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How to Create an Online Form for Higher Education

December 22, 2020

In today’s environment, creating and using online forms is business as usual. But what medium are you using to create your online forms? 

Paper-based and PDF forms are an option; however, they don’t present a long-term solution. In fact, paper and PDF processes may be more costly than you realize. According to a study by AIIM, it costs $2.84 to manually process one PDF form due to lack of integration. When you begin to account for the number of paper and PDF forms and the manual processing that occurs across your department, the figures add up quickly. See this infographic to learn more about the true cost of paper and PDFs in your department. 

What’s the alternative to paper or PDF forms? Forms automation software. Use it to easily create online fillable forms that are integrated with other campus systems, therefore minimizing manual processing requirements.  

It may sound daunting to create a form in an automation software, but it doesn’t have to be. Create online fillable forms in five steps. 

How to Create an Online Form in Five Steps

1. Select a Form

First, select the form you want to automate. Select a form that will be heavily improved with automation. For example, choose a form with a large volume of submitters, or a form that requires more manual processing than others.

2. Build the Form

Next, build your online form. A great online form builder features a drag-and-drop interface. This allows users to choose from a list of form field types, such as short text, checkbox, dropdown menu, etc., and drag a field onto their form. Use sections to create a form that is easy to follow. Add your institution’s branding to polish the look and feel of the form. 

3. Integrate the Form

Then, add integrations to your form. Carefully consider where integrations can be added to minimize manual entry needs for back office administrators. For example, in a scenario where the form submitter is required to list their supervisor, you may add an integration with campus roles so that the form submitter’s supervisor autofills. This type of integration decreases confusion and manual corrections after the form has been submitted. 

Additionally, consider how integration can improve the user’s experience with the form. For example, in a scenario where a student must enter their name, program, department, and email, integrations could decrease the number of fields a student is required to enter manually. Your department already has all of this information from the student - add integrations to autofill name, program, department, and email.  

4. Test it!

Before you publish, test your form. Ensure it is easy to use and understand. 

5. Publish and Share

Now you’re ready to publish. Publish the form and use a link to share it via email or posted on the department’s website.

Take a deeper dive into creating fillable forms online here!

Online Forms for Processes Across your Department

After walking through how to create an online form, consider how much time you could save with a single automated form. What if you could automate dozens of forms across your department? 

For the research department at Southern Connecticut State University, the savings are significant. 

"I estimate that if we could save 100 people on campus an average of 2 hours per week over the course of a year, [forms automation] would save us nearly 10,000 personnel hours or $675,000 per year. It would transform those hundreds of hours. Instead of devoting it to paper processing, we could recover that staff time and reallocate it to something more important - knowledge management." - Amy Taylor, MBA, CRA, Director, Sponsored Programs and Research at Southern Connecticut State University

With forms automation software, administrators across your department can focus on the most valuable aspects of the work - knowledge management. Forms automation tools help reduce error and improve efficiency.

This is best used for forms that are standardized, recurring, and paper-based. For ideas on manual processes you can automate, see our recent blog post on 11 processes to automate in higher education

Begin Your Search for a Forms Automation Platform

There are many factors to consider when searching for a forms automation platform. If this is new to you, take a look at our ultimate guide on forms automation platforms to see how it can improve departmental processes.

To help you on your search for the right form automation solution, we’ve compiled a short list of criteria to consider. For a deeper dive, check out Higher Education’s Guide to Forms and Workflow Automation

  • Ease of use
  • Integration with campus systems
  • Mobile-ready responsive design
  • Built-in single-sign-on
  • Comprehensive process reporting
  • Cloud-based, multi-tenant software
  • Pricing to match the needs of higher education

Get Started!

Kuali Build is a forms and workflow automation software that can bring your automated online forms dreams to fruition. Ready to learn more? Find out what you can do with Kuali Build today.

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