eForms 101 part 2

A short while ago I wrote a blog entitled eForms 101…and I’d like to continue on the theme. I mentioned some of the main advantages of eForms – that they save money, are green, fast, accurate, malleable – and thus they improve customer service.

One of the real values of eForm use is that it can be coupled with a workflow. When a paper form arrives there is lots of processing time. Routing the form electronically takes a fraction of the time it takes to physically route paper. And tracking the progress of a routed paper form is slow and can be frustrating. Think of the last time you had to call a long chain of people looking for a piece of paper any of them may or may not have — woof. Again, an eForm that has been routed electronically using a workflow is easy to check up on. No calls. Just view the progress map and you can see who’s got the ball. And parallel workflow routing offers a way to speed up routing exponentially over physical counterpart processes. If an item is stuck in a queue or inbox too long, it can trigger alerts or can be automatically routed for processing. If I am the customer who submitted information to a company, that’s how I want my info taken care of!

In terms of return on investment (ROI), labor costs are obviously reduced because it is now quicker to locate a form, get it approved, share it widely or launch it through a specialized review path, etc. But beyond this is the less tangible benefit of making employees more productive overall. And the fact that ALL the ‘i’s are dotted and the ‘t’s are crossed with alacrity and quality control contributes greatly to improved decision making.

Now some thoughts on how to get going quickly. If this is an initial foray into eForms and workflows, I suggest the paper process to be replaced is simple and well understood. Paper forms can be reproduced electronically verbatim, so filling the form will be instantly intuitive to the user. Focus on high volume forms to cost justify the endeavor. If your goal is to take a process to the extreme in automation, be sure to take a phased approach. Basic form and workflow capabilities must come first, and must work perfectly. A tool always worth mentioning to get eForms up and running fast is Texcel FormBridge. Using a per page licensing fee, this tool allows you to convert paper or TIFs, or flat PDFs into eForms for a variety of products. What’s the big deal? Well, scan in a paper form filled with fields and watch FormBridge work. It identifies automagically where the fields go, and what their titles are. The eForm looks like the input form, nicely formatted. All the text in the form is editable – including field titles. And the same is true with all those scattered myriad rows of checkboxes. They are all converted to eForm checkboxes with proper labels. From paper to LiquidOffice eForm in the blink of an eye.

After you get a chance to review the business benefits of eForms in your organization, time to ask :

  • Where is your organization right now on the paperless scale?
  • Is paper use on the rise?
  • Are services that impact customer satisfaction stalled due to cumbersome paper processes?
  • Has your existing eForm initiative lost any momentum?

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