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What is form automation?

form automation

What is form automation?

Forms are part of every organisation. They help in receiving information for any official procedure.

Forms ensure that

  1. Only the needed information is received, eliminating unnecessary information.
  2. It helps save clerical work by making information structured and organised.
  3. It acts as a checklist to the person providing information hence not missing out on important information.
  4. You can make multiple copies if the form needs to be utilised by various teams or departments.
  5. Acts like a legal assurance that the information provided is with the user consent.

Mostly all of these forms are in physical format; using paper, its a significant disadvantage. 

Paper-based forms waste about 40% of the clerical time. Storage of paper-based documents and records are more expensive and susceptible to damage and loss, which causes about $120 billion per year in the US. 

More research will reveal that the losses caused due to inefficiency the world over will be huge.

Form automation

Form automation means eliminating the legacy forms used in your organisation and replacing them with digital versions and workflows, in the process of storing essential information to a database, and can be found anytime with ease.

Form automation also ensures the authenticity of captured information and routes it through the right channel quickly, ensuring the predictability of process completion. 

Paper-based forms used to be a common trend in organisations. The biggest drawback of paper-based forms is that they are riddled with slowdown, starting from capture, routing to its final archival or destruction. 

Electronic forms management and automation help you eliminate these problems by capturing information faster and with more accuracy. In the process saving revenue in paper uses and time saved in finding this information quickly.

Do you have a paper-based form system that you want to automate?

Get in touch with us to help you understand form automation and how to go about it.

Are forms and documents different?

Ideally, both are the same if used in physical or digital format, and share the complete document with the person who has to fill-up the form physically. 

In the beginning, the form is an empty document.

Once the users fill out a cheque deposit form for HDFC bank, it looks like another document; let us call it a filled form.

form automation - filled physical form

What is the difference between both documents? Anyone can use the empty form, but the other one is filled and has information about the person depositing the cheque to a bank.

So we can conclude that,

  1. Forms typically fall under the document family. 
  2. Forms are helpful only once they are filled.
  3. Physically filled up forms become unstructured, meaning to find any information inside the filled form, you have to see it first.
  4. The filled form becomes another document that needs to be managed.

Every organisation like yours have to deal with many such forms and their storage. You cannot use the information contained in those filled forms as they are unstructured.

How can form automation help you then?

Form automation can help you by capturing the information in digital format and linking it to a database. By adding form information into a database, you are making the information structured. You can now search for forms by date, name in our example account number and deposited cheque number.

Once you digitise your forms, you have the following advantages 

  1. You reduce the chances of errors by providing date pickers and number only field
  2. You can ensure the user fills all required fields
  3. All this information is stored in a database so that you can filter them, find them easily.
  4. Significantly less storage space is required.
  5. Once the form is submitted, you can initiate the following steps by sending notifications to the people involved.

There are many ways you can use these electronic forms to improve the productivity of your organisation. 

Do you have a paper-based form system that you want to automate? Get in touch with us to help you understand form automation and how to go about it.

Once forms collect the information, you can use them to create documents and other supporting documents. You are eliminating the need for manually creating these documents and saving time for your knowledge workers.

Now you can see how digitising your forms and then automating them can generate good ROI by saving time organising and finding information in your organisation. 

As a side effect, you can save time auditing the information collected to ensure your organisation follows compliances!

Form automation examples that you can relate to

Suppose you have a quality management check that you need to conduct on a product of yours. It might be a set of checklists that you need to check out before you send your product for packaging.

 This quality management checklist might consist of critical notes and a list of checks you need to do on different parts of your company’s product. 

Automating this process will digitise the quality management checks. Once you complete the quality check, it can immediately be sent to the superior for verification and approval to move the production line into the packaging section. 

You can use data collected from these quality checks to improve the other processes by initiating process improvement actions.

Conclusion

Form automation is not about becoming paperless. Becoming paperless is just a side effect of automation. The real advantage of form automation lies in the value it generates for your organisation. 

Form automation helps in structuring all the information that you capture, trigger workflows and hold people accountable by sending them notifications and tasks and saving time for everyone associated with the process.

 

We can help you automate your business processes and workflows using SharePoint and Power Apps.

Get in touch with us to know more about how we can help you?

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