Improving Workflow with Online Forms
People have complained about paperwork since we began carving information on rocks. (Although it wasn’t called “paperwork” back then.) But paperwork has served an important function in terms of documenting processes and ensuring uniformity and consistency. The problem is, paper flow bogs down workflows (but it’s still faster than rocks – and a lot easier on the inbox). Paper has to be handled, can be damaged or lost, or could be altered by unauthorized persons. That’s one reason today’s workflow designers try to eliminate paper as much as possible. Digital workflow management, powered by online forms, makes more sense for today’s fast pace of business. In fact, it really rocks!
If you operate a small or lean business, hiring a workflow designer may not be an option. The good news is, powerful tools exist for creating online forms and turning them into sleek, logical workflows. Here’s how.
Think Steps, Not Activities
To create an online workflow, begin by thinking about every part of that workflow that requires someone’s input or approval. Consider each one of these to be a discrete step. Each step may, in fact, involve several activities, like gathering information or making calculations, but the steps are the building blocks of the workflow designer.
When you have mapped out all the steps in a process and are sure you haven’t forgotten any, it’s time to create electronic versions of the forms that facilitate those steps, such as approval sheets, or applications for reimbursement. Creating online forms from existing paper forms does not have to be a major IT project, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. With the right software, you can create online forms easily and begin realizing a return on investment quickly.
Notifications Keep Processes Moving
In the old world of paper forms, leaving a completed form on some approving authority’s desk required a trusting that they would see and act on the form in a timely manner. The problem was that that confidence was often misplaced. The great thing about electronic forms and workflows is that automated notifications can be built-in right from the beginning. If a department head needs to approve something for a workflow process to continue, the workflow can be set up to send out a notification email as soon as his or her input is required. Lack of progress can trigger follow-up notifications, and everyone in the loop can be clearly aware of what is causing the holdup.
Some Steps Can Proceed in Parallel
Work processes can be complex and, in some cases, different aspects of a workflow can proceed in parallel. For example, the graphics for the annual report can be requested at the same time that the copy text is being edited rather than doing them sequentially. Workflows can be created with parallel branches, allowing users to see at any time how any branch of the process has progressed, so there’s less confusion about where a process is or who is working on what. With the right software, you can create online forms, then assemble them into workflows with parallel activities that can cut down on the time required to accomplish major tasks.
To Do This You Need “Rock Star” Level Software
It’s important to know, however, that not just any electronic forms software is up to the task. Furthermore, the person designing a workflow shouldn’t have to know how to write programming code in order to create powerful workflows. Happily, outstanding online forms software exists that doesn’t require programming and that offers an intuitive interface.
PerfectForms was designed for the non-programming user to create online forms and workflows quickly and accurately, with custom precision and powerful performance. PerfectForms has a friendly, virtual canvas interface that allows users to drag and drop elements of forms into place, mapping them right on the screen. In fact, if you want to create electronic forms that look exactly like their paper counterparts, you can do so easily.
PerfectForms also offers outstanding integration with other office systems, web forms, and databases, and allows you to create workflows from simple to complex, with automated notifications at key steps to keep them on track. It was designed to improve workflows, and has done so for numerous clients across all industries. We encourage you to check out some of our case studies so you can see how workflow improvements save organizations massive amounts of time and money. PerfectForms is the online form creation “Rock Star” you’ve been looking for.