Workflows for These 4 IT Processes Deliver Multiple Benefits

Thursday, April 25th, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

IT workers deal with both predictable and unpredictable situations, and their work is essential to smooth business operation.

IT woman with a headset

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

Men installing a computer in an office

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. 

5 Forms and Workflows Your School System Should Automate Right Now

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

A 100-teacher school can easily use 250,000 pieces of paper each year. Not only does the paper itself cost tens of thousands of dollars, but printing things on it adds several thousand dollars in additional expenses. 

Hand retrieving paper

Imagine the savings from cutting paper usage by half or more.

Online forms can reduce paper usage considerably, and when those online forms are incorporated into automated workflows, the amount of time saved can be tremendous. Far less paper has to be filed or archived and chasing down errors is far easier with online forms than it is with paper documents. If your school is heavily reliant on paper, here are five forms and workflows your school should automate for maximum impact. 

1. Registration Forms

Online student registration forms are nothing new, but there are steps you can take that facilitate faster processing and make things even easier for everyone. Making registration forms mobile-friendly is a step parents appreciate, due to the growing number of “mobile-only” households. Moreover, online registration forms can be automatically routed to the right personnel and to other workflows, like class scheduling workflows.

2. Class Scheduling

Scheduling classes for hundreds of students using paper forms can be a logistical nightmare. Data from online class scheduling forms can be used to fill available class space on a first-come, first-served basis. Data on how many pupils want access to filled classes can be used to help reallocate teaching resources if possible. With online class scheduling, students can know quickly whether they got into the classes they wanted and can proceed accordingly.

3. Permission Forms

Teachers have enough to deal with on class field trips without also having to worry about paper permission forms. When it’s done electronically, all relevant personnel can have instant access to permission forms on their laptop or mobile device. And since online permission forms can be completed and submitted more quickly, teachers can plan for transportation and other logistics sooner than they could otherwise. 

Museum guide leading student

Field trips are work-intensive enough for teachers without having to worry about paper permission forms.

4. Maintenance Requests

Reporting a malfunctioning light fixture or air conditioning unit in a classroom shouldn’t take half a day. Online maintenance request forms that are mobile-friendly allow teachers to submit service requests quickly and receive confirmation that their request was received. Workflows surrounding maintenance requests can even allow teachers to check the status of their request, eliminating “phone tag” from chasing down maintenance workers to find out when the request will be fulfilled.

5. Event Tickets

School plays, band concerts, athletic events, and more require tickets, and allowing attendees to reserve tickets online saves everyone considerable time and hassle. Once someone has requested a ticket, it can be issued online, with the recipient receiving a confirmation, or even a barcode they can show on their phone at the door. Not only is it easier to handle the entire ticketing process, it’s easier to determine attendance numbers to make planning for future events easier.

The Options Are Nearly Limitless

These are just a few of the many school forms and processes that can be streamlined using form and workflow software. Schools can use the same software for countless other processes like onboarding new teachers, reserving audiovisual equipment, recording disciplinary actions, and much more. Benefits include less paper and less paper waste, lower costs, and swift ROI – something cash-strapped school districts can appreciate. 

PerfectForms is online form and workflow software that is easy to use and even comes with a broad selection of form and workflow templates to help users get started quickly. Users can create fully customized forms and workflows with an intuitive user interface that allows them to drag and drop form or workflow elements into place. 

Schools, businesses, government agencies, and nonprofits all use PerfectForms to reduce paper usage and increase efficiency and productivity. One California school district saved $10,000 annually by using PerfectForms to replace just one print order process! PerfectForms encourages you to read through our case studies for inspiration, and if you want more information, feel free to contact us at any time. We would be delighted to speak with you about your online form and workflow needs. 

Productivity & Efficiency: The Right Workflow Software Improves Both

Thursday, April 4th, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

Business success depends on both productivity and efficiency. 

Productivity knob

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. 

Young student using a tablet

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.

Does Your Form Creation Software Have All the Features You Need?

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

If you need to create the occasional one-off form, there are any number of free online resources that will help you do that.

Puzzled girl with a laptop

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. 

Audit stamp

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.

Online Forms: Create, Deploy, Report & Integrate on Your Time Scale

Thursday, March 28th, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

Everyone knows that online forms are better in every way compared to paper forms.

Sad woman with lots of paperwork

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.

Businessman pointing at a watch

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.

Are you interested in learning more? Watch the demo video or look through our case studies to see the many ways PerfectForms transforms business processes for the better. 

7 Features Your Workflow Automation Software Must Have

Tuesday, March 26th, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

The day your business starts using workflow automation software is a transformative day.

Happy laptop team

Workflow automation can take efficiency and productivity to a higher level.

When you choose the right workflow software solution for your needs, you can expect powerful results, such as near-elimination of paper-based forms and significantly faster new employee onboarding. Of course, the right choice of workflow software will have flexibility enough so that you can tailor your workflow automation to your specific needs, as well as many other critical features. If you’re committed to workflow automation, look for these seven key features in your workflow software.

1. Graphical, User-Friendly Interface

You shouldn’t have to know how to program to use your workflow software. Choose a solution that offers a user-friendly, graphical interface so you can drag and drop form and workflow elements into place, test forms and workflows quickly, and take them live on an accelerated time scale.

2. Training Videos and Templates to Ease the Learning Curve

While your workflow software should make it easy to create forms and workflows from scratch, you may not need full customization. Your software should offer you a generous assortment of customizable templates to help you get started, and it should provide clear, helpful training videos so users can master the software quickly.

3. Role-Based Access to Workflows

Not everyone should have 100% access to every step in a workflow, and your workflow software should allow you to control who has access to what parts of a workflow. Furthermore, your software should allow you to automatically record who accesses a workflow and when. This can be tremendously helpful in the event of an audit.

4. Ability to Send Automatic Notifications

Nobody has time to repeatedly check a workflow to see if their input is needed. Therefore, your workflow software should allow creation of automatic notifications that are sent to workflow participants when their input is required. That way nobody has to feel “out of the loop” and workflows can proceed with maximum efficiency.

Notification icons floating above a tablet

Notifications keep everyone in the loop about workflow progress.

5. Powerful Reporting

The data collected from your forms and workflows can be immensely valuable. Can your workflow software collect, analyze, and report on that data with ease? It should. Reporting may seem like a “nice extra” until you start using it and gaining important insights into processes. The information you can learn from form and workflow reporting can help you sharpen your competitive edge.

6. Option of Cloud Hosting or On-Premises Installation

Cloud hosting is easier for most businesses – particularly small and medium sized ones. But some businesses may need the added physical security of running software on site, on their own servers. If you require that type of security, make sure your workflow software maker knows how to accommodate your needs. 

7. Integration with Other Popular Systems

Forms and workflows are of maximum use when they integrate easily with other office systems, such as spreadsheets, databases, and even CRM systems like Salesforce. The better your workflow software integrates with other systems, the less duplication of effort will be required, the fewer the errors, and the greater overall office efficiency will be. 

PerfectForms excels in every one of these capacities. Its drag-and-drop user interface helps you get started immediately and included templates and training videos ensure you learn how to use all PerfectForms features. You can control who accesses which parts of a workflow, set up automatic notifications, and take advantage of PerfectForms’ outstanding reporting features. PerfectForms can be run in the cloud or on your premises, and it is designed to easily integrate with popular office systems.

Better still, you can try perfect forms for free by signing up for a free trial. If you have been looking for the right workflow automation solution for your business, your search is over. 

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Don’t Forget the ‘Three P’s’ When Upgrading Workflow Technology

Friday, March 22nd, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

It’s easy to get tunnel vision when it’s time to upgrade workflow technology.

Cars in a tunnel

Don’t let tunnel vision over technology upgrades blind you
to the people, products and processes they’re designed to help.

For example, if your network is too slow, you want to upgrade it so it’s fast enough and has sufficient bandwidth that it won’t bog down. If it’s time to replace the additive technology machines you bought a couple of years back, you will naturally focus on the specifications for the latest systems you’ll be investing in.

It’s essential, however, that you never lose sight of the so-called three P’s (people, product, and process) as your business grows and evolves. Think of it this way. If you have a shrubbery in your yard with a single branch that’s thriving and growing while the rest of the plant just hangs on, it’s time to focus on the entire system from soil and roots to moisture, sunlight, and maintenance. Likewise, when growing your business, you must never lose sight of the fundamentals, and the three P’s are as fundamental as it gets.

People

Suppose you learn about a new piece of technology at a trade show that is the best, fastest, and most reliable in its class. Maybe you want to put that piece of technology to work in your business. But you shouldn’t make the decision before understanding how it would affect the people who would work with it. 

Maybe upgrading your technology is the right choice, and maybe waiting a while is the right choice. Either way, you can’t expect technology to solve every problem, and you have to invest in your people as well, so they will be trained and ready for new technologies. Otherwise, results will include frustration, and drop-offs in productivity that will have to be addressed.

Product

When you make changes to technology or the processes that use them, you have to ask how they will affect your primary product, whether it’s window blinds or financial reports. Will you take on production of new products? Upgrade existing ones? Can your workflows cope with either of these eventualities?

Once you upgrade, say, your network or production equipment, how will productivity change? How might workflows need to change to accommodate technology upgrades? Can you modify workflows without major upheaval?

Workers in a small factory

Could back-office technology changes affect actual production? Could changes to automated workflows help?

Process

Technology upgrades and process changes go hand in hand a lot of the time. Processes have to evolve as businesses grow and change, and planning for process changes is essential for those changes to be as smooth and uneventful as possible. 

Automated workflows may be dedicated to a single process, or to multiple sub-processes, and your workflow software can make all the difference in how well you are able to adapt processes and workflows to changing needs.

Ultimately, technology should bring people together rather than drive them apart. Your workflow software can make a measurable difference in how well upgrades and new technologies integrate themselves into daily business. 

Workflow software that allows change based on end-user feedback helps with managing changes, as do checks and balances that ensure workflow participants act when their input is needed. The best automated workflows are designed so the right people enter the workflow at the right time, have the tools they need to do their part, and pass along the process to the next participants with maximum efficiency. In other words, they bring the three P’s together seamlessly.

PerfectForms is workflow software that takes the friction and inefficiency out of the processes your business uses every day. No programming is required, so workflow users can have more influence over how workflows are designed and managed. And when technology affecting one part of a workflow changes, the workflow can easily be modified to accommodate it. 

Never lose sight of the three P’s of successful business operation, and make sure your workflow software works with, and not against you as you align the three P’s to make your business thrive. PerfectForms encourages you to watch our demo video and see how the right workflow software has your back, helping you optimize processes, put your team’s talent to its best use, and connect the right people with your products.

Electronic Checklist: A Great Starting Point for Workflow Software

Thursday, March 21st, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

Few tools help more people maintain more motivation to reach goals than the simple checklist.

Mechanic with checklist

The humble checklist is responsible for accomplishment of many goals.
Electronic checklists do away with the need for pen and paper, and keep records automatically.

While big goals are necessary, they can feel overwhelming at times. Checklists help us break down the tasks that get us closer to our big goals and check off our progress as we go. In fact, the simple act of checking things off a checklist activates the “reward” system in the brain, causing a quick burst of dopamine. In other words, it feels good to check things off a checklist. Psychologists recommend people use them in daily life partly for this reason.

Paper checklists have served people for ages, but electronic checklists are better, especially now that we carry mobile devices around all the time. In fact, the electronic checklist can be an excellent first use of workflow software.

Checklists Customized to Different Business Roles

Rare is the business role that isn’t improved by the electronic checklist. Some of the most common types of checklists used in businesses include:

  • To-do lists, which can be customized to each individual
  • Task checklists that break down a process step by step
  • Troubleshooting checklists
  • Coordination checklists (that are used by multiple people)
  • “Discipline” checklists that help people avoid making decisions before due consideration

Having electronic checklists on a phone or tablet is ideal, because it’s paper- and pencil-free, so fewer physical resources are needed, and the lists won’t be lost. And electronic checklists can have features built in that enhance productivity.

Checklist Features that Aid Productivity

With the right workflow software, you can create custom, mobile-friendly electronic checklists with productivity-enhancing features. For example, if steps on a checklist should be done in a particular order (as is often the case with a troubleshooting checklist), if a user skips a step, the checklist can instantly deliver a pop-up notification stating that a “prerequisite” step was not checked off.

Bicycle messenger with table

Notifications and alerts make electronic checklists more useful and ensure processes are completed in full.

If completion of one person’s checklist indicates that some other person’s action or input is needed, the electronic checklist can send a notification to that person that the process is ready for their input. And electronic checklists can be made to collect data for later perusal or reporting. Someone could see, for example, that a troubleshooting checklist was completed ten times in a month for a particular piece of equipment, and decide whether it’s time to dig deeper or consider replacing the equipment.

An Excellent Introduction to Learning Workflow Software

Another great thing about the electronic checklist is that it can be an excellent introduction to workflow software. Workflow software can be put to countless uses, and at first, the endless possibilities can seem daunting. However, when people go through training on workflow software, developing an electronic checklist complete with data collection and notifications can be an outstanding first project for software users to try.

The great thing about good workflow software is that once a user successfully creates a workflow, they’re likely to think of other great workflows that can be developed. Creating an electronic checklist can be the perfect springboard to development of other useful workflows.

The quality of electronic checklists depends in part on the quality of the workflow software you use. PerfectForms is workflow software with a user-friendly interface and no programming. Users simply drag and drop form or workflow elements into place, so it’s easy to experiment and go from idea to execution quickly.

Electronic checklists can be amazingly useful, but you will soon want to use PerfectForms for countless other types of workflows, such as workflows for onboarding new employees and workflows for submitting expenses for reimbursement. We encourage you to browse some of our many case studies to see how flexible and powerful PerfectForms is. You’re sure to use it for electronic checklists and innumerable other important business processes. 

Does Your Workflow Software Support Outstanding Workflow Management?

Friday, March 15th, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

A workflow is a sequence of steps through which work passes as it goes from initiation to conclusion. Automated workflows are those where some or all of those steps are automated. 

Woman viewing a flowchart

Going from concept to well-executed business process requires outstanding workflow software.

If the purpose of a workflow is to achieve a result or complete some process, then the purpose of workflow management is to achieve better results, often by managing the “people” part of the workflow. For example, in a complex workflow, some people’s tasks may be done in parallel rather than in sequence, because they don’t affect each other. This can accelerate completion of the overall workflow. Excellent workflow management depends upon excellent workflow software.

Workflow Software Should Allow Visualization of Workflows

In the early days of automated workflows, the only way to visualize a workflow was through a flowchart or other diagram, or by reading through computer code if you could understand it. Today, you should expect a clean, intuitive interface from workflow software, so that you can visualize a workflow in its entirety and component by component.

Being able to visualize a workflow lets you see where things may be done better in another order, or where steps that don’t affect each other can be done in parallel rather than in sequence. It’s hard to manage a workflow that you can’t envision.

Conveniences in Automated Workflows Can Improve Workflow Management

Workflow software includes form builders, because forms are a critical part of most workflows. The right workflow software will allow you to build conveniences right into the forms to promote better workflow management. For example, pre-filling of certain form fields can save considerable time. Suppose the workflow created for the hiring process includes numerous forms that require the job candidate’s name and contact information. Once the first form of the process is completed, subsequent forms can pre-fill name and contact information fields automatically, so there’s no duplication of effort. 

Other conveniences in automated workflows include automatic notifications to personnel whose input is required, automatically date- and time-stamping steps as they are completed, and saving data from the workflow for future reporting purposes. 

Reporting viewed on a laptop

Reports using data collected by a workflow help with continuous workflow improvement.

Reporting Is an Underappreciated Component of Good Workflow Management

To improve a workflow, you have to know how well each workflow component performs, and reporting features allow you to do this with ease. You could, for example, record time to completion for a workflow and examine how that data trends over time. Then, should you choose to modify the workflow, you could compare time to completion for the modified workflow to that of the original workflow. 

Workflow software should include powerful, easy-to-use reporting features so you can collect and analyze workflow data. The reports generated can help you envision ways to improve the workflow, and can guide you when you create new workflows. It’s an excellent method for keeping good workflow management high on the priority list.

Workflow management requires understanding automated workflows inside and out, and you can’t do this without the right workflow software. PerfectForms is workflow software with an intuitive, drag-and-drop user interface that allows workflow creators to drag and drop elements into place. Visualizing the entire workflow, and different components of the workflow is a snap.

Additionally, the form-building tools PerfectForms offers allow users to include workflow accelerators like pre-filled form fields, and checks and balances that ensure that the correct data is always entered into forms before they are submitted. And PerfectForms offers powerful reporting features that let you track and manage workflows so you can improve them in ways that make a real difference. Why not test drive PerfectForms for free by signing up for a trial? Workflow management is a strong competitive differentiator, and PerfectForms equips you to manage workflows with skill and ease.

How Automated Workflows Help Manage ‘Living’ Data

Wednesday, March 13th, 2019 by PerfectForms Editors

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.

Engineer collecting data

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.

Men collaborating

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.