Man Filling out Forms

How Better Forms Can Transform Your Business

Better digital experiences for your employees and customers have tremendous benefits if approached correctly. First off, you need to understand your users’ needs before attempting any implementation. This path should include a series of small sequences with plenty of user feedback and iteration. Trying to tackle too much in a wholesale change makes it daunting and difficult.

For example, a 2019 McKinsey survey found that only 16% of its respondents saw sustained and improved performance from digital transformation projects. Despite all of this, improving business processes doesn’t have to be a complicated ordeal and can actually be as simple as creating better experiences with tools as common as a form.

Forms are ubiquitous in both paper and digital media, and editing a long, complex, cluttered form on paper or online isn’t an enjoyable task for anyone. For employees servicing customers day in and day out, they need an experience that is tailored to the multiple needs of their workflows. This makes forms a great stepping stone for renewing digital experiences.

For example, just reducing 50 clicks to five is transformational to someone using the same form on a daily basis and provides enormous benefits to your business. Forms that have built-in intelligence to lead you to the specific data you need at just the right time make the process less arduous for the employee, faster for the customer and easier for data management.

When it comes to development, the hard way to implement adaptive forms is by hand-coding both the user interface workflow and the data source integrations. This is often a huge challenge for IT shops with limited development staff and budgets, since it requires a significant amount of time and resources.

Furthermore, once you have deployed the forms solution, tweaks and updates will be required from your users and the business as time goes by. Digging back into the code, making changes, debugging, testing and deploying again is a tedious, time-consuming and expensive exercise.

This is where modern declarative front-end development platforms for business applications pay off. Some platforms provide drag-and-drop UI components to rapidly assemble custom form workflows, along with interfaces that abstract away the complexity of reading and writing to data sources. This is a simpler and more scalable way to create, iterate and maintain custom form workflows in a fraction of the time it would take to hand code.

Good adaptive forms will hide the complexity of reading and writing from data sources that are required for storing or providing any associated data. When information is entered in a form, it may need to be saved to a customer relationship management (CRM) platform like Salesforce, an enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform like SAP, a SQL database or some other system of record. Other data may need to be fetched from a third-party online system to use in a calculation or may require sending text messages in the background. All of this complexity to orchestrate requires a scalable application and technology solution architecture.

This is an example of an intelligent, adaptive form. The intelligence is built to prevent all 14 different special skill categories from displaying and, instead, to show the correct form based on the category that was chosen.

Now, let’s say the role requires a certain security clearance. Based on the role selected, the form would automatically trigger a query in the background to a security clearance database to pull up additional information for that security clearance. Then, it would automatically populate another section of the form with that data. The combination of conditional display and integration with data sources to auto-populate or validate information is a must-have for creating adaptive forms that provide the right information at the right time and are tailored to the exact workflows required for the task.

Forms can be mind-numbing if designed improperly. Regardless of how complex or simple your project is, the final result should be an improved user experience for employees and customers. Modern application development tools make it easy for you to create things like adaptive intelligent forms, so remarkable experiences are possible without much hassle.

When developing forms, here are a few key patterns to keep in mind that will help create a better experience:

Before you start, however, you must think of the users first. After all, you are building solutions to be used by people, and you want them to deliver the business outcomes you need. If you are not designing solutions that enable those outcomes by way of an engaging experience for employees and customers, then you need to reevaluate your approach.


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