Take a look around your business to see how paperwork is being shuffled around the office. How many filing cabinets do you have filled with orders, invoices, bills, proposals, diagrams, and other paperwork? Perhaps you take existing paperwork and scan it all into an electronic repository? How much time is spent rekeying this paperwork and ultimately filing it?
Have you considered reducing paperwork by moving from paper to eForms? Here are some items you may want to consider.
1. Sharing files
For your existing paperwork, determine who needs to review, can edit, or needs to approve particular types of paperwork. You may want to start with one form and follow the form through each step of the business process. If the form needs to be viewed by external users, you may want to consider using some kind of file storage via a cloud service. Determine how long a form may need to be kept as well, so data can be off-loaded at some future date.
2. Document Automation
Evaluate the current workflow of each document so you can determine how the process would need to be modified to account for electronic processing. An example of this would be ensuring that comments or signatures can be added as documents are reviewed and approved. Does data from these electronic forms need to be passed to other business applications, such as in the case of work or ship orders? Does this data go into reports required to run the business? Using a cloud-based solution will allow you greater ability to manage this centrally and quickly scale up for increased demand as needed.
3. Email and communication
Automation of your forms will create new methods of communication within your business, as well as to your clients and suppliers. Plan ahead to determine what infrastructure will best serve these needs. Will a Microsoft Exchange server solution work or a Google in the cloud solution be better? You need to evaluate how your clients and suppliers are willing to accept electronic forms and the level of security to be used (Read only? Read & write?). Users within the business need to understand which method to use, as well.
4. Enterprise applications
Are you users using Outlook, Word, Excel, ACT, or other programs to track customer and contact management activities within the business and to communicate with clients and suppliers? If so, this is one of the major areas that can benefit from eForms. Giving users the ability to access this information not only at the office but on a mobile device is invaluable. Making sure that the mobile device is right for the weather, lighting and temperature conditions in which the end user may be operating the device is also key.
Where to start
Pick one form to start with. Follow the process of this form from data input to processing to ultimate filing. Determine who can input, where are they located, and what is the best way they can access the electronic version of the form. As browser capability is becoming more seemless, you may want to consider utilizing cloud technology to authenticate, host, and store these forms. Work with a solution provider to create the eForm and the resulting reports or data that can be brought into your business application.
We have assisted many businesses across multiple industries with this process and would be glad to answer your questions. Give us a call or request a free consultation by clicking below if we can help you with the first step forward in generating savings for your business by reducing paperwork.