Adding Intelligent Behaviors to Your Forms and Workflows
One of the reasons electronic forms are so popular is because they reduce the hassle of dealing with paper and the expense associated with paper forms. In addition to helping your business reduce paper usage, electronic forms can go further, using intelligent actions to help ensure that information entered into them is complete and accurate.
The ability to complete these intelligent actions depends on your choice of form and workflow software. Not all types of form software are advanced enough to allow intelligent form fields. But this capability is well worth the investment. Here are some of the ways you can add intelligent behavior to your forms, and benefits you can enjoy after doing so.
Calculations Made Automatically
Suppose you create a form for purchases where the rightmost column contains line-item cost. You could place a form field at the bottom of this column that automatically adds line-items to get the total. Or suppose your school has a form on which test scores are entered. The form could be made to calculate an average test score per classroom. Does your business prorate per diem travel allowances based on how many hours a person is away on days they travel to and from their destination? If so, your form could ask the user enter the total hours they were away on those days and have the form automatically calculate the pro-rated per diem.
Field Checks for Accuracy
Let’s say you work in a mental health care facility and on one of your intake forms for patients, the user must input a number on a scale of 1 to 5 based on patient mood. Adding intelligence to your electronic form means that if someone accidentally tries to input a “6” or otherwise unusable number, the form will immediately flag the error.
Or say a form takes in data to create an in-house phone directory, and you need phone numbers to be entered in a certain format, like (XXX) XXX-XXXX. Should someone try to enter their number in another format, again the form could pop up an error message so it can be corrected before the form is submitted for further processing.
Question and Page Skipping
Once again, when considering a business purchasing form, let’s say your company has a rule that purchases over a certain dollar amount require additional approval from a department head. If a form user is making a smaller purchase, there’s no need for them to fill in that additional information or obtain the department head’s approval.
If you make your forms so they automatically skip those questions or pages once the dollar amount is determined to be low enough, you’ll reduce unnecessary work and save time for everyone.
Other Conditional Actions
If your online form or workflow has requirements that apply only under certain conditions, you can build those conditions into the form for convenience. Suppose you want to set a condition where, if a purchase is approved, comments by the approving authority are optional, but if a purchase is denied, a comment is mandatory. When you build this condition into the form, the person who denies approval cannot proceed until they put information into the comment field.
When a form is used frequently, having your form software generate a name for each instance of form use makes it easier to retrieve forms and the information contained in them. Your form could, for example, concatenate the name of the form (Purchase Request), the form user’s employee ID (13911, for example), and the date (080817) to end up with something like “PurchaseRequest13911080817.” If information needs to be retrieved later, knowing the user’s ID and/or the date on which it was created helps in locating the exact form instance to be searched.
PerfectForms is a form creation software that has all these capabilities and more. It allows you to easily preview and test forms before deploying them, and it allows you to create complex workflows through an intuitive process that is similar to creating a flowchart. We encourage you to learn more about adding intelligent actions to forms by having a look at our training videos, including the one on adding form behaviors.