For municipalities, well-thought-out forms are like motor oil in a car: they keep things running smoothly. The many services, resources, events, and more that you offer for your community are all likely to involve forms. Everything works with forms. Since they’re so important for your operations, much can depend on how your forms are working for you. These forms can multiply and overwhelm your staff with paperwork. If your forms aren’t well designed or organized they can create confusion and back up your work. Despite these pitfalls, there are ways to make sure your forms are a benefit and not a burden. One of these ways is through digital forms.
With online forms, you don’t need to be buried under stacks of paper anymore. Digital forms make life much easier by allowing your residents to access them from their couches, cars, and anywhere else on the go. They save time, are environmentally friendly, and help you stand out with elegantly designed forms that showcase information in a clear, organized way. Digital forms can also be seamlessly integrated with your online resources and services to keep your processes running smoothly with minimal fuss. While you may keep many of your important print forms in circulation, online forms offer a number of advantages that make them an increasingly helpful resource for your local government.
You can access digital forms featured on your website from anywhere with internet access. This makes filling out and processing forms much quicker and simpler for you and your residents. They don’t have to worry about picking up a form and then mailing, returning, or (worse!) losing the form. They just fill out the digital form and hit submit. Then, with just a tap, the completed form is routed to whatever digital resource or staff member needs it. And with digital forms saved on your network and backed up, you don’t need to worry about your physical documents getting damaged or lost. You can export and backup as many secure copies as you’d like to ensure you keep your records.
Copies of completed forms are automatically stored on your network, making them easy to access whenever you need them. All of your departments will have access to the same documents at the touch of a button. This accessibility cuts down on duplication errors and the need for departments to continually contact each other to share forms. It will be easier for different staff members across your municipality to work smoothly and collaboratively with information from your forms.
Digital forms are an excellent alternative or supplement to paper forms because they save you (and your residents) valued time. The members of your community don’t have to worry about making an error and having to print or pick up a new form. And you don’t have to worry about deciphering messy or illegible handwriting. Plus, you and your staff will save countless hours in data entry. Digital forms can also be copied with a click, saving your employees from having to use a copy machine anytime someone needs a copy of a form.
With searchable forms, your staff won’t need to waste time digging through physical copies to find the right entry, freeing them up for other local government tasks. Easily search and sort through all your forms by name, date, file type, and more to find the right content. And you can search within a form to quickly locate the information you’re looking for.
Digital forms can save time in other ways, for example, by adding more self-service capabilities for residents to your website. A simple form can process Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests from community members easily and quickly so staff members can handle these requests in less time. This ease of accessibility for requests will also increase a sense of government transparency as residents can quickly get access to the information they’re seeking. There are many possibilities for digital forms to create workflows that save you time, like processing invoices and issuing licenses and permits through digital forms.
Electronic forms put your data into a usable format, giving your municipality opportunities for automation, like email notifications, integration with online databases, and more. This can be incredibly helpful, especially if you set up your forms to push data to different sources such as online tools or repeating invoices. Digital forms organize your data in a meaningful way, making it easier to manage with less effort from your staff.
Digital forms reduce the amount of paper waste your municipality produces and is clearly the more environmentally friendly option. Moving at least some of your forms to digital formats are a great way to take a step toward green government in your local community. But paper forms don’t just use up environmental resources; they take up space. Having to store 20 years’ worth of official forms can be problematic. Incorporate digital forms and you’ll have far fewer physical copies to worry about, freeing up space and time.
You may not know exactly how much you spend on printing each year, but you know you’d like it to be less. Digital forms can make that happen. If you’re using fewer employee hours filing and sorting information from paper forms—or on data entry from paper and into a digital format for storage—that saves you money. Additionally, with paper forms, you’ll spend money on printers, ink, and toner any time you print or copy. Using digital forms is almost always more cost-effective.
Those printing costs can limit your design options. If you have to consider ink costs when designing your form, you’re probably less likely to choose an option with more color because of increased printing costs. Online forms let you design however you want without being limited by price.
Digital forms are an essential tool for modern municipalities.
- You’ll make your residents happy because they can access your digital forms, comfortably—from anywhere.
- Community members don’t have to worry about having time to fill a form in manually and mail it.
- You reduce the amount of paper waste you produce.
- Your municipality has access to automated functions that save you time by easily integrating with other software.
- Digital forms are cost-effective, saving you both in employee time and in printing costs.
- You have more creative freedom for your branding because you’re not limited by standard form costs.
We have valuable experience creating digital forms and converting existing print forms to digital formats for municipal governments. If you’d like to add digital forms to your capabilities, contact us, and we’ll create custom, online forms for you. Also, learn more about our print form services and partner with us.