The lowdown on E-forms

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E-forms and content

What are they? E-forms are electronic versions of paper forms that can be created, designed, filled in and managed completely online.

Why do I need them? The payback in dollars and labor hours saved by organizations using e-forms can be substantial, increasing with greater use. A large organization converting all its paper forms to e-forms can save millions of dollars per year.

What kind do I need? For occasional forms creation, or for sending small surveys or bundling pop-up questionnaires into a Web site, a single-user program or a basic edition of a more expansive program will do. For client-server offices with built-in databases, encryption, digital signatures and other security features, workflow automation and other high-end features, buy an enterprise-level program. Some organizations find it cost-effective to use an e-forms service provider, which stores your forms and data on its server and feeds them back to your organization as required.

Must-know info? Be aware of standards and ask whether your program follows open-systems standards. Is it strong on security, with good support for digital signatures and encryption techniques? What about database support? How sophisticated is its analytical capability? Are strong workflow features available?

Is the program fully, or only partly, XML-compatible?

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