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.
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.
Everyone knows that online forms are better in every way compared to paper forms.
Learn to do this electronically and you can save time, money, and physical resources.
You have many options for creating online forms, and some of the office software packages you already use may allow basic form creation.
But extracting the most value from online forms requires more than just shoe-horning your form into a word processing program and hoping for the best. At the same time, you don’t want to have to hire a programmer to create custom forms that collect and process data the way you need. That can take significant time and money.
What you need is a comprehensive online form and workflow solution that doesn’t require programming, yet empowers you to extract maximum value from your online forms.
Create Forms That Do Exactly What You Want
Templates for online forms can be great starting points, but sometimes you have to create a form that is unique. For this you need form software with an intuitive user interface that lets non-technical users nonetheless create powerful, functional, fully-customized forms. Only then can you collect the data you need easily, route and process the data properly, and gain the most value from the data while saving time and physical resources like paper.
Deploy Forms on a Tight Time Scale
Who has time to wait six months for customized forms to be created by a programmer? Sometimes you need online forms right away. Other times you need customized online forms, but only for a short time period (such as in association with a one-time event). Form software isn’t doing its job unless it enables you to create the forms you need when you need them, to test them quickly, and then deploy them in a timely manner.
Your form software should save time, not waste time.
Report on the Data Gathered by Your Forms
Not all forms require reporting, but almost all processes that require forms can benefit from gathering, analyzing, and reporting on the data they collect. Maybe your job is to accept citizen applications for tree seedlings in coordination with a city-wide Earth Day celebration. The primary purpose of your forms is to connect the seedlings with the right people. But what if your form software could collect the data, organize it by neighborhood, and show you exactly which neighborhoods participate most, and which seedlings are most popular? Suddenly you have data that can help you make next year’s event even better!
Integrate with Other Systems to Extract More Value
Integrating forms with each other and with other office systems is the basis of countless automated workflows. Integration means that data entered on a contact form online automatically goes into your Salesforce CRM. It can also mean that order data is automatically routed to databases that help you forecast demand and meet customer needs better. Can your form software do this? If not, it’s time to take another look at the possibilities.
PerfectForms is online form software and workflow software in one. Without writing a single line of code, you can create pixel-perfect online forms exactly to your specifications. Not only that, you can test and deploy them quickly, and integrate them into sleek automated workflows. Along the way, you can collect data for reporting purposes, and route data collected into your CRM, databases, spreadsheets, and other office systems. In other words, you can extract every last drop of value from the data your forms collect.
It’s easy to think of the data you collect as static and permanent. But much of the data businesses use is in constant flux.
Your online forms and workflows can go a long way toward ensuring your business operates only with the highest quality data.
For example, the contact information for a client may change. If you fail to note this change, you needlessly slow down the business process, and risk losing the client altogether. But managing living data is more than just getting rid of old data and replacing it with new data. Occasionally, for instance, you may end up with a new version of a document that is inferior to an older version, and being able to revert back is essential. Automated workflows can help you manage the “living” data your business encounters every day. Here’s how.
Excellence in Online Forms Aids Quality Assurance
So-called “dirty” data is data that is inaccurate, incomplete, or otherwise erroneous. The online forms you use to collect data can make a measurable difference in the quality of data collected. When online forms have built-in checks and balances to ensure that numbers go in number fields, that figures fall within accepted ranges, and the like, you maximize the chances of collecting (and ultimately using) “clean” and accurate data.
Suppose some scientific value measured in a laboratory always falls within the range from zero to one. Online forms requiring this data can set a rule rejecting values that fall outside this range. Then, if someone should inadvertently try to enter a value like 1.5, the form can pop up an error message immediately so the value can be corrected before proceeding. The result? Cleaner data.
Version Tracking Prevents Confusion, Allows Reversion
Collaboration is a wonderful thing in the modern workplace, but it requires management. If multiple people collaborate to author a report, it’s essential that everyone use the same document version at all times.
Automated workflows can be designed to ensure that this happens without fail. A workflow “owner” can create a new document version either as needed or at prescribed time intervals, numbering and archiving older document versions as updates occur. Not only does it help ensure that all collaborators are on the same page (literally and figuratively), but if a new document version has too many errors or problems, it’s easy to revert back to an earlier version and regroup.
Collaboration works best when workflows ensure everyone is working with the right version of a document or other data set.
Mobility Assists with Real-Time Data Capture
Online forms for data capture are far more useful when they are mobile-friendly. Companies that use field technicians, or where employees capture other data outside the office benefit tremendously from mobile-friendly online forms.
The forms themselves can include necessary checks and balances to ensure only correct data is entered, and automated workflows can archive older form versions automatically. This type of form and workflow interaction is also tremendously valuable for creating reports, especially when the reports track data points over time.
“Dirty” data is a real problem for business, and data must be managed, cleaned, and updated regularly for business to proceed at its fastest pace and to achieve its best results. How a business designs online forms and automated workflows can go a long way toward ensuring that the data the business uses every day is as accurate, current, and complete as possible.
PerfectForms is workflow software that makes it easy to create customized, mobile-friendly online forms and automated workflows with all the backstops, checks, and balances necessary to capture clean data and manage it skillfully.
Designing online forms and automated workflows is easy because of PerfectForms’ intuitive drag-and-drop interface, and building in rules, alerts, and instant error messages is easy as well. If you’re interested in the solution that not only powers efficiency and accuracy, but also helps ensure your data collection and management efforts pay off, please contact us at any time. We would be delighted to talk with you about the best ways to collect and manage the data your business relies on.
Errors in online forms are inevitable, but there are several things you can do to ensure those errors are corrected before the form is submitted.
Online forms with mistakes waste time, but you can prevent many mistakes with simple design constraints.
Excellent form design is perhaps the most important way to minimize errors in online forms. Forms should be pleasing to the eye, have plenty of white space, and be kept to the minimum number of fields necessary to collect the information you want. Cut out any questions that are not strictly necessary, particularly with customer-facing forms. Shorter forms tend to get more conversions than longer ones.
Beyond that, you can add a number of checks and balances to your online forms that can cut down on the number of errors that make it through. Here are a handful of tips that are tried and true.
Use Color-Coded Fields for Mandatory Information
Researchers in Switzerland actually studied which works better to designate mandatory fields in online forms: asterisks or color-coding the mandatory fields. Color-coding worked better. It made mandatory fields easier to identify at first glance, and made it easier to see what proportion of total form fields were mandatory. The study reported that color-coded mandatory fields resulted in fewer errors, faster form completion, and greater user satisfaction.
Suggest Default Entries for Fields That Rarely Vary
There will be form fields that are almost always completed with the exact same information. For example, if 90% of your organization consists of engineers, a form asking for “job title” will most likely be completed with “engineer,” so you can have that as a default in a drop-down menu to make form completion faster.
Likewise, a form that is almost always filled out by people in your Chicago branch can have a default “location” field pre-filled with “Chicago” (but with the ability to be overwritten by the form user). Even the fastest typists appreciate getting to skip fields in online forms, and you can avoid a lot of errors this way.
Default field info that minimizes typing for form users? Yes, please!
Impose Constraints that Prevent Erroneous Data Entry
Suppose someone is filling out a form requesting paid time off next summer. Just as airlines and hotels do, you can impose constraints that won’t let them, for example, erroneously enter a return date that’s before the departure date.
Likewise, if the value of a certain field always falls within a specified range of numbers, you can make that form field reject any numbers that fall outside that range. A field that must include numbers can be designed to reject text typed into it. These seemingly small constraints can prevent plenty of errors.
Use Inline Validation to Allow for Quick Error Correction
Have you ever completed an online form and clicked “Submit” only to receive a pop-up box telling you there were half a dozen errors that must be corrected before the form would go through? It’s incredibly frustrating, and even if the pop-up box tells you what the errors are, it’s not that helpful, because you have to go back to the form and find all of them, presumably after you’ve closed the pop-up box!
Enabling form users to correct information as they go is far preferable. Say someone enters an email address and mis-types # for @. A message that pops up immediately next to the form field allows them to correct the mistake quickly and move on. Forms will arrive with fewer errors, and form users will experience far less frustration.
The right form software is essential for designing forms that are error- and frustration-free. PerfectForms allows you to create customized forms using the many templates that come with the software, or from scratch with an intuitive interface that allows you to drag and drop form elements into place.
PerfectForms also allows you to add checks and balances that ensure a frustration-free experience for users while ensuring that the information entered is correct. Watch our demo video and see how easy it can be to create the custom online forms that will help your business operate more efficiently.
Agriculture is a hands-on industry, but it interfaces with many other industries as well as with government agencies.
High-technology ensures the hard work done on farms serves people efficiently.
Nobody has time for cumbersome bureaucracy, especially the farmer whose days are filled with the countless tasks and processes involved with operating a farm. Agriculture online forms have taken some of the burden off of agricultural professionals by eliminating paper, pens, calculators, and stamps, and the agencies that use the data collected from farmers benefit as well.
Perhaps the uses of online forms in agriculture can inspire you with ideas about how they can be used in your organization as well.
Online Surveys and Censuses: Faster, More Accurate
Ireland conducts an annual census of sheep and goats, and completion of the census each year helps ensure farmers are eligible for various government programs and payments, such as a national Sheep Welfare Scheme and other agricultural programs.
Completing such a census by hand is time-consuming for both the farmer and the agencies supporting them. What’s more, old-fashioned census forms generate significant paper waste, and cause agency workers to have to enter data by hand into their databases. Online forms are faster, more accurate, and more planet-friendly.
Mobile-Friendliness Makes Data Collection More Convenient
An increasing number of people access the web primarily through mobile devices, so it only makes sense that agricultural forms be mobile-friendly. Nobody wants to pinch and zoom pages or type long answers on mobile devices, so a big part of mobile-friendliness is ensuring that forms fit mobile device screens properly.
Additionally, the use of single-tap answers is preferable wherever possible, since typing out words on a tiny mobile screen is slow and painstaking. With the right form software, it’s possible to make forms that use multiple choice questions, allow users to choose ranges through drop-down menus, and otherwise minimize the need to type words into forms. This level of convenience helps ensure timely completion of mandatory forms.
Surveys that only require single-tap answers make things far easier for survey participants.
Other Online Form Features That Improve User Experience
When forms are built with the right online form software, users who partially complete forms can save their progress and pick up where they left off next time, so they don’t endure the frustration of having to start over. Another feature to look for in online form software is capability for automation of basic arithmetic formulas. That way, the form user doesn’t have to enter a string of numbers and then manually do the math themselves, risking the introduction of errors.
With online surveys and other forms, completion and successful submission can be reflected through a “Thank you” screen that reassures the user that their data has been entered properly and submitted to the right personnel. Some organizations offer incentives for prompt completion of online forms by putting names into a drawing for a prize when forms are completed by a certain date. There are countless ways that online forms can improve the experience for both form users and for those who collect and process form data.
PerfectForms empowers users to create custom online forms that are mobile-friendly and aesthetically pleasing. More importantly, PerfectForms interfaces with other common office systems easily, so data collected from online forms is routed to exactly where it needs to go, with no human intervention necessary. And all of this can be done without programming, due to an intuitive, drag-and-drop interface.
PerfectForms is flexible enough to serve industries across the spectrum, from agriculture to e-commerce to insurance, education, and more. Did you know you can test drive PerfectForms for free? Sign up for a free trial and learn how easy it is to create online forms that get the job done in record time, with unmatched accuracy and utility.
The two main ways companies fill vacant job positions are partnering with a recruiting agency and doing recruiting in-house.
In-house recruiting makes sense for many businesses. Automated workflows make it efficient.
In-house recruiting teams act as an extension of the HR department and may include people from multiple departments, including the departments with unfilled positions and often the company’s marketing department as well. Doing in-house recruiting effectively requires strong coordination, and automated workflows help this coordination take place.
Advantages: United, Consistent Employer Branding Throughout
One of the main advantages of recruiting in-house rather than using an agency is control over the process. While agencies may be necessary for filling highly specialized positions (where candidates can be hard to find), in-house recruiting often works well for the majority of front-line employees.
Another advantage of in-house recruiting is that the entire process can be imbued with employer branding elements. In other words, from the first time a potential applicant learns of the open position, they are also learning about the company itself, as well as its values and goals.
Sourcing and Selecting Candidates
Automated workflows for sourcing and selecting candidates must incorporate necessary advertising of open positions, as well as gathering information from interested parties, and receiving completed job applications.
Coordinating these activities is more complex than many people expect. Posting job ads, for example, can change as the team discovers which job boards are most effective at reaching qualified candidates. Later, candidates who express interest can be funneled into the application system, and ones who actually fill out applications can be separated from those who don’t. Keeping key recruiting team members apprised of these developments is done more accurately and efficiently with automated workflows.
Applicant Tracking and Interview Scheduling
Once an applicant submits their application and other necessary materials, like their resumé, tracking them is critical. “Lost” applications can let great candidates slip through the cracks! Automated workflows can ensure that applications are processed, and can issue alerts when recruiting team members fail to act on a submitted application in a timely manner.
Recruiting workflows can send out automated notifications
when nobody acts on submitted applications within a set time period.
Likewise, interview scheduling must be coordinated. Automated workflows can gather necessary information from both the applicant and the recruiting team to schedule interviews that work with both the interviewee’s and the recruiting team’s schedules.
Delivering Offers and Coordinating Onboarding Especially Important
It is the latter stages of the recruiting process that are perhaps most important: delivering offers and completing the onboarding process. Both of these can be accomplished through automated workflows that ensure that no steps are missed and no time is wasted.
Once a workflow creates an offer based on input from the recruiting team, it can either deliver the offer via email or compose a formal offer letter that the leader of the recruiting team can deliver. Once a candidate accepts a job offer, the automated onboarding workflow can begin.
Excellence in the onboarding process is essential to keeping new employee turnover to a minimum. New employees, who are already anxious about their new job working out, can easily become disillusioned with a new employer if the onboarding process is disorganized or needlessly outdated. Automated onboarding is one key to getting new employees up to speed and part of the group as quickly as possible.
Doing recruiting in-house requires a strong recruiting team and workflows that support both the team and the job candidates. There is no place for disorganization or for processes that are needlessly cumbersome or manual when they can be automated.
PerfectForms is workflow software that makes it easy to create the online forms and automated workflows you need to inspire and empower your in-house recruiting team to find, interview, and hire the best candidates for your open positions.
With its no-programming interface, PerfectForms allows users to drag and drop elements in place, creating perfectly customized online forms and automated workflows that are uniquely tailored to their needs, and that incorporate their company branding elements at every step. Take a look at the PerfectForms demo video and learn how it can help you create the perfect in-house recruiting workflows, as well as workflows that streamline and accelerate a range of other business processes.
Online forms and automated workflows are standard business practice today, but that doesn’t mean that everyone uses them.
Particularly with smaller businesses, it can be hard to see why the effort to overhaul how business processes are completed would be worthwhile. But rest assured: automating processes and converting paper forms to online forms offers benefits that are hard to envision until you’ve tried it.
Myths about workflow automation still abound, and that’s too bad because it’s hard to think of a business that wouldn’t benefit from it. Here are several lingering myths about online forms and automated workflows, along with exactly why you shouldn’t believe them.
Automating Workflows Is Too Expensive
There was a time when this was true. Before cloud computing became normal, companies that wanted to automate workflows had no choice but to install workflow software on their own IT infrastructure. This was both time-consuming and expensive – particularly if IT upgrades were necessary.
Today, however, the cloud makes it easy for businesses of every size to access workflow software without the need for on-premises servers and their upkeep. The cloud also makes it easy to scale workflow software up as a business grows, minimizing disruption.
Only Big Businesses Need to Automate Workflows
On the contrary, smaller businesses probably have the most to gain from online forms and automated workflows. Smaller businesses find it easier to be agile and respond to market and customer needs quickly, and automated workflows help them do this. Customers generally like working with smaller businesses because there are fewer layers of management and bureaucracy to penetrate to get the services they want. And when those smaller businesses operate efficiently and quickly, they can command the kind of loyalty that huge enterprises can’t always match.
We’ll Lose Visibility Over Processes if We Automate Them
Automated workflows shouldn’t be regarded as black boxes. Workflows designed so that authorized users can assess status at any time actually increase workflow visibility. In the old days, finding out the status of a workflow involved tracking people down, playing phone tag, asking questions, and hoping for a timely answer. With automated workflows, however, assessing workflow status is largely a matter of logging into the process and checking instantly. Rather than spending most of an afternoon finding out whether a purchase order has been approved, an authorized workflow user can pinpoint the exact status of a workflow in an instant.
Automating Workflows Is Too Hard
Automating workflows used to be hard, because it used to require programming, and extensive back-and-forth between programmers and workflow users. That is no longer the case, however. Today you can access cloud-hosted workflow software that does not require programming due to advanced user-interface design.
One of the main benefits of today’s workflow software is not only that it’s easy to use, but that the ease of use makes it more practical for workflow users to assist with design. When the end-users of a workflow have input into how a workflow is designed, it can address needs far better.
One other great benefit of easy-to-use workflow software is that getting workflows designed, tested, and in use is a much faster process than it used to be. The result is less disruption in the workplace, along with a swift, positive return on investment.
PerfectForms is workflow software that has been used by very small businesses, big enterprises, and everything in between. It can be either cloud-hosted or run on-premises, and it allows creation of custom online forms and automated workflows without the need for programming.
PerfectForms’ drag-and-drop interface means that workflow end-users can have more influence over workflow design, and that the time from concept to daily use can be far shorter than it used to be. Did you know you can try PerfectForms for free? Simply sign up for a trial and you can see for yourself why the old myths surrounding online forms and automated workflows no longer apply.
No one expects the pace of business to slack off in 2019.
Excellent processes are necessary to step up to the challenges of a busy, fast-paced new year.
The fast pace of business has made agility a key business asset, and to be agile, a company must have excellent processes. Business process management (BPM) is how many of them streamline and automate processes – particularly back-office processes that allow more people to spend more time on core business objectives.
Outstanding BPM software is the key to innovating processes in 2019 and beyond. Here are five top BPM trends you can expect to see in the coming year.
1. BPM for Customer Service
Customer service has become an increasingly important differentiator, and companies are beginning to realize that they can’t solve customer problems effectively and efficiently if employees are faced with roadblocks when they try to handle customer service tasks. With BPM software streamlining the back end of customer services, employees are empowered to work smarter and be more responsive to customers. The end result should be a more loyal and enthusiastic customer base.
2. Increased Role of Digital Process Automation
Ordinary digital workflows automate many parts of business processes, but digital process automation (DPA) elevates automation to a new level. Repetitive, rules-driven business processes that do not require human intervention are processes that are ripe for DPA. Robotics are not the only route to DPA, but you can expect robotic machines to play an increasingly evident role in BPA in 2019.
3. Apps and Mobile Continue to Increase in Importance
Ordinary automated workflows free employees from the drudgery of things like filling out forms by hand and hand-delivering them to their intended recipients (or relying on intra-office mail to do so). BPM ascends to a greater level of functioning by adding mobility to the mix. Fewer employees spend their entire workday behind a desk, and mobile friendly, app-powered BPM ensures that they can offer their input from phones and tablets, even if they’re working off-site.
Mobility makes automated processes faster and more convenient, helping businesses remain agile.
4. Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things
With artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT), sensors and logic enter business process automation. As just one example, temperature sensors attached to workspaces or products can be used to automatically record data as products are processed, or as workspaces are used to accomplish tasks. A product that for whatever reason exceeds the safe temperature range can be automatically routed out of the process, while supervisors can be notified to check and correct conditions as necessary.
5. Analytics to Drive Process Action
BPM often generates extensive amounts of data that can be used to further fine-tune processes and to influence other processes. Proprietary data is an extraordinarily valuable business asset, and BPM not only helps businesses collect and analyze it, but also turn it into actionable information that can drive or improve processes. BPM software that includes reporting capabilities already uses process data to inform and drive improvements, and companies should take full advantage.
Without outstanding BPM software powering processes, it’s hard to take advantage of the many adjunct technologies that are poised to improve business processes in 2019. PerfectForms is BPM software with a unique drag-and-drop interface that allows you to create and automate business processes without programming. PerfectForms integrates with spreadsheets, databases, Salesforce CRM, and other office systems, so putting BPM to work is straightforward and delivers a swift ROI.
Best of all, you can test drive PerfectForms for free by signing up for a trial. What better time than the new year to resolve to improve and automate business processes so your daily operations deliver maximum performance?