Let’s Get Digital, Digital. I Want to Get Digital!

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The digital storm is here. The adoption of BYOD continues to blur the line between our personal and professional lives, contributing to mobile device Internet usage exceeding PC usage for the first time ever. But understanding how to leverage this digital storm in your business is the key to effectively increasing both productivity and efficiency.

One of the most basic ways businesses are being helped today is by removing paper elements from day-to-day life, and thus “[making] processes more streamlined and [improving] employee and customer satisfaction.” And the most basic type of paperwork that can be digitized? Forms!

They do a great job covering the various elements you need to consider before starting this process. It covers how to collect error-free data, how to select which forms to convert, and finally, how to implement. It’s an awesome read and well worth your time – here are some of the highlights:

Elements to Consider – It’s fairly obvious that there are going to be system requirements, like the e-form technology, but one that might easily be overlooked is the ECM system. You have to not only anticipate the number of form templates that need to be housed, but also take into consideration the volume of forms being processed and stored in the future. And while the process of converting to e-forms may seem straightforward, don’t underestimate the time need to actually design, test, set up back-end workflows, etc.

Collecting Error-Free Data – There are a couple of ways to ensure data is correct: data validation and auto-fill based on a previous field value. While these sound fairly straightforward, they are extremely powerful tools that can prevent people from making simple mistakes, like putting an incorrect data format, to more complex ones, like putting in incorrect data itself. But it’s also important to remember that digitizing paper forms is a work in progress, and that even after the initial implementation, it’s worth conducting regular meetings to compare notes and feedback so that you can improve the forms.

Selecting Forms to Digitize – Try a phased approach to e-form conversion. Pick a few, simple forms to first go digital with. And a simple form isn’t just one with a minimal amount of fields that are easy to answer. You also have to consider the workflow process around the form, which means you’ll want to pick one that doesn’t involve input and approval from multiple groups.

Implementing E-Forms – Now to start designing the forms! You can use an in-house designer or use software that scans and digitizes paper forms itself, depending on your needs and resource availability. Also keep in mind that once the forms are created, you’ll probably need to find a solution that helps you handle e-signatures and workflows (hmm…this sounds a lot like collaborative document management!).

Making E-Forms Available – To launch e-forms, you can either publish them on the company website (for external-facing forms) or house them on company servers (for internal-facing forms). But once they are launch, you should have a plan in place to provide technical support and help make sure that full adoption is smooth.

The eWeek article goes into much more detail, so make sure you check it out!