Should you automate your business forms? That’s a good question. And, the answer depends on how often you use forms within your business or when interacting with your customers.
If you’re operating with a remote workforce during this pandemic, you’ve likely found a way around any paper forms you were using. Some are using email, others are just getting by with snail mail. It’s not an efficient situation. Even after things return to normal, paper forms will still be inefficient, expensive, wasteful, harder to secure, and easier to lose track of. And it’s not just paper forms that are a problem. Even electronic forms can get tied up in someone’s email inbox without automation.
Form automation can help streamline document processing for any small or medium-sized business that use forms as a part of its operations. With the addition of automation software, you can track electronic forms and move them automatically through a workflow that you create.This relatively simple upgrade can help alleviate security and productivity issues, saving your company valuable time and money.
How SMBs Benefit from Form Automation
Form automation helps small to medium-sized businesses transform tedious paper-based tasks and forms into efficient digital processes. There are many advantages to adding automation, such as: streamlining form-based processes like employee applications, creating new forms to replace paper-based ones, and simplifying the collection of electronic signatures. Other benefits include:
1. Streamlining Processes: Form automation software allows you to create workflows that streamline your document management processes. Automated forms can be easily updated without printing or scanning, and documents can be tracked with workflow software. You can set up your system to auto-populate forms, format for digital signatures, and create a workflow that moves a document on to the next person in line.
The Wyanoke Group, a medical publishing company specializing in education, used form automation to standardize their processes and streamline operations. They used the OnTask form automation solution to manage employee review forms, identify tasks for each participant, administer individual permissions, and track the progress of each workflow. They also use OnTask’s reporting features to track each employee review’s progress throughout the chain of command.
2. Improving Collaboration: Creating mobile responsive and dynamic fillable forms also makes it easier for a remote workforce to collaborate. Forms can be digitally routed, easily and instantly, from one location to another. Cloud-based electronic forms can be accessed anywhere with an internet connection. This makes it easier for long-distance customers to submit forms and for staff members to circulate forms between multiple office locations.
3. Saving Time: If you process a large number of forms in your business, automation can help you manage them more efficiently. Forms with auto-fill features can also save time for the person filling out the form, while also eliminating manual entry errors and omissions. When you need to find a form later on, searching a digital database is faster than digging through a filing cabinet for a paper version.
After COVID-19 quarantine restrictions were lifted, the West Florida Flames, a non-profit soccer organization, realized a need for document automation. With 2,500 active members waiting to return to the game, they needed a way to quickly process the required health waivers. Working with OnTask, the Flames were able to get a form automation process up and running in less than 24 hours. Digital waivers were created and sent to members, making it possible for the organization to collect approximately 1,000 waivers in three to four days.
4. Saving Money: In the United States, companies spend over $120 billion on printed forms each year. An automated form is less expensive to produce because you’re saving the money you would’ve spent on supplies like paper and ink. Digital forms are also easier to locate, which reduces the frustration and expense of recreating the same forms over again.
5. Tracking Information: Whether you’re circulating a form within your office or sending paperwork out to customers to complete, automation can allow you to easily track a form’s progress, issue reminders when a task is awaiting completion, and move the form along as steps are completed.
Automation also makes it possible for you to:
- Identify where your forms are getting stuck
- Add personalized email messages and alerts throughout the process
- Reassign, resend, and generate custom links to provide task completion reminders
6. Securing Sensitive Data: Standardized forms reduce room for error and legal risks. With automation, you can create forms that allow you to capture legally certified and secure digital signatures. With all of your forms in one workflow, you won’t have to worry about outdated, incorrect versions.
However, not all form automation solutions are created equal, so look for solutions that are SOC2 compliant (and also HIPAA compliant, if you’re working in healthcare). For example, OnTask digital signatures are legally binding under the ESIGN Act and include a certificate for a complete electronic audit trail, meaning your data is safe and secure, whether it’s a patient consent form, an internal expense report, or a new sales contract.
7. Reducing Waste: Physical copies of forms waste paper, ink, postage, and more. A recent study found that the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year, with as much as 70 percent of that paper ending up in the trash. Automated form processing can save a significant amount of paper over time, helping both your business and the planet.
By helping your business to go paperless, form automation makes it possible for you to:
- Eliminate printing and scanning
- Speed up routing and approvals
- Reduce paper records, phone calls, and emails
- Simplify form completion for clients, employees, and new hires
Ready to try form automation for yourself?
Implementing a form automation solution like OnTask makes it easier for your small and medium-sized businesses to collect information from your customers and employees. With its intuitive and mobile-responsive interface, OnTask makes it possible to digitize your forms in seconds and create, route, review, and approve your forms all in one place.
If you’d like to learn more about the benefits that form automation can bring to your SMB, please join us for a group demo, watch one of our many on-demand videos, or schedule a custom demo whenever you’re ready.