In most people’s minds, e-forms are filled-out PDFs that are printed, signed, scanned for emailing, faxing, or sent by snail mail. Fillable PDF isn’t real electronic forms, so they cannot provide companies with an integrated solution with which to automate and streamline business processes.
Listed below are eight ways “real” electronic forms can transform your business. Since 85% of business processes begin with the use of a form, this is particularly critical.
- Eliminate paper completely: E-forms are more than just electronic versions of paper forms. Data capture, verification, approval, and integration with critical business systems is done quickly and efficiently. By automating information collection and distribution with no paper forms involved, your business processes will be simplified, your efficiency improved, costs reduced, and you will be a little greener as well.
- Business Information that needs to Be Released: If you look at your business information, most of it is trapped on paper documents and paper equivalents, such as Word files, PDF files, and pre-printed forms. With electronic forms, organizations can speed up customer service, reduce cycle times and lower costs by capturing and transferring information, previously trapped in paper forms, into their core business systems faster and more affordably.
- Connect e-form data to one or more business systems using a seamless integration: Once submitted, data entered on e-forms can be automatically and seamlessly entered into business systems. When two-way integration is used, information in a database can be pre-filled into a form, eliminating user error and allowing for confirmation of information. Security and alignment with traditional IT architecture work in conjunction with integration. E-forms typically capture data that goes to HR, finance, customer support, and custom applications. For securing storage, retrieval, distribution and management, e-forms are stored within an electronic content management system.
- Improve Data Accuracy: Automatic drop-down lists and field-specific instructions ensure data is entered correctly and completely. The fields on electronic forms can be automatically populated based on the previous data entered, and the form can be checked for completeness before submission. Data entry errors are eliminated as no data has to be manually entered from a paper form into another system and data is not lost during transcription.
- Automation of Workflows: Forms can be embedded with automated workflows that are based on a company’s business rules once the submission is received. A HR employee application can be distributed to an individual for review, a sales order can be distributed to a manager for approval and then the order is prepared for distribution, a credit application can be forwarded to a qualified manager in finance for immediate review and approval. Using automated workflows ensures accountability, efficiency and seamless workflows.
- Legally binding e-Forms with Digital Signatures: Users can sign an e-form with digital signatures without the need for distributed digital certificates or third party certificate authorities. Signing e-forms is possible using registered login IDs/passwords and built-in encryption tools ensure secure data transmission.
- Design and Set Up: E-forms are easy to design, create, and publish with no coding or editing required. Its drag-and-drop functionality, built-in field validation controls and group controls ensure smooth design and implementation. Easily create screens that have a familiar user interface by copying paper forms or doing customizations to existing PDFs.
- ROI as soon as a few months: Depending on the monthly number of forms processed, e-forms can yield a quick ROI. The costs of processing forms, completing orders, and correcting errors are dramatically reduced. Supply, storage, and transportation costs relating to paper are eliminated.
Many different electronic management companies cannot assist you in implementing electronic forms due to their lack of experience and flexibility. You should select a document management provider that will help you increase your efficiency, lower your costs, and improve your competitiveness now and as you plan for the future. Providers of e-forms should have experience, flexibility of their offerings, reliability, client-centric services, and value addition.