Even in today’s tech-savvy world, paper-based processes are still common in business. So many companies are wasting time and money with their manual workflows. It’s time to take a closer look at what forms automation can do for your business. This is how one company, who started with a simple shift in how they approve PTO requests, started streamlining their business processes with forms automation.
Cornerstone Ministries is a Christian outreach organization that focuses on helping disadvantaged children and their families. When Cornerstone first learned about workflow automation, they took a step back and started analyzing their processes. “When we really started thinking about approvals, we realized that there were several areas within our business that need improving,” says Sarah Ellis, Director of Finance and Administration at Cornerstone Ministries.
“The Way We’ve Always Done It” Mentality
So many companies get stuck in “the way we’ve always done it” rut. They’ve been using paper for so long, nothing else makes sense to them. As the saying goes, “if it’s not broken, why fix it?” However, when processes aren’t reviewed regularly, that room for improvement starts making increasingly larger impacts on the bottom line.
Before automation, Cornerstone’s process for PTO requests was paper-based. “We had four different types of forms for each department. Employees would retrieve the designated time off request form from their supervisor or download it from the server,” says Ellis.
“Then, they would fill out the form and return it to their supervisor for approval. The supervisor would make a copy for their records and give the form back to them. The employee would then make another copy and drop off that form to HR. When payroll came, the employee would attach the original copy to their timesheet.”
Examples of Cornerstone Ministries’ paper-based time-off forms
Cornerstone used filing cabinets to store all of the requests. “It was a very inefficient system. Requests could get misplaced by a supervisor or stuck in the wrong folder in the filing cabinet.” When Cornerstone started looking into automation, what they discovered was eye-opening.
Integrating Forms Automation Software
When the time came, Cornerstone contacted the OnTask team to discuss setting up their first form. “Employees are adapting to the new PTO request process. It was surprisingly easy to integrate, and the employees caught on to the new procedure quickly. We didn’t have any issues,” reports Ellis.
Now we use one form for all departments, which is wonderful! There is no chance of paperwork being misplaced or a supervisor losing track of a request. Since it’s all electronic now, all we have to do is look at OnTask to find the requests.
Instead of a paper-based process, Cornerstone provides access to the request form through a shareable link. Employees fill out the form including name, manager, hours requested, and hours available before submitting the form to their supervisor. The supervisor then receives a notification from the system that a request has been made and approves or denies the PTO.
Cornerstone’s new automated form
From there, the supervisor submits the form to HR for approval. “If there is an error, like the employee doesn’t have enough hours to cover their PTO request, I will catch it at this stage. When the process is complete, everyone gets a record from the system automatically. We don’t have to make millions of copies, and all of the information is accessible from one place,” says Ellis.
The process has saved approximately 30 minutes per week for each supervisor, which makes a significant impact on productivity. “Now we have an efficient system that allows us to focus on the important aspects of our work,” comments Ellis. “It’s made us really think about other areas where we can improve. This system will be beneficial to all of our departments in the future.”