Starting a Library of Intelligent Forms

People often ask us for suggestions on how to get the best value from the combination of their forms, their team, and their document assembly software.

Approaching the Task

We like to create three to five forms at a time. This gives us a better understanding of how to approach issues and opportunities that might not be apparent in a single form. It’s like watching a video instead of looking at a single photo. Three to five forms make a good workable group.

To estimate the potential upside of a converted form, which we want to maximize, we look at probable productivity: time saved, value produced, compliance achieved, and improved customer experience delivered.

Selecting Intelligently

This is where we can avoid the common mistake caused by going for a “home run” by selecting overly large and complex documents that are generally used less frequently than others. While the payoff from using a large form may be large, if the frequency of use is low it may be quite a while before it can produce a positive return.

We like to focus first on forms that will be used immediately and that will be used several times a day, a week, or at least in a month. Immediate and relatively frequent usage allows us to make a realistic estimate of upside potential: what’s the expected immediate return by way of increased earnings.

Estimating value

To estimate improved productivity we use a conservative estimate for savings, typically 70% of the time previously spent when crafting a document “the old way.” In the real world customers typically save between 70% to 90% of the time previously used manually preparing a document using cut-and-paste.

Estimating the investment

Three figures are really helpful when  estimating what we’re going to invest to make these forms intelligent:

  • How many total pages are there in the aggregate workgroup?
  • What is the average number of variables per page across the entire group?
  • What is the average complexity level of the variables?

We run those figures through a proprietary algorithm to estimate the time and expertise needed to convert a document into an intelligent form.

To that we add:

  • Two interviews with the Form’s original author of the document or person with operating responsibility for the form. We appreciate it when they are the same person. This is the “cook’s tour” where we learn what the form is intended to do.
  • Two additional review interviews with two additional drafting sessions, for fine and final tuning.
  • Completion of specialized textual or video instructions for the users.

Quoting customers

When we’re estimating for a customer, the only number they see is the fixed-price quotation. It’s generally quite a bit lower than their internal costs because of the efficiency we bring to the task. Creating intelligent forms with software from TheFormTool™ is what we do; we expect all the benefits to be significant, including reduced costs.

Summing up

With the investment converted to dollars, and the upside also in dollars, we produce a cost-benefit ratio by multiplying the anticipated time savings by the hourly value of time for the user times the anticipated usage the first month; then dividing that number by the total investment.

We recommend moving forward only if the resulting ratio is strongly positive.

Setting Priorities

The candidate forms that produce the largest positive ratio are the ones that receive a priority. Any ratio greater than “5” is a no-brainer; the form will produce at least 5 times its cost the first month and every month thereafter. A ratio of “3″ or more will get attention. Lesser forms will go into the “someday” file. This assures us of very high utility and user satisfaction because it creates confidence in significant results in profits, cashflow, user satisfaction and downstream validation of the value of our efforts.