A Simple Case for E-Forms and Self Service

By Lawrence Wischerth posted 12-29-2010 14:11


Customer self-service is a concept that I fully support.  It has applications in just about every industry and vertical market, including the public sector. The cost savings, both actual and potential, have huge implications for companies in the private sector and at all levels of the public sector.  

Your role model should be a company like that continues to take self-service to new levels of efficiency. Having just completed most of my Christmas shopping there, I have a whole new level of appreciation for their self- service model.  But you don’t have to implement self-service on such a grand scale. Look for opportunities to add web service and E-Form applications to small, simple business processes.

So what made me finally wake up and decide to write about this topic? Here’s my inspiration:

My local town government requires residents to acquire a permit to use certain town owned parking lots. A very nominal annual fee is charged for the permit that I suspect is merely to cover the cost of the printing and mailing of the permit. But it is the process and the underlying costs that got me thinking that there must be a better way. Here is a brief summary of the current process:

  1. Each year, a simple paper application is mailed to each person who received a permit during the current year. Costs: Printing, stationery, mailing/postage, and staffing.
  2. Each resident who wants to renew their permit completes the simple application, returns it to the issuing agency with a check and includes a stamped, self- addressed, envelope and a copy of their vehicle registration. Costs: postage(x2), check handling, bank deposit, copy, receipt and processing.
  3. The application is processed and a numbered permit is issued to each vehicle. The permit is returned to the resident in the stamped, self-addressed envelope they provided. Costs: processing costs and filing costs (a copy of the permit application is retained and used for the next year’s renewal mailing).

In my mind, this simple process is an ideal candidate for an E-form based self-service business application. Here is how the process would look as a self-service request:

  1. Residents go to the Town website to request or renew their annual parking permit. A simple E-Form application is presented to the resident, who completes the application and saves it to the website. Cost: $0
  2. The resident information (name, address etc.) is automatically checked with a look-up against the town’s database and the vehicle plate number is automatically validated against the DMV database. Cost: $0
  3. Payment is made immediately using credit card, debit card or Pay Pal account.
  4. The Parking Permit is approved and printed out by the resident on their computer. Cost $0

Just think of how many simple business processes can be easily migrated to self- service using a combination of web service and E-Forms.  You don’t have to tackle large, complex workflows to reduce costs.  Consider applying an easy solution to many small business processes as an alternative. By prospecting in your treasure chest of business applications you just might find numerous “golden nuggets” that can result in significant cost savings year after year.

Note:  Healthfirst employment is listed for identification purposes only.  Opinions expressed are personal opinions and not those of my employer.


#webservices #e-forms #ScanningandCapture #selfservice