Embrace the simpler life: paperless forms are changing our work-lives for the better

Growing up a red-blooded Canadian boy the 1980s meant I played hockey. Life was simpler then – except when it came to my hockey schedule.

The schedule was a single typewritten sheet with each team’s name and game times, taped to the wall right under my Dad’s schedule of shift work. My Mom carefully highlighted each of my games. My folks would check the sheet, make a note of the game’s location, and on the appointed day, off we’d go.

Heaven forbid we drive to the wrong rink: in those days, doing so meant confusion, then a scramble to find a pay phone, hurried calls home (or to other parents’ homes, if no-one was answering at our house), and hopefully you might figure out where you should be.

Thankfully, getting yourself or your kids to their activities is easier now. For me, an app on my phone tells me where I need to be, at what time, and gives additional options, right down to directions on how to get to an unfamiliar rink. With the ubiquity of mobile devices today, can you image having your entire schedule ruled by a few scraps of paper?

Surprisingly, millions of organizations today are still working this way: reliant on paper, the same way sports parents were 30 years ago.

It doesn’t need to be that way. Whether you’re the CEO or you’re working on the front line, everyone’s job gets easier, and their impact greater, when transitioning to mobile technology from paper-based processes.

Enter the paperless form.

Paperless Living 101

ProntoForms is inventing new ways for companies to replace slow paper processes with powerful mobile forms that accelerate the pace and effectiveness of businesses—all while reducing hassle and frustration for people in the field.

Here’s how.

For years now, app developers have made it easy to go paperless for common tasks like personal scheduling, finance, and communications.

This has changed the way we interact with our banks, calendars and friends to such an extent that it’s hard to imagine that we once went to the bank to update our bank-books, or that each year we would have to go and buy new pages for our day-timers.

Broadly, the benefits of going to paperless forms are obvious:

(1) Do More in Less Time

Compare for a moment the capabilities of a smartphone versus pen and paper. Instant communications; auto-populated text fields; photo and video capabilities; GPS tagging; customer signature capture — mobile devices can simplify and accelerate field agents’ jobs even before you consider the logistical and business process benefits of going mobile.

Thanks to today’s mobile devices, people are able to capture more, and more accurate, information in the field than was ever possible with paper. (And no one will miss deciphering chicken-scratch penmanship on a faded paper form either)

(2) More Information

For paper forms to be efficient in the field, they must be kept basic. Being filled in with a pen means that form designers are limited by the users’ time and attention spans.

Because mobile forms can provide a wide array of simple drop-down menus and auto-populated fields, not only can you capture form content faster, you can capture much more data. This data can go beyond the basics and potentially transform business insights and decision-making.

(3) More Accuracy

Employees and bosses alike hate waste – wasting our time, and making mistakes due to bad or absent data. Going paperless not only saves trees; it helps ensure that your people are capturing the right information at the right time, with fewer errors.

But the robust data capture of the mobile form itself is only one part of this equation.

Effectiveness and accuracy is also increased by the fact that your mobile forms solution can be augmented with a huge array of resources to help your people succeed.

From on-demand training videos, to technical diagrams, to context-aware online help — mobile forms make it easy for staff with varying levels of technical know-how to get the answers they need to do their jobs, without the delay or churn of escalating to a manager, or having to return to a job site for a second visit. Because a mobile form is inherently web-connected, it’s possible to have every piece of information a field agent could need to be available, anytime and anywhere.

This is particularly relevant for organizations with high turnover rates: now even your newbies can go into the field with an on-demand guide and tutor to help them be successful right away.

(4) Next-level collaboration

The truly transformative power of mobile forms lies in the C-suite.

When hitched to a powerful analytics platform, mobile forms gives business leaders instant insight into their organizations’ effectiveness, their people’s productivity, and an unparalleled real-time view of their business.

Communications within mobile form-enabled companies are dramatically better as well: imagine a field agent being able to escalate a task with a single click of a button, or instantly connect with a salesperson to collaborate on a potential upsell. Mobile forms can be customized to deliver the level of communication any organization needs.

Mobile Device Adoption Suggests We’re Ready for the Paperless Life

The most recent Pew Research Centre study on mobile device ownership tells us that 77% of Americans now own smartphones. 51% of Americans own tablets. With so many people now equipped with such devices, we’re closer than ever before to going completely paperless

Source: PEW Research Centre

With so many people now equipped with smartphones, we’re closer than ever to going completely paperless.

The fact that most of us now own mobile devices removes what two key hurdles to mobile form adoption: hardware and change management.

Connected, browser-based paperless form solutions have existed for some time, but too often this required that organizations invest in expensive, ruggedized PC-based solutions, only to struggle when training their people with the hardware and complicated software that went with it.

Paperless forms, such as those offered by ProntoForms, eliminate these hurdles. Forms are made available within the ProntoForms app that runs on the Android-, iOS-, or Win 10 mobile devices that people know well and use every day.

The ProntoForms app can be downloaded via an app store (or approved corporate standard IT policy) just like any other app.

And, when your mobile forms solution is implemented by the ProntoForms team, you can be assured that it will be highly intuitive and enjoyable to use. ProntoForms has a close working relationship with the user experience teams at Apple and Google and build forms using the industry’s best practices in design.

ProntoForms’ paperless forms offer an easy-to-understand user interface, with large buttons and clear information flow so even the busiest- and biggest-fingered people on your team can quickly complete their forms – regardless of their tech-savviness.

Life is short. Go paperless.

No exaggeration here: companies have been filling in forms on paper for hundreds of years. And for hundreds of years forms have been lost, destroyed, erroneously completed and annoying to the people working with them.

Now it’s easy and inexpensive to leave that all in the past, and move to paperless forms that can transform your company for the mobile age.

Contact a ProntoForms expert today to see just how easy it is to go paperless.

Greg WoodGreg Wood
Product leader, marketer and communications guru Greg Wood thinks about digital transformation and the future of technology. If you're in Ottawa, Canada, you can find him enjoying the outdoors. Everyone else can find him on LinkedIn.
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