Develop the Business Case for Improving Your Forms Processes in 4 Steps

By Richard Medina posted 10-14-2013 15:46


This post outlines how to develop a business case for your forms initiatives. Here are the basic steps I’d suggest, and we’ll use a financial services firm as an example.

1.  First, clarify your scope.  I’d suggest using something like this template to start defining your initiative.

  • Organization:  Consider starting with just one organization or unit.
  • Transaction Types: A typical transaction type for financial services firms is “Money Out”.
  • Transaction Sub-type: Pick the top 50-100 item types. By “top”, I mean the most common and most important.
  • Process tasks:  In the above example – “Money Out” in financial services -- typical tasks may include client input, initial processing, receipt into correct function, acceptance as IGO (in good order).
  • Primary metric: A great metric is the NIGO (not in good order) rate – and you’ll be redesigning your forms process to reduce NIGO rates.
  • Primary cost driverthat you intend to change as a result of improving the process: the cost of NIGOs. Typically, this is the best first place to look, rather than the costs associated with authoring, revising and distributing forms. 


2.  Define the primary saving drivers. I normally do this with hypotheses that can then be broken down into a measurable set of metrics.  For example:

  • Poorly designed forms confuse customers and are incomplete upon receipt.
  • Because of the variety of different forms in use, many transactions are routed to the wrong downstream function.
  • Because forms are poorly designed and because there’s such a large variety, it’s too hard to efficiently discern IGO vs. NIGO early (upstream) in the process, so the completed forms must be sent downstream to clerks in the business unit for determination. Doing it this way is more expensive and time consuming than if NIGOs were detected and corrected earlier upstream.
  • Electronically completed forms have a higher IGO rate than paper forms.


3.  Agree on the metrics and variable you intend to forecast very specifically. Here’s a typical breakdown of the analysis. 

  1. Determine the number of NIGOs per transaction typethat are within scope.
  2. Classify the NIGOs according to the cause of error. Examples usually include: the client provided the wrong information, the client misunderstood the information needed, etc. Some of the NIGOs can be improved with better form design. Ultimately, this classification would be a judgment of the project team doing the analysis. 


4.  Once all of the data is collected, load all of the variables and data into an interactive visualization tool.  Elsewhere I’ve described and provided examples of such tools that we use with executive audiences. See a capture calculator here,  a discovery calculator here,  a discussion of making the ECM business case here, and a discussion of making the social collaboration (“systems of engagement”) business case here. They have proven most valuable in addressing “what if” questions and potential objections.  The key capability needed is the ability to show how the multiple variables interact so you can determine if the business case is directionally sound. 

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