Graham Potter from Cloud2

Author: Graham Potter
Graham look after the Hadron brand strategy and help run Operations at Cloud2

From eForm to Business Solution

In a previous blog we wrote about eForms, the various technology choices available, the importance of understanding their purpose, and just as importantly, their accessibility.

Lots of organisations have numerous electronic forms of various types ranging from Word and Excel documents through to InfoPath and other web-based forms. Many of those forms just end up buried away somewhere, largely forgotten and not well integrated.

It’s all too easy to think that once you have the requirements for an eForm, built it to specification and stored it somewhere, that’s the end of the story. Sometimes, for very simple and obvious use-cases that might be true. However, more often than not the eForm itself is only part of the story and does not represent the full solution. The overall end-to-end business process and user journey surrounding that eForm is a critical element. For example, let’s imagine you are a recruiting manager and you need to complete a New Starter Form:

  • Where do you go to complete the form?
  • How do you find out how that form fits into the overall HR process?
  • Where do you go for the supporting documentation for that form/process?
  • How do you initiate the form?
  • Once the form has been created and saved, how do you access it?
  • How do you access related forms that you might need to action?
  • How do you access reports and dashboards (if any) that are generated?
  • Who do you ask for help if you need it?

We could easily create a form, put it inside a form library and leave it at that. But, that’s not particularly user-friendly, and nor does it give the user a sense of what they are doing and why. The additional elements don’t have to be complicated. A simple portal, signposted from the home page or HR site, with a visualisation of the overall process, associated documentation, FAQs, and links to the various sub-processes all add valuable background information for the user. Equally, on the site/page containing the form itself, logical buttons to initiate the form, access forms in progress, and access related reports and dashboards would provide a single place for the user to manage everything to do with their recruitment effort. Perhaps even a video showing how the form is completed, and a contacts lists for who to ask for help would all contribute to the overall solution.

In summary, the key difference between a basic eForm and a true Business Solution is simply the consideration of how that form fits into the overall Business Process, and building a user journey around that. A form that is easy to find, well documented, easy to use and has easily accessible output is far more likely to be used and adopted by the business, as opposed to becoming yet another forgotten digital relic.

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