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Designing Forms to Meet Your Business Needs - Best Practice Advice


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Information is everywhere in an organization – in databases, documents, spreadsheets, and other formats. All of it increases in value when you understand how one document relates to another, to the …

Information is everywhere in an organization – in databases, documents, spreadsheets, and other formats. All of it increases in value when you understand how one document relates to another, to the people who use it, and to the processes it drives. The objective is to improve quality and maximize business process efficiency. It is imperative to collect information accurately to benefit the business needs. Do this by process analysis and utilizing functional data collection tools.

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  • 1. #AIIM14  #AIIM14   #AIIM14   Informa(on:   Does  it  Meet  Your  Needs   Robin  Miller   Informa3cs  Specialist/Forms  Professional     Rapid  City  Regional  Hospital    
  • 2. #AIIM14   Introduc(on  
  • 3. #AIIM14   Introduc(on   § Over 20 years of experience in design and development of forms and documents, as well as, specific education in forms systems and business processes. §  Hold certifications in: §  Healthcare Informatics §  Business Process Management §  Electronic Records Management §  SharePoint Specialist
  • 4. #AIIM14   Goal  for  Today   § My goal today is to share with you how to improve data and information capture through: § Process Analysis § Best Practices in Data Collection Tools / Forms Design
  • 5. #AIIM14   Outline   § Impact of Information § Process Analysis § Design Best Practices § Summary
  • 6. #AIIM14   History   §  In 1955, the Hoover Commission on Paperwork Simplification reported that for every $1 spent to purchase a form, no less than $20 was spent processing that form. §  Updated in 1990s by Gartner Group and CAP Ventures who quoted a $60:1 ratio. Bill Gates referenced it and calculated it to be $100:1. §  This ratio can be significantly reduced by professional forms management, process analysis, and data collection tools design. Error reduction alone (reducing the number of user errors of omission and incorrect or incomplete data) can reduce the ratio by 50%.
  • 7. #AIIM14   Costs  of  Unstructured  Data   §  What is the impact on processing if unstructured data is collected? WHAT'S A MINUTE WORTH? BFMA Rocky Mountain Informer Let's suppose you have a clerk in your company who fills out one form per day. Let's also suppose that due to inefficient forms layout and design, it takes your clerk one extra minute per day to fill out the form or data collection tool than it would if the form was arranged in a logical sequence and properly designed. You might say this is no big deal. One minute a day for one person is hardly worth fixing up. But let's do a little figuring. There are 260 working days per year. One minute a day adds up to 260 minutes or 4.33 hours of wasted time. If your clerk makes $5.00 per hour, you've wasted $21.65 on one form, filled out just once a day for a year. If you happen to be a very large company with 100 clerks, each filling out 100 forms per day, and each form wastes one minute, the cost escalates to $216,500 per year. §  Examine clerical processing areas, and you're likely to find inefficiencies in forms design. There is always room for improvement. 7  
  • 8.   Do  YOU  understand  the  business     challenge  of  the  next  10  years?   This  ebook  from  AIIM  President   John  Mancini  explains.  
  • 9. #AIIM14   Sta(s(cs   § According to information from like hospitals and consultant reports: a 400-bed hospital more than likely spends $5 million/year on forms. § A single badly designed form costs an organization in lost productivity. § A typical company with 1,000 forms can waste more than $1 million annually. Xerox Global Services 8
  • 10. #AIIM14   Informa(on   § How does information come together... § Through process analysis and the data collection tool. § Forms follow function
  • 11. #AIIM14   The  Data  Collec(on  Tool…   § A structured template or tool which allows variable data to be entered into blank spaces. § Data collection tools may be electronic or paper. § Asks the questions; and respondents or end- users provide the answers. Q and A together = Data / Information
  • 12. #AIIM14   The  Data  Collec(on  Tool…   ¡  Used to collect, display, transmit, store data, compile, communicate, and record specific business information that causes an action to occur. ¡  Data collection interfaces/output. ¡  Well designed forms ensure data integrity from the first point of data capture; process workflow; system application integration; decision support; and disposition.
  • 13. #AIIM14   The  Data  Collec(on  Tool:     A  Basic  Business  Tool   § Must be clear, concise, and easy to use. § The catalyst for getting things done. § Initiates process or action. § Used to identify and improve the workflow process. § Provides formatting and control for data collection and display.
  • 14. #AIIM14   Data  Collec(on  Tools     Are  in  all  Shapes,  Sizes  and  Media   § Paper (pre-print or print on demand) § Mainframe impact / laser generated with fixed and variable data Advanced Function Print (AFP) / Overlay Generation Language (OGL) § Electronic / Web / Mobile Forms (e-Forms) § System Application Capture Screens § Voice (IVR - Interactive Voice Response)
  • 15. #AIIM14   Data  Collec(on  Tools  have  Impact   customers,  image,  resources   §  Often customer’s or user’s first experience with company / department. §  Set image / tone for interaction with the department. §  Collect data to provide a service or a benefit. §  Collect data used for decision-making and support. §  Data collected is integrated into databases, system applications, and output. §  Impacts resources (process, mail, file, image, store, manage).
  • 16. #AIIM14   A  Communica(on  Tool   §  Data is captured on one of every organization’s most needed asset—a data collection tool referred to as a form. §  Forms are entwined in every business process and support every workflow process §  Whether you need to: §  be reimbursed for travel expenses §  fill a prescription §  send a fax cover page §  obtain a consent for surgery §  complete a credit card application §  complete a customs form – declare goods purchased
  • 17. #AIIM14   Form   ¡  Collect data used for decision support throughout the data / information lifecycle. ¡  Forms (electronic or paper) are the front end to a workflow process ¡  they collect and transfer data. ¡  That data becomes information to the organization and proper analysis and design facilitates the: ¡  form’s function ¡  increases productivity ¡  improves data collection
  • 18. #AIIM14   Quality  Data   § Data collected is integrated into system applications and databases. § Quality of data depends on the analysis and design of the data collection interface. § Forms are needed in different media and used at multiple touch points.
  • 19. #AIIM14   Business  Drivers   ¡  Consistent Company Image / Standards ¡  Customer / Employee Communication and Satisfaction ¡  Business Efficiency ¡  Process Improvement ¡  Data Quality / Data Security ¡  Legal / Audit / Regulatory Requirements ¡  Better Decision Faster (based on accurate data) ¡  Cost Savings and Benefits
  • 20. #AIIM14   Informa(on  Management   Life  Cycle   Identify the business need for data Design data structures Analyze and design data collection source forms and screens Collect, maintain, manage, use, share, dispose and preserve data Define data/records migration, disposition, retention, and archival requirements
  • 21. #AIIM14   Process  Analysis  and  Design   § Forms design is 80% analysis. § Anyone with a computer is not a forms designer §  It isn’t a piece of art. §  Must know configuration of data, security of data, workflow, business process, regulatory requirements.
  • 22. #AIIM14   Process  Analysis  and  Design   § To achieve excellence in forms design for quality data capture, it is imperative the designer understand: § Who are the end-users and their needs as the form fillers. § The needs of the form reader, data analyst, or the interpreter of the data.
  • 23. #AIIM14   Process  Analysis  and  Design   § continued – designer must understand §  The needs of the organization and how the information collected will effect its business units. §  The workflow process. §  All stakeholders' involvement in the process (i.e., end-users, legal, security, technical support, print manager, procurement) §  How to obtain proper data capture and the ultimate potential of electronic configuration of that data.
  • 24. #AIIM14   Goals  of  Analysis  Process   § Friendly forms, readability. § Reduce cognitive load for end-users (form fillers and form readers). § Collect data at the source, automate redundant tasks, eliminate duplicate data collection and errors. Collect data once and reuse. § Error Reductions. § Forms Consistency, standard templates.
  • 25. #AIIM14   Process  Analysis   What,  When,  How,  Why,  Who  Where   § What is the purpose of the form? § Is the data being collected needed? Is it used? Is it effective? § Does the data already exist? When can the data be reused, rather than recollected? § Is it quality data?
  • 26. #AIIM14   Process  Analysis   What,  When,  How,  Why,  Who  Where   § How is the data collected? § Is the same data collected on different media, forms, or applications (paper, PC/MAC, web, voice, scanned, etc.) § Why is the form needed? Why is the data processed in this manner? § A form will not fix an inefficient system or workflow process problem.
  • 27. #AIIM14   Process  Analysis   What,  When,  How,  Why,  Who  Where   § Who will use the form, process, and system? § Where is the data processed? What is the forms relationship to programs, processes, applications, or other forms? § An important question to be answered is “why is the form needed?” §  This justifies the existence of the form. §  A good test to determine the need for the form is to ask, "what the result or impact would be if the form did not exist".
  • 28. #AIIM14   Process  Analysis   § Determining the form design §  Is the form used online or offline or both? §  Is the form saved locally? §  Is the form signed? §  Is the form exposed to weather? §  Is the form mailed? §  Is the form used inside or outside the firewall or both? §  Where do the data originate? How? §  How is data capture performed? §  Does the form need to be available in multiple languages?
  • 29. #AIIM14   Analysis  Leads  to  Design   § The outcomes of the process analysis helps to determine: § the design and appearance of the form § how the users will interface with it § how it will function within the system(s) it serves.
  • 30. #AIIM14   Design  Analysis   § After completion of the workflow and process analysis, design analysis is: § the steps taken by the form designer to convert the rules, logic, and business requirements into design elements on a form. § Developing design and layout elements based on the workflow requirements.
  • 31. #AIIM14   Design  Analysis   § Each primary business system consists of multiple processes. § Each process usually has defined business and process rules. § Important to develop process maps and ROI.
  • 32. #AIIM14   Business  Rules   § Business rules control and limit processes. § They are generally implemented in the form template. § Design techniques are available that can enforce the rules to the user.
  • 33. #AIIM14   Design  Best  Prac(ces   Now you've gathered all your information and you are ready to start your design… § The primary goal for every form is completion. § Always keep the end-users in mind. § Don’t make them write so much, use check boxes, lists, etc. § Design to make completing the form easy.
  • 34. #AIIM14   Design  Best  Prac(ces   § If designing for paper, always have a goal to move paper to electronic format and set design accordingly. § Understand what the answer will require for spacing – the length should match the expected length of the data. §  Example: long line, short line, check box, choices. Reduces confusion, frustration, and abandonment.
  • 35. #AIIM14   Design  Best  Prac(ces   § Simple §  Ask for the minimum of information, the information needed, don’t ask nice to know and unnecessary information (because what are you going to do with it) § Clear §  Forms should be Self Instructive: minimal effort of understanding by the form-filler of how to complete the form §  Readability, plain language §  Keep fields close to spaces for information/answers
  • 36. #AIIM14   Design  Best  Prac(ces   § Concise, ask direct questions §  Do not ask multiple questions in one sentence. §  Example: §  What could make this question more concise: §  Change the question to: How many children do you have?   Do  you  have  any  children?    If  so,  how  many  children  do   you  have?      m  One  child    m  Two  or  more  children    m  Don’t  have  children    
  • 37. #AIIM14   Design  Best  Prac(ces   § Concise (continued) § A good form does not necessarily mean short. Aim for good, quality data to capture. § Questions tailored to different circumstances, might add pages or screens; however, actually improve the experience for the form filler, resulting in improved data captured.
  • 38. #AIIM14   Design  Best  Prac(ces   § Ask the exact question needed to get the exact data needed. § Do not use just "Name" § Use First Name, Last Name § Do not use just “Date” § Indicate what date: Today’s Date, Admission Date, Order Date, etc.
  • 39. #AIIM14   Design  Best  Prac(ces   § Arranging, Grouping, and Sequencing § Arranging information reduces errors and wasted motion during completion. § Items should be arranged so the flow of entry is left to right and top to bottom. 38  
  • 40. #AIIM14   Design  Best  Prac(ces   § Grouping information establishes a logical relationship between the information elements in a given section. § Examples: personal data info; info related to a student’s grade; past medical history
  • 41. #AIIM14   Design  Best  Prac(ces   § Sequencing eliminates unnecessary fill-in motions. The process of directing the user around the form, skipping questions that don’t apply to them § In an electronic environment, sequencing can be automated, inputs can be restricted
  • 42. #AIIM14   Design  Best  Prac(ces   §  2-Column Format Example: a successful format to use §  Numbered questions instead of captions
  • 43. #AIIM14   Design  Best  Prac(ces   § Consistent in design, format, style §  Develop a forms style guide § Use plain language / be concise §  Use active voice with verbs §  Example: Send the form to Human Resources. NOT = The form should be sent to Human Resources. §  Use personal pronouns §  Example: You must sign and return. NOT = The employee must sign and return.
  • 44. #AIIM14   Design  Best  Prac(ces   § Plain Language / Concise §  Repeat the same word to identify the same object or action every time it is used. §  Example: if use “computer” then don’t use “pc” somewhere else §  Avoid acronyms unless spelled out on first use. §  Avoid abbreviations. §  Use simple words instead of long or complex words. §  Example: use stomach, instead of abdomen
  • 45. #AIIM14   Design  Best  Prac(ces   § Plain Language / Concise § Ensure there are no overlapping choices. § Example: What if the answer is 3, what would you choose?
  • 46. #AIIM14   Design  Best  Prac(ces   § Type Styles §  Serif Fonts - with end strokes §  Better used in lengthy text. (Times New Roman) §  Sans Serif Fonts - without end strokes §  Better used for forms. (Arial) § DO NOT USE ALL CAPS §  UPPERCASE is 40% harder to read §  Can slow reading speed an average of 17%
  • 47. #AIIM14   Design  Best  Prac(ces   § Lines and Rules § ¼ point = hairline: guides the eye § ½ point = medium: attracts the eye § 1 point = heavy: stops the eye §  Use the lightest rule most often. §  Use heavier rule to divide sections or for emphasis. §  Too many heavy rules make reading difficult.
  • 48. #AIIM14   Design  Best  Prac(ces   § Line Spacing or Leading §  Use white space to help guide the eye, separate sections, also gives an uncluttered look. § Reverse Printing §  Use sparingly, more difficult to read § Screens §  Identify uses of the form discovered during the process analysis phase. If the form is faxed then screens, gray scaling, and reverse printing will have reduced readability. Reverse Printing
  • 49. #AIIM14   Design  Best  Prac(ces   § Do not use underlining § Use for publications only. This was used in the typewriter days as a way to bring emphasis. More difficult to read and clutters the form. § Bold type § Use for section headings § Use for emphasis
  • 50. #AIIM14   Design  Best  Prac(ces   § Color—use any color for text as long as it's black § When used, use sparingly, determine production costs § White space is often more effective; helps define form areas. §  When too many points of focus are presented, the form user fails to see any of them as important.
  • 51. #AIIM14   Design  Best  Prac(ces   § Logo Usage §  Follow company style guide rules. §  Use only approved design(s), size(s), and color(s). §  Avoid distortion. §  Use only where authorized. §  Remember: forms can be marketing tools for an organization.
  • 52. #AIIM14   Design  Best  Prac(ces   § Form Title § Brief but descriptive: limit to five words § Include a subject and a function § Place subject first, action second § Do NOT include “form” as part of the title § Avoid: sheet, card, slip, list – unless necessary, for example: Packing Slip § Use subtitles carefully
  • 53. #AIIM14   §  Form Title Examples §  Cash Advance Form §  Improved: Cash Advance §  Request for Travel §  Improved: Travel Request §  Application for Employment §  Improved: Employment Application §  Request for a Job Change §  Improved: Position Change Request Design  Best  Prac(ces  
  • 54. #AIIM14   § Instructions: most people do not read §  Form should be self instructive §  They don’t read instructions on back of forms §  Should read to do §  General instructions can be at the top §  Locate near to where they are needed §  Build instructions into the form §  Use plain language §  eForms – use tool tips where appropriate §  Routing instructions: placed where user needs to know what to do with the form. Identified in the automated workflow based on completion. Design  Best  Prac(ces  
  • 55. #AIIM14   Design  Best  Prac(ces   § Declarations: most people do not read § Example:   I  cer3fy  that,  to  the  best  of  my  knowledge,  the  details  entered  on  this   Applica3on  and  Agreement  are  true  and  complete.       I  have  read  and  understand  the  Terms  and  Condi3ons  that  apply  in  rela3on  to   the  applica3on  and  agree  to  abide  by  them  in  the  event  that  my  applica3on  is   approved.       The  above  informa3on  has  been  explained  to  me.    I  have  had  the  opportunity   to  ask  ques3ons.    I  have  received  a  copy  and  understand  the  above   instruc3ons.    
  • 56. #AIIM14   Design  Best  Prac(ces   § Change declarations to a question. § Example: 1.  Are  the  details  entered  on  this  Applica3on  and  Agreement   true  and  complete?    m  Yes    m  No  -­‐  Your  applica3on  cannot  be  accepted.  
  • 57. #AIIM14   Design  Best  Prac(ces   § Embed declarations with a question. § Example: I  declare  that:   o  I  have  provided  all  informa3on  requested  by  my  Agent  and  have  chosen  to   purchase  the  policies  recommended.    OR   o  I  understand  that:    (a)  if  I  have  not  provided  all  informa3on  requested  by  my  Agent;    (b)  if  I  have  chosen  to  purchase  a  life  policy  that  differs  from  the   Agent’s  recommenda3on;    then  I  may  be  making  a  financial  commitment  to  a  policy  that  may  not  be   appropriate  to  my  needs  and  objec3ves.  
  • 58. #AIIM14   § Using check boxes/radio buttons for selection of choices in a list: §  Position to the left of the choice caption §  Leave sufficient space between selections to avoid which check box goes with what choice §  Check Boxes: o §  Used to denote more than one choice can be made §  Radio Buttons: m §  Used to denote that only one item can be chosen from a list of choices. Design  Best  Prac(ces  
  • 59. #AIIM14   § Examples: I will present this session for the following: o Symposium o Webinars o Spring Conference Explanation: check mark boxes denote multiple choices can be made; spacing should be improved to make more clear what box goes with what choice. o Symposium o Webinars o Spring Conference o Symposium o Webinars o Spring Conference Design  Best  Prac(ces  
  • 60. #AIIM14   Design  Best  Prac(ces   § Examples: m Mr. m Mrs. m Miss m Ms. m Dr. Explanation: the radio button denotes only one choice; and the spacing clearly identifies what button goes with what choice.
  • 61. #AIIM14   § Using check boxes versus “circle your choice” §  Using a check box is self instructive. §  Requiring the form filler to circle their choice, requires an instruction for them to do so. §  Cannot use “circling” in automated environment §  From a design perspective: using check boxes or radio buttons can align items for an orderly appearance and clear understanding of how to complete. Design  Best  Prac(ces  
  • 62. #AIIM14   § Caption Placement § Example: Captions below the writing line Causes confusion Design  Best  Prac(ces  
  • 63. #AIIM14   § Caption Placement § Example: Captions followed by writing lines Less Confusing Design  Best  Prac(ces  
  • 64. #AIIM14   § Caption Placement § Example: Upper Left positioning – Most Clear Use table structure for repetitive data. Design  Best  Prac(ces  
  • 65. #AIIM14   Design  Best  Prac(ces   § Paper and Electronic Integration § A form may exist in more than one format. § Users with access to computer may use an electronic version of the form; whereas, users without access may use a paper version.
  • 66. #AIIM14   Design  Best  Prac(ces   § Paper and Electronic Integration (continued) § The environment of the user may dictate which version is appropriate. §  A user at a desk vs. another user outside working on an aircraft. § In all cases, if the ultimate destination of the data captured is the same, then it is imperative that the content and sequence match.
  • 67. #AIIM14   Design  Best  Prac(ces   § Masks § Force format rules, including capitalization, digit population, number format § Selection Methods § Lookup Lists, mutually-exclusive choice options § Typically alphabetized; order can be based on grouping or most often used.
  • 68. #AIIM14   Design  Best  Prac(ces   § Required Fields § Based on answer or selection, automate other related fields for completion § Data Validation § Formulas, calculations
  • 69. #AIIM14   Design  Best  Prac(ces   § Signatures: either electronic or wet § Place where needed, usually at the bottom § Dates and times needed § Approves everything to the left and above
  • 70. #AIIM14   § Sheer Volume §  80% of business documents are forms ($94-$120 billion p.a.) § Integral Part of the daily Business Process §  For every $1 spent on purchasing, $100 is spent on processing ($485,000,000 p.a.) § Potential Benefit of Competent Forms Management §  30% obsolete before use ($1,500,000 p.a.) -Gartner Group and Price Waterhouse Coopers The  Real  Cost  of  Forms  
  • 71. #AIIM14   Forms  Process  =  Success   § Reduce printing cost § Lower stock control costs § Reduce error correction § Improve clerical and operational efficiencies § Most current form edition used § Improve data collected from end-user § Improve process migrating from paper to electronic
  • 72. #AIIM14   Summary   § Ask the questions necessary to determine the intent of the form. § Must meet the needs of the organization. § Process analysis and design requires proper planning and challenging the need to collect the information.
  • 73. #AIIM14   Summary   § Never begin to design a form without first completing the appropriate analysis. § Understand: §  Why the form is required §  What problem the form solves §  Who will complete the form and Who will assess the data §  When it will be needed §  Where it will be used
  • 74. #AIIM14   Summary   § Determine the appropriate format: paper vs. electronic. §  If paper, identify production needs. §  If electronic, identify system interfaces. §  If paper and electronic, ensure forms are the same, differentiate circumstances where each is used § Recognize needs of related forms. § Complete thorough testing process.
  • 75. #AIIM14   Summary   § Design for all form users: § the one who completes the blank form § the one who reads the completed form § Don’t irritate the form filler or the form reader or data analyst. § Provide lists, check boxes, automate fields, complete the form as much as possible § Reduce the cognitive load on the end-user.
  • 76. #AIIM14   Summary   § Think about the completion process and the end result of how the data captured will be used. § Data captured will be improved through an easy to understand form. § Forms must be easy to: §  Write §  Read §  Use
  • 77. #AIIM14   § While the data collection tool is not data itself, it is the perfect means through which to define, collect, structure, classify, contain, present, and report data. § So long as there is data to collect, there will exist a need for forms. Summary  
  • 78. #AIIM14   § Just as it is impossible to create a coherent sentence without using rules of grammar, so it is impossible to process data meaningfully without using a form of some sort to structure it and capture it. Summary  
  • 79. #AIIM14   § The data collection tool is the fundamental vehicle for capturing and communicating structured data which becomes your information. Summary  
  • 80.   Do  YOU  understand  the  business     challenge  of  the  next  10  years?   This  ebook  from  AIIM  President   John  Mancini  explains.  
  • 81. #AIIM14   Thank  you  for  aQending   § Contact Information: § Robin Miller, BPMp, ERMs, SharePoints Forms Analysis and Design Professional mobile (605) 484-6194 / phone (605) 716-5865 Forms capture the information that makes business run.