Filling in forms is an inevitable aspect of a majority of business processes and in the supply chain it’s likely a form will appear at some point, be it when processing purchase orders or inputting shipment data. They can be time consuming, but they don’t have to be. As more processes move towards automation it’s important that any forms that need to be filled in are intuitive and easy to use for the user.

In this blog post, we will be sharing five rules to help you improve the efficiency of the forms that you use across any part of your business. By providing clear direction, you can improve the way people interact with forms and streamline the user experience to make the supply chain work harder, whilst ensuring you are collecting the data you need.

Rule 1: Optimise your fields

Aim for 7-15 fields for each section of the form. Less fields means less time, and by breaking the form up into sections, the user can clearly see how much more of the form they need to complete. It also makes it easier to segment the data as everything can be grouped logically. When you create your fields, make sure you make it clear which fields are mandatory to save missed data.

Rule 2: Grouping and ordering

Grouping similar fields together might seem obvious but this is a powerful way to encourage users to complete the form. Grouping into sections and ordering logically, such as such as personal details followed by shipment details, speeds up completion times and stops users from looking around for the next field. Single column layouts also work better for forms so don’t over complicate your layout!

Rule 3: Keep it clear and simple

When writing your form, make sure that all questions are clear and simple to avoid ambiguous or unnecessary inputs. But be careful not to complicate questions for the sake of removing fields – this can lead to confusion and when collecting data, particularly if it is numerical. The user needs to be clear from the outset what they need to input into the field.

Rule 4: Use Autofill and inferences

As a user fills out the form, it may be possible to adopt autofill for future answers. Smart software can look for suggested answers to future fields. An example of this is when selecting a county, the country code for the telephone number will automatically be filled out. Or perhaps when selecting a transport mode like air, the other fields needed for road or sea freight are removed. This helps speed up the process to save users scrolling through irrelevant sections or spending time typing out data they have already filled in.

To make things even more streamlined, turn on the ability to save information that users might need to fill in on future forms. This saves time if data such as where the shipment is heading or supplier numbers are already filled out in the relevant fields.

Rule 5: Make relevant suggestions

Forms are inevitable, but they don’t have to be complicated. By following these five rules, you will provide your users with a fact, efficient and easier way to complete forms and you can be sure that you are collecting the data you need.