Why Google Forms Fall Short of True Form and Workflow Automation

Person typing on a laptop.

Small startups are often keenly cognizant of costs and keeping them under control. Therefore, they may start out using free or low-cost office software like Google Docs and Google Forms.

In many cases, this makes perfect sense and is more prudent than investing in office systems that may end up being a bad fit once true needs are known. However, the capabilities of these free and low-cost products are easy to outgrow when additional employees come on board and once processes are established to keep the business operational as it expands.

Google Forms is a free product that helps individuals or organizations create online forms, and in some cases, it is all an organization will ever need. But in the case of most businesses, the capabilities of Google Forms fall short as the business starts to grow in size and complexity. Here’s why.

Many Businesses Want Strict Workflow Permissions

You don’t want anyone and everyone to have permission to edit or change a form. With Google Forms, you can either classify users as editors, or as view-only users, and whichever permission is assigned applies for the entire data set.

In many workflows, however, certain people need to only access certain parts of a huge set of data. For example, you may not want just anyone submitting a purchase order to be able to view all previous purchase orders, yet you want them to be able to easily amend their own purchase order if necessary. Dedicated workflow software is necessary to fine-tune permissions so the right people have access to the right data at the right times, and free products usually do not offer such capabilities.

Notifications Propel Workflows Forward

One of the best features of a good workflow is the notification. Automated workflows can be designed to deliver an automatic notification to a particular individual (or several individuals) once part of a workflow is completed. The notification will ensure that the correct person or persons are alerted that input is needed, which helps ensure the process will be completed in a timely manner.

Person pointing to their mobile phone.

Automated notifications are great for keeping workflows moving ahead smoothly.

With free products, notifications are limited if they exist at all. For example, Google Forms allows for email notifications when new form entries are submitted, but those notifications only go to the person who created the form. That’s of no help when someone else needs to know to start their part of the process.

Tracking Capabilities Necessary for Many Organizations

Businesses in certain industries must maintain meticulous records and may be subject to industry or government audits where those records are pored over in detail. Dedicated workflow software allows the design of workflows that can record every instance of someone interacting with it. For example, it can create a record of a particular user doing a particular task at a particular time and date.

With more limited products, like Google Forms, anything beyond a timestamp once a form is completed is impossible. This can create a tracking nightmare, particularly for businesses that rely on extensive documentation for auditing purposes.

There is no question that free offerings like those from Google are great starting points for new businesses. And there may be some businesses whose needs are well-accommodated by free products. Most businesses, however, need more than what free products offer, and in fact benefit and get a strong ROI when they invest in dedicated products, like workflow software.

PerfectForms is workflow software that allows users to create workflows that conform to their exact needs. It allows the creation of custom permissions so that everyone has access to just what they need to complete their tasks. Additionally, it incorporates notifications that can go out at any point in the workflow so users will know as soon as their input is needed. And it allows for the creation of an audit trail as well as the collection of data for easy reporting, saving tremendous time and stress.

If you’re curious about workflow software, PerfectForms invites you to browse through our many case studies. You’ll see how the right online forms and workflows transform business processes, removing roadblocks and helping businesses just like yours operate with optimum efficiency. Contact us to learn more.

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