Electronic forms: which requirements must they meet?

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El Mercurio newspaper has recently announced that all customs procedures between the Chilean (Arica) and Peruan (Tacna) border will be done electronically, benefiting 17 thousand people crossing the border daily. The implementation of this electronic support, which will replace paper forms the users are currently obligated to fill, will represent a reduction in control times and an improved selectivity to inspect.
There is a slow but progressive advance in bureaucracy towards the online world that is not isolated, but part of a process being led by the private sector. Companies big and small aim at disposing their physical documents and replace them with electronic forms.
Companies and government structures alike must keep up with technological advances in order to offer answers to their clients and citizens respectively.
But how can it be assured that an electronic form is useful for users as well as companies, and not a waste of time? Here’s a list of requirements all online forms should meet, according to soft Xpansion:

  • Good readability and clarity: electronic forms will be filled on a computer screen. Therefore, the form representation should offer good readability and clarity.
  • Check of completeness and plausibility of the input.
  • Default values and entries to choose.
  • Ability of printing, that is to convert an electronic form into a paper form.
  • Saving of the filled form should be possible, to be also able to change the input later.
  • If several forms with the same basic data (for example, name and address) should be filled, there should be an ability to transfer this basic data comfortably (with few mouse clicks or automatically) into new forms, so that multiple inputs of the same data are not necessary.
  • If the electronic forms are of a legally binding type, there should be an ability to sign them with a digital signature or print them for a manual signature. Digital signatures confirm the identity of a person who has filled the form and the integrity of the form contents to verify that the form and its contents were not changed.
  • The application of electronic forms should be available for a highest possible number of users. The forms should be presented in a widespread (technical) format and be set on nearly all-available operating systems.
  • Format loyalty: electronic forms should always show the same skin (formatting etc.) regardless of the technical equipment of the user and therein fulfill the same requirements as the paper forms.

But even considering all the advantages the electronic forms give compared to paper forms, the electronic forms require the user to have access to a computer or notebook with Internet connection.
Therefore, and in order not to be left out of the constant implementation of improvements in the management area, the next step for companies or any other organizations will be to replace or complement the electronic forms with mobile forms, which join in a single document the advantages of electronic forms and the versatility of smartphones and their tools (GPS, camera, etc.), and which provide team members the chance to add value to their reports from the field, without having to report back to the central office.
Mobile forms also offer a valuable advantage for a dynamic, agile company which must mutate and reinvent permanently: they can be reformed according to its needs. With mobile tools such as DataScope, for example, it’s possible to define multiple forms depending on the information desired to be collected.
The potential uses of a mobile solution as a complement of paper or electronic forms never cease to amaze us.
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