Why You Don’t Have to Rely on Your IT Team to Automate Workflows

Thursday, February 14th, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

Your IT team is perpetually busy.

Team of programmers

The typical IT department today can’t spare a programmer to help design and deploy automated workflows.

Today’s IT professionals in the enterprise spend their time and mental energy dealing with cloud infrastructure, big data, virtualization, energy efficiency, and interoperability. Or else they’re dealing with a server that has broken or a network that has inexplicably slowed down. Or perhaps they are preparing for a software license audit. One way and another, IT work and maintenance never stop and hardly ever slow down.

Rare is the IT team, even in the wealthiest of companies, that has the time and expertise to design, program, and deploy automated workflows. The good news is that this is no longer necessary for most businesses.

How It Used to Be Done

In the old days, automating a process, or automating steps of a workflow was a major undertaking. While the people involved in using the workflow may have helped sketch it out on paper and make suggestions, there was always some question as to whether the type and level of automation was possible for a given workflow.

Companies that had their own IT departments may have commandeered a programmer to work on the workflow automation project, while others would hire a programmer from outside on a contract basis. Only after programmers learned about the workflow could they determine if automation was possible, how practical or impractical it was, and how big and expensive an undertaking it would be. The end product may or may not have matched what workflow users envisioned. 

Why End-Users Are the Key to Great Automated Workflows

One of the best starting points for improving efficiency and productivity is asking the people who do the work what would make their work easier. Maybe they don’t want to type the same data into multiple spreadsheets or databases. Maybe they resent having to track down superiors to find out the status of a process. What if you could ask workflow end-users what would make their work easier, and then could implement those things without having to hire a programmer?

Hands drawing a flowchart

Workflow software should make it easy to translate ideas into solid, automated processes.

The closer workflow end-users are to the design and creation of automated workflows, the more closely the final workflow will live up to their expectations. Without the layer of opacity that even the most highly skilled programmer brings to the workflow automation process, end-users can gain control over how they do their work, and eliminate many inefficiencies and work-arounds.

The Right Workflow Software Makes It Possible

The key to creating workflows that deliver what end-users expect is having the right workflow software. Today you can use on-site or cloud hosted workflow software that does not require the services of a programmer.

User interface designs have evolved to where workflow elements can be created on a screen, dragged and dropped into place, and then connected into sleek, functional workflows. Practically, this allows workflow end-users to put their ideas into practice more quickly and easily. Workflows can be designed, created, tested, and deployed on a much tighter time scale, so ROI can be realized sooner.

PerfectForms is the workflow software you have been looking for if you want a powerful, flexible way to create automated workflows without having to hire a programmer. PerfectForms’ user interface is intuitive and easy to learn, allowing users to drag and drop workflow elements into place. Anything from the simplest form-completion workflow to the most complex workflow going across multiple departments is possible, and end-users can have a greater say in how those workflows are designed. The learning curve is easy, deployment is fast, and ROI shows up in record time.

PerfectForms invites you to browse through some of our many case studies, which cover a range of industries. Learn how taking the power of automated workflow design into your own hands can improve efficiency, boost productivity, save resources, and increase revenues.

How Workflows Help You Communicate Company Policy Effectively

Friday, February 8th, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

Workflow software

Workplace policies are about making sure everyone in the workforce is safe and understands their responsibilities and obligations. They are also about ensuring fairness in the workplace.

Many businesses are bound by laws and regulations, and it is mandatory that employees know about, read, and understand the policies that ensure all regulatory requirements are met. One way and the other, businesses must have a system in place to create and distribute their policies effectively and efficiently. Automated workflows can help.

Ensuring Everyone Is Notified of Policies in a Timely Manner

Thankfully, the days of placing a paper memo into each person’s departmental mailbox are over. Distributing policies and policy changes electronically makes infinitely more sense in terms of resources saved and errors prevented. 

Automated workflows can be created to email policy documents to affected workers all at once. They may even be able to interface with the email program to determine if and when the sent emails have been opened so that there is a record of each employee having received the document. 

Ensuring Everyone Has Read Policies

It’s not that hard to ensure everyone receives policy documents, but how can you be confident everyone has read them and understands them? One way is to include in policy emails a link for people to follow if they have a question or don’t understand something about a new policy. The link can go to an FAQ page, or open an online form in which employees can ask their questions and ensure they are sent to the right person to answer them.

Some companies ensure that employees have read policies by having them complete a short, simple quiz as proof. These, too, can be administered through a link in a policy email that goes to an electronic form. Once the user passes the quiz, they are marked as having received, read, and understood the policy.

Workflow software

But what about the people who ignore emails? Workflows can also be triggered to deal with those people. For important policies, your workflow could, for example, trigger a login action opening the reminder and form upon login and preventing them from continuing with their normal work until they demonstrate that they have read the policy.

“Triage” System for Policies and Policy Changes

With policies, you must be careful not to inundate employees. Obviously, some are more critical than others, and the most important ones are the ones that can be integrated with automated workflows ensuring employees read and understand them. The use of short quizzes can be reserved for these critical policy documents so as not to take up more employee time than necessary.

The problem with deluging employees with policy documents, and considering them equally critical, is that eventually employees will acknowledge them without reading or understanding them, just to get on with their day. Therefore, it’s important that you know when to use your policy distribution workflow and equally as important, when not to. 

The right workflow software will help you create policy workflows that make sense and that can be customized so that the right people receive the right policy documents at the right time. It will also automatically keep records of policies distributed, acknowledgements, and policy quiz results so they can be called up at any time, should a conflict, policy violation, or misunderstanding arise.

PerfectForms is the ideal workflow software for this and countless other business workflows. By allowing users to drag and drop workflow elements into place, PerfectForms eliminates the need for programming while helping users deploy useful, value-adding workflows as quickly as possible. We invite you to watch the PerfectForms demo video. It only takes a minute, and you’re sure to come away with ideas and inspiration about how you can put automated workflows into service to make your business run better. 

Workflow vs. Process: How Are They Different?

Thursday, February 7th, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

Workflow software

Every business has processes, whether or not they call them that. 

If you operate a florist service, you have processes for getting inventory in, processes for creating flower arrangements, and processes for delivering them to people. If you run a medical clinic, you have processes for registering new patients, performing and documenting exams, and for prescribing medications.

And while workflows are highly beneficial in just about every type of business, you don’t necessarily need workflows to carry out processes. You could tell your new floral arranger to create an arrangement using carnations, baby’s breath, and roses and leave them to their own devices. It may turn out well, or it may not. 

But if you have a workflow designed just for creating such an arrangement, you can be far more confident that the end product will look as it is supposed to and meet your quality criteria.

Processes Are Strategic

Processes are things you do in support of a business goal. Some examples of processes include

  • Onboarding a new employee
  • Delivering products to customers
  • Preparing and selling tacos
  • Designing electric motors
  • Providing custom clothing alterations

In other words, the processes you do are what your business is all about. Processes may be simple or complex, and they may be done well and consistently, or badly and inconsistently.

Workflows Are Tactical

Workflows are about how you get processes accomplished. Without a defined workflow, providing IT services may be a process based on phone calls and sticky notes with scribbled instructions. With an automated workflow, it is an orderly process based on an online request form, automated notifications, and electronic checklists documenting exactly what steps were taken, when, and why. 

Laptop computer with several yellow sticky notes.

Workflows define the sequences of steps that take place in a process, lay them out logically, and make the processes better, faster, and more consistent. They often involve automation of key steps in the process. Processes don’t have to have workflows (though most should), but workflows are always developed in support of a process.

One Workflow May Be Adapted to Address Multiple Processes

Workflows can also be adapted to multiple processes with only small changes. For example, a workflow designed for the process of delivering IT services can be modified slightly to work wonderfully when used for managing building maintenance services. Or a workflow for ensuring new company policies are read and understood can be modified to ensure that people complete mandatory training. 

Workflows are tools, in other words. The same tool (a hammer, say) can be used to drive in nails, or it can be used to pry quarter-round trim from baseboard. And every worker knows that having the right tools makes all the difference between work that is efficient and consistent and work that is haphazard and harder than it has to be.

The following table summarizes differences between workflows and processes. 

WorkflowsProcesses
Designed for efficiently finishing tasksDesigned to meet business goals
Can apply to multiple processesA process typically has one associated workflow
Planned step by stepMay or may not be planned
Typically automated, at least in partMay or may not be automated
Workflows require processesProcesses don’t require workflows
TacticalStrategic

Designing workflows to make processes faster, more efficient, and less wasteful does not have to be arduous. The right workflow software makes it easy and straightforward.

PerfectForms is workflow software that allows creation of automated workflows, complete with automatic routing, alerts, and built-in mobile-friendliness, all without programming. Workflow creators can drag and drop workflow elements into place, so it’s easy to create workflows, test them out, and then fine-tune them as needed before deployment. 

The power of good workflows is evident in terms of efficiency, productivity, and savings of time and money. PerfectForms invites you to read through some of our many case studies that show exactly how workflows can take processes and make them better, helping businesses be more competitive, less wasteful, and more profitable.

Make Workflows Better by Integrating Video Conferencing

Wednesday, January 9th, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

Make no mistake: automated workflows can revolutionize business efficiency. But we have all experienced situations where a workflow comes to a halt because specific human input is needed.

Confused man in front of arrows

Sometimes a workflow can’t proceed until you have human, face-to-face interaction to clear something up.

By analyzing and pinpointing exactly where work tends to come to a halt in a process, teams can preemptively insert process steps that address the situation. One popular way of doing so is by adding videoconferencing to automated workflows. This can prevent the type of workflow stoppage that happens because a key team member is out of town, or because everyone’s waiting on a scheduled meeting to happen.

Videoconferencing is no longer expensive and no longer requires sophisticated equipment, and in many organizations, it is beginning to overtake voice-only communication. 

Videoconferencing as a Workflow Element

Videoconferencing doesn’t have to be a mandatory element of a workflow. It can be inserted at key points in a workflow as an option. Sometimes a brief videoconference can bypass the roadblocks and obstacles in a workflow far more efficiently than a series of phone calls or emails can. Ideally, the videoconferencing technologies used as part of workflows is simple to use, and allows people to participate using their mobile devices. This is becoming easier even with consumer-level technology, with one example being Apple’s release of an update that will allow up to 32 people on a FaceTime call.

The “Huddle Room”

Many organizations have had success in designating a small, private meeting area (capable of accommodating around half-a-dozen people) as a “huddle room.” In such a room, small groups can participate in quickly scheduled, brief video conferences for the purpose of moving a workflow along. 

Suppose a new client wants to offer input into a piece of content or marketing collateral. A huddle room is an ideal place to schedule a brief videoconference where stakeholders can get direct feedback on a draft copy, sharing screens and talking face to face. All this can take place in far less time than it would take for draft copies to be routed to individuals, evaluated, and sent back with suggestions.

Video conference

“Huddle rooms” dedicated to brief, small-group videoconferencing, can be designated specifically for meetings that move workflows forward.

Set Goals, Benchmark, and Reevaluate

The keys to succeeding with videoconferencing as a workflow element are the same as they are for workflows in general. Step one is to set goals. What specifically do you want to be able to accomplish using videoconferencing, and in which workflows? Next, it’s important to benchmark current procedures. How much time does a typical workflow take from initiation to completion? How might videoconferencing shorten that time? 

Finally, after videoconferencing has been introduced as a workflow element, it’s important to reassess: does it save time? How much time does it save? How much productivity does it add? This measure should be done only after videoconferencing has been used as a workflow element several times, to control for potential tech-related issues that will almost inevitably crop up the first couple of times you try it.

Online forms and automated workflows can tackle an almost limitless number of business processes. Yet business is still a human endeavor, and real-life, human input sometimes can’t be captured on a form. By introducing videoconferencing as an optional workflow element, organizations provide a convenient, efficient way of surmounting workflow obstacles and maintaining the many benefits of workflow automation.

PerfectForms is workflow software that allows creation of customized online forms and workflows without programming. Adding an optional element for temporarily stepping out of the workflow to consult with clients or other stakeholders by videoconference is easy, and helps keep workflows on track. If workflow automation (or better workflow automation) is a goal for your organization, we encourage you to watch the PerfectForms demo video. It only takes a minute, and you’re sure to be inspired for ways your organization can put automated workflows into service and reap the efficiency and cost-saving benefits. 

Virtual Audits: A Great Reason to Automate Workflows

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

Few words strike fear into the heart of the average person like the word “audit” does. 

Man working on a laptop appearing surprised

Audits are specifically designed to scrutinize and pass judgment. It’s no wonder they’re so stressful!

The average person probably thinks of IRS audits first, and the upheaval, uncertainty, and stress that such an audit can cause. Whatever type of audit is being done, it’s disconcerting, because it is done to prove that you have done what you promised, and who has never slipped up on a commitment?

The good news is that many types of business audits no longer have to be done in person. Cloud technology has made it so that many audits can be done from the offices of the auditor. And even in cases where some on-site, in-person action takes place, it may only be for a small subset of the overall audit process. It’s easier on everyone and there’s no loss in accuracy with audits done remotely.

Many Accounting Audits Are Now Done Remotely

The SEC requires that publicly held companies regularly have their financial statements examined by auditors, who ensure that each company’s books are accurate, complete, and truthful. These audits also test companies’ “controls,” or measures taken to keep accounting errors to a minimum and prevent fraudulent bookkeeping.

Accounting firms that do these audits remotely are no longer considered “bleeding edge,” and many firms are realizing the benefits of doing remote audits wherever possible. For the auditor, it’s more cost-efficient and time-efficient, reducing travel and the costs associated with it. For clients, it’s obviously less stressful to gather and present documents electronically than it is to host a crew of auditors on-site.

Other Types of Audits That Don’t Have to Be Done Manually

Software license audits are less of an issue for companies that use cloud-hosted software (where compliance is built into the subscription process), but companies with major on-site IT infrastructure still face software license audits for software installed on the premises. 

Software license audits are revenue generators for companies like Microsoft, since customers bear the cost if they are not found to be in compliance. But even these audits can be done through customer self-assessments, which can be done quickly by companies with strong IT workflows that record information of interest to auditors.

Man in a server room with a laptop

Software license audits can be made less stressful through automated workflows that record relevant software license data.

Some portions of other types of audits, such as PCI audits (for merchants that process credit card transactions) and HIPAA audits (for healthcare entities that handle private patient data) can now be done remotely, which is faster, more cost-effective, and easier for all parties involved.

Why It’s Smart to Create Workflows That Generate Audit Trails Regardless

Automated workflows that include steps for recording and storing auditable data make sense even if the risk of external audit is low. One reason is that many companies have strict internal audit practices, and automated workflows that generate, store, and report on the information that may be audited save massive amounts of time and stress.

Another reason for creating automated workflows that collect and store certain types of information is the possibility of insider malfeasance. Workflows can be limited to authorized personnel, and when someone accesses a sensitive workflow, their presence in the workflow, including when they logged into the workflow, what steps they accessed, and when they logged out can all be recorded. This can be invaluable when personnel have access to company secrets or other sensitive or particularly valuable data.

Automated workflows that improve audit readiness require workflow software that is up to the task. PerfectForms is workflow software that allows you to create customized automated workflows without programming. It interfaces with databases, spreadsheets, and other office systems so that data can be shared easily among authorized users without duplication of effort. If you’re interested in delving deeper into the possibilities enabled by powerful workflow software like PerfectForms, we invite you to browse through our training videos, where you’ll see how powerful and easy-to-use PerfectForms is.

How Strong Workflows Help You Synchronize and Streamline Data

Thursday, December 27th, 2018 by PerfectForms Editors

Have you ever stopped to consider just how valuable the data collected by your business is?

Data charts

Correctly managed, high-quality data can be thought of almost as an invisible employee, adding value to your business.

In the Information Age, data can be a major company asset, and should be treated as such. Small, non-technical businesses collect data – even if that data is only “collected” in the brains of the people running the company. A florist, for example, eventually comes to learn what times of year orders are heaviest, what arrangements repeat customers tend to want, and the most efficient route for making deliveries on a given day.

Every business should understand the value of the data it collects and make the most of it. That requires that data be “clean” and of high quality, and automated workflows can be ideal for helping collect and manage it. 

Prioritized Workflows with Categorized Data

Once you know what data is of most value to your business, you can prioritize workflows that deal with that data. These workflows should be analyzed thoroughly and updated as necessary, ensuring the data taken in is of the highest quality, and that the data created by the workflow is routed to the right people and stored in ways that make it most useful.

Excellent workflow software is necessary for this task. Workflows may be static for a while, but over time, they have to change to accommodate new customer and client needs, new regulations, reporting requirements, and other necessities. With the right workflow software, you always have the ability to manage your data to your best advantage.

Workflows Specifically for Managing Data

Workflows specifically for managing data can also be valuable. The simplest example of this would be a periodic (once daily or once weekly, say) workflow for backing up data. Nobody likes having to stop what they’re doing to perform a system backup, but a workflow designed to make it easy and efficient can help personnel develop the habit of doing so. Then, in the event of a hard drive crash, natural disaster, or physical move of premises, there’s no question that the data is right there, uncompromised. Data management workflows can prevent many major headaches.

Data backup displayed on a laptop

A simple workflow for regular data backup can prevent countless problems for your business.

Reporting Capabilities in Workflow Software Essential

One of the best data management tools available to many businesses is the reporting features of their workflow software. Reporting capabilities allow you to collect data from workflows, analyze the data, and report on it. These reports often contain valuable insights that help you run your business better.

For example, if your workflow software reporting feature is used to gather and analyze data on customer location, the reports you generate can show you how your customer base in a specific geographic region develops over time. Such information can prompt you to make other changes, like opening a physical office there, or adapting your marketing strategy to target people in that geographic area. The uses for reporting are virtually limitless, and if you’re not taking advantage, you could be missing out in essential insights.

PerfectForms is workflow software that requires no programming. With its drag-and-drop interface, you can create workflows that collect, generate, and manage data, maximizing its business value. And since PerfectForms is so easy to use, the people who actually use the workflows can give their feedback and suggestions and even help develop workflows so that they’re optimized for end-users. 

PerfectForms also comes with powerful reporting capabilities, so you can easily put workflow data into service, generating insights that are data-driven, so there is far less guesswork about how to optimize day-to-day operations and make the business grow. We encourage you to read some of our many case studies, so you can see how automated workflows help businesses across a wide range of industries collect, analyze, manage, and gain maximum insight from the data they use every day.

How Mobile Capture Can Accelerate Back-Office Workflows

Wednesday, December 26th, 2018 by PerfectForms Editors

In 2018, mobile penetration in the United States reached 85%, with smartphones being the overall preferred mobile device. 

Businesswoman with cell phone

People use their phones all the time. Why not allow them to get their work done more efficiently by using them?

With the average American viewing their smartphone 52 times per day, it’s easy to see how thoroughly mobile connectivity has been integrated with ordinary life. All this mobility makes it easier for businesses to not only have remote employees, but also for businesses to make better use of employee time. Add cloud technologies to the mix, and you open up nearly infinite possibilities for employees to use their time off-site, in-transit, or working remotely with maximum effectiveness and efficiency.

One way that businesses take advantage is through mobile-friendly workflows. Electronic workflows are great – far better than manual, paper-based workflows. But why require employees to be at their desk in front of their computer before completing certain workflows? The technology exists that allows them to do it off-site or even in transit.

Mobile Capture in the Trucking Industry

The trucking industry involves a lot of real and virtual paperwork, and of course, truckers spend significant time on the road or at remote delivery sites. There are now workflows that allow truckers to, for example, take photos with their smartphone of important documents like bills of lading and submit them instantly. When this happens, the images are integrated into back-office practices in real time. 

The key is development of automated workflows that allow capture of documents, routing of the captured image, categorization of the document, and automatic insertion into various back-office processes. When an image is received at the home office, an instant notification can then be sent back to the driver as confirmation.

Mobile Capture for Expense Reimbursement

Employees who incur expenses while on travel or working off-site can capture individual receipts using their smartphone cameras and then submit them immediately into their company’s expense reimbursement workflow. In some countries, such electronic formats are even accepted by tax authorities as proof of transactions, eliminating the need for keeping the paper originals. 

Office man with paper recycling bin

There are many better places for paper receipts than taking up space in file cabinets.

Simple automated workflow rules for things like whether the merchant name is recognizable, and whether contrast and brightness are acceptable can either notify the sender to make and submit another image, or process the image to compensate for poor lighting or other easy-to-fix image problems.

Other Possible Mobile Capture Uses

Small, local businesses that don’t have access to the sophisticated mobile capture infrastructure used by big players like UPS can nonetheless develop automated workflows that cater to workers in the field. Suppose a business offers local delivery. Mobile capture could allow the delivery person to easily note the time when a delivery is made, and the precise location of the delivery.

News and media companies can develop simple workflows for field reporters so that when an image is captured in the field, it is immediately sent back and incorporated into a publishing workflow. A driver sent to pick up supplies can photograph a receipt and send it back to the home office for accounting purposes and to estimate when the driver will be back, or at the next stop on their route.

PerfectForms allows businesses in every industry to create sleek, sophisticated automated workflows, including workflows used by employees with mobile devices. This allows greater flexibility in the completion of back-office processes because it can eliminate the need for workers to be at their desks in order to use automated workflows. 

Moreover, PerfectForms is user-friendly workflow software, with a drag-and-drop interface that requires no programming. Read through some of our many case studies and see how PerfectForms has saved companies, nonprofits, and government organizations significant amounts of money due to increased efficiency and productivity. Your business could be experiencing the same!

Automated Workflows Power Modern Manufacturing Methods

Thursday, December 6th, 2018 by PerfectForms Editors

Workflow

Smaller manufacturing facilities have agility that bigger operations often do not.

Small-batch manufacturing has become important in a business world where agility is key.

It’s not easy for startups to find the right manufacturing partner, and small-batch production offers a way for new and small companies to test products without a lot of waste. And with the rise of the web, finding small-batch manufacturers is easier.

Making small-batch manufacturing work requires efficiency, and automated workflows are outstanding at powering efficient operations. Here are some of the ways automated manufacturing and workflows go together to power new and innovative business operations.

Textile Micro-Factories

Traditional textile manufacturing is designed for large scale production, which can be too risk- and resource-heavy for smaller companies. Textile micro-factories allow manufacturing on demand at varying volumes, reducing risks and waste.

The micro-factory production paradigm is typically “Sell, Produce, Deliver,” rather than “Produce, Sell, Deliver.” It is mostly driven by online sales, where clients select and buy textiles before they are produced. Automated workflows take care of tasks like image processing, digital printing, and cutting, and dispatch, allowing micro-factories to work far more quickly than traditional textile manufacturers. Without automated workflows, however, it would be much harder to make this type of operation profitable.

3D Printing Operations

3D printing can also be run as an on-demand operation, but automated workflows are needed to make it work efficiently and profitably. Workflows for 3D printing include both internal and customer-facing aspects. Customer-facing workflows allow those who need articles 3D-printed to transfer their build data to the manufacturer, while internal workflows allow engineers and designers to specify parameters like material and manufacturing methods.

Workflows

Customer-facing workflows get orders into manufacturing systems quickly.

Workflows can then be forwarded to those who validate the designs, prepare them, and send them to the 3D printing equipment. Without automated workflows, 3D printing in small batches would be difficult to make profitable.

Electronic Batch Records in Paperless Manufacturing Environments

Electronic batch methods make sense for both large and small manufacturers, because replacing paper-based workflows with electronic workflows reduces errors and accelerates processes. As a result, time-to-market is reduced, which leads to greater profitability.

Another important advantage of automated workflows in manufacturing environments is that they make regulatory compliance far easier. Not only can automated workflows ensure that all regulation-required steps are taken, they can make automated annotations each time this occurs, so if the company is audited, proving compliance is much easier.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that automated workflows are only for large enterprises. Cloud-based workflow software is affordable even for the smallest start-ups. And don’t think that workflow software requires the help of a programmer. Solutions are available that allow the actual workflow users to create custom workflows that suit their needs precisely.

PerfectForms is workflow software that requires no programming and that scales as you need it to. With PerfectForms, you can create custom forms and workflows with no programming whatsoever. Simply drag and drop form or workflow elements into place using the intuitive PerfectForms interface.

You can create workflows for anything from onboarding new employees to managing IT service requests to preparing manufacturing batches for production. The flexibility of PerfectForms means that as soon as you create an automated workflow for one process, you’re sure to envision new workflows for other processes, which you can then create easily. We invite you to watch the PerfectForms demo video and see for yourself how automated workflows can benefit your business, raising efficiency and sharpening your competitive edge.

Online Forms and Workflows Help Healthcare Providers Recruit Patients

Wednesday, December 5th, 2018 by PerfectForms Editors

Online forms

Automated workflows help medical office processes run efficiently.

The healthcare industry is under constant pressure to hold down costs, while providing personalized care and maintaining strict confidentiality.

The development of electronic health records (EHRs) has helped healthcare organizations move away from paper-based records and their inherent problems, but EHRs are not the only ways healthcare providers make sure patients receive the care they need.

For many typical medical offices, attracting new patients and retaining existing patients are two tasks that are necessary to maintain profitability and keep the doors open, and automated workflows can help with these tasks. For researchers, workflows can help identify patients who are good candidates for clinical trials more quickly, so work can proceed at a more efficient pace.

Attracting Patients to Traditional Healthcare Service Providers

The American healthcare system demands that providers run their offices and clinics like a business. This means doctors must make it easy for prospective patients to choose their facilities instead of competitors’, and one way to do that is to offer online forms and online-initiated workflows that are efficient and easy to use.

For example, online forms for new patient registration and for making or canceling appointments are convenient for patients, while also being more efficient for the non-medical office staff. Many healthcare providers are going an extra step and making these services mobile-friendly, because they understand that their patient population spends more time on mobile devices than in traditional desktop / laptop environments.

Bringing Appropriate Patients to Clinical Trials

One study from 2017 developed workflows for data collection, linkage, and tracking, for potential participants in clinical trials. Records of clinical data were “deidentified” for confidentiality, then evaluated for eligibility in clinical trials. For patients who were good candidates as determined by the automated workflow, follow-up was automatically initiated. Researchers concluded that the workflow had great potential to improve the efficiency of recruiting patients for clinical research trials.

Online forms

Without dedicated workflows, recruiting patients to clinical trials would be more arduous and time-consuming.

Another study concluded that the use of a Clinical Trial Portal, where people who believe they may be good candidates for clinical trials can fill out online forms to further explore the possibility, is an important addition to current methods of recruiting patients for clinical trials, such as physician referrals. While the online portals alone aren’t sufficient for populating clinical trials (due to high numbers of people who don’t meet clinical trial criteria), they allow clinical trial planners to potentially draw on a larger proportion of the population.

Workflows Designed for Efficiency, Confidentiality

The healthcare industry is bound by strict laws concerning patient confidentiality, with harsh penalties when those laws are broken. So it’s especially important for automated workflows in healthcare-related businesses to be designed to guard confidentiality.

Non-healthcare businesses that are committed to patient confidentiality (whether or not they’re required to be, by law) can learn from healthcare workflows. The key is using workflow software that allows security steps to be built right in. Such steps don’t allow the workflow to proceed until all security steps are satisfied.

Maybe you don’t work in the healthcare industry, but developing customer-facing online forms and workflows is a smart idea regardless. Not only can you gather information more quickly and accurately, you can route that data appropriately and automatically, whether it’s a person who wants to schedule a haircut, or someone who wants to buy semiconductor silicon wafers.

PerfectForms is online form and workflow software with the flexibility and power to help people in all industries create the electronic forms and workflows they need to operate at peak efficiency. No programming is required due to PerfectForms’ intuitive drag-and-drop interface, and PerfectForms is easy to connect with other office systems like spreadsheets, databases, and Salesforce CRM.

We encourage you to look at some of the many PerfectForms case studies to see exactly how organizations across many industries are putting online forms and automated workflows to work, making business processes more efficient and less error-prone, helping avoid duplication of effort, saving money, and boosting profits.

The Global Workflow Software Market Is Booming: Why It Matters

Friday, November 23rd, 2018 by PerfectForms Editors

Workflow software

Workflows exist in all businesses. Workflow software can help them be as efficient as possible.

Demand for workflow software is growing for several reasons, including the rise in technological advancements, growth in the overall business market, and rising realization that workflow software makes sense for just about any type of business.

Automated workflows allow businesses to improve consistency of the products and services they provide. They add predictability to business processes, which is helpful for training new people and cross-training existing personnel.

Cloud computing has put workflow software within reach of many more businesses of all sizes, allowing small businesses to compete more effectively with their larger rivals, and this too has been a driver for wider adoption of these software solutions. Let’s explore some of the reasons for today’s booming workflow software market.

Automated Workflows Help Guide Technological Development

Sometimes when a business adopts a new piece of technology, they don’t yet know how it will affect their day-to-day operations. All new technology comes with a learning curve, and getting up to speed with it and integrating it into operations require adjustment.

Workflows with the flexibility to incorporate new technology into various steps help ensure the transition to new technologies and new ways of doing things is smooth. And the right workflow software helps adapt the workflows to meet new realities.

As just one example, suppose data in one step of a process was once entered manually, but is now scanned in with a barcode scanner. It speeds things up in one part of the workflow, but can it create bottlenecks further down? Workflow software can help you figure that out, and if so, it can help you modify the workflow to accommodate the changes.

Automated Workflows Help Establish Chain of Responsibility

One of the most powerful things about automated workflows is that they’re great at adding transparency, showing who did what, and at what time. Workflows can allow a user to determine who approved or rejected a purchase request, and it can show exactly whose input is awaited so the workflow can proceed forward. Establishing a chain of responsibility can be much harder with old-fashioned manual workflows.

Automated workflows

Automated workflows can be great for establishing responsibilities and tracking them throughout.

These established chains of responsibility can be extremely useful to businesses that are subject to audit, because the workflow essentially establishes an audit trail automatically.

Workflows Are Great for Automatically Measuring Performance Indicators

Finally, if your workflow software has powerful built-in reporting capabilities, workflows can gather critical performance data that can then be collected into reports that provide valuable insights. A workflow could, for example, gather order data from your e-commerce operation that can be broken down by geographic region or other factors. It could show how many products coming off an assembly line were rejected, or how much more quickly employees traveling on business were reimbursed for expenses compared to when it all had to be done on paper.

There is hardly any limit to what data your automated workflows can collect, and with reporting capabilities, you can use this data in ways that help you gain key insights into how to do things better.

PerfectForms is workflow process software with a friendly, drag-and-drop interface, allowing users to create customized online forms and workflows quickly and easily. Because there is no programming required, creating, testing, and deploying workflows is fast, as is modifying them when conditions change.

And PerfectForms has built-in reporting capability that allows you to take the data collected by your forms and workflows and put it to work educating you and letting you know where your business excels and where opportunity for improvement exists. If you’re curious about the positive effects workflow software has in businesses across many industries, we invite you to read through some of PerfectForms’ many case studies. Discover for yourself why workflow software is in such high demand in today’s business world.