhaps the most obvious use for VR in automated workflows is in training. The very first flight simulator (an early form of VR) became available for sale back in 1929! These early designs gave way to more elaborate simulators costing millions of dollars that were used to train airline pilots as well as military pilots. And today, VR can make the experience more immersive than ever.

The range of application for VR in training workflows is potentially huge. Automated workflows could step trainees through processes like handling hazardous chemicals, learning how to use equipment, or even “practicing” surgical techniques. Safety training is predicted to be a major user of VR technology as well.

Using VR to Gain 3-D Views of Designs and Plans

Imagine designing a workshop, home interior, or store layout and being able to “walk” through it using a VR headset. This is fast becoming reality as virtual technology advances to where it can turn two-dimensional plans or blueprints into 3-D virtual spaces that can be visited with the aid of a headset. As the technology becomes more common and affordable, such 3-D “step-throughs” may become a part of automated workflows in architecture, interior design, and other professions concerned with the arrangement of space in three dimensions. 

Collaborative Spaces with VR

VR headset guy with globe

VR allows people from all over the world to meet in a single, virtual “room.”

Most companies already use video conferencing as a way to bring geographically dispersed teams together for meetings. Seeing everyone’s face and body language makes such remote meetings more informative and engaging than traditional conference calls. Virtual reality may take it a step further, creating virtual 3-D spaces that could take video conferencing into another dimension, bringing people together in a single virtual room from all over the world. 

Workflows Involving Customers and Consumer Testing

VR technology exists on some level in high-end clothing retailers’ dressing rooms, allowing people to virtually try on clothing. Consumer choice data from virtual dressing rooms could help retailers learn quickly which trends are catching on, and which are not worth investing in, potentially reducing waste while still giving consumers what they want. 

Potential applications for consumer testing are practically endless. Imagine designing a car and allowing consumers to virtually test drive it before the design is finalized. Or having customers customize their own bicycle design and then virtually “ride” it before placing an order to have it built. 

There are already a handful of companies offering VR solutions for the workplace, and you can expect many more to emerge in the coming five years or so. While inserting VR won’t be appropriate for all automated workflows, it is likely to be a smart addition to many of them.

Automated workflows, like those you can create with PerfectForms, power businesses in every industry, allowing consistency, efficiency, and collection of valuable data every day. With PerfectForms, you can create customized online forms and automated workflows for an endless range of applications, from HR to building maintenance to IT and more. 

Even without VR, automated workflows save businesses considerable time and money, raising revenues and streamlining operations. We invite you to look through some of the many PerfectForms case studies and see for yourself how automated workflows transform business operations. 

Why You Don’t Have to Rely on Your IT Team to Automate Workflows

Thursday, February 14th, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

Your IT team is perpetually busy.

Team of programmers

The typical IT department today can’t spare a programmer to help design and deploy automated workflows.

Today’s IT professionals in the enterprise spend their time and mental energy dealing with cloud infrastructure, big data, virtualization, energy efficiency, and interoperability. Or else they’re dealing with a server that has broken or a network that has inexplicably slowed down. Or perhaps they are preparing for a software license audit. One way and another, IT work and maintenance never stop and hardly ever slow down.

Rare is the IT team, even in the wealthiest of companies, that has the time and expertise to design, program, and deploy automated workflows. The good news is that this is no longer necessary for most businesses.

How It Used to Be Done

In the old days, automating a process, or automating steps of a workflow was a major undertaking. While the people involved in using the workflow may have helped sketch it out on paper and make suggestions, there was always some question as to whether the type and level of automation was possible for a given workflow.

Companies that had their own IT departments may have commandeered a programmer to work on the workflow automation project, while others would hire a programmer from outside on a contract basis. Only after programmers learned about the workflow could they determine if automation was possible, how practical or impractical it was, and how big and expensive an undertaking it would be. The end product may or may not have matched what workflow users envisioned. 

Why End-Users Are the Key to Great Automated Workflows

One of the best starting points for improving efficiency and productivity is asking the people who do the work what would make their work easier. Maybe they don’t want to type the same data into multiple spreadsheets or databases. Maybe they resent having to track down superiors to find out the status of a process. What if you could ask workflow end-users what would make their work easier, and then could implement those things without having to hire a programmer?

Hands drawing a flowchart

Workflow software should make it easy to translate ideas into solid, automated processes.

The closer workflow end-users are to the design and creation of automated workflows, the more closely the final workflow will live up to their expectations. Without the layer of opacity that even the most highly skilled programmer brings to the workflow automation process, end-users can gain control over how they do their work, and eliminate many inefficiencies and work-arounds.

The Right Workflow Software Makes It Possible

The key to creating workflows that deliver what end-users expect is having the right workflow software. Today you can use on-site or cloud hosted workflow software that does not require the services of a programmer.

User interface designs have evolved to where workflow elements can be created on a screen, dragged and dropped into place, and then connected into sleek, functional workflows. Practically, this allows workflow end-users to put their ideas into practice more quickly and easily. Workflows can be designed, created, tested, and deployed on a much tighter time scale, so ROI can be realized sooner.

PerfectForms is the workflow software you have been looking for if you want a powerful, flexible way to create automated workflows without having to hire a programmer. PerfectForms’ user interface is intuitive and easy to learn, allowing users to drag and drop workflow elements into place. Anything from the simplest form-completion workflow to the most complex workflow going across multiple departments is possible, and end-users can have a greater say in how those workflows are designed. The learning curve is easy, deployment is fast, and ROI shows up in record time.

PerfectForms invites you to browse through some of our many case studies, which cover a range of industries. Learn how taking the power of automated workflow design into your own hands can improve efficiency, boost productivity, save resources, and increase revenues.

Workflows Help Ensure Effective, Efficient In-House Recruiting

Wednesday, February 13th, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

The two main ways companies fill vacant job positions are partnering with a recruiting agency and doing recruiting in-house.

Interviewer shaking the hand of a employee candidate

In-house recruiting makes sense for many businesses. Automated workflows make it efficient.

In-house recruiting teams act as an extension of the HR department and may include people from multiple departments, including the departments with unfilled positions and often the company’s marketing department as well. Doing in-house recruiting effectively requires strong coordination, and automated workflows help this coordination take place. 

Advantages: United, Consistent Employer Branding Throughout

One of the main advantages of recruiting in-house rather than using an agency is control over the process. While agencies may be necessary for filling highly specialized positions (where candidates can be hard to find), in-house recruiting often works well for the majority of front-line employees. 

Another advantage of in-house recruiting is that the entire process can be imbued with employer branding elements. In other words, from the first time a potential applicant learns of the open position, they are also learning about the company itself, as well as its values and goals.

Sourcing and Selecting Candidates

Automated workflows for sourcing and selecting candidates must incorporate necessary advertising of open positions, as well as gathering information from interested parties, and receiving completed job applications. 

Coordinating these activities is more complex than many people expect. Posting job ads, for example, can change as the team discovers which job boards are most effective at reaching qualified candidates. Later, candidates who express interest can be funneled into the application system, and ones who actually fill out applications can be separated from those who don’t. Keeping key recruiting team members apprised of these developments is done more accurately and efficiently with automated workflows.

Applicant Tracking and Interview Scheduling

Once an applicant submits their application and other necessary materials, like their resumé, tracking them is critical. “Lost” applications can let great candidates slip through the cracks! Automated workflows can ensure that applications are processed, and can issue alerts when recruiting team members fail to act on a submitted application in a timely manner. 

Business man looking confused

Recruiting workflows can send out automated notifications
when nobody acts on submitted applications within a set time period.

Likewise, interview scheduling must be coordinated. Automated workflows can gather necessary information from both the applicant and the recruiting team to schedule interviews that work with both the interviewee’s and the recruiting team’s schedules.

Delivering Offers and Coordinating Onboarding Especially Important

It is the latter stages of the recruiting process that are perhaps most important: delivering offers and completing the onboarding process. Both of these can be accomplished through automated workflows that ensure that no steps are missed and no time is wasted. 

Once a workflow creates an offer based on input from the recruiting team, it can either deliver the offer via email or compose a formal offer letter that the leader of the recruiting team can deliver. Once a candidate accepts a job offer, the automated onboarding workflow can begin.

Excellence in the onboarding process is essential to keeping new employee turnover to a minimum. New employees, who are already anxious about their new job working out, can easily become disillusioned with a new employer if the onboarding process is disorganized or needlessly outdated. Automated onboarding is one key to getting new employees up to speed and part of the group as quickly as possible.

Doing recruiting in-house requires a strong recruiting team and workflows that support both the team and the job candidates. There is no place for disorganization or for processes that are needlessly cumbersome or manual when they can be automated. 

PerfectForms is workflow software that makes it easy to create the online forms and automated workflows you need to inspire and empower your in-house recruiting team to find, interview, and hire the best candidates for your open positions. 

With its no-programming interface, PerfectForms allows users to drag and drop elements in place, creating perfectly customized online forms and automated workflows that are uniquely tailored to their needs, and that incorporate their company branding elements at every step. Take a look at the PerfectForms demo video and learn how it can help you create the perfect in-house recruiting workflows, as well as workflows that streamline and accelerate a range of other business processes.

Posted in Form Design, Workflow | Comments Off on Workflows Help Ensure Effective, Efficient In-House Recruiting

How Workflows Help You Communicate Company Policy Effectively

Friday, February 8th, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

Workflow software

Workplace policies are about making sure everyone in the workforce is safe and understands their responsibilities and obligations. They are also about ensuring fairness in the workplace.

Many businesses are bound by laws and regulations, and it is mandatory that employees know about, read, and understand the policies that ensure all regulatory requirements are met. One way and the other, businesses must have a system in place to create and distribute their policies effectively and efficiently. Automated workflows can help.

Ensuring Everyone Is Notified of Policies in a Timely Manner

Thankfully, the days of placing a paper memo into each person’s departmental mailbox are over. Distributing policies and policy changes electronically makes infinitely more sense in terms of resources saved and errors prevented. 

Automated workflows can be created to email policy documents to affected workers all at once. They may even be able to interface with the email program to determine if and when the sent emails have been opened so that there is a record of each employee having received the document. 

Ensuring Everyone Has Read Policies

It’s not that hard to ensure everyone receives policy documents, but how can you be confident everyone has read them and understands them? One way is to include in policy emails a link for people to follow if they have a question or don’t understand something about a new policy. The link can go to an FAQ page, or open an online form in which employees can ask their questions and ensure they are sent to the right person to answer them.

Some companies ensure that employees have read policies by having them complete a short, simple quiz as proof. These, too, can be administered through a link in a policy email that goes to an electronic form. Once the user passes the quiz, they are marked as having received, read, and understood the policy.

Workflow software

But what about the people who ignore emails? Workflows can also be triggered to deal with those people. For important policies, your workflow could, for example, trigger a login action opening the reminder and form upon login and preventing them from continuing with their normal work until they demonstrate that they have read the policy.

“Triage” System for Policies and Policy Changes

With policies, you must be careful not to inundate employees. Obviously, some are more critical than others, and the most important ones are the ones that can be integrated with automated workflows ensuring employees read and understand them. The use of short quizzes can be reserved for these critical policy documents so as not to take up more employee time than necessary.

The problem with deluging employees with policy documents, and considering them equally critical, is that eventually employees will acknowledge them without reading or understanding them, just to get on with their day. Therefore, it’s important that you know when to use your policy distribution workflow and equally as important, when not to. 

The right workflow software will help you create policy workflows that make sense and that can be customized so that the right people receive the right policy documents at the right time. It will also automatically keep records of policies distributed, acknowledgements, and policy quiz results so they can be called up at any time, should a conflict, policy violation, or misunderstanding arise.

PerfectForms is the ideal workflow software for this and countless other business workflows. By allowing users to drag and drop workflow elements into place, PerfectForms eliminates the need for programming while helping users deploy useful, value-adding workflows as quickly as possible. We invite you to watch the PerfectForms demo video. It only takes a minute, and you’re sure to come away with ideas and inspiration about how you can put automated workflows into service to make your business run better. 

Workflow vs. Process: How Are They Different?

Thursday, February 7th, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

Workflow software

Every business has processes, whether or not they call them that. 

If you operate a florist service, you have processes for getting inventory in, processes for creating flower arrangements, and processes for delivering them to people. If you run a medical clinic, you have processes for registering new patients, performing and documenting exams, and for prescribing medications.

And while workflows are highly beneficial in just about every type of business, you don’t necessarily need workflows to carry out processes. You could tell your new floral arranger to create an arrangement using carnations, baby’s breath, and roses and leave them to their own devices. It may turn out well, or it may not. 

But if you have a workflow designed just for creating such an arrangement, you can be far more confident that the end product will look as it is supposed to and meet your quality criteria.

Processes Are Strategic

Processes are things you do in support of a business goal. Some examples of processes include

  • Onboarding a new employee
  • Delivering products to customers
  • Preparing and selling tacos
  • Designing electric motors
  • Providing custom clothing alterations

In other words, the processes you do are what your business is all about. Processes may be simple or complex, and they may be done well and consistently, or badly and inconsistently.

Workflows Are Tactical

Workflows are about how you get processes accomplished. Without a defined workflow, providing IT services may be a process based on phone calls and sticky notes with scribbled instructions. With an automated workflow, it is an orderly process based on an online request form, automated notifications, and electronic checklists documenting exactly what steps were taken, when, and why. 

Laptop computer with several yellow sticky notes.

Workflows define the sequences of steps that take place in a process, lay them out logically, and make the processes better, faster, and more consistent. They often involve automation of key steps in the process. Processes don’t have to have workflows (though most should), but workflows are always developed in support of a process.

One Workflow May Be Adapted to Address Multiple Processes

Workflows can also be adapted to multiple processes with only small changes. For example, a workflow designed for the process of delivering IT services can be modified slightly to work wonderfully when used for managing building maintenance services. Or a workflow for ensuring new company policies are read and understood can be modified to ensure that people complete mandatory training. 

Workflows are tools, in other words. The same tool (a hammer, say) can be used to drive in nails, or it can be used to pry quarter-round trim from baseboard. And every worker knows that having the right tools makes all the difference between work that is efficient and consistent and work that is haphazard and harder than it has to be.

The following table summarizes differences between workflows and processes. 

Designed for efficiently finishing tasksDesigned to meet business goals
Can apply to multiple processesA process typically has one associated workflow
Planned step by stepMay or may not be planned
Typically automated, at least in partMay or may not be automated
Workflows require processesProcesses don’t require workflows

Designing workflows to make processes faster, more efficient, and less wasteful does not have to be arduous. The right workflow software makes it easy and straightforward.

PerfectForms is workflow software that allows creation of automated workflows, complete with automatic routing, alerts, and built-in mobile-friendliness, all without programming. Workflow creators can drag and drop workflow elements into place, so it’s easy to create workflows, test them out, and then fine-tune them as needed before deployment. 

The power of good workflows is evident in terms of efficiency, productivity, and savings of time and money. PerfectForms invites you to read through some of our many case studies that show exactly how workflows can take processes and make them better, helping businesses be more competitive, less wasteful, and more profitable.

No-Code BPM: Don’t Think of It as ‘Less-Than’

Friday, February 1st, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

Blue sneakers.

There’s no such thing as “one size fits all” when it comes to business process management (BPM). 

Analyzing business processes from end to end involves knowing how each step connects to the next, making improvements, testing, and monitoring to ensure quality, consistency, and efficiency. These steps are done differently by different organizations. 

Likewise, the BPM software that makes sense for one company may be wrong for another. As BPM grows and specialized BPM niches break away, businesses have much to consider when choosing a BPM solution. One popular solution, especially among small and medium-sized businesses is what is known as “no-code BPM.” But don’t be fooled. “No-code” does not mean inferior or limited.

What Is No-Code BPM?

No-code BPM is done through BPM software that does not require software users to know how to program. It requires a user interface that is easy to grasp and allows the person or team creating the workflow to bring elements into place and connect them without writing programming code. 

As you might imagine, software that empowers no-code BPM is faster and easier to use. Consequently, companies that make good use of no-code BPM software can see a faster positive return on their investment. Frequently, these businesses are inspired to create BPM use cases that they may never have considered before.

Putting Creative Power in the Hands of Process Users

BPM software that requires no programming puts creative power into the hands of process users, and that typically leads to solutions that make sense in their everyday context. In earlier eras, when a programmer had to be hired for building BPM workflows, the addition of that third party added a layer of opacity between the process users and the software powering the workflows.

No-code BPM leads to greater transparency, because often, the very people who create the BPM workflows are the ones who will be using those workflows in daily operation. In other words, they can custom-tailor their workflows to meet their needs exactly – all without having to bring in a programmer.

Small and Medium Enterprises Benefit Disproportionately

No-code BPM makes particularly good sense for smaller businesses. Custom BPM programming doesn’t come cheap, and newer or smaller businesses simply may not have the resources for it. But with the right BPM software, they can take advantage of the many opportunities business process management offers, all while maintaining the agility that smaller enterprises are known for. 

The key is finding BPM software that is built with workflow creators and users in mind, and based on their needs. With the right no-code BPM solution, process users can drag and drop workflow elements into place, easily test them out, modify them, and get them just right before deployment. And should those processes need modification, doing so is simple and straightforward. 

PerfectForms is BPM software that requires no programming, yet allows creation of custom workflows from the very simple to the highly complex. It has a user-friendly, drag-and-drop interface that makes it easy for process experts – the ones who use processes every day – to automate and streamline them, without having to write a single line of programming code. 

PerfectForms offers both the power and the flexibility companies of any size need to create custom workflow solutions in any department, for a nearly unlimited range of uses. From creating online HR forms that automatically funnel employee information into necessary forms and databases to designing complex workflows with multiple steps and branches, PerfectForms can deliver. Best of all, you can test drive PerfectForms for free by signing up for a free trial. Sign up today and experience the power of no-code BPM for yourself. 

Posted in Best Practices | Comments Off on No-Code BPM: Don’t Think of It as ‘Less-Than’

Your Online Forms Should Be Easy to Integrate with Other Systems

Wednesday, January 30th, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

Man in a business suit looking frustrated at a pile of papers on his desk.

The benefits of transitioning from using paper forms filled out by hand to using electronic forms can be revolutionary for business.

Beyond this transition, however, lie many additional benefits that come from integrating online forms with other business systems and processes. Moving away from paper-based forms is one of the most important first steps in implementing office automation.

When you invest in form software, don’t just think about the immediate benefits of doing away with paper and its limitations. Think ahead to ways in which online forms can integrate with other office processes. If you select the right form software, this is easy to do.

The Scourge of Duplication of Effort

If you’re old enough to remember a time without office networks, you’re undoubtedly familiar with duplication (or triplication) of effort. Someone completes a paper form by hand. Then someone else types that information into another form or enters it into a spreadsheet or database. 

Or, you start a new job and your first day is spent filling out forms by hand, most of which require variations on the same information, like your name, address, and social security number. Then someone else is responsible for ensuring that the data you wrote down is accurately entered into the forms used by the business and by the government. It’s easy to see how much room for error there is when effort is duplicated. Online forms can do away with a significant amount of duplication of effort.

Integrating Online Forms with Spreadsheets

Online forms that are easy to integrate with other office systems save time and reduce the number of points where errors can creep in. When someone completes an online form that is handled with powerful form software, the data entered can then be automatically used in many different ways. It can be used to auto-populate similar fields in other forms. Or it can be fed directly into spreadsheets for processing there, without someone having to re-enter the data by hand. Everything is faster, and human error has a much smaller window of entry into the process. 

Integrating Online Forms with Customer Relationship Management

Online forms that integrate with customer relationship management (CRM) systems like Salesforce can save time and effort across multiple departments. Suppose someone fills in a brief form on your company’s landing page. That information can not only be sent to the person who is best-equipped to act on it, it can also be sent directly into Salesforce, helping build up your lead lists. Depending on how you have permissions set up, the information can then be made available to any number of people, who can retrieve it and act on it as necessary, without the potential customer having to do anything else.

Integrating Online Forms with Other Systems

When you can integrate the information from online forms with important assets like databases, you not only save money and time, you build up a valuable collection of data from which you can gain key insights. Information from product order forms, for example, could be sent to a database automatically. Later on, you could retrieve that data to find out about sales trends over time, how sales are doing in various geographic regions, and which customers are your highest-value ones. The insights you gain can be used for more accurate forecasting and better customer response times.

PerfectForms is form software that lets you do away with paper forms, but it also empowers you to do much more. PerfectForms integrates with both Google Sheets and Salesforce, and it can be made to integrate with your other systems without having to program. In other words, it is a powerful tool against duplication of effort, streamlining your operations and cutting error rates. 

If it’s time for your business to cut out slow, manual processes, integrate systems, and reduce errors, you should learn more about PerfectForms. We encourage you to watch the demo video and maybe browse through some of our case studies. See for yourself how PerfectForms reduces duplication of effort and accelerates processes, saving time and money and freeing you up to pursue your most important business goals. 

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Manage Office Safety with Online Forms and Automated Workflows

Friday, January 25th, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

Welder working.

Your business may not involve dangerous equipment, but safety hazards exist in every work environment.

In some work environments, it’s obvious why safety training and procedures must be extensive and frequently updated. 

Heavy equipment, potentially hazardous chemicals, and tools that operate at high temperatures necessitate extensive and constant attention to worker safety.

But even if your business takes place in an air-conditioned office where the only “heavy equipment” is a copy machine and the only “high temperature tool” is a coffee pot, it’s important for everyone to be mindful of safety. Creating specific online forms and workflows for ensuring safety and documenting safety-related incidents can help ensure your workplace remains injury-free.

Examples of Potential Safety Issues in Offices

Fire danger exists to some degree everywhere electricity is used. Frayed electrical cords, the use of space heaters, and clutter that impedes access to fire doors can turn the most innocuous office dangerous. 

Slip and fall hazards can be created by something as minor as a spill on the floor of the office kitchen that nobody bothers to clean up (or block off while they go get cleaning supplies). It may be faster to stand on a rolling office chair rather than fetching a stepladder to reach something on a high shelf, but the dangers are obvious.

And if your office has marble or tile floors, they can become surprisingly slippery in the few minutes it takes your commuters to come inside on a rainy morning. Think about it: there are many potential safety hazards in the typical office environment.

Why You Should Create a Safety Workflow

If someone is injured at work, the first priority is assessing the situation and getting help if necessary. Beyond that, however, it’s important to document what happened, determine what caused the accident, and take steps to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Online forms and workflows are ideal for this task.

Broken cup on the floor with liquid.

Documenting minor safety incidents helps put safety at the front of everyone’s mind and helps prevent future incidents.

Documenting office accidents right away not only helps you take steps to prevent future problems, it gets everything recorded while everyone’s memories of the incident are fresh. Should the incident need to be recalled (say, by a doctor treating the person injured), documentation can show clearly what happened. 

A Workflow for Monitoring Potential Safety Issues Is a Good Idea

In addition to creating online forms and workflows for documenting safety incidents, it’s wise to create a workflow specifically for checking the workplace for potential safety issues on a regular basis. With a mobile-friendly safety checklist form, a designated person can go through the workplace in an orderly fashion, check for potential hazards, and document issues that should be addressed, like a stack of boxes that impedes visibility. That way, some problems can be prevented altogether. 

If you invest in additional safety training, such as CPR training for your employees, you can create online forms for them to sign up and to verify that they have completed training. And if your workflow software has the capabilities, you can create quarterly or annual reports on safety inspections, safety incidents, and safety training with ease.

PerfectForms is online form and workflow software that makes it easy to create the online forms and automated workflows you need, whether for documenting office safety procedures or just about any other business process. From onboarding new employees to equipping field workers necessary forms on their tablets to ensuring expense accounts are always up to date, PerfectForms allows you to do it all, with a user-friendly interface that requires no programming. 

We encourage you to watch the PerfectForms demo video. It only takes a minute, and you’re sure to come away with many great ideas for ways you can use online forms and automated workflows to streamline and improve your business processes.

Posted in Workflow, Workflow Design | Comments Off on Manage Office Safety with Online Forms and Automated Workflows

Automated Workflows Help You Maximize Preventive Maintenance Benefits

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

Person working on fixing a copier.

Maintaining the equipment your business uses is an excellent way to reduce waste and extract the most value from your equipment.

Yet we can come up for any number of excuses not to practice preventive maintenance – excuses mostly related to “not having the time.” But in reality, practicing preventive maintenance frees up time over the long run, because there will be fewer emergency repairs disrupting work. 

For many businesses, automated workflows are the answer to the excuses for neglecting preventive maintenance, because they can be set up to follow schedules, send notifications, and collect valuable data.

Sometimes a Cultural Shift Is Needed

Investing in workflow software and creating maintenance workflows is a key step, of course, but sometimes organizations have to educate everyone on the importance of preventive maintenance. It’s not always easy. Strong leadership and commitment to accountability from every team member in every department are necessary to building a culture in which making the most of resources is ingrained.

The workflow software is there to help you “walk the talk” by reminding key personnel when it is time to examine equipment, perform routine maintenance, and document equipment condition. This also allows budgets to be more accurately projected when it appears that old equipment will have to be replaced. 

Preventive Workflows for IT Equipment

Many preventive maintenance tasks are built into IT equipment, as you are aware if you use Windows and are occasionally reminded of an automatic operating system update. But there are many other preventive steps that keep IT equipment in sound working order, such as routine verification that server backups work, checking disk usage versus disk capacity, and assessing system security regularly. These tasks can often be scheduled outside of normal business hours so that disruption of operations is kept to a minimum.

Preventive Workflows for Other Business Equipment

As paperless as we like to believe our offices are, most businesses still have copiers that get regular use. Simple tasks like cleaning the glass platen can be scheduled frequently, while more complex tasks like cleaning dust and toner residue from paper rollers can be scheduled on a less-frequent basis. It’s not easy to know when to replace toner cartridges, but keeping records can help you predict how long a cartridge usually lasts. Inspecting drum units for wear quarterly or semi-annually can ensure worn ones are replaced before they break. 

And all of this can be scheduled and documented with automated workflows. The same can be done for other office equipment like laminators, scanners, and cash registers.

Even if your “fleet” is only two or three vehicles, devoting time to regular maintenance pays off impressively.

Preventive Workflows for Your Transportation Fleet

Even the smallest transportation fleet benefits from automated workflows for routine maintenance. Workflows can schedule regular oil changes, tire rotations, fluid level checks and other preventive steps, ensuring you’re ready to roll at any time and minimizing the chances that a team member will experience vehicle breakdown while working off site. Taking preventive maintenance steps may require an investment of time and money now, but it can prevent much bigger expenses and time waste later on.

Another great thing about automated workflows for preventive maintenance is that they can document and record steps taken and repairs made. Over time, you’ll learn which products tend to last and which don’t, so you can make wiser replacement purchases when the time comes. The old aphorism “A stitch in time saves nine” is remarkably apt in the twenty-first century office environment, and the right workflow software helps you get those “stitches” in and save time and money.

PerfectForms is workflow software that requires no programming. Hence, you and your team can create preventive maintenance workflows that are perfectly tailored to your equipment mix and their recommended service schedules. PerfectForms also has outstanding reporting capabilities, so at the end of the year you can see how much you have spent on preventive maintenance and compare it to the costs of neglecting and replacing equipment. 

Preventive maintenance workflows are just one way that PerfectForms saves organizations time and money. We encourage you to read through our case studies and discover the huge variety of ways businesses, nonprofits, and governmental organizations use PerfectForms to streamline procedures, keep processes on track, and save significant amounts of time and money.

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