The migration of business forms from paper to electronic media is an established fact – as is the often considerable friction this causes between the corporate forms and IT departments. Because each side tends to view itself as being in charge of the important tasks forms perform (i.e., data collection and presentment), neither especially appreciates the other’s insistence upon control.
The crux of the matter is that what one set of professionals sees as a “form” is viewed by the other as an “application.” All parties agree that the underlying functionality is absolutely business-critical, but organizational politics and concerns about job security are such that relatively few seem invested in taking the next logical step: sitting down to figure out how the two groups can work better together.
I recently sat down with AIIM Director Bob Larrivee to explore this issue further, basing our conversation on an exclusive interview I had just conducted with Stacey Sell, the Executive Director of the Business Forms Management Association and perhaps the most qualified person on the planet to weigh in on the subject.
The audio of our talk – including a number of Stacey’s comments – can be heard by clicking the “play” button below. It runs just shy of 10 minutes, and here are a few “notable quotables” to get you in the mood:
- Bob: “A form is a form no matter what form it’s in [physical or electronic]. … The real question is: what is the purpose of the form? Pure data collection, or does it go beyond data collection and kick off a process?”
- Steve: “The form thus represents the beginning of the process, not the end.”
- Stacey: “A lot of times [this] isn’t in cooperation or a joint venture with IT. And that’s where the problem is because the forms department has their processes … and IT says now it’s affecting us because you’re actually making this into more of an application vs. just a form.”
- Bob: “Can [Sharepoint] work as a bridge? Absolutely. Is it suitable for all purposes, for all needs? I can’t say that it is, but based on your business requirements, it may be what you need, or at least what you need for now.”
- Stacey: “There’s quite a few companies that have Sharepoint, and they also have Adobe or they have Lotus Forms or whatever the case may be. So I think people are struggling to find a complete solution for their forms needs or their data collection needs.”
- Steve: “We finish where we started, with the typical consultant answer: it depends.”
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