“Efficiency is doing better what is already being done.”
What are digital forms and how do they help your business?
Put simply, digital forms are used for capturing digital information. This information is then passed directly into the systems that will manage and make use of this data. This is a great way to boost efficiency and provide service improvements.
Unfortunately, many businesses still rely on Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, email, and even paper forms for key business activities and workflows! Using stand-alone and offline data entry points like this not only takes up a lot of time and resources, but it also leaves room for error.
Digital forms, on the other hand, are easy to set up (especially if you use a forms builder!) and control and can be effortlessly linked to other processes or sources of information. That means it’s easy to track what happens after data is inputted, as well as scale up as needed.
What are good examples of where digital forms are useful?
- New hire requests — and the subsequent approval process
- Implementation projects — automatically assign tasks to people in real time
- Purchase requests — make sure the right people see it, and get orders approved faster
- Employee onboarding — ensure all new recruit information is sent (and received) by the right people
- Supplier approvals — certificates and invoice data can be submitted in one form
- Sales inquiries — send accurate and timely responses to the right people, on both desktop and mobile devices
- Event registrations — create digital booking forms
- Job applications — get the answers you need, and have it pass through the review chain before you decide whether to interview
- IT service tickets — ensure critical issues are differentiated from lower priority tickets
- Real estate listings — expedite registrations to enhance the customer experience
- Employee and customer feedback — gather actionable data (and provide timely responses!)
The beauty of entering data into online forms is that it can be then fed into other systems or platforms, and you can start applying automation. Before you know it, all the moving parts of your business processes will be playing harmoniously like the instruments in an orchestra.
Another way of looking at it is that everything that happens in your business (or indeed, your life!) is a process. A process has inputs, something happens, and then there are outputs.
If you’re looking to make improvements then digital forms will hugely improve how you accept ‘inputs’. Then you need to make sure that when ‘something happens’ , it’s linked as closely to the ‘input’ as possible. That way, the desired ‘output’ is achieved in the most effective way. Ideally, you want to use reporting or task management software.
Why do this? Well, the more efficient you are, the happier your customers – and your staff – will be.
What is the importance of using digital form apps?
We’ve looked at where you can use paperless forms in your business, so let’s take a look at some of their key benefits.
- Boosts customer service—data quickly reaches the right department for further action, leading to fewer delays and quicker response times
- Reduces errors—key pieces of information will no longer be omitted, and data won’t be lost on it’s way through the system
- Increases efficiency—you can use automated solutions, meaning it speeds up processes as you’re not duplicating effort
- Reduces waste—since you’re using a paperless system, it’s better for the environment too!
- Helps you gain a competitive edge—increased efficiency and improved customer service will give you an advantage in your field. Plus, digital forms are easily accessible, making you more appealing to customers.
- Improves productivity—streamlines processes from purchasing through to making tax digital in the finance department
How do you create a digital form for business?
The good news is that if you have a paper and/or web form, you’ve probably done most of the groundwork. Rather than starting from scratch, work on converting existing forms into online digital forms. Make sure to use forms automation software to save you time too!
If not, you’ll need to determine the key data points, which will help you decide which type of form, the appropriate form fields and what data you’ll need. You might find form templates useful here, especially if you’re designing both desktop and mobile forms.
Make sure to keep information requests as light as possible – for instance, can you just request a postcode and use an address finder, rather than requiring individuals to type out their entire address? This increases the chances of data being submitted correctly the first time.
It’s also important to define a clear process that lays out the subsequent steps. An easy way to do this is to set up a process library. This is a clever system that enables you to manage your processes in a coherent way.
What are examples of software that can be used to create digital forms?
More than just an online form builder, beSlick is an all-inclusive tool that helps your teams get things done. After all, the process doesn’t end when a form is submitted. Instead, it triggers the next stage. Take these examples:
- If someone is requesting a new employee, it needs to be reviewed, approved and a job posted.
- If it’s a purchase request, there may be different levels of approval it needs to go through.
- When kicking off a new project, it can allocate the right people to the right tasks that are due on the right date – all automatically.
Having forms integrated with your work management is what really saves time and creates efficiency in your business.
From creating checklists, to walking managers through audit processes step by step, beSlick helps you optimize workflows and back-end processes. That means you get to boost company efficiency without investing in a ton of disparate tools.
Thanks to its many integrations, beSlick can act as a digital forms app that also lets you cover a wide range of functionalities, such as:
- Gathering business information through data collection
- Notifying people of what tasks they need to do
- Automating workflows
- Provide reporting on form submission and activity status
And that’s just the beginning. There’s so much more beSlick can do for you—check out our How It Works page to learn more.
Using forms on your website
Your company website can be the most logical place to capture data. There are various tools and form builders available you can install on your website that can help with this.
If your web page is based in WordPress, you’ll find that Gravity Forms is a useful plugin that lets you easily embed forms into your page itself. The forms are customizable, so you can collect and store data that is pertinent to your business. Just don’t forget to link it to other systems to save the data or manage tasks related to those submissions.
Not everyone uses WordPress. Jotform is compatible with other website hosts and integrates with other apps. It also lets you choose where to send the completed forms (meaning you need a bit of technical know how to set it up!), which helps save time and ensures the right teams are working with the right information.
Another option to consider is Typeform. This is a digital form builder that follows a people-first approach, which is reflected in its attractive user interface and a chatbot that’s meant to mimic natural human conversation. Again,you’ll need to consider where submissions will be stored so that they are accessible by other systems, and how tasks will be created that deal with the submission.
Using forms internally
There are a number of tools that can help you capture internal data. Let’s take a look at a couple of the most well-known options:
You can use Microsoft Forms to create all types of forms, including surveys, quizzes, and polls. The captured data can then be processed and used to generate useful reports. It’s fairly simple to set up but you’ll need to do some integration work if you expect any tasks or activity to happen after each submission.
Google Forms comes with Google’s virtual work suite, so it’s easy to access online. As with Microsoft 365, you’ll also be able to create forms and collect responses to them internally.
Don’t forget: you need some way of managing the activity that happens after a form is submitted. The best digital forms are part of a process, rather than a stand-alone input. And no, that shouldn’t be emails or spreadsheets!
How do you link your business processes to digital forms?
So, you know what kind of forms you can create, the type of data you’re going to collect, and the digital forms software available, now it’s time to define how you’re going to feed this information into your processes.
You have plenty of options at this point. Unfortunately, some software solutions or using your own team of developers can be time consuming and expensive. But this doesn’t have to be the case. With platforms like beSlick, you can create digital forms in minutes via a user-friendly form creator and seamlessly link them to your other processes.
beSlick integrates with over 4,000 applications including CRM, HR, and finance systems. For example, when onboarding a new employee, you can link the new starter form to specific tasks that you can also set up in beSlick, which will automatically update your HR system.
Where should I start with a digital form?
By now you’ll have a better idea of the types of digital forms available to you and why it’s a great idea to use them in your business. Getting started with digital forms is easy, especially if you use some of the many templates on offer.
Simply sign up for a trial and either create your own form or download one of the many templates available on the beSlick platform.
Optimize your business processes with digital forms
There are many ways to set up digital forms. Some companies end up patching together disparate forms and systems that do not always work seamlessly together. That’s why it’s a good idea to find a platform that will help you manage all your processes from a single point.
beSlick gives you all the options you need. The platform lets you automate all your workflows, freeing up time and allowing you to keep track of progress at all times. Give it a try today and see how it can revolutionize the way you manage your business processes.
Author Alister Esam, Author of The Dirty Word & CEO of beSlick
Alister Esam is a successful entrepreneur and investor, having bootstrapped his fintech software business eShare to international status operating in over 40 countries and servicing 20,000 board directors, before successfully exiting in 2018.
He now invests in a variety of startups and on a global mission to make work, work.