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Form Automation Tools: A Definitive Guide to Automating Paper-Based Processes

Some things never change.

The world keeps on moving and evolving, but there are a few things that remain the same year after year.

For businesses, it’s the paperwork! Forms drive the business processes.  Be it the healthcare sector, human resources, retail and service industries, education, customer services, or really any other industry—forms are the only constant.

Is your office drowning in paper? It’s the form automation tools that can help you sail through.

Yes, the emergence of form automation software has led to increased efficiency and significant advantages over manual processing.

If you are yet to explore these tools, we’ve drafted this article especially for you.

An Ultimate Guide to Form Automation Tools

  1. What is Form Automation Software?
  2. How can form automation tools help your business?
  3. Key features of form automation tool
  4. The best 9 form automation software to look out for in 2020
  5. Form Automation + Document Automation = A Killer Combo

So, before we dive any more in-depth, here's a bite-sized definition of forms automation software.

What Is Form Automation Software?

In a nutshell, form automation software is a tool that helps businesses automate the process of filling forms and checklists. That is, it promotes a paperless approach while eliminating wasteful manual tasks from daily recurring processes.

In broader terms, you can describe form automation software as a tool that creates, shares, completes, and manages forms electronically. Be it building questionnaires, surveys, contracts, applications, or anything; it removes the inefficient and inherent paper-based systems.

How can form automation tools help your business?

Form automation software can offer a range of benefits to your business, including:

1. Reduced storage and paper costs

Going paperless and building a digital workplace has been the new normal these days. As form automation software leverages digital medium, it helps you decrease your paper costs. Now that your records will be digital, the storage space required to maintain crucial paperwork will ultimately reduce.

2. Remote Access

Form automation tools provide digital storage. Hence, your global workforce operating remotely in situations like COVID-19 pandemic can access the documents from anywhere. With instant access to these documents, you can make informed decisions in an instant. Moreover, it keeps vital information available to multiple users in real-time.

3. Improved productivity

It simplifies data collection and storage; thus, freeing up your resources to concentrate on more crucial business processes. At the same time, it helps your staff to access the right information at the right time. Hence, they can execute their tasks with great ease.

4. Minimal errors

Form automation enables you to import most of the data from pre-filled forms. Also, it calculates taxes, prices, and shipping fees automatically. This reduces the chance of human errors. Above all, it helps you stay in compliance with the legislation.

5. Enhances auditing

Many times, you require auditing your tools and assets for maintenance purposes. This includes reporting details of repairs, defects, and more. These reports will then need approval from the management. With form automation software, you can create and deliver reports easily and get them approved with a digital signature.

Key Features of Form Automation Software

You'll see a host of form automation tools in the market, but not all are created equal. However, you can simplify your search, depending on your business goals.

But if you’re on a lookout of good form automation software, here are some key features you must take into consideration:

1. Safe sharing

Sharing is crucial when it comes to getting approvals from multiple stakeholders. But more importantly, it needs to be safe and secure. Thus, your form automation software must enable you to control access permissions and ensure confidentiality.

2. Customization

A good form automation system solution gives you the ability to create custom forms as and when required. It also provides access to its library of pre-made templates and rich multimedia. So, don't overlook this aspect while making a decision.

3. Electronic Signature

Electronic signature holds sheer importance in form automation software. It helps you send documents for review, validation, and approval as well as enable your clients to sign them electronically. It thus expedites the complete workflow.

4. Integrations

With integrations, you can double down the power of your form automation tool. Integrating it with your existing systems and tools let you automate more processes and yield productive outcomes. Make sure you see to it that your document automation software can integrate.

The Best 9 Form Automation Software to Look for in 2020

Whether you’re looking to collect payments, get feedback, capture leads, survey your audience, or define a workflow, here’s a look at the best 9 form automation tools in the market. While each of them does serve a specific purpose, you'll find that they share some very common features too.

Let’s jump into each of these form automation software and determine which one would fit your business the best.

1. Cognito Forms

If you’re looking for a form automation tool with robust payment fields, Cognito Forms is for you. It features conditional logic, calculated fields, and much more to make form creation easier and simpler. You can create order forms, online surveys, registration forms, etc. with Cognito Forms.

Its drag-and-drop builder gives you the flexibility that you need; thus, enabling you to build unlimited forms in no time. Moreover, you can customize your style and embed the form directly on your website or blog.

Lookup fields, analytics & tracking, document merging, email notifications, electronic signatures, data encryption, secure payment gateways, multi-page forms, etc. are some of the noteworthy features you can access on Cognito Forms.

With Cognito Forms, your users can enjoy the liability to update forms even without logging in. It integrates with your existing apps and helps you send data via Zapier, JSON webhooks, and Microsoft Power Automate. Furthermore, you can create Word or PDF documents from the data collected and send them over wherever you want.

2. Typeform

Typeform is an online form automation tool that turns a list of questions into a friendly conversation. It makes the process of data collection more engaging and interesting. Right from giving access to millions of images and videos to incorporating icons, it lets you create custom form layouts.

With an intuitive design and easy-to-use interface, Typeform makes the process of building forms fun and interactive. Right from personalizing user flows to segmenting people in your CRM, it helps you craft a better experience.

However, the real kicker is its ability to integrate with Google Docs apart from a range of tools like Mailchimp, HubSpot, Trello, etc. It amplifies your lead tracking journey, to be specific. You can share it with your clients and maintain transparency throughout the process.

If you prioritize beautiful designs above all, Typeform is the right form automation tool for you!

3. Formstack

With Formstack, you can create professional style forms. The major capabilities of this form automation software are its in-built workflows and intelligent forms. Furthermore, its ability to integrate with Google Sheets, Mailchimp, PayPal, and 40+ other tools add more value to it.

Formstack even lets you perform A/B testing, i.e., you can compare different versions of your forms and gauge which will work the best for you. It also allows the use of conditional logic within form fields such that you can direct your users according to the answers they fill. For example, if a user answers to question 3 as "No," your Formstack form will skip to question 5 based on the logic you set.

One more benefit that you can leverage with Formstack is its Conversion Kit. It helps you capture data, maximize your reach, and track the results. Above all, it is highly customizable.  

Formstack is a great form automation tool with advanced functionalities for professional use.

4. Paperform

Paperform comes with a modern UX. Thus, it empowers you to build forms within a few minutes. It focuses mainly on its customization abilities. If you’re looking for a form automation tool that lets you stay true to your brand with customization, Paperform is the one for you!

Right from adding custom HTML and CSS to embedding media and typography, Paperform has everything to offer in terms of customization.

Delving deeper, you’ll find a range of features including access to different question types, conditional logic, and calculation fields. With the help of these, you can create a smart form that interacts with your users in real-time. Besides, its support for online payments and 1000+ app integrations takes over your heart to deploy it.

You can set up automatic email responses and also gain insights into advanced form analytics to make informed business decisions.

5. Formsite

This online form builder tool is an expert in creating simple contact and feedback forms. But that doesn’t mean it is limited to only such forms. You can also build registration, order, and survey forms.

However, its drag-and-drop builder is something that makes the process faster and easier. If you have someone on your team with little technical expertise, Formsite has got 100 customizable templates that you can readily make use of.

Moving forward, Formsite ensures that you share your forms securely. That is why it provides you with a secure, shareable form link. In addition to this, it equips you with results in real-time via email notifications. You can share these results through stylish reports and make them more intuitive.

If you want to develop prototypical web forms, Formsite is a great choice.

6. JotForm

JotForm comes with a visual editor; thus, expediting your form building process. While it has got all the normal form building abilities, it also features some unique functionality. You can utilize various customization options to make stunning professional looking forms.

Moreover, JotForm integrates with almost every marketing platform. Thus, it automates your complex marketing tasks, speeds up the process, and helps you save time.

With JotForm, you get access to hundreds of online form widgets. This includes widgets for videos, maps, or social media. You can place them within your forms and create a meaningful impact on your respondents. In addition, it gives you the power to utilize E-Signature, checklist, form calculation, image slider, date picker, and yet many more widgets.

7. Wufoo

Though being one of the oldest form automation tools encompassed here, Wufoo has all the features to compete with even the latest software in the market. Its simple interface makes navigating across the platform smooth.

Right from setting up payment fields to embedding forms on your website, Wufoo assists you to automate your workflows. Whenever a respondent fills the form, you will receive a notification via your email. However, you can turn on/off this setting as per your requirement.

With its drag-and-drop builder, you can develop forms in a breeze. Moreover, its custom branding and theme designer helps you give your form a look you want. Wufoo’s integration abilities automate your workflows and let the data flow between your systems seamlessly. You can also analyze your data and make the most of it with custom reports.

8. DeviceMagic

If you want to ditch complete paperwork and go digital, DeviceMagic is the right mobile forms software. Available as a mobile app, it enables your team to carry their forms anywhere at any time. Well, it even works offline!

Be it sending purchase order requests, quotes, or invoices, DeviceMagic is efficient to build the forms your way. With its automation tools, you can create intelligent business workflows and determine information in real-time. Moreover, it can validate data errors, pull in data from remote databases, and integrate with your existing systems to streamline processes.

With DeviceMagic, you can dispatch forms to your teams in the field. This will help your team to avail of the right information at the right time. It reduces manual business processes and takes off the paperwork from your operations.

9. HotDocs

HotDocs aim to streamline your organization's workflow with its power form automation platform. It turns frequently used forms into reusable templates; thus, making form creation a matter of a few minutes. It has a template authoring tool that allows it to achieve this.

With HotDocs, you can create elegant interview forms and have an intelligent interview process in place. Moreover, its expanding feature-set brings in customization and integrations that serve as a game-changer for you.

HotDocs fits in the requirement of businesses of any size. Besides, you can deploy it as SaaS, on-premise, or in Abacus Private Cloud, giving you the ease to generate forms.

Form Automation Plus Document Automation

While form automation tool helps you automate manual data entry, document generation and automation tool boast the ability to automate your routine document workflows. Besides, it ensures the timely completion of tasks while minimizing errors.

Right from creating invoices to receipts and proposals to agreements, form automation software streamlines recurring processes, but document generation is what keeps your business up and running. When both can work hand-in-hand, why consider deploying different solutions?

For example, Windward combines document generation and automation software. Be it creating invoices, contracts, renewals, policy updates, or onboarding; a combination of these tools eliminates all the bottlenecks pertaining to your workflow processes. All you need to do is create a template. It will populate customized data, generate the deliverable in your desired format and send it to clients electronically for signature and approval. This, in turn, leads to an increase in the overall productivity and workflow efficiency while reducing manual procedures.

If you need more information, this guide on evaluating document automation solutions will help your research!

Features

Windward

Code Behind
No code behind
Generate Code
Yes
Applications
Only supports Word, Excel & PowerPoint for Windows. It neither supports PDF nor any Web-based applications.
Conditional Formatting
Yes
Drag & Drop Doclets
Yes
Query Wizards
It easily fetches data from multiple sources.
Multiple Datasources
Yes
Supported Datasources

Salesforce

MS Dynamics

JSON

OData

SQL

XML

Tag Start & End Locations
Yes
Tags

out

import

bitmap

set

query

forEach

if

else

switch

link

bookmark

chart

Imported Templates
Advanced
Document Locking
Yes
Validation, Error & Warning Handling
Yes
Data Count
Yes
Pros & Cons
  • Pro: Easily integrates with your existing applications
  • Pro: Great for beginners and people with no computer tech experience
  • Con: Only works with MS Office
  • Con: Lacks feature like Digital Signature
Pricing
Visit Windward's pricing page for a detailed price list.

Features

Windward

Applications

Word

Excel

PowerPoint

Supported Datasources

Salesforce

MS Dynamics

JSON

OData

SQL

XML

Output Formats
Everything including direct output to printer
IF Statements
Advanced
Code Behind
No code behind
Drag & Drop Doclets
Advanced
Imported Templates
Advanced
Pros & Cons
  • Pro: Once the datasources are set, it is easy to use
  • Pro: Integrates with a range of business systems and applications
  • Pro: Supports 10+ languages
  • Pro: Prominent clients include Sunkist, Volvo, HSBC, Pfizer, and more
  • Con: Doesn't work with web applications
  • Con: You find it difficult to pick tags if you mixed them with a block of text

Features

Windward

Code Behind
No code behind
Drag & Drop Doclets
It supports drag and drop throughout the platform
Multiple Datasources
It easily fetches data from multiple sources
Validation, Error & Warning Handling
You can easily detect errors and warnings
Time Zone
There's no such functionality available
Document Status
There are no predefined modes, wherein you can put your documents. But you can preview them before finalizing
Conditional Statements
It supports 'if' and 'else' tags along with 12+ other tags
Output Formats
You can have the output in every format you desire
Pros & Cons
  • Pro: With easy datasource set-up, it makes document creation a breeze
  • Pro: It is great for beginners and people with no computer tech experience
  • Con: It integrates only with MS Office
  • Con: Sometimes, you may face a few minor glitches, but the team is quick to handle it

Features

Windward

Applications

Word

Excel

PowerPoint

Code Behind
No code behind
Process Embedded Office Objects
It has all types of embedded objects and also processes the same seamlessly
Supported Datasources

Salesforce

MS Dynamics

JSON

OData

SQL

XML

Tags

out

import

bitmap

set

query

forEach

if

else

switch

link

bookmark

chart

Features

Windward

Multiple Datasources
It can also process multiple datasources simultaneously
Macros
You can create custom macros as and when required in your template
Rendering Barcodes
Windward renders barcodes as fonts, which may not be as effective as images
Validation, Error & Warning Handling
It takes care of each aspect to ensure you get the document as desired
Output Formats
You can have the output in every format you desire
Drag & Drop Doclets
Supports pretty well
Pros & Cons
  • Pro: Easily imports tags from connected datasources
  • Pro: Easy to use within established Microsoft Office Desktop applications like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
  • Con: You might encounter problems with reports
  • Con: APIs need improvement