While going paperless is all the rage these days, it’s often not enough just to scan and digitally store documents. Sure, doing this saves on printing and paper-related costs, but finding efficiencies that fundamentally transform the way you do business requires something more.
That “something” is Forms Management software, which can streamline form-processing by electronically managing front-end data collection and back-end form generation for any paper-heavy business process.
There are a host of Forms Management packages available, including our own software, that can web- or mobile-enable previously paper-based forms. The software allows you to collect data electronically and save it to any database, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system or a content management solution like WebDocs.
On the back-end, the software can use the collected data, along with info from your ERP system or other application, to output whatever documents that are part of your business process, including things like invoices, purchase orders, billing statements and data-driven reports. These documents can then be electronically distributed to colleagues, customers and vendors.
This sounds great in theory but how does it work in practice? Let’s look at four real life scenarios: Order Processing, Accounts Payable, Service Work Orders and Human Resources.
Order Processing – Say you’re a manufacturer or distributor of auto parts. With Forms Management software, your customers can fill out your part order forms online, rather than mailing or faxing them to you. That order data is instantly placed within your order system rather than manually entered by a clerk.
Order forms, invoices, billing statements and related shipping documents are then automatically generated as the order is verified and fulfilled. Those documents can be printed or digitally routed through your workflow process for signatures, approvals and final electronic storage.
What was once a cumbersome and manual process becomes easy and automated, thus reducing labor costs, speeding up order fulfillment and creating more satisfied customers.
Accounts Payable – AP is perhaps the most paper-intensive department in any organization. Accounts payable staff deal with tons of invoices that must be matched with purchase orders so they can pay bills – hopefully on time to avoid late payments or early to receive discounts.
However, AP can’t pay an invoice if they don’t have a purchase order. With our Forms Management software, AP staff can create purchase orders in a web form. The data in that form is then synced with an ERP or financial system, which can then trigger the creation of a digital or printed purchase order. That form can then be sent to a vendor and used for matching and approval when an invoice comes in for payment.
Service Work Orders – Service and Repair organizations make frequent customer visits for routine maintenance and supply deliveries. They tend to deal with a lot of paper forms (like service and work orders) that have to be filled out by technicians in the field, then signed by customers and, ultimately, returned to the corporate office for processing.
That processing usually entails manually entering the freshly collected data into a back-end business system and then saving those documents, either in their physical form or electronically by scanning, for their records. Depending on the service performed, that process might also entail the creation of additional forms like purchase orders, invoices or shipping documents for new supplies, parts, etc.
Mobile Forms Management software takes the paper out of service and work orders by enabling employees in the field to electronically capture form data on tablet PCs or mobile devices, thus eliminating traditional paperwork. Customers are then able to sign forms on the tablet and receive an electronic or printed version of the document for their records. Data is automatically synced to back-end systems and new documents (purchase orders, invoices, shipping documents, etc.) are automatically created, if needed.
Human Resources – HR is about as form-intensive as you can get. When a new employee starts a job they fill out an application and usually about a half-dozen other paper forms.
Forms Management software web-enables these forms, saves the data into your HR software and, on the back-end, spits out key forms like W4s, I9s, direct deposit slips and a variety of insurance forms. These can all be emailed, stored digitally and, if needed, printed.
Thanks to Forms Management software, the HR onboarding process has gone from paper-crazy to fully automated, saving everyone involved time and money.
While these are clear examples of implementations we do all the time, the applications and uses for Forms Management software are virtually endless.