How much time do you spend managing and processing documents in your organization? We're willing to bet it's quite a lot.
Many organizations generate a lot of paper or PDFs, whether that's because there are government and legal reporting requirements, or simply because that's the way they have always operated.
As well as internal and external business documentation, you might be handling customer surveys, client questionnaires, web forms and more.
These days, there are many more efficient ways to do this kind of paperwork.
One of our common recommendations is the use of a custom web application.
A custom web application takes the forms and documents you already use and converts them into an online format, streamlining your processes and improving organizational efficiency.
That's the "web" part, and the "custom" is because since every organization has different needs, the application is customized to suit yours.
Creating a custom web application to eliminate unnecessary paper-based processes starts with an analysis of your needs and the creation of a prototype you can test.
Once that's done, you're set to receive the benefits the custom application can bring.
Benefits of a Custom Web Application
To see what benefits you could gain, let's look at two typical situations:
You send out an annual employee review document, which requires that specific forms be sent to specific employees. You need to manually check when documents have been received, and send out reminders for employees who haven't yet completed theirs.
In the end, you receive hundreds of paper or PDF forms, and one (or more) of your employees has to go through the forms to extract and collate the data.
Frankly, this is a waste of time, and very inefficient.
With this kind of process, your data collection is both time consuming and subject to human error. And if you do identify a mistake down the line, someone will have to manually recheck all those paper or PDF forms to see where it occurred.
Consider the alternative: you translate your employee review document into a web-based form so the employees can fill them out themselves. Employees self-identify, and are presented with the appropriate questions for their role or department.
They are unlikely to make an error with their own data, but even if there's a typo, it will be easy to see where an error has occurred.
Data is extracted and collated automatically and continually, so you can get useful reports at any point. And overall, you get faster results.
Here's another scenario: you have a form that accompanies a job as it goes through your production and sales process.
At any point, that document could be lost, data corrupted, or if it's a physical paper document, become damaged or illegible.
With a custom web application, the relevant employees can fill in their piece of data and all the information is stored online.
Not only is this more efficient, but it means your business data is more secure.
Speaking of security, custom web applications have advantages even over software document management and word processing apps.
There are two main issues. The first is that when employees have applications on their individual computers, there's a problem if a particular machine ends up with a virus or malware which affects your data.
The second is that the particular application may not always be up to date. With your own custom application, a single update means that everyone who uses it is using the latest version and you also only have one location to keep secure.
Your central web repository for data gives you the options of better document management and improved search — no more rifling through filing cabinets or email inboxes looking for a document from two years ago.
Overall, a custom web application means less processing time, less paper and PDF management, and increased efficiency for your organization.
Download our Guide to Planning Your Business Application Project