Paper. It seems like it is everywhere in the office. File cabinets, inboxes, desktops and folders are all full of it. But is it really necessary in today’s modern office? With more employees having flexible schedules and working from home, it can be nearly impossible to get a signature on a critical piece of paper.
Software offerings for electronic signatures are a good first step, but what about forms? Some businesses are tied to processes that use handwritten forms. Is there a way to streamline forms and other official correspondence in order to make a more efficient workplace? What about going paperless?
What about turning all of those paper forms into an editable PDF format? There are many advantages of using a PDF version of a form over the paper one. Even if the paper document is already in PDF format and can be printed, you don’t need to stop there. Advanced PDF forms allow the user to edit the form on the fly. They can also be programmed with dropdown lists that allow the author of the form to control the responses that users of the form can give.
Some other advantages include:
- Mobile Availability of Forms: For all of your users that are on the go, you can eliminate the need to be near a laptop or desktop computer. Mobile forms are the perfect solution for a mobile sales or support force that is going to be on site with a customer or offsite with a vendor. Don’t worry if your business doesn’t have a standard company phone or carrier. Advanced PDF forms can be used on any number of platforms, from Android to iOS and everything in between.
- Reduce the Number of Forms: Forms that are coded into PDF format can have something called conditional logic. Conditional logic is just a computer programming term that means the form can alter itself based on the answers the user of the form provides to the questions. Forms can be built with instructions that walk your users through filling them out. This reduces the time that it takes for the user of the form to fill it out. It also reduces the time that it takes to process the form by eliminating the need to have the form redone if wrong sections are filled out or insufficient answers are provided.
- Integration of Forms with Existing Infrastructure: Most PDF style forms can be integrated directly into existing e-signature and web hosting applications. This streamlines the process of adding the forms to your everyday culture by not having to teach employees new ways to access them. Just put your forms in the same place old paper forms would be found to print out, and you will be surprised at how easily your business will adapt.
The Trouble with Paper to Database Integration
Storing all of your form data on paper is a cumbersome process for several reasons:
- It takes up a lot of space
- It is difficult to search
- It must be maintained and can quickly become unsorted or out of date
Databases have come along to take the place of old paper filing systems. If your forms are still filled out by hand or even come in an editable PDF, you have to have a person type the information into the database in order to be able to track it electronically. Manually entering the data is a great way to introduce inaccurate data into your database. Using scanners and OCR will work to some extent to limit the errors, but it too can be unreliable and needs to be checked by hand.
- Automated Form Validation: Logic can be programmed into your forms to ensure that the data that is entered into them is in the correct format to go into your database. This means that the users must answer the questions properly before submitting the form so that the data that goes into the database is accurate. This helps to streamline workflow by eliminating the need to manually check data.
- Scripted Workflow: Once the form has been filled out, scripting can be built that will direct the data to where it needs to go. No more having employees memorize complicated workflow processes that can hold up processing by preventing the proper parties from getting your forms right away. This can also be integrated with programs outside of your database in order to perform other needed functions as a result of a form being filled out.
You’ve gone paperless with your drawings, but in order to get them properly approved they need to be stamped and signed. This is one thing you will never be able to get around in order to be totally paperless, right?
Customized PDF stamps can be created that can handle electronic stamping of drawings and other documents. This means reducing the time to print and review since reviewing can be done directly on the PDF file. Stamping and signing is as easy as applying a PDF stamp and using your e-signature software to sign.
Eliminating paper copies of documents like drawings is a great way to enforce version control. This speeds up efficiency by preventing the need to have your drawing revisions checked against electronic versions before going to production. It also prevents the use of incorrect drawings by ensuring that all but the latest versions are archived.
Go Paperless Today
Going paperless can improve workflow in all aspects of your business. Take a minute to browse the digital solutions available at Absolutely Paperless and get that pesky paper out of your office today!