Organisations used to depend on paper for every process and, while the paperless office is unlikely to ever become a reality, the rise of electronic forms (eForms) in business has dramatically reduced the amount of paperwork that employees have to contend with.
eForms aren’t just digitalised versions of paper-based forms. They can be pre-filled or auto-filled with information, linked to automated workflows, and integrated with other systems to dramatically reduce the manual burden of managing forms and information.
Organisations that haven’t yet begun their digital transformation can start small by digitising their existing forms. Adding even the most simple workflows and integrations to their forms unlocks huge benefits of eForms. There are five benefits of using eForms for businesses:
1. Improved efficiency
When forms can be completed and immediately uploaded to relevant systems, businesses can operate more efficiently and remotely. For example, if a team needs to fill out compliance and induction forms on a construction site before it can start work, doing so using eForms means they can start work sooner because they don’t have to wait for paper copies of the forms to be circulated.
Furthermore, because the eForms are immediately uploaded to the relevant system or database, or emailed to appropriate recipients, no time is wasted typing information into those systems or scanning handwritten documents. This means errors are less likely to creep in as well.
2. Faster approvals
eForms can trigger workflows so that the forms are circulated for approvals in a timely and logical order. That means the appropriate manager will receive an alert that there’s a form that needs to be signed off. They can then access the form and provide their digital sign off no matter where they are in the world. They don’t have to wait until they’re back in the office or in possession of a physical copy of the form, keeping the process fluid and moving.
3. Be audit ready
For many compliance-heavy industries, the sheer number of dockets and forms that need to be filed and stored can be overwhelming. Many organisations have to arrange a separate space to store these reams of paperwork. Finding documents for auditing or other purposes, especially a long time after the job has been completed, can be time-consuming and difficult. By contrast, eForms are searchable so no matter how long it’s been since the job was done, it only takes moments to find the specific form required, helping the business meet compliance regulations and provides access to audit trails.
4. Photographic evidence and signature capture
With eForms, photographs and diagrams can be attached to provide evidence of the facts asserted in the form. Plus, sign on glass technology makes it possible to get a person’s physical signature placing it directly on the actual form without having to print it out, sign it, and scan it back in again. Capturing signatures on the spot also contributes to greater efficiency.
5. Improved customer experience
Customers tend to find filling in forms tedious and annoying. eForms that auto-fill fields or provide drop-down menu options can make it faster and less frustrating for both customers and staff to complete. And, since these forms can automatically be linked to databases or ERPs for faster actioning, customers are likely to get a quicker response to their enquiry or order.
eForms provide an opportunity for businesses to become more efficient, saving both time and money on processes that involve forms and signatures. Adopting eForms can also improve the customer experience by removing the need to laboriously handwrite forms. Businesses should consider adopting eForms sooner rather than later.
Scott Crosby, CEO, Upstream