May 19, 2021

Form and Process (workflow) are very popular provisions for Teams and SharePoint productivity. And it really doesn’t matter which tools use to build these; great ones are Nintex Forms and Microsoft Forms. Both are modern, state of the art enterprise products which are completely integrated with the very latest versions of Office365 SharePoint and Teams instances.

To provide forms and workflow, it is vital that the information provided meets and at the same time provides return on investment. This is not simply a technological imperative; those who wish forms and workflow to enhance their user experience must provide sufficient information that helps us in turn provide the right forms and workflow directly matching requirements.

Forms are just a means to an end. Users should be able to complete them quickly and without confusion. Workflow process needs to mirror the actual process and be designed to take out / improve any manual process. These as a solution, means that designing and building require careful thought and planning.

To start off any solution work the following is required:

  1. What is the purpose of the form, the department it serves, justification, benefits it brings (statement), date when required live, etc.;
  2. What does the form look like – design (layout – what the form visually looks like to a person filling in the form);
  3. What does the process connected to the form do – process design (workflow – what happens when a person completes the form – for example, approval goes to whom, outcomes…);
  4. What protection is there applied to the process – security design (access – what person(s) can access the form – e.g. who can view, who can fill, etc.);
  5. Where does the solution sit – site design (experience – how does a person get to the form).

What Makes For An Effective Form

The primary goal with every form is completion. Two factors have a major impact on completion rate:

  • Perception of complexity. The first thing users do when they see a new form is estimate how much time is required to complete it. Users do this by scanning the form. Perception plays a crucial role in the process of estimation. The more complex a form looks, the more likely users will abandon the process.
  • Interaction cost. Interaction cost is the sum of efforts — both cognitive and physical — that the users put into interacting with an interface in order to reach their goal. Interaction cost has a direct connection with form usability. The more effort users have to make to complete a form, the less usable the form is. A high interaction cost could be the result of data that is difficult to input, an inability to understand the meaning of some questions, or confusion about error messages.

The Components Of Forms

A typical form has the following five components:

  • Input fields. These include text fields, password fields, checkboxes, radio buttons, sliders and any other fields designed for user input.
  • Field labels. These tell users what the corresponding input fields mean.
  • Structure. This includes the order of fields, the form’s appearance on the page, and the logical connections between different fields.
  • Action buttons, The form will have at least one call to action (the button that triggers data submission).
  • Feedback. Feedback notifies the user about the result of an operation. Feedback can be positive (for example, indicating that the form was submitted successfully) or negative (saying something like, “The number you’ve provided is incorrect”).

What Makes For An Effective Workflow

The primary goal of every workflow is completion. Three factors have a major impact on completion.

  • Actors. Those expected to get an alert to a process change, those who are expected to act to move the workflow forward (approval), those who are expected to manage data collected on any decision process and its related information
  • Flow. The start to finish construct of the workflow. What happens after the user saves the form? Does it have to go through an approval? Is there something that changes the data based on a task?
  • Diagram. Each element of a workflow is designed to illustrate the flow between each step. Workflows are the way people get work done, and can be illustrated as series of steps that need to be completed sequentially in a diagram or checklist. This is vital in getting a visual representation of a workflow.

Components of Workflows

A typical workflow has two key components:

  • Log: A record of the state the workflow is at for audit purposes
  • Actions: Any action that the workflow must trigger to enact another action (e.g. approval, rejection, alert etc.)

How you should document the process:

  • Map the process “as is”;
  • Ignore process exceptions;
  • Involve those who execute the process;
  • After a rough draft, document digitally and share;
  • Make sure to map on a big canvas;
  • Collect example documents for every step, if there are any.

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