A close up of a woman filling out an electronic form on a tablet. In this instance, the electronic form is an insurance claim form.

Optimize Business Processes with Electronic Forms

How well do you remember life before the internet? Many people running businesses today were around, but it’s easy to forget how much more challenging simpler tasks were without the use of the World Wide Web. Entire teams of people had to be employed to sift through filing cabinets and stacks of papers. That can all be done by a single computer right now.

Even though the internet has transformed the world in many ways, there are still countless businesses that are failing to utilize all it can do for them fully. One way this is painfully clear is with electronic forms. Many business operators don’t really understand what electronic forms are, much less how to use them to their full potential. Let’s explore the idea and see if improving electronic form systems could help your business.

What Are Electronic Forms?

As the name suggests, electronic forms are a digital means of collecting and cataloging information. While you have undoubtedly filled out such forms at some point, understanding electronic forms from a business operator’s perspective requires a deeper look.

The primary point of electronic forms is allowing customers (or clients or patients or others) to provide critical information to you in a useful grouping. Much more importantly, the electronic forms then take that information and catalog and organize it. Good forms allow for instant data processing, report building, real-time updates, and advanced collaboration. They form the backbone of well-oiled digital machines in any workplace.

How Do Electronic Forms Work?

The forms can work in a few ways. The most common is with a web-based form. Essentially, the form is put on a URL, and anyone can access it by clicking the link. The web page is filled out and submitted, and that submission uploads the information to a web server where all of the magic happens.

Many electronic forms are now found on mobile apps. For the user, they are going to be very similar to a web form, but instead of building the form around a URL, it will be generated and uploaded through the API. The information still ultimately goes through the same server as the web forms, and that is perhaps the more important part of the equation.

Once the information is uploaded, the server will collect and organize the data. There are many ways this can be done, and many businesses will simultaneously employ several of them. Sales-based companies will almost always funnel information through a CRM system. This makes it easy for business employees to access useful information that is collected from the forms. It also allows the CRM to apply its many functions to the information. In lieu of a CRM, any other data-processing software can be applied to the form data.

The data will ultimately be stored on a secure server. That means it can be accessed again on demand. If you upgrade or expand your software systems, the data can be filtered through new tools for additional analytics or convenience functions. The fact that you own the data is extremely important to this process. You can use it as many times as needed for as many purposes as suit you.

How Electronic Forms Can Benefit Your Business

Now that you have a good idea of how electronic forms work, we can get into what they really do for you. The full list of benefits that are generated by electronic forms is nearly endless, but these four bonuses are pretty compelling.

Remote Access

One of the greatest advantages to digitizing information is the power of remote access. Anyone with permission can see the data collected from the forms anywhere in the world. As an example, traveling sales specialists can review pertinent information before trying to make a sale. They can go through the CRM systems and see every scrap of useful information that empowers them to do a better job, and remote access benefits are not limited to sales.

Any position that would ever take an employee away from a traditional file cabinet benefits from the power of remote access. It speeds up communication, improves collaboration, and minimizes problems that would otherwise arise if employees had less access to this useful information.

Quality Control

It’s a frustrating truth, but not all forms that are filled out are useful. Sometimes, customers make mistakes when they go through the process. Others simply are unwilling to give you the information you seek. That’s all fine, but bad data can hurt your analytics and decision making.

Electronic forms make it easy to browse through information, which accelerates quality control in regards to the forms and data. It is much easier to find and eliminate bad forms in order to improve your analytics and get more use out of data processing. To put it in simpler terms, quality control on your data gives you a more honest picture of how the business is doing.

Audit Trails

Electronic forms are a great digital item to follow in an audit trail. They start with customer access and are eventually filtered through most of your software systems. Following a form lets you see exactly how your systems are performing. It’s an amazing way to look for problems and inefficiencies in the system.

Minimal Errors

Electronic forms increase automation, and that minimizes human error in records management. While the original source of information can be faulty (which is handled by quality control), additional input errors are removed from the process. That reduces the number of mistakes and costly problems that stem from them. Automation lowers operational costs by cutting into unexpected expenses that might otherwise arise from human input error.

If your Houston business doesn’t already have a good electronic form system in place, you need one. Contact Stargel Office Solutions today. We’ll go over some options with you and help you see just how easily you can incorporate a form system that will improve your business on many fronts.