4 Trends That Will Shape the Future of Automated Workflows

Thursday, June 6th, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

Automated workflows themselves represent a long-term business trend.

Business gears concept

Workflows help when there are a lot of moving parts to manage.

But within this overarching trend, smaller trends come and go, dependent on business cycles, economic pressures, trendy new products, and other factors. As we move closer to the year 2020, it’s obvious how automated workflows have become established as a business necessity. Equally obvious is that automation and workflow trends evolve based on changes in the overall business climate. Following are four trends that are shaping the future of automated workflows. 

1. Greater Emphasis on Customer Experience

As soon as people started using apps for everyday personal tasks like booking hotel rooms, hailing a ride, or asking for customer service help, there was no turning back. Expectations among consumers have risen along with the number of apps they use to enhance their customer experience.

Businesses have had to upgrade their customer service processes to keep up with consumer expectations. The workflows that power customer service departments must be powerful, and they must increase business transparency in regard to customer relationships. Customer experience is a strong competitive differentiator at the moment, and businesses that don’t adapt their automated workflows accordingly will lose out.

2. More Attention to New Employee Onboarding

Currently, the labor market is tight. It has always been expensive for companies to replace employees who leave, and that problem is highlighted when it’s harder to find replacement talent. The quality of the new employee onboarding experience is a determinant in how likely an employee is to stay with the job.

At the same time, new employee onboarding must be accomplished before new people can get completely up to speed with their responsibilities. An employee onboarding process that is maximally efficient, and that demonstrates that the company values their new recruits helps ensure a positive first impression. This in turn reduces the chances of new employees jumping ship at the first appealing offer.

Employee encouragement

Companies must make every effort to retain employees in a tight labor market.

3. More Remote Workers and Dispersed Teams

Business teams may be scattered across time zones, and more companies than ever use remote workers rather than a traditional office-based setup. Advantages include lack of geographic constraints when putting together teams, and benefits to the employees who are able to work from home.

It’s not always easy carrying out complex processes with dispersed teams, and for that reason workflow software must have features that facilitate it. Workflows may take place within a single office, or across state or international borders, and workflow software must be up to the task, offering mobile-friendly interfaces, and rock-solid dependability.

4. Smaller IT Departments

IT departments in the companies that have them are shrinking. Much of this is due to increasing dependence on cloud-based software. With fewer on-site servers running software, business don’t need as many IT specialists to keep it running optimally.

But this also means that tasks that may have fallen to the IT department before – like the programming involved in creating automated workflows – must be accomplished in other ways. Fortunately, modern workflow software allows creation of workflows without the need for programming. These “no code” workflow solutions make automated workflows accessible to even small businesses with minimal IT expertise.

PerfectForms is workflow software that is more than ready to meet the needs of today’s business environment. It can be operated in the cloud or on the premises, and creating customized forms and workflows requires no programming whatsoever. Whether you want to build a better employee onboarding process, up your customer service game, or flawlessly bring together a remote team, PerfectForms can help. We encourage you to watch our demo video, or to contact us at any time with your questions. 

Asset Management: An Excellent Use Case for Workflow Software

Wednesday, June 5th, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

The term “assets” in the context of an asset management program refers to the tools and equipment that people use to accomplish tasks.

Computer equipment

For many companies, IT equipment makes up the majority of
assets that need to be managed.

For most companies, IT equipment is the most important asset category, but there are other types. For examples, fleet vehicles and tools are assets. In school systems, audio-visual equipment is an asset that should be managed.

Asset management is all the practices and activities an organization does to track assets and make sure they are used to add value. It is a business process that ensures everyone has what they need to fulfill their responsibilities, and that each and every asset the company owns can be located at any given time.

Done correctly, asset management ensures that equipment performs as intended, while keeping operating costs under control and maximizing asset ROI.

Where Is Each Asset’s “Home?”

One basic, yet extremely important component of good asset management is simply knowing where assets are physically located. If, for example, a laptop is going to be upgraded with a new video card or a solid-state hard drive, the IT worker making the upgrades has to know where that laptop is located. An asset management workflow can show who the laptop is assigned to, as well as their office location and phone number.

When every asset has an assigned “home,” it can be found quickly if someone should need it, or if it should need maintenance or repair. Asset management workflows should give location information to authorized users, letting them know, for example, that a particular fleet vehicle is parked in space A4, or that a printer in need of a new toner cartridge is located near the water fountain on the second floor.

Who Is Responsible for Each Asset?

Responsibility for an asset may change from one time to another. In a school, the audio-visual equipment manager is responsible for knowing where all the equipment is at the end of the day. However, an asset management workflow will contain information about who is responsible for a piece of equipment at a given time. 

Woman pointing to a mans laptop screen

Asset management makes it possible to locate any given asset at any time,
along with who is responsible for it.

The economics teacher may be responsible for a projector during third period on Thursday because he is giving a presentation. The same projector may temporarily become the responsibility of the history teacher later that day. Asset management lets people with ultimate responsibility for assets track who is using an asset at any time.

Is an Asset Broken or Near the End of its Lifecycle?

Some assets require regular maintenance or upgrades. Fleet vehicles require oil changes and other normal vehicle maintenance at prescribed intervals. Asset management workflows help the fleet manager know when a vehicle is due for maintenance so it can be marked as “out of service” on that day. 

Likewise, equipment wears out. If a laptop is nearing the end of its warranty and is to be sold or otherwise disposed of, the asset management system can alert the IT manager and the laptop user of this well in advance, so that arrangements can be made for a replacement and for secure transfer of data from the old laptop to the new one. 

Lack of Asset Management Results in Waste of Time and Money

Lack of a good asset management workflow can result in duplicate expenses (such as purchasing a laptop for a new hire when there’s an unused laptop sitting in a closet somewhere). By contrast, good asset management ensures that retired assets are disposed of properly, and generally allows money spent on assets to produce the strongest return on investment.

PerfectForms is workflow software that allows users to make customized asset management workflows by dragging and dropping workflow elements into place on its intuitive user interface. No programming is required. PerfectForms is flexible enough to handle an almost unlimited range of business workflows in every department and across departments. To learn more, please browse through our many case studies and see how outstanding workflow management controls costs, boosts revenues, and improves efficiency and productivity.

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Does Your BPM Software Perform? Answer These Questions to Find Out.

Thursday, May 30th, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

Business process management (BPM) is a methodical way of optimizing and managing operations by connecting and automating processes to increase efficiency.

Business automation concept

Affordable solutions for automating and managing business processes are widely available.

With the right BPM software, companies can increase and enforce standardization of processes and improve business performance. Some companies use workflow software for BPM, particularly if they prefer a no-code solution. But whatever type of BPM software a company uses, they must periodically reassess whether it’s earning its keep. Ask and answer the following questions to gain insight into whether your BPM does what you need it to do.

Is Your BPM Software Easy to Use?

No one expects BPM software to be as easy to use as the latest addictive game app, but neither should it be too challenging to use. Taking time up front to train people on using BPM software is important, and the software provider should offer generous training resources for both basic and specialized uses. 

Creating the workflows that power business processes should also be intuitive. BPM software should be easy enough to use that your teams are inspired to expand its use – automating more processes that benefit from it.

Is Your BPM Software Fully Customizable?

BPM software should not lock you into applications that the software company thought of. Every company is different, and every company accomplishes business processes in their own way. While templates can be tremendously helpful, particularly at the beginning of an automation initiative, you should have the ability to create fully customized, automated business processes that address your needs specifically. 

Does Your BPM Software Improve Organizational Transparency?

The primary function of BPM software is to streamline and accelerate processes, but as a secondary effect, it should increase the transparency of business operations. For example, BPM software should allow a user to check on the status of any workflow for which they have authorization at any time. 

Confused girl

Process transparency further streamlines business operations.

One of the most frustrating things about business processes is how quickly they can become opaque, not allowing participants to find out the status of workflow components without calling around to multiple people. BPM software should do away with that type of annoyance.

Does Your IT Infrastructure Adequately Support Your BPM Software?

Some BPM software runs in the cloud, while other BPM software runs on the premises, on company servers. Some businesses need the control that comes from running software right on the premises. But for companies that don’t, ensuring that IT infrastructure can meet demands is an ongoing concern.

With cloud-hosted BPM software, it is the software provider that must worry about infrastructure, freeing the companies that use the software to focus on more important things, like core business operations. 

BPM software is workflow software that streamlines overall business operations. Having the right BPM solution is essential for extracting the maximum value from business. PerfectForms offers a BPM software solution that is easy to learn and use, fully customizable, promotes business transparency, and runs either in the cloud or on the premises. 

The drag-and-drop interface is the very definition of “no code,” and PerfectForms offers a range of templates while still allowing full customization. Best of all, you can try PerfectForms for free by signing up for a trial. And if you have any questions, we invite you to contact us at any time.

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10 Ways to Make Your Online Forms as Convenient as Possible for Users

Wednesday, May 29th, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

Forms are indispensable to online and mobile interactions. They’re a means to an end, but you’ll never get to that “end” if your online forms are poorly designed.

Man looking at his phone

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by long forms on mobile devices.

People mentally calculate their “interaction cost” when they encounter online forms. The higher the interaction cost (due to a complex, hard-to-read, or poorly designed form), the less likely users are to complete it. Keeping forms brief is essential. Beyond that, there are many steps you can take to make your online forms as convenient for users as possible. Here are 10 of them.

1. Help Users with Data Entry Whenever Possible

Autocomplete and auto-fill minimize the number of keystrokes form users must make. Autocomplete makes suggestions based on what the user starts typing into a field, like the first few characters of their email address. Auto-fill users browser data to fill in fields based on previously entered values.

2. Design Forms with Mobile Users in Mind

It’s better to assume that online form users will be using a mobile device rather than a desktop environment with a full-sized keyboard. When you design forms with this in mind, you’re likelier to minimize typing, keep forms brief, and take other steps to make forms convenient.

3. Keep Forms to a Single Column

When you place form fields in a single column, form users can see necessary fields more easily. Single-column forms are faster to complete, too. Multiple columns disrupt the user’s reading momentum, causing the eyes to zigzag, and slowing down form use. 

4. Make Form Fields the Exact Size When Possible

When you make certain fields (like the zip code field) exactly the right size, you minimize errors and prevent user confusion. For example, a zip code field with a width of exactly five characters prevents users from wondering whether they need to type in their five-digit code, or their zip+4 code. 

5. Alert Users to Errors Immediately

If a user makes an error that makes a field unusable (such as forgetting the “@” in their email address), a pop-up error that appears immediately lets them fix it and move forward. When people fill out an entire form, only to be notified of an error after they hit “submit,” they’re likelier to be frustrated enough to abandon the form altogether.

6. Radio Buttons Are Preferable to Drop-Down Menus

Happy girl with her dog

Radio buttons help people complete multiple-choice form fields with maximum speed.

Minimizing typing is important, especially for mobile users. Radio buttons and drop-down menus are two options that minimize typing. Radio buttons should be your first choice whenever possible, because they’re faster to use and less prone to mistakes. Drop-down menus can be reserved for multiple-choice questions where there are more than three or four choices.

7. Masked Input Helps with Long Number Strings

Masked input causes things like phone numbers to automatically appear in the (XXX) XXX-XXXX format when the user starts typing, making it easier to spot errors. Likewise, masked input that divides credit card numbers into chunks of four digits makes it easier for users to enter credit card information without errors.

8. Make the Correct Keypad Pop Up on Mobile

You can use HTML input types to cause the correct keyboard to pop up when a mobile user has to type in information. That way, if you need a user to enter their phone number, you can cause the number keypad to appear rather than a QWERTY keypad. This is another way to help users enter data quickly.

9. Reassure Users You Protect Their Information

People are increasingly concerned about sharing data, and they want direct reassurance that you protect their data, and that you don’t share it with all and sundry. When you include a clear, brief statement to that effect right before the user finishes, you reassure them that their time spent completing the form was worthwhile.

10. Make the “Submit” Button Obvious

Finally, make the submission button both visually obvious and descriptive. It should visually stand out from other field information, and if possible, describe what happens when they click. For example, a button that says “Create my account” is more meaningful than one that simply says “Send” or “Submit.”

The right form software is essential for designing online forms that people willingly complete. PerfectForms allows you to drag and drop custom form elements into place, and there is no programming required. Making mobile-friendly forms is easy with PerfectForms, as is adding features like pop-up error messages, radio buttons, and drop-down menus. You can try PerfectForms for free by signing up for a trial, or if you would rather, you can watch our demo video to see PerfectForms in action. 

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BPM or Workflow Software? Why Not a Solution That Does Both?

Friday, May 24th, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

Workflow management and business process management (BPM) are similar concepts, but they are not exactly the same.

Two confused men

If you’re not sure of the difference between BPM and workflow software, you’re not alone.

Both workflows and BPM address business needs by getting things done more efficiently and with fewer errors, but their roles in a business differ. This naturally leads to the question of whether a business needs separate workflow software and BPM software. In some cases, they probably do. But in many cases, the right automation platform empowers businesses to address both workflow and BPM needs.

It’s important to understand the differences in what BPM and workflow management are meant to accomplish before making your decision.

BPM: Strategic and Organizational

BPM addresses the entire organization, focusing on processes that can be analyzed, executed, monitored, and optimized so the business can gain a competitive edge. BPM is a strategic tool kit that assists businesses with continual process improvement.

The focus with BPM software is more strategic and geared toward improving staff productivity and helping leadership measure and control operational processes. While BPM software has workflow features, it allows businesses to organize data, generate insightful reports, and generally ensure that processes operate optimally.

Workflows: Tactical and Often Departmental

Workflow software operates on a more tactical level, allowing companies to digitize everyday processes, automate what can be automated, and define roles as they relate to processes. Whereas BPM operations may cross departmental lines, workflows tend to be contained within a department. For example, a workflow may allow field technicians to enter field repair data into their mobile devices rather than documenting calls once they return to the office. 

In short, workflow software enables individuals or groups to break down tasks into their component steps and automate some or all of those steps, so that the tasks are accomplished with maximum efficiency. Workflow software may include reporting so that, for instance, the IT department can run reports on how many service tickets they answered in a given month, or how many old laptops were surplussed last quarter.

Colleagues in loft office

Reporting is a useful feature for both workflows and BPM.

Flexible Software Can Accomplish Both

It is possible to choose one software solution that addresses an organization’s workflow software and BPM software needs. It should offer the power to automate complex, cross-departmental processes as well as simpler, everyday processes. It should allow for automatic collection of data when processes happen and have the ability to use that data to create meaningful reports with ease. 

Ideally, it should be operated in the cloud so that scaling processes up or down can be done easily, and without changing the organization’s on-site IT infrastructure. And it should enable full customization of processes, so that organizations don’t have to try to hammer their “square peg” processes into “round hole” software. 

PerfectForms is workflow and BPM software in one. Its intuitive user interface allows users to create the simplest to the most complex processes without programming. PerfectForms comes equipped with a rich selection of process templates for commonly used processes, but users can elect to build their own processes from scratch to suit their exact needs. 

PerfectForms is available either as a cloud-hosted business solution or as an on-premises application. When run in the cloud, scaling is easy and cost-effective. And PerfectForms allows processes to collect and manipulate data, routing it to spreadsheets, databases, and other systems, creating audit trails, and facilitating powerful report generation. In other words, PerfectForms can address a company’s need for both workflow software and BPM software. 

To learn how PerfectForms transforms business processes across industries and on many different scales, we invite you to read some of our many case studies. And if you have any questions, we encourage you to contact us at any time

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How Online Forms Benefit Local Law Enforcement Services

Thursday, May 23rd, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

Police departments depend on forms for countless processes.

Woman police officer

Circumstances dictate many police actions, but non-time sensitive issues
can be addressed with help from online forms.

Though many of the forms police officers use have been put online and made mobile to streamline police operations, forms for use by the general public may still be provided on paper. This brings the problems of paper forms (illegibility, mistakes, incomplete information, etc.) into the system, and makes it harder for police to provide certain services. 

Online forms for local residents to use for non-emergency situations can not only cut down on the use of paper and ink and the problem of disposing of them, they do away with illegibility concerns, cut down on mistakes, and get key information into the hands of police officers more quickly. Here are a few examples of online forms that benefit both law enforcement agencies and the people they serve.

Reporting Non-Emergency Crimes

Some jurisdictions have resources that are already stretched thin in response to more serious offenses like burglary, robbery, and violent crime. Yet non-emergency crimes, such as non-destructive acts of vandalism happen too, and they affect community morale. Online forms for reporting non-emergency crimes can keep police phone lines clear and ensure that incidents are reported and addressed as quickly as possible.

Citizen Request Forms

When concerned citizens notice an uptick of crime in their neighborhood, they may call their local police and count on the message being passed along to patrol officers. But police business is unpredictable, so it’s easy for such reports to get lost when something more urgent comes along. Online citizen request forms for extra neighborhood patrols eliminate many points of failure for such reporting and can be forwarded to patrol officers with no paper necessary.

Vacation House Check

Some communities offer the service of house checks while people are on vacation. Police officers will drive by a house on a regular basis while the owners are away to check for any irregularities or signs of a break-in. This too is an ideal service for using online forms. Vacationers can complete forms at their convenience without a call or visit to the police station, and the information in the forms can be shared easily with patrol units.

Police in fancy neighborhood

In some communities, police patrols will drive by specific addresses to monitor
for suspicious activity while homeowners are on vacation.

Reporting Abandoned Vehicles

Many communities have ordinances against abandoned vehicles, yet police frequently have higher priority problems to attend to. That’s why online forms for reporting abandoned vehicles make so much sense. These forms could even be designed so that users can take a photograph of the vehicle or its plates and attach it so that police know exactly what to look for. This makes it easy for law enforcement to deal with abandoned vehicles when they have room in their schedule, while having the pertinent information right on their mobile laptops or other mobile devices.

Reporting Gasoline Theft from Service Stations

Sometimes communities have problems with people pumping gas and then driving off without paying for it. While this is a big deal to service station owners, local law enforcement often has higher priority incidents to attend to. An online form for reporting such thefts helps gas station employees report incidents right away, while details are fresh in their minds. They could also indicate on the form whether CCTV footage is available that could help police identify suspects.

Not just any form software offers the flexibility, scalability, and power necessary to provide online forms requesting non-emergency law enforcement services. PerfectForms is online form software that allows users to create perfectly tailored forms by dragging and dropping elements into place. It’s even easy to add branding elements to online forms.

Moreover, PerfectForms integrates easily with spreadsheets and other office systems, collecting data from every form and routing it as needed. And it has built-in reporting features that allow law enforcement agencies, businesses, and other organizations to make sense of the data their forms collect. Did you know you can try PerfectForms for free by signing up for a trial? Why not give it a try? And if you have questions, we encourage you to contact us at any time.

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‘No Code’ Workflows Help Companies Automate Overlooked Processes

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

Process automation in business is nothing new.

Workers in open plan office

Businesses already automate core processes, but what about
less-central processes that could stand to be made more efficient?

Many, if not most businesses have already applied automation to their high-stakes processes. These high-stakes processes are related to core operations (like payroll) and are often necessary for achieving regulatory compliance.

However, most businesses have plenty of other processes that consume time and are vulnerable to error introduction. These processes may be unique to a business and may involve multiple departments. If they rely on paper forms and manual processes, then they will almost certainly benefit from automation. The question is, who is going to write the code for automating those processes?

Not many businesses have IT teams equipped with talented programmers who can be pulled off their regular work at will to design and program automated processes. Hiring someone on a contract basis can be expensive. The good news is, no-code automation platforms allow non-programmers to automate processes because the platform itself generates the code as the user maps out the process. Such platforms are affordable and can run in the cloud, so adding IT infrastructure is not necessary.

Characteristics of Processes Best-Suited for No-Code Automation

The processes that are best-suited for no-code automation are ones that are done regularly and repeatedly. They may involve handling of paper and manual data entry. They’re often prone to error. These processes may cross departmental boundaries and are often unique to a business, which means that pre-packaged solutions aren’t a good fit. They may not be considered core business processes, but automating them can streamline work, reduce errors, and ultimately confer a competitive edge.

Introducing a new employee

Think of the many processes that could be automated to bring new employees up to speed more quickly.

One example of such a process might be assignment of IT equipment to a new employee. It crosses department boundaries (HR, IT, and the new employee’s department), and though it isn’t a core business process, automating it can ensure that new hires are up to speed and functional in record time.

What to Expect from a No-Code Workflow Solution

No-code platforms for custom workflow automation must have several key attributes to produce the quickest ROI and ensure maximum benefit to the business:

  • They must be easy to use 
  • They must offer easy connectivity to commonly used office systems like spreadsheets, web forms, and popular platforms like Salesforce
  • They must allow proper data governance and data quality control
  • They should offer templates, examples, suggestions, and easy-to-follow tutorials to make the learning curve easy to climb

Why PerfectForms Fulfills These Requirements

PerfectForms is a no-code workflow automation platform that fulfills these needs and more. Automated workflows can be created through a user-friendly interface, where users drag and drop objects onto a virtual canvas. Workflow creators can add “intelligent” features to their no-code workflows like notifications prompted by defined triggers, automatic calculations, and mandatory field-checks. 

Users can create automatic alerts so that when one element of a process is completed, the next person whose input is required is automatically notified. And data can be collected for later reporting, or for auditing purposes, ensuring strong data and process control.

PerfectForms workflow software offers a level of flexibility and power that makes it suitable for a nearly unlimited range of workflow automation applications. We invite you to watch the PerfectForms demo video , and even have a look at some of our many training videos to see just how easy-to-use and powerful a no-code workflow automation solution can be. 

How Automated Workflows Build Success in B2B Sales

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

B2B buyers typically submit large transactions involving multiple departments and personnel, and these transactions generally take a long time compared to B2C transactions.

Business woman on an office form

Ordering a phone system or furniture for a business is more complicated than ordering a watch from Amazon.

The B2B seller has processes that B2C businesses don’t have to worry about. For example, the typical B2C e-commerce company doesn’t have to worry about overdue invoices, but they must be tackled methodically and quickly by B2B sellers. 

Yet B2B buyers behave in many ways like B2C buyers: they do plenty of online research, and they often have their mind made up by the time they choose a provider. While buying office furniture for an entire business location will never be the same as buying a book or a garden hose from Amazon, B2B buyers want their experience to have the efficiencies they enjoy when they do personal online shopping.

To meet these needs to the extent that it’s possible to, B2B sellers need strong workflows to root out inefficiencies and keep errors to an absolute minimum. The right workflow software helps them do this.

B2B-Specific Workflows for Repeat Customers

Different B2B buyers have different processes within their own organizations for getting purchases approved, and B2B sellers can create workflows that can help. Suppose a B2B seller has a long-time repeat customer who is required to send orders through a manager for approval if the order amount exceeds a certain threshold. 

The B2B seller can create a tailored automated workflow for this customer that prevents the buyer from continuing with an order without getting their own manager’s approval. For threshold-exceeding orders, the workflow could notify the B2B buyer that they need to get manager approval, after which point the workflow will pick up again immediately.

Workflows to Approve or Deny Special Requests

In another example, suppose a B2B buyer has a special request. Maybe they want a product made in a particular color to coordinate with their brand colors. An automated workflow in the seller organization could send the special request for approval, noting any factors that may be favorable (a large order from a valued repeat customer) or unfavorable (a new customer about which nothing is known) so that decision-makers can make an informed decision on whether or not to approve the special order request.

Serious work conversation

Automated workflows can ensure that special requests are evaluated and approved or denied quickly.

This way, decisions can be made quickly, so that an approved special order can get started ASAP, or a denied special order can be communicated with the buyer promptly so as not to waste their time.

Audit Trails for Fraud Prevention, Policy Compliance

The right workflow software makes it easy to generate audit trails on all workflows, and this can be invaluable for preventing or detecting internal fraud. When B2B workflows collect and store data on who accesses workflows, complete with time and date stamps, it’s harder for the unscrupulous employee to fudge sales figures or overcharge buyers.

Auditing is also great for ensuring that every employee complies with company policies and any industry or government regulations that may apply. If an irregularity should occur, audit trails make it easier to track down exactly where the irregularity entered the workflow and determine if it was just a mistake or typo, or something intentional.

Workflow software like PerfectForms empowers B2B companies to create customized automated workflows to address their specific needs, without having to hire a programmer. The user-friendly, drag-and-drop interface makes creation of online forms and workflows straightforward, so they can be tested, modified if necessary, and deployed in record time. PerfectForms invites you to watch the demo video, or better still, try PerfectForms for free by signing up for a trial. There’s no reason to let inefficiencies and errors stand in the way of maximum B2B profits.

Workflow Software as a Change Management Tool

Friday, May 10th, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

Every organization undergoes change, whether that’s changing physical location, changing technologies, or changing organizational roles.

Professionals looking into box

Whether it’s a new location, new software, or a new organizational structure,
automated workflows can help keep changes on track.

Major organizational changes require that rank and file employees must each make their own individual changes, and this can be difficult. If individual employees don’t have the support they need to make the individual changes that contribute to organizational change, results can include wasted time and resources, resentful employees, and change that doesn’t deliver positive results. 

Change management is the process of preparing for, executing, and supporting change before, during, and after it happens. It’s a great way to ensure nobody misses any key steps and that the change delivers the results you expect. Many aspects of change management can be assisted by automated workflows.

Plan Change

Suppose your business is moving to a new location. Careful planning is necessary to minimize upheaval. With the right workflow software, you can create workflows for tasks like selecting moving service providers, scheduling employees during the move itself, ensuring any required deposits are paid, and confirming that every employee has a workspace and necessary tools at your new location. 

Such workflows can be designed to ensure no steps are missed by prohibiting completion of further steps until all prerequisite steps have been taken. They can also be used to keep the days leading up to moving day on schedule, and to send out periodic notifications keeping affected employees informed about progress.

Map Change

Mapping out change with workflows requires that you understand your current status with regard to the change, and that you have a clear vision of how the situation will be different once change has been completed. Maybe a current software suite you use is clunky and inadequate to the needs of your growing business, so you plan to replace it with something newer and more advanced.

Mapping out goals for after the change is a key step in change management, and workflows can help here too. If, for example, new software will first roll out to a single department, and then expand to other departments, you can create workflows scheduling the order of departmental adoption, with checklists department heads can complete once the new software is in place. 

Hands drawing a flowchart

Mapping out change to the best of your ability helps affected employees know they are supported
while keeping the steps involved in change on track for efficient completion.

Manage Change

Workflow management and change management go hand-in-hand. During a major change, such as a reorganization of departments or teams, automated workflows can be designed to methodically manage each affected person’s old and new status. Suppose your business now has HR and payroll together in one department, but you plan to split payroll off into its own department.

Workflows can be created to track each affected employee so that their current role and their future role are clearly defined, and so that employees left behind understand exactly how their roles will change. You can also create workflows for moving employees whose workstations will change location. This can prevent confusion and miscommunication and help the new, separate departments get up and running more quickly.

Track Change

Tracking change, including successes, problems, and lessons learned can be tremendously beneficial for future change management scenarios. With the right workflow software, you can easily collect data on how long certain steps take, where problems arose, and which steps proceeded as planned. You can later use this data to create reports that help inform future change management initiatives. If your workflow software has powerful data collection and reporting capabilities, this can be done easily. 

PerfectForms is workflow software that makes workflow management – including change management – straightforward and perfectly organized. No programming is required to create customized online forms and workflows, embed audit trails, and collect data for reporting. PerfectForms can be an outstanding change management partner in addition to its many other applications in streamlining and automating business processes. If you need inspiration and ideas, watch our demo video, or browse through our case studies. You’ll discover the many ways PerfectForms delivers better, faster, more accurate business processes across departments and across industries.

Use Online Forms and Workflows to Power Ideas and Innovation

Thursday, May 9th, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

The best ideas and innovations for your business may come from your employees.

Enthusiastic employees

Employees can be outstanding sources of innovative ideas.

The people who carry out work processes every day are in the perfect position to identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies, and quite often they think of ways to overcome these problems.

But not all businesses are friendly to innovation, and that’s a shame. The pace of business demands innovation in terms of processes, products and services, and even business models, and companies that are willing to embrace innovation are often the ones that pull ahead competitively. Collecting innovative ideas and putting the best ones into practice are not easy tasks, but online forms and workflows can help.

Encouraging Innovative Behavior in the Workplace

It’s not enough for company leaders to say they support innovation. For real innovation to happen, employees must know how to submit their ideas for evaluation. Getting employees to think through and put forth their ideas requires a supportive corporate culture.

Not every employee is comfortable writing up a great idea and presenting it to their supervisor, so it’s important that companies facilitate anonymous ideas. Online forms for ideas can be designed to remove and store identifying information so that ideas can be evaluated anonymously, for fairness. 

Most importantly, however, employees must see innovation in action and know that great ideas are supported, funded, and implemented. They’re unlikely to submit their ideas if they know the company won’t pay attention.

Online Forms for Soliciting Employee Ideas

Idea collection can begin with a simple online form for capturing ideas. Keeping it simple encourages employees to act when inspiration strikes. It should include information like the submitter’s name (which can be removed during evaluation to maintain impartiality), a title for their idea, a brief description, the primary goal of the idea, and benefits the submitter believes will result from adoption of the idea.

Companies may also create a more detailed idea submission form for clarification of promising ideas. These online forms should ask for more detail, such as:

  • A hypothesis of how the idea would work in practice
  • Resources and skill sets needed to test the idea
  • Estimates of how long creating a prototype or pilot study would take

Working together

Detailed online forms for idea submission helps decision-makers evaluate and prioritize ideas.

Workflows for Identifying and Prioritizing the Best Ideas

Soliciting and collecting ideas is one thing but acting on them shows employees that the company takes innovation seriously. To identify and prioritize the best ideas, you will need a team with the right mix of skills to evaluate, select, and prioritize them. 

These activities can be done with an online workflow that takes data from idea submission forms and allows evaluators to rate the ideas, note where further clarification is needed, and give their opinion on whether an idea merits further consideration. 

The evaluation team should have both a goal and time scale in mind. For example, the goal may be to identify, fund, and test three ideas over the course of six months. Having a goal and time frame can help prevent idea development from falling by the wayside.

Workflows for Funding and Testing the Best Ideas

Suppose the idea evaluation team identifies three winning ideas. A workflow for identifying and securing funding for development of the ideas can help bring them to fruition. Such a workflow can help the evaluation team identify possible sources of funding, communicate with those in charge of fund allocation, and develop a plan for prototypes, pilot projects, or other real-world test applications.

Collection of data on funding of pilot projects and prototypes is not only valuable for the development of the ideas under consideration but provides valuable information for future innovation pushes. It also lays a foundation for determining ROI for ideas that are developed and put into practice.

Companies rarely fail to innovate due to lack of ideas, because employees often have great ideas about new processes and products. Most companies fail to innovate due to a lack of a defined process for collecting, evaluating, and funding innovations. 

PerfectForms is workflow software that is powerful and flexible enough to allow creation of custom online forms and workflows for almost any process imaginable – including the process of innovation. We invite you to watch our demo video to see how you can use PerfectForms to create, streamline, and accelerate a range of processes in your business.