In today’s highly competitive business world, C-suite leaders have come to understand the advantages of a workforce aligned with business outcomes – as a result, HR has become the most important department. There’s increased emphasis on finding and retaining talent, creating world-class onboarding experiences and empowering employees to focus on work that matters so they can respond quickly to changes and drive positive business outcomes.
Low code development platforms have rapidly became a major strategic investment for organizations. These tools were initially intended for developing basic departmental applications, but they are now playing a major role in achieving complete digital transformation. In fact, low code citizen development platforms have changed the method of interaction between users and organizations as well as between organizations and information.
The low-code development platform has given birth to a new genre of technology warriors – ‘Citizen Developers’. Using drag & drop functionality and visual wizards included in a low code development platform, these citizen developers with almost zero coding knowledge are rapidly building new business apps, workflows and modifying existing business processes to improve efficiency, productivity, and functionality.
What is a Low-Code Development Platform?
According to Forrester, low-code development platforms are defined as:
Products and/or cloud services for application development that employ visual, declarative techniques instead of programming and are available to customers at low- or no-cost in money and training time to begin, with costs rising in the proportion of the business value of the platforms.
The Emergence of Low Code Platforms
James Martin in his book “Application Development Without Programmers” published in 1982 wrote, “The number of programmers available per computer is shrinking so fast that most computers in the future must be put to work at least in part without programmers”. The idea seems to be catching on.
Forrester coined the term “Low Code” in 2014 for classifying development platforms focusing on development simplicity and ease of use. These platforms allow business professionals including those having limited or no coding knowledge to create business application software using a graphical user interface instead of computer programming. In a low-code development platform, you can automatically generate all the components, front-end and back-end code and configuration files complying with standard coding practices.
In a typical low-code development platform you get a comprehensive set of functionality including,
- Visual modeling of business logic and workflows that can be extended with custom code
- Visual definition of data and models integration components
- Drag-and-drop implementation of a modern user interface for multiple devices
- Application change and lifecycle management
In “The Forrester Wave™: Low-Code Development Platforms for AD&D Pros – Q4 2017” Report, there is an interesting comparison showing the challenges faced by organizations when building apps using traditional coding methods and the impact of low-code development platforms in addressing these issues.
IT Recruitment/Skill Gaps a Major Challenge
According to a 2016 indeed.com survey, 83% of organizations feel that their business has been hurt by the tech talent shortage, And a Salesforce.com report reveals that four of the top seven pain points that IT leaders face are related to the skills gap. One-third of IT teams struggle to keep skills current.
Modern IT organizations also face a different kind of challenge – the ‘Speed of Change’. Technology is changing faster than the user can learn it. Four out of ten companies, face moderate to major IT skill gaps leading to almost 20% productivity loss resulting in a $1.3 trillion cost to U.S. businesses. These organizations would love a Captain America to come to their rescue. Low-code development platforms just may be the Captain America of the future.
Over the next five years, the IT skills gap is expected to grow further. According to the Global Information Security Workforce Study (GISW) 2017 Report, as many as 1.8 Million IT jobs will remain unfulfilled by the end of 2022. There are two major factors contributing to the widening skill gap,
- The rapid pace of technology change &
- Impact of IT as core function on modern businesses
Capgemini’s Digital Transformation Institute report “The Digital Talent Gap” states: ‘Many organizations out there face a shortage of skilled IT people and confess that it hampers their competitiveness and performance’
Organizations are tackling IT skill gap challenges in different ways. One of the best places to start is your own employees by deploying a low/no-code development platform and instituting training programs for employees who aren’t professional coders-by-trade so that they can start contributing where appropriate and reduce the burden on traditional IT.
Shortage of tech talent has become a critical factor
- According to The App Association report, in the USA alone, there are almost 223,054 unfilled job openings for software developers but not enough qualified people to fill them.
- A simple search on indeed.com returns 104,748 jobs under the title ‘Software Developer’ and about 234,824 jobs under the title ‘Software Engineer’.
- Every year only 35,329 ‘Computer Science’ and 20,864 ‘Information Technology’ degrees are awarded across the entire USA.
- According to Bloomberg report, demand for software technologists is at full boil. Companies are spending more but they are also investing more in training, internships and considering more candidates with “transferable skills”.
- By 2020 employment opportunities for everyone related to computer technologies will see strong growth of 22%, but specific IT fields will see comparatively higher growth. According to Gartner: Insights from the 2016 Gartner CIO Agenda Report 1 million computer programming jobs in the US are expected to go unfilled by 2020.
There’s no question that a lack of expert tech talent is a leading obstacle for global CIO’s in achieving their objectives.
It’s Time to Play the Low-code Game
According to Forrester Research “Every company is a software company”. The world of technology is changing at breakneck speed. Therefore, there is an increased need for rapid business application development, which is incredibly challenging when you can’t attract the necessary talent.
Your ability to identify, analyze, and respond to changing digital innovation requirements, earlier than your competitors will now determine whether your organization will sink or swim.
Low-code can make a dramatic difference. Instead of huge investments to maintain large business applications, low-code development platforms provide a flexible, drag-&-drop approach to develop smaller fragments of big business applications that are updated, managed, and deployed piecemeal to meet a specific business need.
Without large amounts of code to write and maintain, it’s easier than ever before for people with limited or no coding knowledge to readily build functional, innovative applications.
Why Enterprises Switched to Low-Code Platforms?
OutSystems “The State of Application Development | How IT is responding to Digital Disruption and Innovation – 2018” has many insights.
In the survey report, OutSystems asked participants why they decided to use low-code development platforms. The three answers that stood out were 1) accelerating digital innovation and transformation (69%), 2) reducing current IT backlog and increasing responsiveness to the business (55%), and 3) reducing dependency on hard-to-hire technical skills (38%).
Common Myths Related to Low Code Development Platform
Lack of knowledge is the main barrier, and concerns regarding capability, vendor lock-in, security, and scalability cluster close behind.
Low-Code Development Platforms are a viable option
The right low-code development platform empowers you to build versatile business apps. However, in a crowded market (offering lightweight business-user tools, citizen developer tools, specialty mobile application development tools and platforms available for software application development & delivery) with many vendors calling themselves low-code, it can be challenging to identify the right platform.
Here are few things to consider:
- Amazing User Experience: Remember that your users are also consumers who use mobile apps every day. They’re used to a slick user experience, 24×7 access on any device. This should be the #1 thing you look at.
- Security: Any successful platform today is already dealing with security. Still, it’s important to ensure that your platform has the necessary certifications, especially for Cloud deployment. Ensure that apps built by citizen developers are secure throughout the development lifecycle.
- Scalability: Make sure that architecture you will be choosing supports numerous options including vertical/horizontal scalability that can be adjusted to a business specific requirement. Who knows? Someday, a simple in-house business application may emerge as a globally deployed solution supporting millions of users. Again, a viable platform today likely pays close attention to scalability.
- Proven Track Record: The platform has a proven history of developing and delivering solutions.
Rising competition has confirmed that faster iterative delivery of high-quality software is the new game. Now it’s your call … are you going to play the game or watch from the bleachers?
Digital transformation is a huge opportunity – perhaps the greatest of the next three years. Automating your day-to-day business processes should be the first step in your journey. If you haven’t yet invested in a workflow automation platform, consider making it a top priority.
Paper-based processes throttle the growth of an organization. There are simply too many bottlenecks in designing, filling, and storing paper forms. On top of that, when you consider the costs of correcting errors and dealing with misfiled, damaged or lost forms, it’s easy to see how paper-based processes are expensive and inefficient.
frevvo’s cloud-based software offers fully automated dynamic forms and workflows designed to enhance productivity and drive down process costs. Now, it’s easy to get secure access to your documents and data from your mobile phones, and to share, save and process forms and approvals in a timely manner. frevvo unifies access control, user rights, and administrative settings through all devices ensuring complete security. Continue reading “How Dynamic Forms Streamline your Workflow Process”
Forms represent about 83% of all business documents. A typical global enterprise uses an average of 400 complex business forms. If you are using printed forms, then you should know that about 15 to 33% of printed forms are either thrown away due to errors or discarded as they become obsolete after a certain time.
Moreover, a printed form will cost extra due to printing and paper cost, but the average processing cost of a smart form is comparatively cheap. Do you know, about 3% of paper forms are filled incorrectly, 7.5% of filed paper documents are lost in transit, and about 90% of the time spent to manage paper forms involves handling and shuffling them?
Smart dynamic forms; on the other hand, offer a chance to amend or update the form virtually on the go. In fact, integrated dynamic smart forms have the capability to streamline your organizations’ document management or workflow process management capability by reducing overhead costs.
The Evolution of Dynamic Forms
Dynamic forms are technically electronic or digital forms bestowed with capabilities beyond traditional paper forms. Electronic completion, digital signature, auto-filled data, dynamic sections, automatic calculations, database calls, and electronic submissions are some of the common advantages or capabilities of dynamic smart forms. These forms are designed to capture accurate, rule-based data. Additionally, they are able to adapt dynamically based on user responses and capable of pulling and pushing data from multiple sources. Dynamic forms often possess online capabilities along with the ability to capture ‘the metadata, such as geolocation. Due to the flexibility to access data anywhere and at any time, users can enter and process information at will in a simple and logical format
Use of advanced and innovative technology further enhances the capabilities and intuitiveness of interactive forms. Now, it’s easier than ever to create, maintain, and evaluate user-friendly forms that are in compliance with laws, regulations and business policies. Often it is the duty of a domain expert to create and maintain forms. Typically, these domain experts are not technology savvy and may have zero coding knowledge. Techniques such as drag-and-drop, wizards, and visual rules dramatically help in eliminating the need for software programming knowledge.
Why You Should Be Using Dynamic Forms
Many enterprises have embraced the digitization, but they still lack the oomph factor leading to success. For a digitization strategy to succeed, you need to automate processes right from start to finish. Relying on human input and manual tasks in a digitized environment is like swimming in a pond when you can easily sail the seas. Although many organizations have deployed smart forms, they still depend on traditional ink on paper to capture a signature and validate the authenticity of the document or form.
If your employees are spending their time manually entering data, correcting errors and chasing down approvals, they have less time to spend on work that matters – supporting customers, teaching students, or caring for patients. When business conditions change, they don’t have the necessary information at their fingertips to react to changes. These delays can be extraordinarily costly. On the flip side, responsive organizations tend to be perceived in an extremely positive light.
When a new business opportunity presents itself, it’s important to roll out the appropriate initiatives quickly e.g. introduce a new product offering or modify internal processes to quickly satisfy changing customer demands. Even something as simple as letting people buy on their mobile phone can have a huge impact. If employees can perform their day-to-day work in an efficient manner, your business initiatives will speed up and your organization will benefit.
Key Capabilities of Smart Dynamic Forms
- They can easily perform complex calculations.
- They are designed to display content dynamically as and when required.
- Smart dynamic forms can execute explicit data validation.
- Smart forms are capable of looking up data from your databases and other systems, pre-filling fields and eliminating duplicate data entry.
- Additionally, they can submit the data to your ERP securely and efficiently.
- Smart dynamic forms are routed automatically to the relevant approvers.
- Digital forms enhance visibility into location and status.
Here are a few advantages you can achieve with interactive web forms:
- Enhance the speed of delivery as non-technical users can easily create and deploy online forms by taking advantage of an easy-to-use visual tool and reusable components.
- Use Cloud to save cost and time as the service provider takes care of the licenses, hosting arrangements, upgrades, and security ensuring you are relieved from the complexity of building, managing and hosting your own smart form solutions.
- Provide a great user experience by offering user-friendly forms with sophisticated built-in capabilities such as online data entry, data validation, and dynamic content. Additionally, provide flexibility to your users by offering them the freedom to fill in their forms anywhere, any time and using any device they like.
- Reduce business pressure by reducing time to complete interactions and transactions. You actually help users to complete a transaction smoothly and in the first go.
- Increase business agility by reducing the time spent by employees in routine tasks which frees them up to focus on customers, students or patients, allows them to react rapidly to changing business conditions and to take advantage of new business opportunities.
- Reduce administrative overhead as you do not have to incur additional expenses in printing, posting and storing paper forms.
- Enhance the accuracy of collected data as data validation and pre-population of the dynamic fields eradicates the need to go back and contact users due to incomplete or incorrectly filled forms.
Who Should Use Dynamic Forms?
Although we see and use automation everywhere in our daily lives from toll booths to GPS directions, many businesses are still lagging when it comes to automating their routine process workflows. Today’s digital infrastructure creates digital infrastructure creates opportunity as well as urgency to go paperless and reduce business inefficiencies. Unfortunately, it’s still commonplace to have many forms on paper, perhaps they are just partially electronic. Remember, paper-based processes have costs associated with them – the cost of the resources, cost of the infrastructure and the indirect cost of the time they consume. Printing, signing and scanning paper, Excel or PDF forms is still too common and unnecessary – there is a better way.
It’s 2018! It’s past high time to transform these manual, paper- and email-based processes into electronic digital workflows that can be tracked, managed, and controlled within the organization. Here are few industries or organizations that can gain huge business value by deploying smart dynamic forms:
Some Ideal Scenarios/Use Cases of Dynamic Forms:
Human Resource Department
- Employee Onboarding
- Vacation Request
- Student Registration
- Travel Authorization & Reimbursement
- New Vendor Requests
- Purchase Order Approval
- Employee Expense Report
Higher Education and K-12
- Student Registration
- Transcript Request
- Patient Referral
- Patient Intake
- Clinical Trials
- Stock Transfers
- Declaration Forms
- Purchase Requests
Enhance ROI with Smart Dynamic Forms: If you want to replace or transform the way you are collecting or processing information and populating internal systems, then using smart dynamic forms, will help you in getting your processes running smoothly and efficiently. With smart forms, you reduce the chances of committing errors by 71% and consume 51% less time.
With modern, visual tools for smart dynamic forms, you can automate the creation, processing, and distribution of business forms by non-technical users in your organization. Digitized forms help you reduce processing costs, minimize errors, and capture fully validated data.
Electronic forms and the associated automated processes mean your people can spend their time on the most valuable tasks, react effortlessly to customer demands and changing business conditions so your business can prosper in the 21st century.
Let’s build a paperless organization! For paperless processing and to learn more about smart dynamic forms Try Frevvo FREE.
Digital Transformation is the greatest opportunity of the next 3 years. But, to win, you need to understand the urgency, take action and seize the opportunity.
We are clearly in the midst of a [second] wave of technological advances that are markedly different from the 1990s Internet-fueled wave. The stuff of sci-fi movies is here. Computers are winning at Jeopardy, diagnosing diseases and driving cars. Billions of smartphones are in the hands of people worldwide – connected, immensely powerful computers with the capabilities of countless sci-fi films. The majority of people are connected to each other and to the collective knowledge of the world and they’re engaging with you in this digital world in new and interesting ways.
You have to be ready. This digital disruption is both a huge challenge and an enormous opportunity. Disruption is hardly new – it’s been happening for all of human history. The difference now is the speed. What used to take decades now takes years and even months.
What is Digital Transformation?
This Digital Transformation isn’t any one thing to address a specific problem but a combination of mindset, projects and initiatives designed to infuse “digital” into your entire business. It’s organizational change for the purpose of using technology to improve your business performance.
What should you do? Think about the following three things:
1. Out with the Old [so you can invest in the new]
At some point you simply cannot do more with less. You have to focus on work that matters. If you’re an organizational leader, one of the most important things you can do is create and write down a plan that clearly identifies the activities that you won’t be doing this time next year. Cut out chores that are not essential to your business, digitize them and outsource if necessary. Reinvest the cost savings into new digital initiatives.
2. Start by automating your process workflow
Technology can only do so much. Ultimately, it’s the people and business processes of an organization that truly drive change. Workflow automation is at the very foundation of digital transformation. With automation, you’ll reap incredible benefits. Our customers are seeing 50+% efficiency improvements. Their employees are happier since they can focus on work that matters – students, patients, customers.
Remember those billions of people connected to each other and to you? Automation makes it far easier for them to work with you. With automated processes, you’re agile enough to react to their needs and take advantage of business opportunities whether that’s demand-based pricing changes, customized offerings or instant world-class customer service.
If you haven’t yet invested in software for workflow automation, I suggest you do so now.
3. Data is the new Oil
Your proprietary data is your most valuable asset. If your daily workflows are manual, you don’t even have access to your most valuable asset. With automation, you can collect data, analyze and refine it into useful, actionable information so you can do things like over-deliver on customer service, and rollout new business initiatives in response to changing business conditions. It’s one of the most crucial advantages in today’s business environment.
Looking to 2020 – prepare for the voyage
The next few years will be the ride of a lifetime. Your success depends on whether your organization adopts and embraces the opportunity of digital transformation. Deploying technologies like business analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) relies on access to your proprietary data which itself depends on process automation. Your processes need to be ready.
If you want digital transformation, start with workflow.
Embrace the opportunity and get started TODAY! Visit our website and contact us to learn more.
medi is a leading and cutting-edge manufacturer of medical aids, sports textiles and fashion products that combine precision effectiveness with maximum comfort.
They have a number of Sales Reps in the field. When a customer required a credit line, the Credit Approval process was completely manual – the customer would submit a paper form, medi had to correct errors and key in data into their ERP system. Similarly, the Contract process was also very manual and inefficient.
“frevvo’s Cloud-based solution is visual and easy to use yet has powerful business features and integration with our ERP.
frevvo has a great combination of simplicity and flexibility.”
–Tim Horkey Chief Financial Officer Service Owner
medi came to know about frevvo through a referral and decided to try workflow automation. Using frevvo’s low-code, visual workflow automation solution, they were able to automate their Credit Approval process in a matter of weeks. It’s already been updated with user feedback and integrated with medi’s Infor VISUAL ERP system.
Building on the success of the Credit Approval process, medi has also automated their Contracts process. Instead of emails & faxes, printing & signing, the workflow is now electronic and collects e-signatures along the way. Ultimately, it generates a binding contractual agreement as a PDF with the needed signatures.
The benefits are enormous. Both workflows are faster, error-free and far more efficient. Integration with INFOR ERP has eliminated duplicate data entry.
UX Matters had this interesting article on mobile form design. At frevvo, we’ve created thousands of forms and workflows for mobile devicesand we’ve learned a lot along the way. One thing is absolutely true:
“As technology continues to go through metamorphoses and our understanding of users’ needs becomes more refined, good mobile form design is constantly evolving.”
– Quoted from above article
Getting your forms to be genuinely usable on mobile devices is hard but can have big benefits. Fortunately, with frevvo, you don’t have to worry too much about this. Let’s take a look at a few things mentioned in the above excellent article:
1. Use a single input field where possible
It’s all well and good to say create a single input field called Name but if the form integrates with your CRM or some other back end system, maybe a First and Last name are required. With frevvo, you have all the flexibility in the world. Display a single field on the form called Full Name and use a business rule to split it into First and Last name hidden fields if that’s what you need. There’s going to be some guesswork to split it accurately but you can automatically get it right most of the time. Serve the needs of your marketing team and your users at the same time.
2. Create a conversational flow
As Justin Mifsud pointed out back in 2011, “A form is a conversation, not an interrogation.” The flow of information in the form should have a conversational feel. Usually, this means split the form up into multiple pages that feel natural. But, you have to consider differences between mobile and desktop forms. What might be natural on a phone with its limited screen real estate doesn’t make sense on the desktop and could be irritating – why do I have to walk through so many steps?
Fortunately, frevvo makes it easy. Simply drag in Page Break controls and mark them smart phone only. On a desktop or tablet with lots of screen real estate, you’ll see the whole form (or Section or Tab). On the phone, it’s broken up into multiple pages with automatic Next and Previous buttons.
3. Automatically pre-fill values in fields
No explanation necessary – the less stuff users have to fill in the better off you are. This is one of frevvo’s strongest suits. You can pre-fill information from any number of sources. For example, check out this example that fills out Customer information from a SQL database. Another common example: if the user is logged in, you can automatically fill in their personal information. It eliminates errors, reduces typing and is far less frustrating for users.
For mobile users, frevvo supports functionality like GPS integration. You can use the GPS device on the phone to pre-fill an address field or figure out the location of the closest physical store and display it on the form.
4. Make forms accessible
From the UX Matters article: Of the people who have disabilities, 91% use a mobile device, according to a 2013 study (PDF) by the Wireless Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center. Wow! I had no idea. Technology, especially mobile technology is making the world more and more accessible to people with disabilities but only with accessible mobile design.
Fortunately, with frevvo, accessible design is just built-in. Our forms and workflows have been accessible (satisfying WCAG guidelines) for years. Government organizations worldwide have legal requirements to provide accessible forms and many are already using frevvo for their constituents.
5. Break up lengthy forms into steps or stages
This is very connected to #2 above. With frevvo, breaking up lengthy forms into steps is a piece of cake. What’s best is that you can design your form once and set it up so that it’s broken up into steps on a phone with automatically generated Next and Back buttons. On the desktop with its abundant real estate, you can simply show the entire form or break it up into fewer steps. Again, satisfy the needs of your users with a natural user experience no matter where you are.
You can also create multi-step flows in frevvo (we call them screen flows) that explicitly walk you through multiple steps on all devices with a progress bar / nav bar at the top etc. It’s totally up to you.
6. Create minimal forms, but ask the essential questions.
This is a particularly crucial aspect of form design. Obviously, in frevvo, you can create as minimal a form as you want. One of the most effective things we’ve found is context-sensitive show/hide. It’s easy with frevvo using simple, visually-built business rules. In any form that’s displayed, hide away unnecessary fields until they’re actually “essential”. For example, on an Employment Eligibility Verification form, some questions may only be applicable to non-citizens. Hide them away until the user selects the “I’m not a citizen” option.
You’ll find that users are less confused and more likely to complete and submit your form if the screen is less cluttered. It seems obvious and fortunately, with frevvo, it’s also a piece of cake.
7. Display mobile-friendly error messages.
This is yet another crucial aspects of good UX. IMHO, this is applicable on all devices not just mobile. We’ve seen so many instances of forms where you fill it out, submit, the server thinks for a while and reloads the page with errors. The errors may be displayed at the top far away from the fields. It’s a nightmare.
With frevvo, user-friendly error handling has always been a priority. Validation of controls is instant and usually automatic. If there’s an error, the user will know immediately. The control visibly changes (color/icon) and an error message appears right below the control. You can customize this message to be meaningful to the user and it can even be configured dynamically so that it tells the user precisely what went wrong.
With frevvo, you also cannot submit invalid forms. If required controls aren’t filled in or there are errors and a user still clicks Submit, the form will automatically highlight the errors/missing data. If you want, you can also display one or more custom messages right above the Submit button that was clicked so the user knows that something went wrong.
The thing you want to avoid is “Oops! An error occurred. Please try later.” Nothing’s more frustrating for users. Fortunately, with frevvo mobile [and other] user friendly error handling is automatic and built-in.
8. Avoid using drop-down menus and lists.
It’s true. Long drop down menus/lists are not very user friendly on mobile. Where they can’t be avoided, frevvo does provide a natural mobile friendly experience. For shorter lists, we definitely prefer radio buttons. With frevvo, it’s easy to lay them out so that if two or more fit on a single row, they’ll be laid out side by side and consume less real estate.
frevvo also offers an auto-complete Combo box though we’ve found that it’s not necessarily a better experience on mobile than a pick list. The good news is you can choose whichever control makes sense for your needs.
More from frevvo
9. Bigger buttons, radios etc.
One of the other things we’ve learned is that it’s genuinely harder to click things with your fingers on mobile. Therefore, in spite of the reduced real estate, frevvo’s controls are subtly larger, buttons are just a bit bigger, radios are easier to click on etc.
10. Responsive forms
When fonts are too small to read or the screen looks cramped, what will many users do? Rotate the device to landscape mode so there’s more horizontal real estate. Nothing’s more frustrating and annoying than to see the same size form with the same fonts displayed on the landscape screen – even Google and Amazon do it.
With frevvo, all this is just automatic. From big wide desktop screens to small smart phones, your forms will automatically adjust. Rotate your device – the form will expand to take up all available space. Zero CSS3 or HTML5 or any code. It just works.
11. BONUS – Good looks
Let’s face it. People are more likely to use UIs that look good. Forms aren’t the world’s sexiest user interface but they are ubiquitous. Might as well make them look great. With frevvo, that’s also automatic 🙂 Do nothing and your forms will just look good on all devices. And there are many little bits of eye candy such as decorators – add little meaningful icons to your controls e.g. an envelope for an Email field or a map marker for a Zip Code. Styles let you customize colors so your forms fit into your brand and website. These are little things but they can make a huge difference.
Mobile is everywhere and forms are everywhere. You probably have mobile users filling out forms and participating in workflows in your organization. With frevvo, make them mobile friendly without the need to spend significant resources and money.