It seems that automation has reached just about every aspect of business operations today - processes are becoming increasingly efficient and companies are enjoying improved productivity. There are, however, many instances where certain processes are still operating as there were decades ago. Surprisingly, even with all of the data showing the success of automation, manual processes are still prevalent. If you are one of those companies continuing to use paper for task like Customer Feedback Tracking, Order Processing or HR Onboarding – Digital SharePoint Forms may be the solution for you.

Top 5 Problems with Manual Processes

While you may think that the price of upgrading systems or investing in automation technology is prohibitive, the cost incurred when relying on manual processes is actually far greater. Below are the top 5 problems with manual processes:

  • Data entry - Duplication of effort and human error are both common issues with manual data entry. Let’s say a new employee fills out their personal information on a paper form. Someone then must retype that same data into a virtual form, which is both an inefficient use of time and a drain on productivity.
  • Paperwork - Requiring paper to be filled out means that you have to store it somewhere. This means additional cost in rent, in copying/scanning, in labor, and more. All of that paper adds up quickly and is also highly likely to be misplaced or even completely lost.
  • Lack of visibility - If a piece of paper is filed away without being backed-up anywhere; it is not going to be accessible to those who need it. You could be hiding valuable information and insight from team members. It also becomes more difficult to track trends or take advantage of any of the data sorting/analytic techniques (like quick searching files).
  • Lack of mobility: If your data isn’t accessible online, then anyone who works remotely or off-site will struggle to gain access to the information they need. In this day and age, it doesn’t make sense to be locked down to a desk in order to be productive.
  • Uninformed decisions: Without visibility into your data, your business will not be able to make fully informed decisions, and that means more mistakes and missed opportunities in the long run.

A Practical Application

We work with several companies in homes services. Once a year, these companies deploy their sales team to complete an on-site property evaluation. During each visit, valuable data is collected and then analyzed to make recommendations for future improvements. This evaluation is an important part of their business model as it ensures a face-to-face connection with customers and it helps to drive future growth.

The problem with their current method was that they were relying on paper forms during the evaluation - an inefficient process for two main reasons:

  • Risk - Paper forms could easily be misplaced and all of that valuable data would be lost 
  • Duplication - Once the rep returned to the office, they were having to duplicate efforts and re-enter all of that data into the system

It was clear that we needed to create both a proprietary form to gather all necessary data, along with a streamlined process that could be accessed both online and offline – as internet connections in the field aren’t always available. In addition, we needed the ability to output all of this data into PDF form that could easily be sent to the customer and then store all of this information in one centralized location.

Leveraging our Microsoft gold partner status, we were able to team up and build a solution that collected necessary data, streamlined workflow and saved all data in a centralized location. A SharePoint portal was used to build web-based forms that would guide representatives and allow them to dynamically add questions and answers. The form allowed space for a client signature and was optimized for tablets – a preferred mobile device.

How Digital SharePoint Forms Help to Automate Manual Processes

Businesses today are realizing process improvement by incorporating Digital SharePoint Forms into their workflow. In the example above, field reps now enjoy an automated interview process that frees them from carrying paper around and duplicating data, and management now has one centralized location that tracks and reviews that information.

Streamlining data helps companies make better business decisions across the board (i.e. training, client interactions, projected growth, etc.). When applied thoughtfully, Digital SharePoint Forms can be a simple solution to problems that exist in many organizations today.