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.
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
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.
Police departments depend on forms for countless processes.
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.
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.
Process automation in business is nothing new.
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.
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.
Every organization undergoes change, whether that’s changing physical location, changing technologies, or changing organizational roles.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The best ideas and innovations for your business may come from your 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
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.
No company is an island, and every company depends on having customers – and on having employees who understand what customers need.
Customers, and the employees who help them are key considerations for workflow designs.
According to New Voice Media, the top reason why customer switch providers for products and services is that they feel unappreciated. And one-third of Americans say they consider switching providers after a single incident of poor customer service. Moreover, U.S. companies lose an estimated $62 billion per year due to bad customer service.
But what about the employees who spend every day ensuring customers have the products and services they need? Employees must also feel appreciated and listened to, and they must believe they have the agency necessary to solve customer problems. Otherwise, they’ll have one eye on their work and the other on the exit door.
A successful company’s workflows must be designed with both the needs of customers and the needs of employees in mind. It’s a careful balance, but the right workflow tools make it possible.
Understanding the Customer Journey
The customer journey is the series of decisions that leads to the choice of a provider for products or services. It’s not the same for everyone, but there are commonalities, and those commonalities are used by smart companies to develop and understand key customer personas. When companies understand the motivations, triggers, emotions, and challenges of customer personas, they can design workflows that empower employees to ensure the best possible customer experience.
Creating Workflows Based on Customer Touchpoints
Customers need personalization, knowledgeable customer service agents, and reasonable, timely solutions to their problems. Designing customer service workflows based on customer touchpoints should be driven by understanding of customer personas as well as hard data. The hard data can be collected in many ways. One popular data collection method is simply asking customers to check a box indicating their satisfaction level after a customer service interaction and tracking the data in aggregate, over time.
Workflows can also be used to match the customer with the right helper. Automated workflows that act based on keywords can help ensure that someone with a purely transaction-related issue speaks with someone trained in handling such issues, and that someone with a technical issue speaks with an agent skilled in talking customers through technical difficulties.
Empowering Employees, Reducing Distractions
Employees with the right tools, in the right environment, are more willing to give their best efforts.
Employees are human too, and workflows must also be designed with their well-being in mind. Employees can’t be expected to deliver their best work when they’re corralled in an environment that is dirty or noisy, when their equipment breaks down, or when they feel unappreciated and without agency.
Automated workflows must account for employee feedback as well. The employees who use automated workflows every day are the ones who know where bottlenecks occur, and often they have suggestions for addressing problems. Therefore, it’s important for employees to know that their feedback is valuable, and for supervisors and managers to take it seriously.
Workflow Training Essential
The best workflow in the world is useless if nobody knows how to use it. Taking the extra time up front to train employees in how to use automated workflows (whether for customer service or anything else) is an investment that pays off. Carefully-crafted training sessions help ensure that employees hit the ground running when it’s time for new workflows to go live. Reassuring them that their feedback from using the workflows matters can keep discouragement to a minimum.
Without the right workflow software, designing workflows with customers and employees in mind is difficult or impossible. PerfectForms, however, offers the flexibility, power, and user-friendliness companies need to design customized automated workflows, test them, and take them live in record time.
PerfectForms has an intuitive interface that means no programming is required to create sleek, perfectly customized workflows with features like automated alerts, audit trails, and customized workflow permissions. It is the right solution for the company committed to creating workflows that ensure outstanding customer service while making the most of employee skills and talents. If you want to learn more, we invite you to watch our demo video, and if you have questions, feel free to contact us at any time. We would be delighted to hear from you.
IT workers deal with both predictable and unpredictable situations, and their work is essential to smooth business operation.
Automating everyday IT processes ensures IT teams can allocate their efforts optimally.
While some IT processes cannot be taken over by automated workflows, many aspects of day-to-day IT operation can be automated. Doing this not only helps ensure efficiency and transparency, but also helps free up IT workers to focus on critical issues that can have a serious effect on business.
Here are four IT processes that can benefit from automation, and why your choice of workflow software can make all the difference in the success of workflow automation.
1. IT Procurement
IT procurement involves several steps including vendor selection, negotiation of contracts, replacement of old hardware, and vendor / license management. Automated workflows give IT workers (and any necessary approving authorities) a step-by-step process to follow to ensure no critical steps are missed.
An automated procurement workflow can also streamline procurement by automatically forwarding documents and orders to the next step in the process. With the right workflow software, it’s easy to design the procurement process to create an audit trail that can help if a procurement instance has to be revisited later.
2. Basic Help Desk Functions
Automated workflows can be designed to cover several basic help desk functions, freeing up IT staff to tackle bigger issues. For example, a self-serve workflow for recovering a forgotten password can save significant IT staff time in the long term.
Automated workflows can be created for functions such as requesting use of a laptop for travel, downloading pre-approved apps, basic troubleshooting, or reporting problems like network outages. These workflows can also assign help requests to appropriate personnel and keep end-users informed of the status of their request, so IT workers aren’t overwhelmed by phone calls asking for updates.
3. Assigning Equipment to New Hires
A simple workflow can ensure new hires have the IT equipment they need from day one.
New employee onboarding in general can benefit from automated workflows. Actual pen-on-paper processes can be considerably streamlined with good onboarding, and it’s easy to incorporate a process for assigning a new hire the IT equipment they will need to do their job. In fact, IT equipment requests can be completed even before a new hire reports for their first day. Certain job titles may be associated with pre-defined lists of hardware and software to speed things up further.
At the other end of things, offboarding employees who are leaving can benefit from workflows to recover their IT equipment and account for it. This equipment can be examined and cleared in readiness for a new employee, helping minimize unnecessary purchases of new hardware.
4. Status Communications
The more IT processes involve automated workflows, the easier it is to incorporate automated status communications that prevent “phone tag” while keeping necessary people informed. If, for example, someone initiates a procurement workflow, status can be marked upon completion of various steps in the process. Then, the person who initiated the workflow can access the workflow and assess the status without sending someone to track it down in person.
A process user could, for example, log in and determine that the purchase had been approved, and that vendor selection had been completed. Being able to check on workflow status makes planning easier and also prevents endless rounds of phone tag.
Even the smallest businesses benefit from automated IT workflows. In many organizations, IT workers are pulled this way and that, and it’s not always easy for them to chase down the status of projects when someone asks. Automated workflows not only keep processes on track, they document progress and increase transparency for everyone.
PerfectForms is workflow software designed with both power and flexibility in mind. Users in a wide range of industries are able to create customized workflows for nearly unlimited business processes, including IT processes like the ones mentioned above. Better still, you can try PerfectForms for free by signing up for a trial. If you have any questions about using PerfectForms for your IT or other business processes, please feel free to contact us at any time.
Smaller and newer businesses may not have the resources necessary to contract out market research, or to use the more expensive market research tools designed for big enterprises.
Regardless of your budget or company size, you benefit from regular market research.
However, they can use online forms and automated workflows to organize and manage their in-house market research efforts and gain valuable insights.
Ongoing market research is essential in a constantly evolving marketplace. When you conduct regular market research and analyze the data you collect, you can:
- Create more compelling marketing collateral
- Discover targeted niches interested in your products and services
- Develop new products and services based on customer “pain points”
- Recognize developing industry trends so you can act promptly
Here are just a few of the ways you can use online forms and automated workflows to improve your market research efforts.
Organize and Understand Data from Surveys and Landing Pages
Does your form software support web forms? It should, because web forms allow you to collect valuable information from the very people who are interested in the products and services your business offers. Not only can you create landing page forms that improve conversion rates, you can create on-site surveys and then funnel the data from them to databases and spreadsheets for analysis.
Your form software should be easy enough to use that you can do A/B testing of landing page forms to find out exactly what combination of elements results in the highest conversion rates. If your form software is difficult to use or has a steep learning curve, you may not bother with A/B testing, and could end up missing out on key insights.
Create Forms for Combing Through Secondary Market Research Sites
Many companies do market research by combing existing web resources like Facebook groups, Quora, reddit, and even Amazon book reviews. Forms and workflows can organize these efforts and help ensure that nothing of value is missed. You could, for example, create a form that your market researcher can use to record key URLs, assign a topic to the research, record keywords, and jot down sentiments expressed in user posts.
Plugging text from online reviews into a word cloud generator
can give clues as to what’s important to your customer base.
Your researcher could run the text from a relevant Facebook group through a word cloud program and identify words that show up prominently. These words could be entered into a market research form for follow-up, to help understand customer problems and sentiment more clearly.
Integrate with Databases, Spreadsheets, and Salesforce
Online forms and automated workflows that integrate form data with other office systems like databases, spreadsheets, and CRM systems (like Salesforce) help ensure that you gain a comprehensive, 360-degree view of your customer personas. Forms themselves can offer insights, but when you multiply those insights many-fold and feed critical form data (such as form users’ age, sex, or geographic area) into a spreadsheet, suddenly you can process that data to learn far more.
Does your form software integrate easily with commonly used office tools like spreadsheets and databases? If not, you could be unnecessarily limiting the insights your forms could be delivering, and inadvertently hindering your market research.
Online forms and workflows are flexible, multi-purpose business tools. Your form and workflow software should make these tools as easy as possible to use, whether for market research or any other business process. PerfectForms is online form and workflow software that offers an intuitive, user-friendly interface, so you can climb the learning curve in no time.
It also supports web forms and integrates with office software like the spreadsheets and databases you use every day, and even Salesforce CRM. Give your team the tools they need to get the most from market research. Not only will the market research be more efficient and thorough, you can develop insights that you might never have discovered otherwise. If you would like to know more, PerfectForms invites you to watch our demo video.
Business success depends on both productivity and efficiency.
Using the right workflow software is like setting productivity and efficiency to “MAX.”
The two concepts are similar and are sometimes confused for one another, but they’re not the same. Productivity is about output during a defined time period. Say that last week you produced 100 units of work, but this week you produced 110. That means your productivity went up by 10%.
Efficiency is more related to the quality of your work or work processes. If you produce the same number of units in the same amount of time, yet do so with less waste, or at a lower cost, you improve efficiency. Both higher efficiency and higher productivity lead to higher profits.
Strong workflows are the key to both higher efficiency and greater productivity, and when you can automate some or all of a workflow, you can make a tremendous difference in both. Here’s how.
Productivity and How Workflows Help
Let’s say your business produces handmade furniture. The more pieces you complete, the more you can sell and the more money you can make. Production may involve preparing the pieces that will make up a table or chair, finishing wood surfaces, upholstering seats, and so on. All these steps make up a workflow, and the more efficient the workflow, the more quickly you’ll go from raw materials to finished product.
Automated, mobile-friendly workflows can be designed so that the moment the wood finisher or upholsterer’s services are needed, they receive a notification. That way they know to begin as soon as possible and there is less risk of steps being missed or delayed. Ultimately, productivity goes up.
Efficiency and How Workflows Help
Suppose you are the head administrator at a school. School administration naturally involves a lot of forms: for registration, field trip permissions, equipment requisitions, and so on. All these processes used to have to be done on paper, but now all of them can be done through online forms and automated workflows.
Students have no trouble ditching paper. Shouldn’t their teachers and administrators try to do likewise?
Imagine what happens when registration forms go online. Not only are there no more worries about illegible or damaged paper forms, massive amounts of paper can be saved. That alone represents efficiency, but so does the time saved from manually sorting, filing, and handling forms. Efficiency can increase impressively from the conversion of a single, paper-heavy process to an online workflow.
Demand These Features in Your Workflow Software
You have many choices in workflow software. Some products are geared toward large enterprises, while others are designed for small and medium businesses. When evaluating your workflow software choices, be sure to insist on the following features, whatever the size of your organization:
- Intuitive, user-friendly interface
- No programming required
- Automated alerts and notifications
- Permission-based access controls
- Integration with commonly used office systems like spreadsheets
- Easy creation of workflow reports
Many businesses today choose cloud-hosted workflow software, and this is a great choice in terms of scalability and reliability. However, if you have to run software on your own servers, choose workflow software that gives you this option.
PerfectForms is workflow software designed to improve both productivity and efficiency. Because of its intuitive user interface, learning to use PerfectForms is fast and easy: you simply drop form or workflow elements into place. You can also easily set workflow permissions, create automated alerts, and integrate PerfectForms with your spreadsheets, databases, web forms and with Salesforce CRM.
If you’re ready to improve productivity and efficiency through better, faster work processes, we encourage you to read some of the many PerfectForms case studies . See how businesses and organizations like yours used the power of automated workflows to boost productivity and efficiency while reducing error rates and tracking business data and trends with ease.
If you need to create the occasional one-off form, there are any number of free online resources that will help you do that.
It’s probably smart to be wary of free software you find on the internet.
But if online forms are a regular part of your business workflows, then you need more in a form software solution. You may ask yourself why you should pay for form creation software when you can make forms for free using Google Docs, but the fact is, outstanding form software can deliver impressive ROI through its productivity- and efficiency-boosting features.
Many if not most forms are workflow elements. In other words, completion of the form is an essential step in getting a work process completed. What if those forms were part of an overall workflow solution rather than just one-off forms users have to access through Google or some other provider?
Look for the following features in your form creation software and you can not only have the forms you want, but also streamline workflows and improve the efficiency and productivity of your business.
You Shouldn’t Have to Program
You might find form creation software that allows powerful custom form creation for an enticingly low price. Then, when you try to learn how to use it, you may be surprised to learn that creating those forms requires HTML, PHP, CSS, or JS scripting and that neither you nor anyone else in your business knows how to do that.
You could probably learn enough HTML to get by, but that’s not a good use of your time. Form creation software is supposed to make running your business easier, not harder. When evaluating form software options, be certain that the package you choose doesn’t require coding.
Think About Features You Want Over the Long Term
Today you want a simple online form so new customers can register for sale updates and special events. Tomorrow, however, you may want other online forms. Maybe you will want to start using employee-facing forms for business processes like scheduling paid time off or requesting reimbursement for expenses.
Maybe someday you’ll want forms for recording software license information so you don’t run the risk of violating software licenses. Not only could such forms prevent illegal software use, they could protect you in the event of a software license audit.
Data collection and reporting features of premium form creation software
can save a tremendous amount of stress in the event of an audit.
As your business grows, you may want online forms for faster and more accurate onboarding of new employees. Maybe you’ll want your field representatives to have forms on their tablets so they can record service calls in the field. The possibilities are limitless, and it’s important to take a long view when choosing form creation software.
Form Software Can Deliver ROI in Multiple Ways
One of the main ways form creation software delivers ROI is by drastic reduction of resource use. Do away with paper and you do away with paper storage, archival, and recycling needs. It also does away with the need to manually enter information from paper forms into associated databases and spreadsheets. Furthermore, online forms can be connected to create simple to complex workflows, ensuring processes stay on track, with no missed steps. Can a free online form maker do all that? It’s highly unlikely.
Think of form creation software as a business investment. If you choose the cheapest (or free) option up front, you might save money right now, but you won’t have access to the features that will save your company significantly over the long term.
PerfectForms is form creation software that can be used to create the simplest of online forms to the most complex automated workflows. You can create mobile-friendly online forms from scratch or start with one of the many included templates. And you won’t have to write a single line of programming code, because PerfectForms has an intuitive, drag-and-drop interface.
PerfectForms allows form and workflow permissions, automated alerts to keep workflows moving swiftly, and powerful data collection and reporting features so you can track trends with ease. And it interfaces easily with spreadsheets, databases, and other office systems, including Salesforce CRM. Read some of our case studies and you’ll see what a smart investment you make when you choose the right form creation software.