Using e-Forms to Make Creating Forms Faster, Easier and Less Costly
By Mark Anderson, CEO/CFO | Posted April 10, 2017
Every organization deals with forms of some sort, whether it’s a company onboarding employees, a hospital processing physician referrals or a university admitting students. Forms are necessary tools that employees use to collect critical information as part of their daily routines. Actually, most of the documents that get processed and scanned by organizations are forms.
But the reality is: Nobody likes filling out paper forms—especially if they have to write down the same information over and over again. That’s why organizations should consider using an enterprise content management system to let employees complete forms electronically.
Creating Forms Faster and Easier
Electronic forms, or e-forms, enables you to turn paper-based processes into paperless, automated workflows in any areas where you need forms. Using e-forms is much faster, easier and less costly than dealing with paper forms. E-forms are quick to create because the enterprise content management system that holds them allows for point-and-click generation. So you can build a digital form in minutes by simply choosing dropdown lists, radio buttons, check boxes, and other types of fields. The information that’s captured on the form can be accessed with all kinds of devices and used instantly throughout your organization.
Electronic forms are an easy solution for IT departments, HR administrators, employees and other users. An e-form platform is so user-friendly that it lets IT staff design and deploy digital forms without coding. Administrators can customize and launch online forms in just a few seconds. And employees can complete and update web forms easily and accurately because the system provides warnings, alerts and other messages to help users fill in the correct information.
A Functional, Flexible Solution
Functionality and versatility are also part of what makes e-forms easy to implement. You can collect the information you need to create all types of web forms and then view, sort and search through the information. And you can include e-forms as part of a web page on your site or share them separately. More important, you have the benefit of being able to access and organize all of your organization’s forms in one place.
As another versatile feature, you can email submission notifications to the owner or user of an e-form as well as to authorized third parties like customers and partners. You can access the data from e-forms immediately for more analysis and share the data with others across your company. Plus, electronic forms can be downloaded and printed out by the users, which reduces the time it would take to distribute the information manually—-if hardcopies are needed.
Saving Money and Boosting Productivity
In terms of cost, using e-forms is less expensive because it lets organizations save money by avoiding the cost of creating, printing and storing paper-based documents. Think about this: The average cost for each paper form is $4.56, according to a 2012 survey by the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM). Keep in mind that this is the estimated cost of printing, distribution, mailing, collection and sorting—prior to either scanning or paper-based processing. Scanning and electronically storing paper forms in an enterprise content management system bumps up the cost by an average of $2.84.
In a 2013 survey, AIIM also highlighted some of the biggest issues and cost drivers of paper-based processes. They were re-keying data, filing, storing and searching for paper records. Other major issues were not being able to monitor workflow progress and having limited access to case and process documents for front-office/call-desk staff.
e-Forms also boost productivity. Research by AIIM indicates that organizations felt their administrative staff would improve productivity by an average 33 percent if their work processes used scanned forms and documents with automated data capture. And some of the people surveyed estimated they would raise productivity by 50 percent or more.
Positive Impact on Security, Compliance and Governance
Finally, there’s the intangible benefit of using an enterprise content management system’s e-form capabilities to enhance security, compliance and governance. In fact, compliance and audit issues were cited in the 2013 AIIM survey as one of the big concerns caused by paper-based process. Since e-forms lets you capture data digitally, you can transmit and store the information in a secure environment. So you don’t have to worry about the hassle and security risk of pushing paper documents from place to place. Plus, you can enhance compliance and governance by collecting government-required forms like W-4s (Employee’s Withholding Allowance) and I-9s (Employment Eligibility Verification) electronically.
Obviously, there are many advantages to using an enterprise content management system to complete forms electronically. So start exploring ways you can leverage the benefits of e-forms for your organization.
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