The Facts and Friction of Forms vs. IT

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.”

Expert Audio: Bridging Forms and IT

Want to hear the complete interview with BFMA Director Stacey Sell? You can! But only if you’ve signed up to join Weissman’s World! All you have to do is fill out the signup form – it’s FREE, and it gives you immediate access not only to the 12+ uninterrupted minutes of her inside perspective, but to some valuable ‘how-to’ goodies as well (also for free … for now!). PLUS, you’ll be on the list to hear about new goodies as they become available. So what are you waiting for? Sign up today!

About the author: Steve Weissman

Steve Weissman helps you do information right by bringing order and discipline to your governance and process practices. Principal Consultant at Holly Group and Co-Founder of the Information Coalition (now merged with ARMA International), he leverages a proven proprietary methodology to optimize everything from strategic planning and needs assessment to vendor selection and user adoption. He is, in short, The Info Gov Guy™, furthering best-practices for finding, leveraging, and protecting your business-critical information. A member of the AIIM Company of Fellows and holder of numerous industry designations, he can be reached at steve@hollygroup.com or 617-383-4655.

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