The above multiple choice question wouldn’t be so funny if it wasn’t so accurate.   

Point is, most businesses across the globe have had their internal processes, workflows, and routines impacted by COVID-19 in some meaningful way. 

And while some wish to go back to 2019, the digital changes unleashed by COVID-19 are here to stay.  Once digital processes are adopted within a firm, it’s very difficult to go back to the old way of doing things.  

It’s strangely weird…people put up a HUGE fight when it comes to change, and yet once they finally make the switch, they can’t ever imagine going back to the old way of doing that.

If you are still using paper for your digital forms, now might be as best a time as ever to start the transition to digital.

So how do you get started?  How do you go about switching your tried and true paper process into a mobile digital process without being overwhelmed with all the choices available today?

Here’s one approach that has worked for companies we know:

Start small (think of this like a small pilot study or simple experiment)

Don’t go all-in and try to switch everything over in one fell swoop.  If you go that way, you may end up looking for a piece of software that can “sort-of” do everything, and most software like that will inevitably be complex, difficult to use, expensive as $hit, and time-consuming to implement. Instead, start small by focusing on a single paper form or workflow process.

Find a single form that is widely used within your firm

Focus on initially digitizing a single form or handful of forms, not the whole ball of wax. 

Assign this “pilot study” to a single individual or maximum 2 individuals to test it

Find 1 or 2 open-minded, technically-savvy individuals internally to test the digital form process and have them use it in parallel along with their established paper form process. Ensure that they understand the importance of what they are undertaking, and how their efforts will have an active impact in molding the process being considered for the organization.

Test 3 different platforms using the same form

You will get overwhelmed if you decide to test a dozen systems.  It’s like going to the cereal isle in a grocery store for the first time in your life…the choices are overwhelming, so you end up not making any choice at all.  So do you best in selecting and narrowing down the list to 3 software choices to test that can handle at least 80% of your unique criteria.

Pick the best one based on your test results and criteria and go for it

Modern software is pretty good nowadays. Definitely better than a paper workflow process.  So whatever you end up picking—even if you think you made the wrong choice—its going to be ok.  If things go south, you can always try a different toolset, or postpone your adoption of mobile forms to a later date.

Which generic forms tools are good enough for me, in 2020?

There’s a bunch of decent forms software tools available today.  You can do some research on Capterra, and of course, you can always Google things.  But in case you want to check these out, here’s our pick of decent generic software tools:

  • AirTable – This is an AMAZING tool.  It’s feature-rich, and they have a free version. If you don’t need a forms solution that can go into offline mode, or if you don’t need signature fields, this is a great choice. Hell, WE even use AirTable religiously ourselves, for features we don’t yet have available, and to get ideas.
  • XForms – Well duh…of course we are going to recommend our own tool.  It’s modern and fresh, and has things no other tool has, like configurable table grids, draw on top of pictures, and offline mode that works even in a web browser.  It’s also a new tool that is undergoing a lot of development and improvement, with a “less is more” approach to simplicity.
  • Device Magic – These guys are solid and have a great product.  They also happen to be based out of Raleigh NC, where we are.
  • GoCanvas – A solid product, with a ton of pre-made templates.  
  • JotForm – Well-established, been around for a long time, still a great tool.
  • Fulcrum – Used by large architecture/engineering firms.  A bit older tool.
  • FormStack – Relatively modern platform stack, decent, well-funded.

Don’t look in the rearview mirror…

Even if you feel you made a mistake by picking the wrong software tool for your enterprise, don’t beat yourself up over it.  Always look FORWARD, not backward.  You can always migrate to a different platform.  And it’s highly doubtful that you will go back to paper at this point, but you can also do that if things are that bad with your experiment.

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