Collecting Error-Free Data

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

Collecting error-free data

Database look-ups and data validation ensure that the information collected on the forms is free from error. Forms and form data can be mapped to ECM system object types and properties. Together, these features facilitate auto-population of forms as users are filling them out, and allow for information searches and comparisons.

For example, a new hire form may have a field that allows human resources to enter a job code that represents the newly hired employee. When that happens, a database look-up is done and another field is automatically filled with the job title that corresponds to that code. Similarly, some fields may require that an entered value be validated against the database before proceeding. If an employee enters their name, it can be checked against the database for spelling and correlation to the employee ID-similar to a personal log-in for any system.

Identifying needs before going digital

Once the ECM system is ready, there are some simple steps to move forward with the introduction of e-forms. First, identify any specific needs that may be present within the company team. Tulane University in Louisiana, for example, was motivated to add e-forms to their existing ECM system in order to cut the costs and time required to manually process a wealth of paper-based forms. They wanted to speed up processes that ranged from everyday activities such as mailing documents outside the campus to academic activities such as students declaring a major.

Tulane University's e-form project has benefited from regular department lunch meetings where users and form administrators from different teams can meet and compare notes, wish lists, lessons learned and ideas about what they require from the e-forms project. Being considerate of users' needs is crucial in the eventual acceptance of e-forms into the company fold. Depending on the users' digital aptitude and adaptability, removing paper from established processes may be difficult. Some work environments may benefit from change management prior to the e-forms launch. No matter how digital the workplace may become, the human element will always be essential.

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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