The Superiority of Digital Forms
The hand-completed paper form is rapidly becoming obsolete. Forms themselves are still infinitely useful, but we have far better options for using them than paper and pen. Digital forms are available for every type of business, not just online businesses. It doesn’t take long to fully realize the superiority of digital forms over forms on paper. Here are just a few reasons why electronic forms are the “gold standard” today.
Digital Forms Are Legible
Face it: penmanship has been a lost art for a while now, and even when neat, legible handwriting was appreciated, there have always been those who just couldn’t quite master it. The result was illegible forms. But when your employee accesses an electronic form that looks identical to the paper form he or she is used to, there’s essentially no learning curve for filling it out online and submitting it. With digital forms, there are no worries about indecipherable handwriting, and forms can even be made to detect errors automatically.
They’re Accessible and Searchable
Finding a paper form that someone filled out two weeks ago can be a major undertaking, even if you have a wonderfully organized filing system. Digital forms, by contrast, are instantly accessible and searchable. If you need an expense report for a business trip a particular employee took over a particular span of dates, you can search by employee ID, by date, or both. And as a digital form wends its way through the chain of command, you have visibility to all authorized persons at all times. Learning the status of an electronic form in a process is quick and easy.
Delivery Is Instantaneous
Much can happen to a paper form from the time an employee fills it out until final action is taken. Paper forms can be lost or damaged, and if they end up in the wrong person’s inbox, they can bring a process to a halt. Electronic forms don’t have any of these problems, because completion of the form can be designed so that online submission is made to the proper recipients at the click of a button. If people in your main office and multiple branch offices need to review the form, there’s no waiting on mail or faxes.
Integration with Many Other Systems Is Possible
Depending on the electronic forms software you choose, you can integrate electronic forms with software packages you already use. Imagine if your sales team could use data they enter into a program like Salesforce to populate other forms for use by other teams. Or, suppose figures from approved purchase orders could be automatically routed to a database of expenses so that budget forecasting could be based on better data. The possibilities of integrating electronic forms with other systems are almost limitless.
Digital Forms Create a Stronger Audit Trail
In some industries, record keeping isn’t just a matter of good business, but a matter of legality. Before electronic forms, audits could be harrowing and disruptive. While audits probably always will be somewhat disruptive, if your company uses electronic forms, you’re creating records and an electronic, date- and time-stamped “paper trail” with every electronic form submission. Proving that you adhere to requirements in your industry is significantly easier than it was when you had to produce paper documents as evidence.
Switch to Digital Forms Without a Major IT Initiative
PerfectForms is digital forms software designed for the non-technical user. The person in charge of processing reimbursements, for example, can create the perfect electronic form using a drag-and-drop interface. And when forms are submitted along a chain of command and acted upon, all the steps in the process can be linked into standardized, repeatable processes using the same drag-and-drop convenience. Take a look at some of our case studies and you’ll quickly conclude that switching from paper to digital forms is a major step forward for operational efficiency, whatever your business.