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 and services. Smart forms can be built with business logic behind them (that’s the smart part). Key capabilities include:
- Perform complex calculations
- Dynamically display content as it is required
- Perform sophisticated validation of the data
- Lookup data from your ERP
- Securely submit the data to your ERP
- Automatically route to approvers
- Trigger other, related forms or processes
- Provide visibility into location and status
Where might they be used?
Smart forms can be used throughout an organization, replacing inefficient paper forms. Here are just a few examples:
- 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 upon your business partner for help in the design/build process.
What are the real advantages?
There are numerous advantages of smart forms, most of those advantages 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 in someone’s desk clutter.
When you use smart forms, you can be sure that everyone who touches a particular document is using the current version, and you are able to track the status of the document in the workflow. Since the documents are already electronic, you won’t need to scan or index them to be able to retrieve them at a later date. 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 is 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: document management solutions that incorporate the enormous benefits of paperless processing with smart form technology. All the good things rolled up into one package that integrates with your ERP solution. It’s not only smart, it’s the total package.
Curious to learn more about smart forms and paperless processing? Contact us here.