non-profit goes paperless job applicationElectronic forms, also known as e-forms, are digital versions of traditional paper forms that are used to collect and process information. They have become increasingly popular in recent years due to advancements in technology and the need for organizations to streamline their processes. Electronic forms can be accessed and filled out online, eliminating the need for physical paperwork. They can be used for a wide range of purposes, such as collecting customer information, processing orders, conducting surveys, and more.

The history of electronic forms dates back to the early days of computers. In the 1960s, with the advent of mainframe computers, organizations began to explore ways to digitize their paper-based processes. This led to the development of electronic data interchange (EDI), which allowed businesses to exchange standardized electronic documents. However, it wasn’t until the 1990s with the widespread adoption of personal computers and the internet that electronic forms became more accessible and user-friendly. Today, electronic forms are an integral part of many organizations’ digital transformation strategies.

Benefits of Electronic Forms

There are numerous benefits to using electronic forms in an organization. One of the most significant advantages is cost savings. By eliminating the need for paper, printing, and manual data entry, organizations can save a significant amount of money on materials and labor costs. Additionally, electronic forms reduce the risk of errors and lost paperwork, further reducing costs associated with rework and inefficiencies.

Time savings is another major benefit of electronic forms. With traditional paper forms, employees would have to spend time manually filling out forms and then delivering them to the appropriate department for processing. Electronic forms streamline this process by allowing users to fill out forms online and submit them instantly. This eliminates the need for physical transportation and reduces processing time.

Improved accuracy is another advantage of electronic forms. With paper forms, there is always a risk of errors due to illegible handwriting or missing information. Electronic forms can include validation rules and data formatting options to ensure that all required fields are filled out correctly. This helps to minimize errors and ensures that the data collected is accurate and reliable.

Increased efficiency is another benefit of electronic forms. With paper forms, there is often a delay between when the form is filled out and when it is processed. This can lead to bottlenecks and delays in decision-making. Electronic forms allow for real-time data entry and processing, enabling organizations to make faster and more informed decisions.

Better data management is also a significant advantage of electronic forms. With paper forms, it can be challenging to organize and store large amounts of data. Electronic forms can be integrated with databases and other systems, allowing for easy storage, retrieval, and analysis of data. This enables organizations to gain valuable insights from the data collected and make data-driven decisions.

How Electronic Forms Streamline Processes

Electronic forms streamline processes in several ways. First, they eliminate the need for paper-based processes. With traditional paper forms, there is a significant amount of manual work involved in printing, distributing, collecting, and storing the forms. Electronic forms eliminate the need for physical paperwork, saving time and resources.

Automated data entry is another way that electronic forms streamline processes. With paper forms, employees would have to manually enter the data from the form into a computer system. This process is time-consuming and prone to errors. Electronic forms can be designed to automatically populate fields based on user input or pre-defined rules, reducing the need for manual data entry.

Real-time data access is another advantage of electronic forms. With paper forms, there is often a delay between when the form is filled out and when the data is available for analysis or decision-making. Electronic forms allow for instant data access, enabling organizations to make faster and more informed decisions.

Improved collaboration is another way that electronic forms streamline processes. With paper forms, it can be challenging to collaborate on the form and share it with multiple stakeholders. Electronic forms can be easily shared and accessed by multiple users, allowing for real-time collaboration and feedback. This improves communication and ensures that all relevant parties are involved in the process.

Types of Electronic Forms

Type of Electronic FormDescriptionExamples
Web FormsForms that are accessed and submitted through a websiteContact forms, registration forms, survey forms
Email FormsForms that are sent and submitted through emailOrder forms, feedback forms, subscription forms
PDF FormsForms that are created and submitted in PDF formatApplication forms, tax forms, legal forms
Mobile FormsForms that are accessed and submitted through a mobile deviceCheck-in forms, inspection forms, feedback forms

There are several types of electronic forms that organizations can use, depending on their specific needs and requirements.

Online forms are one of the most common types of electronic forms. These forms are accessed and filled out online through a web browser. Online forms can be embedded on a website or shared via a link. They are typically designed using a form builder tool and can be customized to match the organization’s branding.

PDF forms are another type of electronic form. These forms are created using PDF software and can be filled out electronically or printed and filled out manually. PDF forms are often used for official documents that require a signature or other types of verification.

Mobile forms are electronic forms that are designed specifically for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. These forms are typically accessed through a mobile app and can be filled out on the go. Mobile forms are especially useful for field workers who need to collect data in remote locations.

Web-based forms are electronic forms that are hosted on a web server and accessed through a web browser. These forms can be accessed from any device with an internet connection and do not require any additional software to be installed. Web-based forms are often used for online surveys, registration forms, and other types of data collection.

Creating Electronic Forms

Creating electronic forms is a relatively straightforward process, thanks to the availability of form builder tools. These tools allow users to design and customize electronic forms without any coding or technical skills.m Laserfiche Forms allows users to drag and drop items to build an electronic form.

When creating electronic forms, the first step is to choose a form builder tool that meets your organization’s needs. There are many form builder tools available, ranging from simple drag-and-drop editors to more advanced platforms with advanced features such as form logic and conditional formatting.

Once you have chosen a form builder tool, the next step is to design the form. This involves selecting a template or starting from scratch and customizing the layout, colors, and fonts to match your organization’s branding. The form builder tool should provide you with a user-friendly interface that allows you to make these customizations easily.

After designing the form, the next step is to add form fields. Form fields are the elements that users will fill out when completing the form. Common form fields include text fields, checkboxes, radio buttons, dropdown menus, and file upload fields. The form builder tool should provide you with a wide range of form fields to choose from and allow you to customize their properties.

Setting up form logic is another important step in creating electronic forms. Form logic allows you to create rules and conditions that determine how the form behaves based on user input. For example, you can set up conditional logic to show or hide certain form fields based on the user’s response to a previous question. This helps to create a more interactive and user-friendly form.

Customizing Electronic Forms

Customizing electronic forms is an essential step in creating a professional and user-friendly experience for your users. There are several ways to customize electronic forms, including branding the form, adding custom fields, customizing the form layout, and adding form instructions.

Branding the form involves customizing the colors, fonts, and logos to match your organization’s branding. This helps to create a cohesive and professional look and feel for your forms. Most form builder tools allow you to easily customize these elements using a visual editor.

Adding custom fields is another way to customize electronic forms. Custom fields allow you to collect additional information that is specific to your organization’s needs. For example, if you are collecting customer feedback, you may want to add a rating scale or a comment box. Most form builder tools allow you to add custom fields easily using a drag-and-drop interface.

Customizing the form layout is another important aspect of creating electronic forms. The layout of the form should be intuitive and easy to navigate for users. You can customize the form layout by rearranging the form fields, adding sections or headings, and adjusting the spacing and alignment of the elements. The form builder tool should provide you with a user-friendly interface that allows you to make these customizations easily.

Adding form instructions is another way to customize electronic forms. Form instructions provide guidance to users on how to fill out the form correctly. This can include information on what information is required, how to format the data, and any specific instructions or guidelines. Form instructions can be added as text fields or tooltips that appear when users hover over a specific field.

Automating Workflows with Electronic Forms

laserfiche forms consultingOne of the key benefits of electronic forms is the ability to automate workflows. Workflows are a series of tasks or approvals that need to be completed in a specific order. With traditional paper forms, workflows are often manual and time-consuming. Electronic forms allow for the automation of these workflows, saving time and improving efficiency.

Setting up form workflows involves defining the sequence of tasks or approvals that need to be completed. This can be done using a workflow management tool or through integration with other systems such as project management software or CRM systems. The workflow management tool should provide you with a user-friendly interface that allows you to define the workflow steps and assign tasks or approvals to specific users or groups.

Assigning tasks and approvals is another important aspect of automating workflows with electronic forms. Tasks are specific actions that need to be completed, such as reviewing a form or providing feedback. Approvals are decisions that need to be made, such as approving a purchase request or signing off on a document. The workflow management tool should allow you to assign tasks and approvals to specific users or groups and set deadlines or reminders.

Tracking form progress is another advantage of automating workflows with electronic forms. With traditional paper forms, it can be challenging to track the progress of a form and know who is responsible for completing each task. Electronic forms allow for real-time tracking of form progress, enabling organizations to monitor the status of each task and identify any bottlenecks or delays.

Sending notifications is another important aspect of automating workflows with electronic forms. Notifications can be sent to users to inform them of new tasks or approvals that need their attention. Notifications can be sent via email, SMS, or through the workflow management tool itself. The workflow management tool should provide you with the ability to customize the content and format of the notifications.

Here are some ideas of business processes we have automated with Laserfiche Forms:

Integrating Electronic Forms with Other Systems

Integrating electronic forms with other systems is an important consideration for organizations that want to streamline their processes and improve efficiency. Integration allows for seamless data transfer between different systems, eliminating the need for manual data entry and reducing the risk of errors.

Integrating electronic forms with CRM systems is one common use case. CRM systems are used to manage customer relationships and store customer data. By integrating electronic forms with a CRM system, organizations can automatically transfer customer data collected through the form into the CRM system, eliminating the need for manual data entry.

Integrating electronic forms with HR systems is another common use case. HR systems are used to manage employee information and automate HR processes such as onboarding, performance management, and leave management. By integrating electronic forms with an HR system, organizations can streamline these processes and eliminate manual paperwork.

Integrating electronic forms with accounting systems is another common use case. Accounting systems are used to manage financial transactions and generate financial reports. By integrating electronic forms with an accounting system, organizations can automate processes such as expense reimbursement, purchase requests, and invoice processing.

Integrating electronic forms with other business systems such as project management software, document management systems, and inventory management systems is also possible. The specific integration options will depend on the systems used by the organization and the capabilities of the form builder tool.

Security and Compliance Considerations for Electronic Forms

Security and compliance are important considerations when implementing electronic forms. Organizations need to ensure that the data collected through electronic forms is secure and compliant with data protection regulations.

Data encryption is one security measure that organizations can implement to protect the data collected through electronic forms. Data encryption involves encoding the data in a way that can only be decrypted by authorized users. This helps to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information.

Access controls are another security measure that organizations can implement. Access controls involve setting up user roles and permissions to restrict access to sensitive data. This helps to ensure that only authorized users can view or modify the data collected through electronic forms.

Compliance with data protection regulations is another important consideration for organizations using electronic forms. Depending on the industry and location, there may be specific regulations that govern how personal data should be collected, stored, and processed. Organizations need to ensure that their electronic forms comply with these regulations to avoid legal and financial consequences.

Audit trails are another security measure that organizations can implement. Audit trails involve recording all activities related to the electronic form, such as who accessed the form, when it was accessed, and what changes were made. This helps to track any unauthorized access or modifications to the form.

Best Practices for Implementing Electronic Forms

Implementing electronic forms in an organization requires careful planning and execution. Here are some best practices to consider:

Define form requirements: Before creating an electronic form, it is important to clearly define the requirements and objectives of the form. This includes identifying the information that needs to be collected, determining who will fill out the form, and specifying any specific features or functionalities required.

Involve stakeholders: It is important to involve all relevant stakeholders in the design and implementation of electronic forms. This includes end-users, IT staff, and management. By involving stakeholders from the beginning, you can ensure that the form meets their needs and expectations. If you are not comfortable with this, we are able to help you. Just look at our consulting services.

Test the form: Before deploying the electronic form, it is important to thoroughly test it to ensure that it functions correctly and meets the requirements. This includes testing all form fields, validation rules, and form logic. It is also important to test the form on different devices and browsers to ensure compatibility.

Train users: Once the electronic form is deployed, it is important to provide training to users on how to fill out the form correctly and use any additional features or functionalities. This can be done through training sessions, user manuals, or online tutorials.

Monitor form usage: After the electronic form is implemented, it is important to monitor its usage and collect feedback from users. This can help identify any issues or areas for improvement and ensure that the form continues to meet the organization’s needs.

Continuous improvement: Electronic forms should be seen as an ongoing process of improvement. It is important to regularly review and update the form based on user feedback and changing requirements. This can help ensure that the form remains effective and efficient over time.
Electronic forms have revolutionized the way organizations collect and process information. They offer numerous benefits, including cost savings, time savings, improved accuracy, increased efficiency, and better data management. By streamlining processes, automating workflows, and integrating with other systems, electronic forms can help organizations improve productivity and make more informed decisions. However, there are also some challenges and considerations that organizations need to be aware of when implementing electronic forms. One challenge is ensuring data security and privacy.

Organizations must have robust security measures in place to protect sensitive information from unauthorized access or breaches. Additionally, organizations need to consider the accessibility of electronic forms for individuals with disabilities, ensuring that they are compliant with accessibility standards. Another consideration is the need for proper training and support for employees who will be using electronic forms. Adequate training can help ensure that employees understand how to properly use the forms and maximize their benefits.

Finally, organizations should also consider the potential resistance to change from employees who may be accustomed to traditional paper-based processes. Proper change management strategies can help address this resistance and ensure a smooth transition to electronic forms. Overall, while electronic forms offer numerous benefits, organizations must carefully consider these challenges and considerations to successfully implement and utilize them effectively.

For help building electronic forms and automation business processes, look at Hemingway Laserfiche Consulting Services. If you would like to hear what our consulting clients say about our services, you can go to our Laserfiche customer testimonials.