Electronic forms aren’t new but it’s amazing how many organizations are still using paper forms for tracking events on the production floor! With all the obvious benefits of the paperless plant, most organizations have been slow to actually do it. It’s time to take the plunge and switch to electronic forms. Here are 5 reasons why your organization needs to make the change.
This is probably the most important reason why you need to switch to eForms. Data accuracy is a critical factor in ensuring your processes go smoothly. A mistake in data can snowball into a disastrous and costly consequence. It’s easy to make a mistake in data entry on a paper form. E-forms, on the other hand, allow for data validation to ensure the information that’s being captured is understandable and in the right format. Electronic forms allow for automatic formatting, calculations and data range checks, further reducing errors.
And what do you do with all that digital data? While paper forms are neatly stored away, data from eForms can be easily used for reporting and analytics, uncovering trends over time, understanding areas for improvement and more.
Ekho allows you to build online web event forms that can be easily customized to reflect your current paper forms. Fields can contain active drop-down lists to ensure data entered is relevant and in the right format. The image below shows a sample operational inspection form in Ekho.
Figure 1. Sample Operational Inspection form in Ekho.
This is another amazing benefit of switching from paper to e-forms. Electronic forms allow for automated notifications of workflow assignments to ensure faster, more efficient processing. You can’t do this with a paper form! Real-time workflow integration streamlines the entire form document management process and embeds business processes surrounding any production event. With secure, anytime, anywhere access, electronic forms ensure that information is getting to the right people, no matter where they are and how they connect. Ekho forms can be configured with your own business rules and workflows to trigger notifications, alarms, maintenance work orders or other actions tied to events.
Paper may be cheap, but the cost of using paper-based processes is not. Costs quickly escalate when you factor in storage, office space, filing cabinets, reproduction and delivery costs. Even more expensive is the cost of employee time associated with processing the physical document and the impact on organizational productivity and responsiveness.
According to the Association for Intelligent Information Management (AIIM), the average cost to process a simple paper form is $4.56. So, let’s say you have five operators handling five forms per day during a five-day week, that’s 125 forms at a cost of $570 per week or $29,640 per year! Those costs can be even higher when processing more complex forms commonly used on a plant floor. Ekho electronic forms dramatically reduce these costs by streamlining handling, automating processing and simplifying storage and accessibility of form data.
Ekho electronic forms can be easily integrated with other business platforms. In the manufacturing space, this opens a whole realm of empowering possibilities. Form fields can be integrated with other business systems, ensuring the right data is flowing where it needs to go.
E-forms can integrate to your ERP, HRMS, CMMS, QMS, LIMS or even accounting platforms from companies like Microsoft, Info, Sage, SAP and Epicor. Augment forms with embedded information from production orders, bill of materials, recipes, parts lists, employee information, and the like.
Forms typically pass through many hands, each making changes to information collected. With paper forms, it’s hard to know who has seen the forms and who made what changes. E-forms are trackable – you can see who has viewed the form and if any changes have been made to the data. If the form is part of a process, you can quickly see where the form is in the process, and report on its status. Try doing that with paper! The image below shows a lab analysis history with data range notification.
Figure 2. Lab analysis history with data range notification.
Add up all the reasons to switch, and you’ll find that e-forms will quickly deliver ROI. Some will look at the cost of switching and shy away, but they’re not looking at the true costs of document management and all the benefits that electronic forms offer. Electronic forms increase data and workflow visibility. They can be deployed rapidly, giving you instant access to data from anywhere, while reducing operational costs. Electronic forms eliminate paper and paper-related expenses. That adds up to real ROI, real fast!
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