Automating a recurring process using policyIQ forms is practically a “no-brainer” for many of our clients. Quarterly management certification letters? Absolutely! Monthly account reconciliations? Of course! Annual policy sign-offs? Done. policyIQ forms are easy to distribute, track and report on, making it a tremendous improvement over more manual processes.
But occasionally we hear from users to ask why the form that they have been assigned is taking so long to load in their browser. The common reason is simple: There are many fields on a single form.
Okay, let’s be realistic for a moment
Many of you use policyIQ for your Quarterly Management Representation Letters (or SOX 302 process), with an average of 30 “agree/disagree” questions, each requiring the ability to further explain via Comments. The simple truth is that the easiest format for the person who needs to report on all of the responses is to create one single Form Template, add fields for each question and create corresponding Rich Text fields for comments on every question. This allows you to pull responses back out of policyIQ in a single table, report on any form where a Rich Text Field was used to enter comments, and export it all in a single action.
Well, yes. If you are the one doing the reporting. But for a user who needs to respond, a questionnaire with 60 fields – 30 of which may or may not be used, but include full formatting toolbars – can take quite some time to load in a browser, and frankly won’t be all that pleasing to scroll through and answer. And when your audience includes the highest levels of your organization, most of us would prefer to keep them happy with a simple process and take on a little extra work in reporting.
Increase the usability of your forms!
We have a number of suggestions for ways to simplify your forms and make the process easier for your respondents.
1.) Break longer questionnaires down into multiple Forms.
We’re trained to think that fewer “clicks” is more efficient, but breaking down a larger questionnaire into several short ones can be much easier to manage. Think about it – if you have 30 questions to answer, one 30 question form can seem overwhelming. But six questions? That’s easy. Five forms? No big deal. When reporting, you may need to run separate reports, but are five reports that much more difficult to run than one?
2.) Include just one Rich Text “Comments” field that may apply to a number of questions.
Do you need separate fields for comments on each answer? The answer may be yes, and you may have very good reasons for needing that separation, but really think about your process before you answer. If you had a single “Comments” field for a set of questions, would you lose value in your reports? Combine this approach with the one above, and you may find that you can logically group questions into separate Forms, each with just one Comments field.
3.) Replace Rich Text fields with simple Text fields.
Rich Text fields in policyIQ are those that have a full range of formatting options, and a word-processing like editor. However, due to all of the formatting actions and the functionality required to provide this word-processing capability, these fields take longer to load within a browser window when responding to a form. The functionality is may be critical for long responses that include multiple paragraphs or that have a great deal of detail, but does that apply to your process? If not, consider replacing those Rich Text fields with simple Text fields.
Text fields are displayed as just a single line available to enter text, but there are no longer any limits on the number of characters that can be entered. (This is a change to policyIQ made recently to allow for more flexibility in the use of this field type!) If your “Comments” are generally relatively short and don’t requiring formatting, consider using this field type as a replacement to the Rich Text fields.
The downside is again in reporting, as simple Text fields are not considered “common” and therefore there is no filter option that allows you to find all Text fields that have been filled in. (If you aren’t familiar with “common” fields, check out this post for more info.)
Implementing just one or all three of these suggestions can increase the usability of your forms – and keep your users happy. (Happy users mean happy administrators.)
Join us to learn about a client success story with policyIQ forms! (and earn CPE!)
In our monthly CPE training event coming up on September 22, you’ll hear from our friends at Sirva, one of the best examples of policyIQ forms management in use today. Our September session will feature their use of policyIQ for the automation of their capital expenditure approval process, which is just one of the many ways that Sirva is using policyIQ to bring efficiency to their organization. Register for this CPE event today.
As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team if you would like to optimize your forms and you just aren’t sure where to start or how to implement. We’ll be happy to help you!