The problem with paper forms

The problem with paper forms

Did you know that more than $120 billion a year is spent on paper forms globally? With many businesses and organisations attempting to reduce costs and be more conscious of their impact on the world’s natural resources, online or digital forms are the way of the future.

‍This cost extends beyond paper and printing costs. Technology has evolved since the early days of needing to download a form, print it out, fill it in, scan in and send it back. The extra time this takes can be a big cost for businesses and organisations. Most digital forms are now mobile phone friendly, customisable and can even be signed without having to pick up a pen.

‍Think about the user experience for your potential or current customers and employees? Is it a smooth process? Is it easy for them? Paper forms usually cause a lot of extra work and pain for the person filling in the form and for the employee in your business who chase people up and then processes or file the form.
‍At Converge Design, we are always thinking of new ways we can help businesses go paperless, so let’s take a look at 8 other ways that paper forms could be costing your business or organisation:

  1. Paper forms are not dynamic. If you have a very long or complicated paper form, it can be confusing for people to find the sections that are relevant to them and to fill out the form correctly. With digital forms we can show only the form fields and sections which relate to them (and hide the others).
  2. No reporting. If you want to look for patterns and trends within form data, this can be tricky if you use paper forms. You would need to enter all the information from the forms into a reporting tool, excel or a database. Online or digital forms can automatically push the data into these tools. Some examples of useful reports or information are: how many safety incidents did we have for this quarter or how many maintenance requests were not solved quickly enough.
  3. Prefill or prepopulate. Paper forms are usually not prefilled with people’s information. If the target audience for a form is an existing member, customer or employee then we can prefill the form with the person’s name and other basic details. This makes it much quicker and more convenient to fill in and submit.
  4. Save for later. Some online or digital forms give you the opportunity to save the form and come back later.
  5. Paper forms are costly! And it’s not just the printing of forms, or when they need to be updated (and re printed). There is an environmental cost also.
  6. Can be hard to read. Not all handwriting is created equal. Trying to translate some people’s handwriting can be like trying to understand hieroglyphics. Employees who are entering in the information to your systems can end up guessing a street or email address, mobile phone number or date of birth which could lead to problems down the track.
  7. Storage space. Depending on the type of form, you may need to keep form records for at least seven years or longer. Depending on the size of your business or organisation, you may require several large filing cabinets or even need to archive forms and put them into a storage facility. Digital forms can be stored in the Cloud or backed up on digital storage.
  8. What happens after the form is received. What happens after the paper form is submitted? Should it go to different people or approvers based on the information on the form? Should it trigger an internal approval process or workflow? This is hard to do with a paper form. A digital form can handle this with ease.

Are you currently using paper forms? Let Converge Design create custom digital forms for any department or topic under the sun from client-onboarding to annual leave for employees. Fill in the form below for a free consultation.

About the Author:

Calum McGonigle is the director of Converge Design, a productivity consulting company based in Brisbane Australia. With 15+ years of experience in business, Calum knows how to help you and your team become more efficient and profitable.

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