What’s your organization’s form IQ? Raise the bar with Smart Forms
We live in a world of forms. You can’t escape them. It seems everything requires a form of some kind. As frustrating as they may be to fill out, forms are really the ideal vehicle for ensuring that the form’s creator gets all the information they need to carry out the next action, whatever that may be. Unfortunately for the impatient (and efficient) among us, too many forms remain in paper form — or perhaps they’re half-electronic, allowing us to fill them in electronically, then printed and delivered to the author, who must reenter that data somewhere. Surely there’s a better way.
Electronic smart forms are making inroads in businesses across every industry and in every department. It’s a simple concept — turn the paper form into an electronic one — that has an amazing ability to simplify, speed, and streamline many of the day-to-day processes and tasks in your organization. Here’s what you should know about smart forms.
What is a smart form?
A smart form is an electronic form used by your customers, staff and partners to apply for/ask for products, services or information. Smart forms can be built with business logic behind them (that’s the smart part). Key capabilities stem from the product’s power, convenience and trackability:
- Perform sophisticated validation of the data
- Perform even complex calculations
- Automatically route to approvers
- Trigger other, related forms or processes
- Dynamically display content as it is required
- Robust, flexible classification, categorization and search features
- Lookup data from your ERP
- Securely submit the data to your ERP
- Launch sophisticated workflows in just a few steps
- Include attachments to your smart forms (e.g. resume, vendor contract, receipts)
- Create form packets consisting of multiple, related forms (e.g. new hire/new customer packet)
- Perform sophisticated validation of the data
- Provide visibility into the form’s location and status
- Auto-assign certain unchangeable values (e.g. date)
- Audit trail documents every action and reaction
Where might they be used?
Smart forms can be used throughout an organization, replacing inefficient paper forms. Here are just a few ideas:
- Onboarding new employees
- Vacation requests
- Training requests
- New vendor requests
- Credit card statements
- Employee expense reports
- Customer credit application
- Credit limit increase requests
- Collection actions
- Stock transfers
- Declarations forms
- Purchase requests
Are they hard to build?
Honestly, no. Most applications offer templates that you can use as a starting point to build and customize your company’s forms. Of course, you can always call on us for help in the design/build process.
What are the real world advantages?
There are numerous advantages of smart forms, most of stem from the fact that they’re electronic documents that can be saved, routed, flagged, coded, queried, associated with other documents and monitored. No paper to print, file and lose.
When you use smart forms, you can be sure that everyone who touches a document is using the current version, and you are able to track the status of the document in the workflow and who has made changes. Since the documents are already electronic, you won’t need to scan or index them to be able to retrieve them later. Rather than searching for a document in a file cabinet or on another employee’s desk, you can type in a search value and look up that document right from your desktop.
In addition, smart forms are really, well, smart. For example, you can import credit card CSV data into a smart form and transform that data into individual statements for each stakeholder. The statements are immediately indexed, and, after coding and approval, the transaction data can be moved directly into your ERP.
The total package
There are software applications designed to do nothing but allow you to create new smart forms. Knowing what you now know about smart forms, you might be tempted to invest in one, but we’ve got something better: Sage Document Management by DocLink. Sage Document Management incorporates enormous benefits for paperless processing with smart form technology. All the good things rolled up into one package that can even integrate with your ERP solution. It’s not only smart, it’s the total package.
Curious to learn more about smart forms and paperless processing? Watch this super-helpful demonstration of creative ways to use Smart Forms. Of course, you can always contact us with your questions or if you would like to have a personalized presentation on Sage Document Management.