Few work or life tasks feel as mundane as filling out a form. Yet, forms are more than just a necessary evil or an artefact of bureaucracy. Forms serve as gatekeepers that decide what information gets collected, stored and acted upon. Forms provide documentation so that our asses are covered if questions come up later. Forms make things happen and at their best, they can even define the processes that they trigger.
Merging Form & Function
Like other business tools, forms have evolved with technology. We are past the days when a person would be castigated for submitting Form XYZ on the wrong colour of paper. The evolution of electronic forms solved problems of storage and distribution, but created new problems. Anyone could alter forms designed in Word, and it was hard to enforce word limits. Old versions of a form would sit around on people’s hard drives, or stored in email inboxes, and then get submitted years after a newer version of the form, collecting different information, had been implemented. PDFs resolved some of these problems, but PDFs are not easy to design, create or maintain. So, while Word and PDF forms worked for putting data in, they did not offer an effective solution for later extracting the data that was collected.
All Hail Online Forms... Well, Sort Of
With online forms, at last, it seemed there was a way to implement usable forms that could collect data in such a way that it could be easily extracted, sorted and manipulated – and updated when the time comes. Online forms also offered the advantage of real-time tracking and monitoring. However, the creation and maintenance of many online form systems often depends on the input and support of IT department. IT often have bigger fish to fry than understanding and nursing an ageing technology system, which relies on a development language that went out of favour at least five years go, and while the system is critical to your team is one of the 100s they have to maintain.
But what if there was a way to allow the people who actually work with a given process to design and implement their own online forms? This is the promise of many systems such as FormStack, Google Forms, Wufoo and TypeForm. Each of these systems has a beautiful form designer, and they can handle countless submissions or take payments with a submission; however, the question to ask with each of these systems is what happens after someone hits submit on the form. What support do these systems provide for managing and processing each submission or request? Invariably each submission is reduced to either a row in a spreadsheet or an email to an inbox. From there you need to come up with your own manual system for managing the workflow.
Pairing Online Forms with Great Workflow
Atlassian's JIRA Service Desk is an incredibly powerful, yet easy to use, support tool. Along with easy and efficient tracking of requests and their status, JIRA is noted for its flexibility and its user-friendly interface. JIRA is also easy to customise and integrates well with other tools.
ThinkTilt has created the ProForma add-on so that you can extend JIRA Service Desk's great functionality to all your business processes. ProForma provides a powerful online form system, supported by an extensive library of templates for common business processes and their associated forms. With ProForma you can:
- Easily begin using automated forms without working through a steep learning curve
- Easily customise a form to gather the information you need
- Use our templates to support best practices in multiple business disciplines (Operations, Finance, HR, etc.)
- Update the design of forms without impacting previously submitted data
- Know that your forms are designed to be simple, elegant and easy to fill out