How to Transform Your Business with Electronic Forms

By Brian Lincoln  |  Posted 2010-09-07 Print this article Print

Replacing paper forms with electronic forms is becoming popular with businesses that are working to increase their green appeal and scale back on costs. Decreasing reliance on paper by converting to electronic forms yields additional benefits such as streamlined business processes and reduced physical storage needs. Here, Knowledge Center contributor Brian Lincoln explains how to transform your business by switching from paper forms to electronic forms.

Paper-intensive industries can transition to capture technologies such as electronic forms (e-forms) to make processes more streamlined and improve employee and customer satisfaction. Pairing e-forms with an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system allows companies to reduce data errors while speeding up business process cycle times. In just a few clicks, users can complete and route their digital forms for review, approval or storage.

So, how do you start the e-form conversion process in your organization? Start with a well-thought-out plan, since any change to established processes can be daunting. However, with a plan, a smooth adoption of e-forms is within any organization's reach. There are several elements to consider when preparing for the conversion, two of these being timeline and system requirements. Let's explore each:

Element No. 1: Timeline

Develop a reasonable timeline, allowing for all tasks to be executed thoroughly. Typically, creating e-forms (or converting them from paper) involves designing a form using e-form designer software, with the time required dependant on the user's experience level. The overall process of launching an e-form can be quick and simple, yielding immediate time savings. Or, if it involves automating multiple back-end workflows to process the form, it may become more involved. The timeline will be influenced by your requirements and system complexity.

Element No. 2: System requirements

The ECM system is the underlying structure that makes e-forms work smoothly and stores them for later use. E-form technology and packages can be configured to run on a variety of systems. It is important to start by evaluating the existing ECM system and projecting the performance impact that implementation will have on it. Use of e-forms can add significantly to the load on the system.

Determine how much physical space will be needed for the forms to be housed, as well as how many users will be accessing and later adding e-forms to the system for storage. The number of forms processed daily or weekly will determine the system configuration, while the volume of all forms to be stored will drive storage sizing requirements.

Brian Lincoln is a Senior Product Line Manager at Xerox. Brian has over 14 years of experience as a content management professional including previous positions at Documentum and EMC, where he specialized in launching vertical applications into government and related regulated industries. Brian has performed roles spanning the entire product development life cycle, evolving from engineering and consulting leadership positions to senior product management, where he also managed OEM relationships. Brian holds a Bachelor's degree in Economics from California State University, Sacramento. He can be reached at

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