The Future Of Forms
Electronic forms can generate big savings for your organization. Find out how one in-plant is working to implement them.
What do electronic forms have to do with an in-plant printing operation? Maybe very little today, but tomorrow you will either be producing forms electronically or be out of the forms printing business altogether—or so say most reliable indicators.
The reason for the emergence of electronic forms in the in-plant community is their ability to generate significant cost savings, a fact that will become increasingly evident in most organizations once the proper software is developed and the price for implementation drops. This market is in its infancy, but the need is growing.
For years, in-plants have designed and printed hard copy forms, kept track of the quantity used and then printed more. In many organizations the in-plant often works hand-in-hand with the record management staff. In most cases (including at my own organization), record management responsibilities involve reducing duplication of organizational forms and ensuring that required forms are printed in a timely manner. More importantly, record management is responsible for controlling how much retention there is of the final data generated from these forms.
In small in-plant printing operations, usually an old A.B.Dick or a similar press is used to produce NCR forms. Single copies (two-sided) are produced on copiers or laser printers. Large-volume forms are ganged up and printed on a large press.
What I just described still goes on in many in-plants now, but in some large or medium-size corporations, executive managers are looking at ways to reengineer the forms business. Either presses are not producing hard copies fast enough to keep up with orders or priority jobs (other than forms) are keeping the presses busy.
Electronic forms software can reduce the costs of distributing, storing and managing forms, but few companies currently have made the move to a paperless form system. At South Florida Water Management District, in our attempt to set up a Web-based electronic forms system, we have accomplished a great deal, even though we didn't achieve all our goals.