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10 September 2019

A Rapid Approach to Digitising Your Forms and Transforming Your Processes

Conventional approaches to developing digital forms and process applications for business may give you the custom functionality and features you need, but these methods can also be slow and expensive. Low-code development is a much faster, smarter approach – and one that offers significant ROI.

Conventional software programming approaches to building business process applications and electronic forms can be too time-consuming and costly in today’s fast-paced business environment.

Low-code development platforms have been created to solve these challenges by making custom development more user-friendly and efficient. These innovative systems reduce the need for complex coding, in order to lower the barriers to application, form and workflow development.

In the low-code environment, both professional developers and users from the business units can use visual tools and drag-and-drop features to design, deploy and update applications, forms and workflows. This approach allows organisations to roll out digital assets, with all the functionality required, in far less time than it would take with a conventional software programming approach.

In these ways, low-code platforms make the development process simpler, faster and less expensive.

Financial impact

In order to measure the total return on investment (ROI) that enterprises may achieve when introducing a low-code digital process automation platform from an industry leading vendor, K2, Forrester conducted a Total Economic Impact study over the course of three years.

Based on interviews with K2 customers and financial analysis, Forrester Consulting created a composite organization that experienced the following three-year risk-adjusted results.

In the low-code development environment, the organisation:

  • Reduced application development time by 78%
  • Cut application development costs by $1.1 million due to an extreme reduction in effort
  • Lowered labour costs by $787,051 by moving away from development approaches that require expensive senior talent
  • Increased business application management efficiencies by $752,541 due to a more streamlined approach to supporting, managing, optimising and troubleshooting business process applications
  • Realised business productivity gains of $3.4 million through increased process efficiencies and faster time to market for digital solutions

Overall, the K2 low-code development platform delivered an ROI of 466% over the three-year period.

As the results of this study demonstrate, low-code platforms can drastically lower development costs, accelerate development speed and increase operational efficiency in a way that does not rely heavily on highly skilled IT resources.

Reducing the IT workload

Low-code development platforms are well suited to both professional developers and everyday business users. On one hand, professional developers no longer have to waste time and effort writing endless lines of code for the many applications and forms that are requires across the organisation. They’re also relieved from a range of other labour-intensive tasks that are required in conventional software development.

On the other hand, non-IT users can be quickly trained to build lightweight solutions using templates, wizards and other customer-grade tools. This liberates IT from having to be involved in every step of every application or form development project – substantially reducing their workload and allowing them to focus on higher-value projects.

Overall, this helps to deliver more digital assets, more quickly, while reducing the risk of IT bottlenecks forming, which can disrupt business and hinder digital transformation.

Turn paperwork and spreadsheets into digital forms

Rather than working with paper forms and bulky spreadsheets or sharing information over email, leading low-code development platforms provide organisations with the tools to build customised digital forms for use on desktops and mobile devices, online or offline.

Digital forms are easy to build in the low-code environment. These valuable digital assets allow teams to gather and manage information electronically, in one place – so everyone has access to the most accurate and up-to-date information at the right time.

The information captured and collected via digital forms is automatically digital and structured. This means that data can be effortlessly organized, validated and stored – avoiding the need for error-prone manual data processing.

Once these digital forms are complete, they can be embedded in the relevant process applications and easily integrated with third-party applications or existing line-of-business systems, such as SharePoint and Salesforce, to securely capture, display and modify data from these sources. Digital forms provide a user-friendly entry point for collecting information and data that can be fed into automated workflows.

How digital forms add business value

Outlined below are five reasons to use a low-code form builder as a tool for efficient digital transformation.

1. No complex coding

Visual, drag-and-drop form builders allow users to easily and quickly configure the digital forms they need, as well as update them with they need to, with little to no code. In this environment, it’s effortless to build logic, rules and validation checks into forms. This means that people outside the IT department can be involved in building their own powerful forms without needing to know any programming languages.


2. Cut costs and save time

The low-code approach to form building allows companies to save hours – even days – that would have been devoted to programming. Low-code platforms often provide out of the box templates for forms that can be used as they are for common use cases or customised to suit unique process needs. Users can also recycle components from one form to build new forms. Forms can be shared with other teams or business units, who can then customize these by re-using and re-purposing components. This accelerates the pace of form building across the enterprise.


3. Increase efficiency and reduce risk

Low-code applications and forms empower employees to work more efficiently and continue to collaborate with each other, online or offline and on any device. Digital forms also help to streamline workloads. Rather than having to log into multiple systems to capture all the data required for a report, for example, an employee can work from a central, user-friendly form interface, which surfaces data from cloud and on-prem systems. This not only saves time, but also reduces risk, because there is no need for manual copying and pasting, which can create an opportunity for human error.


4. No need to compromise on functionality

Just because low-code digital forms are easy to build, this doesn’t mean that they can’t include all the features that are required for the relevant business processes to run smoothly. Also, a low-code form can be mobile-ready in minutes. Once a form is ready to be deployed, this can be rolled out across any device. Low-code forms are fully responsive.

5. Maintain data security and accuracy

Low-code applications and forms adopt the native security settings of any system that they are integrated with. This means that any data managed through these forms will only be accessible to authorised users. Additionally, because data is never cached by the low-code application, employees can be sure that they are always working with real-time data. This helps to avoid the pitfalls of including inaccurate or out-of-date information in reports, invoices, contracts and other types of documents.


Some use cases for digital forms

The beauty of low-code digital forms is that they can be easily customised to suit any workload. One process that can benefit from this approach is the typical supplier onboarding workflow. Many companies take an “Excel over email” approach to collecting the information required to conduct due diligence on the supplier and complete other key onboarding steps. This approach often involves sending an Excel-based form to a supplier via email, who then sends the completed form back via email; and from there, this spreadsheet gets pinged around the business until the information is verified and manually transferred into the relevant systems.

Rather than all this complicated work, using multiple systems and data processing steps, a digital form can be used to save time, streamline data management and reduce risk. It’s possible to build a low-code digital form for this process in a couple of hours – in contrast to the days this would have taken with a conventional programming approach!

To see how easy it is to build a low-code digital form for supplier due diligence and onboarding, watch our demo

Some other common use cases include:

  • Employee or student onboarding processes
  • Supplier risk assessments
  • Procurement processes
  • New account creation processes
  • Managing user access to IT systems
  • Managing content reviews and approvals
  • Handling training requests
  • Defect tracking processes
  • Expense claims management
    more examples…

These are just a few of many examples which are common place in every organisation, in addition to these there will be an endless list of business speciic business processes that include integrations with legacy systems and back office platforms.  When organisations begin the process of thinking about all the forms, spreadsheets and other outdated information sharing methods they use for work – they realise that their processes would run much more seamlessly, accurately and cost-effectively with custom low-code digital forms that can be built with ease and speed.

[1] https://www.velocity-it.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Forrester_Rapport_The_Total_Economic_Impact_of_K2.pdf

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