I have a riddle for you:
What has four sides, often goes missing, comes from trees, and can be expensive to reproduce?
I’ll give you a hint.
Around 7.5% of them will be lost or misplaced each year (about one lost every 12 seconds), and for each that gets lost you’re looking at a loss of between $350 to $700 in employee time.
Did you get it yet?
Condescending sarcasm aside, I am of course talking about paper forms. But this article isn’t about paper forms, per se; it’s about how you can get rid of paper forms in your business with form automation software.
Before we dive any deeper, if you just came here for a quick list of the best form automation software, then take your pick:
Now that’s out of the way, here’s a bite-sized definition of form automation software.
In a nutshell, form automation software is a tool that helps businesses to eliminate wasteful tasks and tedious manual work from daily recurring processes.
This article is an attempt to understand why form automation software is essential for businesses, while clearly outline everything you could ever want to know about the topic, including:
A basic introduction to form automation How form automation can help your business Key features of form automation software Getting started with using form automation A list of the best form automation software More ways to automate your forms How Process Street can help you with form automation
To start with, let’s look at a few different terms that are commonly used when talking about form automation software.
What is form automation?
Form automation is both a principle and practice (or process).
In principle, it’s the idea of creating, sharing, completing, and managing forms electronically to eliminate waste and inefficiency inherent in paper-based systems.
The principle of form automation applies to anything from applications, questionnaires, contracts, surveys; anything and everything that could be printed to paper.
In practice, it refers to the software tools we use to get the job done.
Different approaches to form automation
There are two main problems that form automation tries to solve:
Creating and managing electronic forms Managing legacy paper forms
In the first case, certain tools allow the entire form life-cycle to exist digitally, which completely removes the need for paper.
Tools like this can take the form of CRM, electronic surveys and contracts, or reports generated from analytical data. This is generally the more desirable route to take, as it is the one that allows for truly paperless workflows, and thus the greatest degree of automation and efficiency.
Managing legacy paper forms is a sub-optimal compromise at worst, and a temporary solution that lasts as long as it takes to digitize the entire backlog of paper forms at best.
Typically, the “automation” of this methodology refers to the automatic scanning of printed text using optical character recognition (OCR) techniques, which basically extracts the content of the paper document into a digital copy. These techniques are typically more commonplace in document management system (DMS) software.
For any company, methods for managingContinue reading