It’s hard to imagine how businesses ever got anything done before digital technology. Papers were signed when the mail was delivered. Customers got answers when a business called them back. And many a pen ran dry while employees and office workers tediously filled out form after form by hand.
The availability of electronic forms is not only leaving the need for pen and paper behind, it is eliminating a lot of the additional manual work involved when static documents are part of an organization’s workflow. Here are some everyday examples of how electronic forms can minimize scanning and data entry:
Electronic forms allow everyone to be involved!
When the application you need to complete is in a California filing cabinet and you’re in Oklahoma, the best you can hope for is someone will fax it or scan it to you. Electronic forms tighten workflows and alleviate inconvenience because they can be accessed and completed online by anyone who is part of the process—a customer, an admin, or the company CEO.
Electronic forms allow data to be repurposed over and over again.
First name. Last name. Middle initial. If it feels like a waste of time putting the same data into a system more than once, it is. Electronic forms allow data to exist digitally. This data can then be tagged and retrieved to automatically populate the next data field requiring the same information.
Electronic forms make up for messy desks, sick days, and just plain bad luck.
Even in the most competent of companies, forms lose their way. They get stuck on someone’s desk, that someone is traveling, and it’s the most important client you have. Electronic forms are in the same place, every time. There’s no rush to refax or fill another form out again, just log on and get it done now.
Electronic forms can be retrieved easily in the event of a disaster.
How do you tell a client that the hurricane in Florida affects closing his new home in Arizona? Electronic forms help companies avoid interoffice frenzy in time of trouble and can be accessed from any mobile device.
Electronic forms simplify document signing.
It’s not official unless it comes over with a signature. You can scan today’s pile of signature pages into your system again or you can use e-signature technology to move the entire process online. There are no lost pages, last minute machine jams or incomplete packages.
Scanning and data entry is going the way of fax machines and desk calendars. These worked for what they were built to do, but now easier, more reliable and more cost-effective ways of accomplishing the same tasks are out there and the companies that use them are reaping all the reward.