Anthony Fowler

TransFORMers, Solutions in Disguise

Do you love forms? I do, they're awesome.

I jest of course, in reality, they can be a pain in the backside and agonisingly long winded to fill out.

Of course being developers we're unlike normal folk and the tedium of form completion acts as our inspiration. An inspiration to take the mundane and make it exciting for users.

Forms, in one way or another, are involved in almost all of our projects, some are hugely complex with intense logic being applied, performing multiple processes and sharing that data across multiple platforms, or they can be a humble contact form on a website pushing to a CRM.

Rewind

Working as a facilities manager, the team and I had no choice but to fill out paper forms for work, these beauties are forms with potential, the questions may stay the same but the answers could be whatever you wanted, you had free reign to put anything you wished into the awaiting white box. Unfortunately, of course, we had issues with consistency and accuracy when filling out our routine checks on plant and warehouse equipment, this wasn't through lack of training but more each individuals flair for identifying and reporting issues.

If I'd known what I do now I'd have certainly have explored a way to bring uniformity and efficiency to this process, digitising it in to an application would have been perfect plus we'd get to play with iPad's causing yet more levels of jealousy for the department (for context purposes, we had the most fun and diverse job roles in the company, each day having it's own new and exciting challenges - something not often found in logistics).

One of the additional benefits of having this as an application would have been the ability to share and store this information. Sharing it with contractors prior to on-site works for better preparation or the health and safety team for their internal and/or external audits.

The development and use of applications at the time was nothing new, if only I'd had the time to explore it properly I would have saved 100's of hours a month for myself and the team, and just think of the amounts of office space we'd have gained without all the filing cabinets. We live and learn.

Fast Forward

Today we build every type of form you can imagine, each tailored to the company that uses them. Our finest work comes when the level of data is large, the process is convoluted and the output is complicated. I wish I could show you an example of what can be created using a simple form and some technical wizardry but client confidentiality forbids it.

The process normally goes as follows: a user selects a job from his job list, fills out a series of questions, takes some pictures, hit upload and BAM! we have a beautiful PDF ready to go straight to the client. If the engineer made an error admins can just make the necessary edits and recreate the PDF, beautiful simplicity.

Client Empowerment

We'd realised a while back that simply creating a set of forms for clients wasn't enough, too many changes from one month to the next - standards change, laws get introduced, checks become obsolete, clients have different needs. To combat this we create bespoke form builders, you can create and update the question types, possible answers, single select, multiple select, required or optional, rated answers, percentages.. you get the idea.

Forms as we know them are tedious, something we put off until we absolutely have to deal with them, and by that point, the paperwork has stacked up and you're going to be working late to deal with it all as it's not something you can dabble in here and there. Forms as LF know them are innovative, they revolutionise the way clients complete jobs, they are consistent, easy to use, and easy to manage so there's no getting behind!

Well, I hope you enjoyed my blog on forms, maybe they are exciting after all.

If you use paper forms or have an existing system you'd like to talk to us about, get in touch.