How Automated Workflows Build Institutional Archives and Repositories

Wednesday, October 10th, 2018 by MEDIA MEDIA

Open book on top of a laptop.

Most businesses have plenty of knowledge stored, some of it digital, some of it non-digital. Automated workflows can help you digitize and organize all of it.

Over time, businesses and other organizations build up a “knowledge base” from the experiences of the people who work there.

This so-called institutional knowledge is apart from the knowledge required to operate the business, and may include things like technical presentations at conferences, help documents created by long-time employees for new people, and publications about the organization.

These knowledge documents should be considered a valuable business asset and treated as such. Many businesses deliberately create repositories of important documents as an institutional knowledge archive, and these repositories can be particularly valuable during times of change, like when a new CEO is appointed, or when key employees retire. The best way to build such a repository is by creating automated workflows to help.

Why Automated Workflows Are the Key

Imagine your company has file cabinets full of technical papers delivered by employees over the years. If the company is old enough, some of these documents may not exist in digital form. Should there be a fire, burglary, or other disaster, the documents, and the knowledge contained within them could disappear forever.

Automated workflows are the key to digitizing non-digital documents and then working with the collection of digital documents to organize and store them in ways that make them useful to the maximum number of people. Making the archival workflow available to all appropriate staff members, and making it simple and straightforward to enter publication data like title, author, and date, and then copy and paste the contents of digital documents distributes the workload, helping you build your archive faster.

Work could be distributed in numerous ways. For example, each engineer who presented a technical paper on behalf of the company could be responsible for adding their documents to the archive. A summer intern could be assigned to add documents to the archive in cases where the document’s author has left or retired.

Best Practices: Approval and Validation

Person looking at their mobile phone in front of a laptop.

Approval and validation should be built into the archival process for quality assurance purposes.

One best practice that is particularly valuable when building institutional archives is inclusion of approval and validation processes within the workflow. Someone – or more likely, several someones – should check each new entry into the archive to make sure that all key fields are completed, and that the digital document matches up to the title. The approval and validation step may also involve assignment of a document to one or more document categories, e.g. technical papers, instruction manuals, machine specifications, etc.

Benefits of Digital Institutional Archives

Having an extensive, accessible institutional archive or knowledge base benefits an organization in countless ways. For one thing, creating digital copies of non-digital documents provides backup without requiring more physical storage space. Providing access to the company knowledge base helps employees solve problems more easily, because they can check to see if solutions already exist rather than “re-inventing the wheel” when a problem arises.

A strong institutional knowledge base can and should be considered a strong business asset, and this can help when raising capital or entertaining buy-out offers. And it can help in unusual situations, such as when an old or rarely-used piece of equipment must be used again, especially if the former operators of the machinery have retired.

Creating an institutional knowledge base is a big undertaking, but the benefits are real, measurable, and long-term. Creating an automated workflow and distributing the work involved ensure that the process goes as quickly as possible, and that the fewest mistakes are made. In the end, you’ll have made information more valuable by making it more accessible and usable.

PerfectForms is automated workflow software that allows businesses and organizations to create customized workflows. PerfectForms lets you begin with customized online forms that make data entry straightforward, and then link forms and other documents together into powerful workflows that make sense to end-users. And the forms and workflows you create are mobile-friendly, making them even more useful.

No programming is required to use PerfectForms, because it has an intuitive, drag-and-drop interface. Therefore, the end-users of a workflow can have input into how the workflows are designed. Whether you want to create a digitized institutional knowledge base, or simply need to automate business processes with ease, we invite you to try PerfectForms for free by signing up for a trial.

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‘Help! I Want to Create Online Forms, but Don’t Know Where to Start.’

Friday, October 5th, 2018 by MEDIA MEDIA

Multiple stacks of papers.

Imagine not needing to find storage for stacks of paper forms!

If your business, nonprofit, or government organization uses paper forms, you probably already dislike the inefficiency and waste of resources that paper forms represent.

Paper forms made sense in the days when no better alternatives existed, but now that electronic online forms exist, it’s much harder to make a case for using paper forms. But what if you know your organization would benefit from online forms, but you simply don’t know where to start? Here are several ideas that will have you enjoying the many benefits of online forms as quickly as possible.

Many People Start with Paper, and That’s Fine

If you’re wondering what an online form should look like, you can always start with the paper form that everyone uses already. In fact, many migrations from paper to the web deliberately make the first iteration of the online form look as much as possible like its paper counterpart, because people can easily figure out how to use it.

If you want to try this approach, it’s a good idea to go over each form field on the paper form and ensure that they’re all necessary. If it’s a multi-page form and requires someone to enter their name or employee number on all the pages, the extra name or employee number fields are easy to dispense with, because they’re not necessary with online forms – including multi-page online forms.  Cut out any unnecessary form fields before creating an initial online form with your form software.

Browse Examples of Good Online Forms for Inspiration

Online forms have been around long enough that most of us know what a “good” online form looks like. We also know what a “bad” online form looks like. Unclear field headings, excessively long forms not broken up into individual web pages, and forms that give no guidance with things like which formats dates should be entered are some of the elements that make for less-than-ideal online forms.

Online forms.

Online forms, like paper forms, can be confusing if not designed with care.

Fortunately, you can look at some curated collections of great online forms. Hubspot offers a collection, along with details on what makes each form good. Econsultancy also offers a collection of examples of good online forms. Browsing through these can inspire you.

Choose Form Software with Customizable Templates

One of the most important steps you can take in your initiative to translate paper forms into online forms is to choose your form software wisely. More specifically, you can choose form software that comes with a library of form templates you can use and modify to your needs. This is often preferable for people who are new to creating online forms, because it allows them to get started more quickly with form designs that are already proven.

In addition to choosing form software with an extensive set of templates for you to use, you should choose form software with a user interface that won’t take long to learn. After all, if you buy form software that’s too complicated to use, or that requires you to understand things like HTML coding, you may give up completely before creating the online forms you need.

PerfectForms is online form software that not only comes with an extensive library of online form templates, it also has an exceptionally friendly and intuitive user interface, so you can drag and drop form elements into place. In other words, if you have a paper form you want to duplicate for online use, PerfectForms makes it easy. And there is no programming required.

If you’re ready to create online forms, but worry that it will be beyond your skills, PerfectForms invites you to watch one or more of our basic training videos. You’ll see for yourself how easy it can be to create pixel-perfect forms that are customized to your organization’s exact needs, quickly and easily.

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Make Forms and Workflows More Powerful by Sharing Data

Friday, October 5th, 2018 by MEDIA MEDIA

Workflow.

Think about how much data the typical business collects (or has the potential to collect) every day.

Sometimes, data that may seem perfectly mundane may have atypical uses that can take your business operations to the next level. For example, suppose you have a social media advertising team responsible for placing ads on social platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Those platforms have powerful targeting algorithms to help brands place their ads in front of people who are most likely to be interested in the product or service on offer.

What if data collected by other departments or teams could help your social media advertising team target ads even more accurately?

Identify Where Collected Data Could Be Valuable

In the above example, suppose your social media ad team is careful to target ad placement based on an “ideal” customer persona based upon their age range, gender, educational level, marital status, and household income. That’s great, but you may be able to target the ideal customer persona even more accurately.

Your order processing team receives extensive data that could be helpful. Maybe they run a workflow report on the data they collect and discover that a handful of zip codes in the upper Midwest are responsible for a disproportionate number of orders. That could prompt your marketing team to find out why your products are so popular there, and could help your social media ad team develop ads that target this particular geographic region, further improving your marketing ROI.

Use Workflows to Route Shared Data Automatically

Sharing data does not have to be an overly complex or time-intensive endeavor, if you use the right workflow software. Keeping with our social media advertising example, suppose that the workflow for the order processing team were to be modified to automatically send data for zip code and order amount to a spreadsheet that would be accessible to the marketing research team. The right workflow software allows you to do this seamlessly and instantly, opening up the data to further examination and possibly valuable insights. Maybe your products appeal to a second ideal customer persona you never considered. Sharing data would help you realize this.

Group of people working together sharing data.

Shared data is more valuable data.

Reporting Helps All Teams Identify Data They Can Use

Workflow software with built-in reporting features can also extract more value from the data your company collects. For example, monthly or quarterly sales reports by dollar amount or volume of products shipped can help people identify trends. Maybe you sell more product in August, and then someone makes the connection that it’s popular as a back-to-school item. Suddenly you have insights that increase the precision of your marketing efforts.

Reports can also inspire ideas. Maybe someone didn’t realize you could create a report showing which customers have the highest average dollar amount per order. That information may be useful when it comes to making special offers, cross-selling, or upselling. It’s important for people in all departments to understand the capabilities of your workflow software’s reporting capabilities.

PerfectForms is workflow software that allows you to create perfectly customized workflows and online forms for your business, nonprofit, or government organization. It offers simple, straightforward integrations with Salesforce and Google Sheets, and can be synced with directory services and other systems, with no programming required. PerfectForms isn’t just about sleek online forms and automated workflows. It’s also about collecting and sharing data, creating reports, and generally helping your business operate at optimum efficiency, with minimum waste.

We invite you to read up on some of our case studies to see the many ways PerfectForms improves business processes and collects data. There’s no reason to let all that data your company collects just sit there, when it could be working for you, and PerfectForms gives you the tools you need to extract more value from your data.

Relocating? Consider How Workflows Work in Your New Space.

Friday, September 28th, 2018 by MEDIA MEDIA

Three people peering down into a cardboard box.

Moving your business into a new space is both exciting and a bit scary.

It represents a fundamental change of the physical space in which your business will operate, and you have the potential to make the most of the changes when planning your move. Naturally, you will coordinate with movers, and have a plan of where people and things will go in the new space. But have you considered how your automated workflows may have to change when you move to a new business space?

Some workflows are directly dependent upon the physical space you occupy. And it’s safe to say that most workflows operate more smoothly in a well-planned workspace that makes sense for the task. Here are some ways to ensure your automated workflows work just as well once you have completed your move to new business space.

Which Workflows Can You Anticipate Changing?

You may know in advance about some workflows that will have to change. For example, if you are moving from a facility with traditional locks and keys to a facility with swipe cards or electronic locks, then the workflow for issuing building access will have to change. You may be able to get the bare bones of the workflow in place before the move, so that it can be implemented as soon as possible after you’re in your new facility.

Or, suppose your new facility will require parking fleet vehicles farther away from where employees will need to pick them up. In this case, you may need to designate a driver to take care of this step of the new workflow – a step that wasn’t necessary before. Anticipating changed workflows in advance can help you get them operational quickly after the move is complete.

How Flexible Is the New Space?

Some workflows are self-contained within a single department, but others must cross departmental lines. The more flexible the new workspace, the easier it will be on everyone to adapt to the cross-departmental workflows in the new environment. If you’re stuck with fixed walls and doors, then you’ll have to be especially strategic about which personnel go in which sections of which floors. But if you have cubicle walls and other re-configurable elements, setting up personnel to more easily accommodate workflows will be easier. Ask yourself which departments interact with each other most frequently and place them accordingly.

Three people walking through a hallway caring cardboard boxes.

Careful location of personnel and departments can optimize workflow operation in your new space.

Can You Group Workflow Participants Optimally?

One of the great things about automated workflows and online forms is that physical papers don’t have to be conveyed from one workflow participant to the next, because it’s all done over the company network or the web. But sometimes, workflows require physical presence, and when you identify these and group workflow participants accordingly, things will run more smoothly.

Suppose temporary badges must be generated for each visitor to the facility. It makes sense that the personnel and machinery required to create the badges be located conveniently – near the reception desk for example. That way, people expecting guests don’t have to traipse to another floor or an obscure corner of the building just to fetch a temporary badge.

Many – possibly most – automated workflows can be translated from the old business facility to the new one with little if any change, and that’s one of the best things about automated workflows. And of course, electronic forms can be accessed from anywhere network access is available. But some workflows will have to be modified when you move to a new workspace. You’re wise to anticipate those that will have to change and set the stage for a smooth transition by understanding how they will change with the relocation.

PerfectForms is online form and automated workflow software that puts the power of workflow development into the hands of the people who actually use the workflows. Because no programming is required, forms and workflows can be developed for the convenience of the users rather than the convenience of programmers. And should you need to modify a form or workflow, PerfectForms makes that easy and convenient as well. You can try out PerfectForms for free by signing up for a trial. Find out what online forms and automated workflows should be like, and how they can benefit your business.

Using Workflow Software for Process Mapping

Thursday, September 27th, 2018 by MEDIA MEDIA

Person typing on a laptop computer.

Process mapping is essentially creation of a flowchart.

You don’t necessarily have to know what the different shapes of various flowchart elements mean to create a process map, but it can be helpful. Think of a very simple process you use at work, such as the process of admitting a visitor to the workplace. Steps may include:

  • Confirming the time and date of the visit with the visitor
  • Creating a temporary badge or nametag showing they’re authorized to be on the premises
  • Emailing the visitor a parking pass they can print out or use on their phone
  • Notifying the staff member when their visitor arrives
  • Signing the visitor in
  • Handing them their temporary credentials
  • Collecting the credentials when they leave
  • Signing them out

That may sound like a lot of steps for a simple process, but spelling it all out helps ensure that no detail is neglected. This type of process mapping can be used for any work process, from simple to complex.

Mapped Processes as Blueprints for Automated Workflows

When you map a process, breaking it down into a series of discrete, self-contained steps, you create not only a flowchart, but also a blueprint for automating the process. In the example above, suppose you created a workflow that automatically notified both you and the staff member receiving the visitor as soon as that person’s parking pass was scanned. Taking it a step further, suppose that when the visitor scanned their parking pass, it automatically triggered printing of their temporary visitor credentials. Automating these steps ensures consistency, and prevents skipped steps, while saving everyone time.

Map a Process, Then Test It Thoroughly

When you map a process, it’s crucial that you test it thoroughly before deploying it to process end-users. Process mapping itself can help you spot potential problems, but other problems may not become evident until the process has been tested thoroughly. For example, automating a commonly used process may save time at the front end of the process, but it can result in an unintended bottleneck later in the process.

Man sitting at a desk with a pile of binders and a help flag.

Testing the processes you map can help you avoid unintended bottlenecks.

Suppose you automate the process for submitting each department’s end-of-quarter or end-of-year reports. That could unintentionally result in a major bottleneck when the person responsible for final editing and proofreading receives a flood of reports to edit all at once. Or it could result in back-ups in the printing department. Planning for these types of situations helps you get the most from your automated workflows without overloading a single person at some point in the process.

How a Utility Solutions Provider Used Workflow Software to Map Processes

Trilliant, a company that provides network solutions and software for monitoring utilities like gas and electric providers, used PerfectForms workflow software for process mapping, because they found it both affordable and user-friendly. Using PerfectForms to map processes and identify daily work connection points, Trilliant was able to address major inefficiencies and improve their entire internal management process, saving them significant time and resources.

Trilliant recognized that outstanding workflow software could not only help them streamline and automate workflows, but also map processes so that inefficiencies and “holes” in processes could be more easily identified and addressed.

Workflow software like PerfectForms goes together perfectly with process mapping, because the workflow creation process is so similar to process mapping. With its user-friendly drag-and-drop interface, PerfectForms lets you design workflows in a clear, visual manner, and test them thoroughly, making changes and tweaks as necessary until you have the exact, customized workflow that your company needs.

With its power and flexibility, coupled with its friendly user interface that requires no programming, PerfectForms empowers companies across all industries to streamline and automate processes while reducing error rates. We encourage you to browse through some of our many case studies and see how PerfectForms offers the ideal platform for process mapping and the tools you need to turn those process maps into sleek, automated workflows.

Web Forms and Why They Should Integrate with Your Form Software

Friday, September 21st, 2018 by MEDIA MEDIA

Desktop monitor.

Twenty or so years ago, when the internet really started to gain traction with individuals and businesses, we could only imagine some of the ways we use it today.

Business visionaries knew that the web could be a tool for transmitting information like no other, and over time we started ordering products and services online, delivering information to customers online, and communicating with co-workers online.

Filling out forms online is standard operating procedure for individuals and businesses, but sometimes we don’t make maximum use of the data collected by online forms. However, with strategic thinking, combined with the right form software, it’s possible to make online forms perform far better than we might initially think. Here’s why you should use form software that integrates easily with your web forms.

Web Forms and Their Uses

Web forms are essentially self-explanatory. They are online pages that allow for user input. They’re interactive and often look similar to paper documents. They’re rendered in HTML and other web-oriented programming languages. Web forms often contain checkboxes, “submit” buttons, text boxes, and other elements.

It’s no exaggeration to say that web forms have revolutionized retail, real estate, medicine, finance, and many other industries, especially industries where extensive paperwork and documentation are standard. Beyond that, web forms can be put to use by businesses in just about any industry, in creative ways that can confer a competitive advantage.

Why Your Company Forms Should Integrate with Web Forms

Suppose your company relies on acquiring customers through multiple channels. Some sales reps may go out into the field and meet people in person. Others may do outbound marketing by phone. And many businesses turn to inbound marketing, piquing the interest of potential customers online and drawing them down the sales funnel through steps involving things like their filling out web forms indicating interest in a product.

Woman sitting in front of her laptop drinking coffee.

Integrating web forms with other forms your business uses accelerates processes and helps keep customers happy.

Imagine then, if a potential customer fills out a web form on your website’s landing page expressing interest in access to a video or white paper. When your business’ online forms integrate with the web forms, you can take the information entered by this potential customer and have it automatically entered into your CRM system. And, you can have the workflow handling the forms notify the appropriate person of the new lead, all without extra effort.

Faster, with Fewer Errors

Web forms are wonderful, and the online forms used by most businesses are wonderful. Put them together and you can have something even better than the sum of its parts! When you choose your online form software, be certain that it integrates easily with web forms, because that opens up an entirely new dimension of smart data management to your business.

PerfectForms is online form software that is also powerful workflow software. It has an intuitive drag-and-drop user interface that allows creation of online forms and automated workflows without anyone having to know how to program.

Furthermore, PerfectForms has always allowed easy integration between web forms and the other forms your business uses, and it integrates easily with spreadsheets, databases, and other systems. With PerfectForms, you can create a seamless interface between your web forms and your non-web forms, saving considerable time and reducing error rates appreciably.

Best of all, you can try PerfectForms for free by signing up for a trial. See for yourself how easy-to-use, flexible, and powerful PerfectForms is. It’s the key to making the most of the data your business already collects, so it works harder for you.

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Non-Workflow Practices That Make Automated Workflows Better

Thursday, September 20th, 2018 by MEDIA MEDIA

Two people in an office looking over documents.

Defined workflows make sense in every business. Even in creative businesses, there are many tasks that benefit from being turned into repeatable processes. And if those processes can be partially or fully automated, so much the better.

From appointment scheduling to keeping the books to getting deliverables out the door, countless business tasks benefit greatly from being part of logical, consistent workflows, and many of these workflows can help ensure that your team is able to focus more of their energy on core business principles. As a result, work gets done on time, people can use their skills and talents optimally, and customers are more likely to be pleased. Everyone wins!

But what goes on around those workflows is equally important. Workflows implemented without thought to the people carrying them out and the environment in which they’re done can only help so much. Here are some non-workflow practices that will make your automated workflows perform even better.

Prioritize Tasks Properly

For most businesses, tackling the most complex tasks first makes sense. When this is possible, once you power through the tough tasks, you can get through the rest more easily, relieved of the sense of a big task that needs to be done hanging over you.

Obviously, there are some workflows that must be done in a particular order. After all, your shipping team can’t ship products that have not been pulled and packaged. But where it is possible to prioritize difficult tasks first, you can use deferred gratification to your advantage, making for a more motivated team.

Communicate and Collaborate

Automated workflows don’t happen in a vacuum. While automation is amazing, automation plus strong communication is even more so. Encourage team members to communicate about what’s going on in a particular workflow, and use your workflow software to deliver notifications and alerts so everyone stays in the loop.

Woman sitting in front of a desktop computer smiling.

The right workflow software helps you keep everyone in the loop.

Additionally, when workflows must be modified, or when new workflows are necessary, make sure the people who will actually be using the workflows offer their feedback and suggestions. If you use the right workflow software, it will be easy to design workflows with the end-users (rather than programmers) in mind.

Use Incentives

Work should be efficient, accurate, and profitable. But work should not be pure drudgery for the sake of a paycheck. Employees who are engaged in their work and who believe their contributions to be valuable are loyal employees, and they’re good for the bottom line too, since employee turnover can be so expensive.

There are countless ways to use incentives with workflows, from recognition of the individuals and teams who meet major milestones (like your one-millionth sale) to in-office team celebrations for accomplishments like finishing up a big project ahead of schedule or under budget.

Automated workflows are accomplished by individuals and teams, and without those individuals and teams, the workflows simply wouldn’t happen. So don’t forget to recognize the human power that is behind your workflows and show that you value your people.

PerfectForms is automated workflow software that doesn’t forget that there are real people powering the work. A flexible, powerful, user-friendly solution to your online form and workflow needs, PerfectForms requires no programming, so workflows can be designed for real-world needs and situations.

From HR tasks to bookkeeping to facilities maintenance, there’s virtually no workflow that can’t be improved through an automated workflow created by you, with the help of PerfectForms. We invite you to browse through some of our many case studies to see how automated workflows plus great teams equals outsized results.

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Overview of How Automated Workflows Work

Thursday, September 13th, 2018 by MEDIA MEDIA

Man on the phone in front of a desktop computer.

Workflows (sometimes called processes) occur in every workplace, whether we label them or not.

Think about average tasks you do at work. Usually, something triggers a task or series of tasks. Perhaps a form is received, or an email arrives, and that prompts you to schedule something on a calendar, search out a product or part, or create a purchase order.

With the completion of each step, another step is triggered, until the entire process is completed. Completion of a process may happen with the publication of a report, a record of shipping confirmation, or the submission of an order for supplies.

Automated workflows are designed to make the steps of any work process happen in the proper order, with a minimum of slow-downs or bottlenecks. With the right workflow software, you can automate workflows and improve efficiency, raise productivity, and reduce error rates.

Combining Forms, Notifications, and Automatic Routing

Every automated workflow is unique, but many of them combine online forms, notifications, and automatic routing of information. As an example, back in the “old days,” receiving reimbursement for business travel expenses involved saving paper receipts, filling out paper forms, physically submitting those forms for processing, having someone compare expenses against the receipts, calculate a reimbursement amount, and then cut a physical check, which would be mailed or picked up for deposit.

An automated workflow, by contrast, would use electronic receipts, an online form, automatic routing to the person responsible for processing claims, confirmation of expenses, and then automatic deposit of the reimbursed amount into the claimant’s bank account. It’s easy to see how it’s faster, more accurate, and far less hassle for everyone involved.

Audit Trails and Other Valuable Data Collection

Something else facilitated by automated workflows is collection of data that can be used in the event of an audit. In fact, automated workflows can help prevent audits in the first place. Suppose you have a workflow to monitor when software licenses are up for renewal. The workflow could be designed to notify the person responsible for the software a certain number of days or weeks prior to license expiry, so they can ensure renewal takes place on time.

Woman working on her desktop computer.

Automated workflows can instantly notify workflow participants when their input is needed.

For companies that are subject to audit, workflow software can collect information on when data was entered into a workflow and by whom, they can automatically notify certain personnel whenever a workflow is accessed, and can flag workflow conditions that need to be explored further (such as a purchase order that is significantly larger than usual).

The Importance of Reporting with Automated Workflows

With the right workflow software, reporting is easy. Suppose you want a report about last quarter’s sales. Your workflow software should allow you to create a report showing how many of each item was sold, along with other helpful information, like which zip codes ordered the most products, a breakdown of products sold each week, and how last quarter’s sales compare to the same quarter a year ago.

Reporting in automated workflows helps teams identify problems early, so they can be addressed before becoming major problems. Developing an automated workflow with audit and reporting capabilities is almost like having a full-time employee devoted to ensuring the process goes correctly every time and keeping up with valuable statistics that can help you going forward.

PerfectForms is workflow software designed so that workflow users can create workflows that do exactly what they need – without programming! The user-friendly interface allows online form and workflow creators to drag and drop elements into place and test them easily. It even interfaces easily with web forms, Google Sheets, and Salesforce, so you can make the most of your other business systems.

Interested in learning more? We encourage you to watch the demo video and see how PerfectForms puts the power of automated workflows in your hands and propels your business forward.

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5 Use Cases for Automated Workflows You May Not Have Considered

Tuesday, September 11th, 2018 by MEDIA MEDIA

Person at their desktop with a notebook and laptop computer.

Workflow software is a natural for HR processes, but it can be used for far more than most people think.

Don’t you want to get the most out of your workflow software? If your workflow software is agile enough, you can use it for far more than the typical HR and document management tasks that so many companies use it for.

Automated workflows aren’t just about doing things faster, but about doing things better. Well-designed workflows can reduce errors and collect valuable data along the way – data that can be used for better budget planning, more effective customer tracking, and even faster recovery when disaster strikes. Here are five use cases for automated workflows you may not have considered.

1. Automatic Approval or Eligibility Evaluation

Do small purchase orders really need departmental approval? If not, your purchase order workflow can be made to automatically evaluate conditions to ensure that only purchases greater than a certain threshold amount be sent for departmental approval. And should a user try to game the system by submitting a series of just-under-the-threshold purchases, the system can evaluate the number of purchase orders started by the same person within a defined time period and proceed accordingly.

2. IT Support Tickets

Maybe your “IT department” consists of a single person hired to ensure your computers and devices all work as intended. Even so, using workflow software to create an IT ticket system with online forms for users to describe their problems is smart. Not only is there no chance of losing requests (as can happen with sticky notes and other makeshift solutions for tracking problems), your IT person can collect valuable data that can help inform future IT purchases or even make the business case for hiring an additional IT worker.

3. Submission of Tweets to Your Social Media Manager

If you have a social media team, it’s often best to have a single person in charge of posting social media messages, Tweets, and the like. A simple online form submitting Tweets to the social media manager ensures that all of them meet specifications, and that they are posted strategically, at times when they are likeliest to receive the attention they deserve. Such forms can also be valuable should an old social media post need to be retrieved or taken down later on.

Conversation bubble created with people with the words tweet in the middle.

Workflows for managing social media can organize an often-unpredictable process.

4. Managing Accounts Receivable

An automated workflow that flags AR items that are more than 30 days old can ensure that no accounts slip through the cracks and end up being written off. For example, when an account reaches the 30-day threshold, a reminder can be sent to an AR team member to contact the customer by email. When an account reaches a 60- or 90-day threshold, the workflow can prompt a team member to follow up by phone or certified mail in an attempt to collect all the money owed to you.

5. A Disaster Recovery Workflow

Suppose that your company experiences a natural disaster, break-in, or data breach. It’s upsetting and difficult to know what to do first. But establishing a disaster recovery workflow can help. Such a workflow (run in the cloud, so it’s available even if your on-site equipment is down) can walk users through important steps, like bringing in extra staff, calling authorities, and contacting insurers. Too many businesses put disaster recovery on a back burner and are then caught out once something actually happens.

When your workflow software is flexible and powerful, you can use it for an almost unlimited number of use cases, making your software investment pay off even more than you expected. PerfectForms is online form and workflow software that gives you the power and flexibility to design workflows for countless business processes – including some that may never have been thought of before! What’s more, there’s no programming, because PerfectForms offers an intuitive drag-and-drop interface.

Why not look through some of our many case studies and imagine the ways that PerfectForms can help your business create workflows that give you a stronger competitive edge?

5 Ways to Maximize Value of Your Online Forms to e-Commerce Clients

Thursday, September 6th, 2018 by MEDIA MEDIA

Man and woman shopping on a laptop with a credit card.

Online forms are part of the e-commerce experience, though some e-commerce providers put much of the form experience behind the scenes with options like one-click ordering.

But even if you don’t offer one-click ordering, you should do what you can to minimize the “friction” between the customer and the “complete order” button. You can minimize much of that friction through your online forms. Here’s how.

1. Minimize Typing and Make It Mobile-Friendly

If you design your online forms as if they will be used on mobile devices, you accomplish a lot right off the bat. Mobile-friendly forms by definition look great on smaller screens, and because it’s not easy to type extensively on a phone, mobile-friendly forms minimize typing. Sure, your customers may access your e-commerce site in a desktop environment where they have a full keyboard, but even then, minimal typing is appreciated.

2. Make It Dead Simple to Add Items to the Cart

Typing in an item number on an order page feels clunky in an era of bright green “add to cart” buttons. Even if you’re selling square-head bolts or industrial quantities of cooking oil, making it easy to put items into the cart (where the actual form-filling goes on behind the scenes) is expected of online suppliers. The more time it takes to add something to the order, the more time people have to reconsider the purchase.

3. Make the Checkout Page Clean, Simple, and Mobile-Ready

The final page that displays the order before clicking the “submit” button on the order should be a model of clarity and brevity. Design this page with mobile-first in mind too and you can be confident that your buyers will be pleased with what they see whether they’re entering their order from a phone, a tablet, or a laptop. A great looking checkout page heightens the customer’s anticipation of the products they purchase.

Person shopping on there mobile phone.

A clean, non-confusing order confirmation page gives buyers confidence.

4. Save Payment and Shipping Information for Future Purchases

After someone makes their first order, offer to create an account that saves the payment and shipping information they have entered, so that information will already be filled in the next time the customer makes an order. This reduces shopping friction even more, speeding up the order process and making customers feel confident their order has been received as quickly as possible. Not having to spend another three minutes entering payment and shipping information makes more of a difference than you may think!

5. Offer Repurchase / Replenish Options to Bypass Forms Altogether

You can also offer an option that bypasses most forms altogether: implement automatic repurchase/replenishment options. Many e-commerce companies are offering “subscriptions” to products that are consumed regularly, like cosmetics, food items, and cleaning products. Allow the shopper to specify the interval between orders, and give them the ultimate convenience of a standing order that they don’t even have to think about. It’s a win-win situation.

Creating online forms that do exactly what you want requires powerful and flexible form software, like PerfectForms. With PerfectForms, you can create mobile-friendly online forms by dragging and dropping elements into place until they look exactly right. The forms you create with PerfectForms are easy to integrate with web pages, databases, spreadsheets, and other software, so the data collected by your forms is easy to distribute to exactly where it needs to go, whether that’s the warehouse, customer support, or packaging and shipping.

Intrigued? We invite you to watch the PerfectForms demo and see for yourself how powerful and easy-to-use PerfectForms is, no matter how you plan to use your online forms.