Electronic Forms | Create, Share, and Route

Electronic forms should be easy to create and route, with no programming needed.


representation of electronic form design tool

Electronic forms (sometimes called "digital forms," "eforms" or "e-forms") have replaced paper in many businesses, leading to higher productivity and efficiency. However, unless those electronic forms also include intelligent routing and processing, they're only a small step forward.

The Evolution of Electronic Forms

Consider the evolution of forms, from paper to digital:

  • Paper forms: Completed manually, delivered physically, reviewed by an individual, data transcribed and entered into another system, and/or actions are taken based on the individual's analysis.
  • "Pseudo" forms: Forms created with Excel spreadsheets/Word documents, stored on a shared drive or emailed on demand, completed locally, emailed, reviewed by an individual, data is manually entered into another system, and actions are taken based on the individual's analysis.
  • Basic electronic forms (e-forms): A form is coded and embedded on a discrete Web page by IT, links to the form are emailed out or embedded on an Intranet, forms are completed online, an email is sent to an individual containing the data entered (or stored in a database table), the data is reviewed manually and actions are taken.
  • Smart digital forms: A form is designed without code and hosted in the cloud, but otherwise the same as the previous basic electronic forms.
  • Workflow automation: Dynamic forms are designed without code and hosted on a cloud-based self-service portal, completed forms are routed via business rules based on user data or data entered, data collected is integrated directly into other systems, tasks are automatically assigned, and completed as the data travels through the process.

If the goal of electronic forms is to shorten work cycles and reduce manual labor, it's clear we've evolved in the right direction!

Modern Electronic Forms in Workflow Automation

Workflow Automation and Business Process Management (BPM) systems can be complex, robust platforms for building a variety of user-facing business applications but more often than not, those applications involve someone filling out a form or making selections to drive actions on the back-end. That's why these systems tend to revolve around three components: forms, processes, and reporting.

example of an electronic form
Example of an electronic form.

The tools for building forms have advanced to drag and drop simplicity combined with powerful logic, data tools, and layout options. Modern form builders allow users to:

  • Create responsive, mobile-friendly forms.
  • Employ powerful form logic to show and hide any form element.
  • Integrate databases and tables into field values.
  • Add images, videos, tables, and links to any form.
  • Create re-usable “form parts” containing fields or other form objects.
  • Low-code, drag, and drop design.
  • Select from a wide variety of field types.
  • Use calculations and formulas within any field.
  • Use flexible, multi-column layouts.
  • Build sophisticated form approval workflows.

Want to get under the hood and use code?

  • Use CSS to further style form elements.
  • Use javascript natively for advanced form behavior.
  • Skip the visual form designer completely and build forms entirely in code view.

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