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Transforming Businesses with Electronic Forms – Part 3

Note: This is a three-part series that aims to provide you with all the information you need to understand and implement eForms within your organization. You can Part 1 and Part 2 here.

Part 3) Ushering the Paperless Era into Your Company

With a better understanding of what eForms can do for your organization, you’re bound to take the necessary steps to implement them. However, you will have your work cut out for you. You still need to begin the implementation phase, which can go awry if not carried out correctly. Moreover, as excited as some personnel may be about the paperless revolution, there are many others who may be against it. This is especially true if there’s a generation gap in the organization’s workforce.

Luckily, there are ways to overcome these two major obstacles. The following details the best way to implement eForms to ensure their adoption.

Implementing eForms

When it comes to introducing innovation to the unwilling, incremental change is the way to go. Organizations should begin delivering simple capabilities first and then deliver more features over time. That way, they can implement eForms while keeping technical complexity and costs low.

Here are the steps of an incremental method which you can tailor according to your environment and capabilities.

  1. Plan the Controls for Each Field in the Form – After planning which forms will be converted into electronic formats, the next step is to design and implement them. During the design stage, organizations should select the best field types for the data collected. For instance, drop-down lists are most suitable for displaying 7-15 options.
  2. Implement a Simple Workflow for the Forms – When implementing eForms, begin by implementing a simple workflow. In other words, start small so that you can easily review, approve, and set action steps for building the electronic forms. Also focus on the most common or important forms. That way, you can address change management issues and expose business benefits. From there, you can explore more complex forms such as multi-page forms which capture a range of business activities.
  3. Begin Planning Full Workflow and Integration – After the success of a simple workflow, organizations should opt for a more complete workflow solution. This process will start capturing the steps involved in processing forms. This starts with form data submission and goes all the way to notifying staff. It also entails integration with back-office systems. Based on the eForms solution you pick, this may require additional development.  
  4. Educate eForm Users – One of the vital steps of implementing eForms is educating those who use them. Forgoing this step will lead to dismal adoption, making the organization’s efforts and funds go to waste. Fortunately, reputable software vendors can help and provide training.

If you require more help, involve the vendors as well. Their expertise and knowledge will be beneficial during this phase.

How to Ensure the Adoption of eForms

Like any new technology, eForms will be a disruptive innovation. Therefore, it may be resisted due to a range of issues, including comfort level and proof of value. However, there are ways to win the workforce over and ensure they welcome eForms within the organization.

Communicate Changes from Day One

Don’t wait until the eForms are ready to communicate their worth and benefits to the workforce. Everyone affected by technology should be prepared beforehand. Communicate its value and what changes it can bring. Especially communicate how their jobs will change and what new responsibilities those involved will have.

However, keep in mind employees will put up their guard if you announce eForms as a major game changer. Talking about ‘the new way’ will make employees defensive – even if they didn’t like their ‘old way’. After all, that is the way they have been doing things for so long. On the other hand, referring to eForms as a ‘new tool’ to help carry out their jobs will assist in adoption.

Get Leaders to Lead by Example

The support of management is critical to ensure adoption of eForms. In fact, lack of management support is why organizations fail to rally a high adoption rate. Ideally, you should select a ‘champion’ from each department to assist with the adoption.  Their leadership and authority within the organization, will take charge of different aspects such as communication and risk avoidance.

Prove the Benefits of eForms Post-Implementation with Cold, Hard Facts

To prove the benefits of eForms and ensure their adoption, you need concrete numbers. For this purpose, baseline statistics can come in handy. Organizations should especially measure the following;

  • Paper Use – As your goal is to become a paperless office, you should be able to show how much paper you’ve saved. Calculate how much paper the organization used before introducing eForms. Then, compare it with the reduced amount.
  • Scanning Hours – Calculate the time spent scanning forms before and after the implementation of eForms. Compare the values to discover your savings in time.
  • Time to Change Forms – Let employees note down how much time they spend on editing and making changes to forms. Then, ask them to compare it with the time they need to change eForms.

Prepare for the Worst with a Turnover Action Plan

Employee turnover is one of the issues that may impact the success of technology adoption. While there is no way to avoid it, there are several ways to reduce its impact. One of the best methods is to appoint key longer-term personnel to carry out ‘knowledge transfer’. Organizations can also rely on their technology partners to produce training, user manuals, and guidelines for the company’s newest employees.

Ask for Input at Regular Intervals

To gain everyone’s buy-in, organizations need to factor in personnel’s opinions and seek a consensus. This step offers two advantages. One, it will make everyone grow more involved and feel part of the change. Two, it will provide the organization with important insight and allow it to update eForms to be user-friendly.

The Wrap Up

The benefits of eForms are numerous. But these can only be achieved by properly implementing them and ensuring their adoption. The right vendor can complement the organization’s efforts by not only providing the products but by also sharing its expertise. Therefore, careful selection of the right partner for your journey towards a paperless office is critical.

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