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Bringing business forms into the digital arena

Our objective:

Create a robust, online solution for public forms within the community, which is accessible, usable and available to all. Through Employed’s core values of providing the user control of their data, the solution will also provide individuals more transparency in how their data is being processed and not losing sight to the department handling the form issued.

Our challenge:

To replicate the entire Isle of Man Government public forms system within employed.im  – within one week.

Although the Isle of Man Government hadn’t asked us to undertake this work, we wanted to demonstrate how quickly and easy it is, for non-technical people, to create forms within employed.im.  We knew that the Isle of Man Government had a large amount of forms published on their website, some online and some in pdf format – so we set ourselves a challenge:  take every available online form from the Isle of Man Government website, and build them in employed.im… all in just one week.

As well as demonstrating in practice, and not just in theory, how employed.im can be used to create and publish forms, we wanted the team at PDMS to have a bit of fun too.  We turned the exercise into a light hearted “formathon” competition as an opportunity to really test the platform with forms that were unknown to us and full of complexities found in a real world scenario.

Recognising the need for digitalisation: City of Boston

In 2016, the City of Boston embarked on a two year project to identify, review and upload all of their forms online – moving away from paper and PDF processes. Over the course of two years, a comprehensive review of existing forms and department processes was carried out to find 425 documents identified and ultimately moved 122 of these online. The greatest impact seen was that as a result, an estimated 10,000 hours was saved for Boston residents, and also made government services much more accessible.

Anticipating reluctance from departments to embrace change and review processes in order to go digital, it was surprising to see just how in demand the need to move forms online was, with most eager to transfer their forms online and enjoyed exploring the tools to do that.

In cases such as the City of Boston and similar government bodies, there is a huge demand to move forms online for both the benefit of the government and the residents to save time and costs – and patience!

About the challenge

Whilst a number of forms were accessible to complete online, a large majority of the current forms available on the Government website are downloadable PDF forms, which individuals are required to print off and fill in by hand, before returning to a government staff member to input the information manually. In addition to this, once a form has been completed and returned to Government, the sending individual rarely has the opportunity to keep a copy of the form they have filled in for reference. Through employed.im, each individual user can complete a form through their account, meaning that once a form as been submitted, they are able to access a record of it within their profile for future reference. The system also stores forms in a saved but un-submitted state so, should they need to step away from completing a form, or need to save to gather more information, they can return to it without having to start afresh – saving a lot of time and frustration.

As we kicked of the week we had a big task ahead of us, but we were ready for the challenge and to see what the employed.im team could take on!

To demonstrate how easy it is to set up complex forms in employed.im, we didn’t limit the team participating in the challenge to just our technical developers and analysts – we opened it up to the whole company! We recruited non development team members, from administration, accounts and marketing to participate to see how they got on with the form building experience, and to prove that you didn’t need to be a techy expert to be able to use the system! At the end of the week we were able to prove the usability of the forms and workflows feature and the (minimal) training required to get people of all technical capabilities using the platform.

The results:

At the end of the week, a total of 93 forms were built in 4 ½ days, by 12 people in different departments working part-time on them.

Forms per day

Monday: 22

Tuesday: 22

Wednesday: 21

Thursday: 21

Friday: 7

Time spent

Delivering/receiving training: 17 hours

Building Forms: 84.5 hours

Average time per form: 55 minutes

We kept a tally and for a bit of light hearted competition, and a few prizes were issued out for the most accomplished form builders! The record of most forms created was set by Rob our infrastructure apprentice, who accomplished 12 forms in one day, and Accounts administrator Carla who despite never using the platform before, was our fastest form builder!

About employed.im

employed.im is a community platform powered by PDMS Employed.

employed.im is a digital solution designed to bring communities together, eliminating the need for multiple, complicated systems operating to serve the same group of people. employed.im offers all these solutions through one platform, and creating an environment in which individuals, employers, educational establishments, organisations and government are all able to interact and serve each other, centrally.

As a result of our ‘challenge’, employed.im now hosts all government public forms in a portal that is designed to be citizen centric, with our core philosophy to make these documents easy to find and access, regardless of what the individuals’ position is. Always making public forms available to every member of the community, and empowering the user to have more control in their data management and information processing.

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