By Gloria Lombardi

PDFFiller1“Imagine being able to send full text and graphics documents (newspapers, magazine articles, technical manuals etc.) over electronic mail distribution networks. These documents could be viewed on any machine and any selected document could be printed locally. This capability would truly change the way information is managed.”

In the early 90s, Adobe co-founder John Warnock, wrote about his Portable Document Format (PDF) concept, which started the dream of the paperless office.

Such capabilities have since transformed the workplace, and how we manage documents, information, and knowledge. Cognitive computing will further streamline information flow and approval workflows in the years ahead, providing ‘smart documents’ and workflow bots that will be ‘aware’ of people’s habits and needs.

PDFfiller, established in 2008, has an eminent understanding of the format, and of modern business requirements. The online document management system (DMS) supports over 120,000 private and public organisations across the world, helping reduce paper, duplication, workflow friction, and costs.

PDFfiller makes it easy to edit PDFs directly online, and provides secure, traceable e-signing – making ‘wet ink’ signatures redundant (at last). Around 20,000 PDF forms get processed each day!

No more static forms to download

The days of downloading a document, filling it in, and then uploading it back to the system should be long behind us. Cloud-based platforms, such as PDFfiller, provide comprehensive functionalities to manage digital records directly in one place.

Within PDFfiller, any online form can be saved as a PDF for your records, or simply processed in place, online. Creating a form is easy, and you can start with any kind of document, or even an image file. Electronic signatures are easy to enable and use. When ready, you can share the link via email, intranet, or website.

As VP of Business Development, Gal Steinberg, puts it: “It’s no longer the age of the static PDF as we knew it. It’s about the latest collaborative and cloud capabilities. Having multiple people editing a document smoothly and continuously is the new norm.”

Not unexpectedly, the PDFfiller mobile app, for both iOS and Android, provides full control over documents in the cloud, allowing staff to fill in forms and sign documents while they’re in the field or on the road.

Enterprise integration

PDFFiller2“We are strong advocates of information integration in business resources,” explains Steinberg. PDFfiller integrates with Salesforce and Dynamics, with Office 365 and SharePoint, with Google Docs, with Confluence, and even with Slack. “Such integrations add a lot of value to organisations, as they can easily get our solution into their existing systems, without having to do any custom coding themselves. We provide the few lines of code necessary – it’s all securely managed through our APIs,” explains Steinberg.

APIs, application programming interfaces, allow information to securely pass between different systems, even across the internet, and even between systems owned by completely different companies. Data-driven enterprises rely on APIs every second of every day.

“Any size organisation in any industry – from an healthcare practice to legal and professional services, real estate agencies, and more – uses many different types of forms between the company and its stakeholders. It is critical that our platform is flexible and capable of combining into any software a business uses in their daily operations.”

The look and feel of documents is almost as important as their content

A company’s brand is much more that its logo; brand encompasses the organisational values and how customers, employees, and partners feel about the company. It is of course about identity and recognition too. The presentation of documents is an important part of brand and identity. “Clients trust documents that are recognisably from the company, and that are professional in appearance and easy to refer to and use. Slapdash or off-brand files might indicate an unofficial communiqué – or worse, a criminal attempt to capture your personal information” says Steinberg, “consider legal documents, contracts, and finance-related forms.”

Up until only a few years ago, it was tricky to get PDF forms properly branded, using the right colours and logo. PDFfiller makes it easy for anyone to design forms with logos and custom watermarks without relying on design skills or specialist software.

How HR can benefit

PDFFiller3In the town of Randolph, near Boston, the local government agencies use PDFfiller to streamline recruitment. “The HR department has integrated PDFfiller into their workflow, to improve the application process. The local government relies on PDFfiller to simplify complicated administrative processes across departments,” says Steinberg.

The old application process was all on paper. Employees struggled to decipher handwriting, struggled to share forms with others in a timely manner, and had to work to manually track and store records.

It became clear that the organisation needed a completely digital document management solution.

Once PDFfiller was deployed, Randolph’s local government improved its hiring, onboarding, and training processes. Hiring managers and administrators use PDFfiller daily to access and process application submissions.

Transforming the hiring process proved to be easy. The HR department are now able to upload a form, or a create a new form from scratch directly within the PDFfiller system. The HR advisor can then send the link to potential applicants, or publicise the link online wherever the role description is shown. Applicants fill in the form directly online, on their laptop, tablet, or phone – then digitally sign. Upon completion, the Randolph HR department can immediately review submissions and, crucially, all the information is automatically exported into their CRM system, via the integration API.

“Digitising the application process has meant that job seekers can apply for roles in one easy step and HR receives legible submissions, but by using PDFfiller for all internal HR forms, all employees benefit from the convenience of the online system.”

The rapidity and convenience is a far cry from the old days of downloading a form, manually filling it in, and scanning or mailing it back to HR. A true end-to-end system like this relieves the administrative burden, letting staff focus on their higher value tasks.

Having documents completed digitally means that the organisation no longer wastes time deciphering illegible handwriting or dealing with missing details. Applicants type in their details, on screen, and cannot skip the fields that are marked as ‘required’.

Every organisation should be concerned about security, but government offices are especially beholden to ensure sensitive information is processed and stored securely. PDFfiller runs on Amazon’s data centres (Amazon is one of the world’s largest business-to-business data processers) to provide end-to-end security.

“The usefulness and usability of PDFfiller has streamlined the employee experience, but the efficiencies have had an impact on the bottom line, making significant financial savings for the organisation,” points out Steinberg.

Rock, paper, PDF

John Warnock’s 90’s vision of electronic documents has been met and exceeded. Online publishing, intranets, and digital documents have displaced printed paper in many everyday settings, transforming how departments and organisations communicate and collaborate. Cloud platforms like PDFfiller are redesigning how we create and interact with PDFs.

With these trends in mind, we might wonder if paper is still relevant, but of course we are each likely to touch printed material every day still. While ebooks are popular and convenient, people still love to read hardcopy manuals, guides, histories, and novels. Yet moving from paper to digital for short-form content brings undeniable advantages for workflows, processing, tracking, distribution, collaboration, and knowledge management.

Who knows what our digital documents will allow us to do in next 5 years? As digital transformation becomes necessary for more and more organisations, we can expect new features and benefits to suit emerging business needs.