Published 17 Oct 2023
What is a Digital Form?
A digital form, also known as an electronic form or e-form, is a computerized or electronic version of a traditional paper form. It serves the same fundamental purpose as a physical form, such as collecting data, gathering information, or processing requests, but it's designed to be completed and submitted electronically, typically using a computer, smartphone, or tablet via software or an app. Digital forms are used across various industries, including construction, healthcare, manufacturing, government, property management, and many others.
In the work setting, a digital form, template, or checklist is a paperless tool used by businesses to gather information efficiently and eliminate the hassle of lost paperwork, damaged reports, and manual data re-entry. Hence, it helps streamline business processes and promote accessible recordkeeping and data sharing.
In this article
- Why Use a Digital Form
- Benefits of Using One
- Common Examples of Digital Forms
- How to Create a Digital Form
- FAQs About Digital Forms
- Create Effective Digital Forms and Checklists Using SafetyCulture
- Featured Digital Forms, Templates, and Checklists
Why Use a Digital Form
Technological advances have led to the widespread adoption of smart mobile devices into nearly everyone’s hands. Yet, despite being in the middle of the digital age, many organizations still rely on paper forms for their business. Making the switch between paper forms and digital forms will be the difference that propels a company forward by integrating mobile devices and apps into the business landscape.
For instance, using digital forms helps eliminate paper waste, thereby conserving trees and reducing carbon emissions associated with paper production and transportation, making it more environmentally friendly. In addition, it reduces the costs of printing and storage.
On the other hand, these forms can also be filled out faster by programming that allows for the rapid capture of a wide variety of information. This way, businesses can make use of their time more efficiently when collecting key data and implementing processing solutions in a more timely manner.
Benefits of Using One
Transforming your current paper-based checklists and forms into digital forms will change the way you work – for the better. Here are some of the benefits of using digital forms:
Digital forms enable structured data entry by providing fields for specific data types such as text, numbers, dates, and dropdown menus. This ensures that the information collected is consistent and well-organized. Additionally, digital forms often incorporate validation rules like mandatory fields and data format checks, reducing errors and ensuring the accuracy of the data.
Moreover, you can also take advantage of mobile technology and capture photos, barcodes, electronic signatures, diagrams, reference links, GPS coordinates, and more.
More time and cost savings
Using digital forms can significantly benefit your organization’s efficiency and budget. They help speed up the process of gathering and retrieving information and generating business reports through faster data collection as they’re completed electronically.
Further, digital forms can trigger automated actions such as instantaneous updating of databases, implementing corrective actions, or initiating follow-up processes, which saves time and effort.
Digital forms can contribute to green living that supports conserving the environment and helps businesses in controlling paper waste. They’re entirely paperless, eliminating the need for physical paper and thus contributing to reduced deforestation and a smaller carbon footprint.
Moreover, the need for disposal and recycling efforts is reduced due to minimal to no physical waste. While digital forms do require energy to run electronic devices, the overall environmental impact is often lower than the production and disposal of paper forms.
Organized data storage
Digital forms make data management and storage more streamlined. They allow data to be stored in secure, centralized databases or cloud platforms, making it easily accessible from anywhere with an internet connection. This facilitates efficient data retrieval, reducing the time spent searching for specific information.
Additionally, digital forms can be updated and revised without the need to distribute new physical forms, ensuring everyone’s working with the most current version.
Digital forms often come with built-in analytics tools that allow organizations to analyze the collected data and generate reports, facilitating data-driven decision-making. Furthermore, digital forms help identify trends, patterns, and areas for improvement by aggregating data over time.
Users can also create customized dashboards to visualize data in the most meaningful ways for their specific needs, enhancing data-driven insights and decision-making processes.
Common Examples of Digital Forms
Digital forms are used in a wide range of industries and contexts for various purposes. Here are some common examples:
- Customer Feedback and Survey Forms – utilized to collect feedback from customers about products, services, and overall experiences for improving customer satisfaction
- Human Resources (HR) Forms – used for employee onboarding, leave requests, performance evaluations, and benefit enrollments
- Work Orders – created and used by maintenance or repair teams to receive work orders, specifying tasks, location details, and equipment requirements
- Vehicle Inspection Reports – created by transportation companies and auto mechanics to record vehicle inspection results, ensuring compliance with safety regulations
- Guest Check-in Forms – utilized by the hospitality industry to gather personal details and preferences to enhance the guest experience
- Property Inspection Forms – helpful for documenting condition and maintenance needs during property inspections
- Training Evaluation Forms – serves as an HR tool to gather feedback on training programs from participants to assess content and effectiveness
How to Create a Digital Form
Traditionally, checklists and forms are written on a notepad or printed out as a document, but making them online enables you to use your checklist on your mobile device. Making digital forms online can be simplified into the following steps:
- Name or label the template, form, or checklist properly.
- Add a description to provide context on what it’s for and how it should be used.
- Make sure to add titles for the form’s pages and sections (e.g., Title Page, Inspection, and Completion) to guide the users through its various parts and purposes.
- Start adding questions on the template or if you have a list of items already in an external document, you can copy and paste them in.
- Choose and set the most needed response type for each question. This can be a text or a multiple-selection answer.
- Double-check the details and instructions you’ve included in the digital form before exporting it.
- Save it on your organization’s cloud storage for easy access.
For example, here’s a filled-out incident report form digitized using a checklist app:
FAQs About Digital Forms
Yes, digital forms can be incorporated into an organization’s wider business system. Doing so allows for the seamless flow of data, automates processes, reduces manual data entry, and enhances overall efficiency within an organization. This also streamlines tasks such as customer data management, document storage, financial tracking, and more, making it a valuable feature for businesses across various industries.
While digital forms typically rely on an internet connection to access and submit data, there are methods and technologies that enable offline functionality, including the use of mobile apps, offline form storage, and automatic data sync.
This capability is particularly valuable in situations where internet connectivity may be unreliable or unavailable, such as areas with poor network coverage or when users need to collect data in remote locations.
Yes, digital forms provide a cost-effective and efficient way to collect and manage data, offering flexibility, scalability, and the ability to customize forms to meet specific business needs. This tool supports streamlined operations and enhances the overall customer experience, making it a valuable asset for smaller enterprises.
Create Effective Digital Forms and Checklists Using SafetyCulture
Why use SafetyCulture?
Forms apps are vital tools you can use to create digital forms and checklists. The digital form builder works alongside the checklist feature and can be used for specific purposes. SafetyCulture (formerly iAuditor) is an intuitive and versatile digital form maker and operations platform that is used by various businesses across the globe to transform paper checklists and forms into less-hassle online checklists.
Using the SafetyCulture Form Maker, your team can eliminate wasteful time spent in gathering questionnaire responses and data entry when performing business processes by doing the following:
- Gather information using different devices such as desktops, smartphones, or tablets by creating customizable digital forms and templates that will suit your business needs.
- Reduce storage and paper costs by organizing and compiling completed forms automatically and saving data in the app’s secure cloud.
- Instantly make, distribute, and share changes to your digital forms, checklists, and questionnaires by updating everyone in the organization using the Heads Up feature.
- Validate the data you input in digital forms by putting electronic signatures. Accomplishing them regardless if you’re currently offline.
- Export completed forms as reports in various formats, including PDF, Excel, Word, or Weblink.
- Treat your digital forms as valuable assets and organize them all in one platform.
- Standardize how forms, templates, and checklists are used in your organization to ensure best practice implementation by creating and deploying regular training sessions.
- Raise any concerns or assign areas for improvement on the creation and use of digital forms using the Issues and Actions features.
SafetyCulture’s repository of digital forms can be used in many ways across different industries. Browse this collection of digital templates and checklists based on your business needs and requirements.
Featured Digital Forms, Templates, and Checklists
Use this general hazard identification form to assess potential risks (e.g., noise, manual handling, excavation, etc.) observed within the work premises. With the help of this form, describe the nature of work and identify the hazards present. Capture photo evidence of the situation or object that may cause serious problems to workers.
This staff performance appraisal form can be tied up with a scorecard to grade attendance, job knowledge, skills, quality of work, productivity, teamwork, team targets, and behavior. You can rate the overall performance of your employees depending on the total percentage score.
Download and use this digital template for risk management plans to help you identify the risks, record the risks’ impact on a project, and assess the likelihood, seriousness, and grade. Specify planned mitigation strategies and assign corrective actions needed.
Use this 5 Whys template to resolve the root cause of a problem so that your business teams can avoid encountering it again. Begin by clearly stating the problem and answer why the problem occurred until the root cause is discovered. To complete the 5 Whys template, provide a solution to the root cause of the problem and create actions.
Download and use this free digital checklist for workplace health and safety audits to perform the internal and external audit of an office or any working environment. Do a site walkthrough and determine if the temperature is too hot or too cold, check the ventilation and lighting systems, observe if proper housekeeping practices are applied, and evaluate storage and shelving areas to see if materials are stacked properly.
This digital Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) food manufacturing audit checklist was based on 21 CFR Part 110 and can be used as a guide when conducting food manufacturing audits in your organization. Perform your food manufacturing audits with this template on the SafetyCulture mobile app.