Productivity’s Death by Paper Cuts, the Trend towards E-Forms

E-FormsYour Forms Cost You More than Just Paper

Some of you may be saying, “Hey paper is cheap,” and I hear you. But have you considered that your paper forms cost more than just paper and toner? While we fill out or sign a paper form, few of us wonder what happens next. Being in the industry of managing content, I often think about it. After reading, I hope you think “Hey, these forms cost me more than paper and ink.”

When a form is filled out, whether it be outside or inside your office, that information is vitally important. Hence the reason you are taking the time to fill the form out. The problem is the form is static. There is no intelligence built around your paper form. It has no awareness that perhaps the information you are filling out on the form lives somewhere else in a database or a line of business software. So, you are left to fill out the same form, with the same or very similar information, time after time. Then, once the form is complete, an employee has to re-enter that information into another system or perhaps systems. Some of you are now saying, “That is crazy.” Some of you however are saying, “Yup, that’s us.” In a world of information sharing and data capturing, paper forms fail. Since the information only lives on the paper form, it has no value to your organization until someone does something with it. Conversely, in an electronic form environment those issues go away, because we have the ability to tap into legacy data which already resides in your business software or applications. This facilitates high quality data integrity and less human error. By using e-forms, the knowledge worker who is completing it only has to fill out variable information. This could include options like getting a signature, closing out a call, attaching a photograph, dictating instructions or adding critical information. Once the e-form is complete, we can send a PDF of the e-form to multiple destinations. Plus, the data on the form can be used to populate your business application or database, all in real time.

Some of you may wonder, “Does this open me up to potential violations or security breaches?” The answer is no, in fact the e-form is much more secure than your paper. First, a paper form has zero security built around it. It lives on a clip board, in a truck, on a desk or in a bin waiting for processing.  We may not know who filled it out or if they filled it out accurately and completely.  Most importantly, once it is complete, what mechanism is in place to insure it will go to the correct next step in the workflow? With e-forms we have an audit trail of who filled out the information and who the e-form was electronically forwarded to. Also, once the e-form is submitted, the information, as well as the form, no longer reside on the tablet or phone that was used to complete the e-form. So no one can get their hands on your information unless you grant them access. The amount of control dramatically increases when we create rules for your e-forms. We can make certain fields required, signatures required, we can pull back necessary data from a database to populate the form and we can match the data against previously captured information to insure data integrity.

With businesses striving to work faster and more efficiently, the old saying “That’s just the way we have always done it” should be questioned when it creeps its ugly head. In an ever increasing digital world, why are we holding on to paper forms? Henry Ford said it best, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” When a company presents me with a three part form to sign and they give me the yellow copy, I think, “Wow this should be digital.” But when a company presents me with a tablet to sign, and tells me my receipt or invoice is already in my inbox, I am impressed. As a business owner you should be impressed too. The invoice that would have sat in someone’s truck for the next day, or perhaps a week, is billed immediately instead.  With e-forms, data does not have to be “entered into a system” before the process of getting paid starts. In an electronic world, when you press submit all that work is already done. The customer is billed in real time and the benefits continue beyond that. Later on, if the customer calls to ask a question, instead of saying, “I will have to go find it and get back to you”, since the document is properly stored away with an appropriate name, within seconds the customer service person can say, “I have your invoice right here, the email we have on file is johndoe@gmail.com, is that correct?” and it’s on its way.

While paper is cheap, paper forms are not. They end up costing your company significant money, time, productivity and most importantly, customers. From the initial capture of the information, to processing the data, to storing both data and form, to finding it when a question arises, your paper form process presents a whole host of costly issues.

Do any of these points resonate with how your company is currently doing things? If so, Enoch Office may be able to help. We have the business process understanding and technical know-how to navigate you through even the most complicated processes to create an electronic form environment that drive profit to your business.

If you have any questions about e-forms, please contact Lance Elicker at lelicker@enochoffice.com or 410-561-7600 x219. General inquiries can be made by call Enoch Office at calling (410) 561-7600 or clicking here today! You can also follow Enoch on Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Pinterest.

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