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Top tags: forms  FAFSA  business process  process  process improvement  signatures  usability  accuracy  BFMA Conference  Body of Knowledge  Chicago17  electronic forms  Forms Management  fun  INS  IRS  Launch  plain language  privacy policy  truthfulness  workflow 

Where to sign forms?

Posted By Lisa Lee, Monday, April 3, 2017
Interesting mention of a study of signing forms at the top rather than the end: http://www.npr.org/2017/03/27/520997346/everybody-lies-and-thats-not-always-a-bad-thing

Tags:  accuracy  signatures  truthfulness 

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BFMA Body of Knowledge and Certificate Program

Posted By Shantelle L. Boatright, Friday, March 31, 2017

HOW WE GOT HERE (Part 3):  CERTIFICATE versus CERTIFICATION

By Margaret Tassin, CFC, CFSP

Did you see the recent articles about the new BFMA body of knowledge and certificate program?

To quickly recap, BFMA is soon to implement a new certificate program.  It is supported by a new body of knowledge for forms management that will be used as the basis for all BFMA education, including the new certificate programs, the CFSP, the annual conference, webinars and more

What is a certificate program and how does it differ from a professional certification?

Certificate programs are very different from professional certifications.  Certificate programs define a very specific body of knowledge that you must learn.  Test questions are directed to that specific body of knowledge.  Can you remember the information?  Do you understand the information?   If you can correctly answer the test questions that are based specifically on the body of knowledge, you can earn a certificate. 

Well, how is that different from the certification program, the Certified Form Systems Professional (CFSP) that BFMA has now?  Or how is that different from the Certified Forms Consultant (CFC) that was sponsored by Print Services and Distribution Association?  These programs were designed to evaluate a candidate’s global knowledge of the field. They had no specific body of knowledge to test on.  Yes, there was an outline and materials were suggested but nothing required.  Test questions could come from information that was anywhere. They could be based on experience that was never documented.  Test questions addressed remembering facts but also focused on analysis of information and drawing conclusions from it.  For example, if there is a situation, how can you apply your general knowledge to resolve that situation?  That type of learning is application, analysis, and evaluation and goes beyond the body of knowledge.

If you are familiar with Bloom’s Taxonomy of learning (https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/blooms-taxonomy/ ), you will recognize some of the terms mentioned above.  The taxonomy describes a continuum of learning that moves from concrete to abstract or simple to complex.  Thus, for the certificate program, testing focuses on remembering and understanding, which are concrete and at the lower end of the taxonomy.  The certification program (CFSP) testing focuses on applying, analyzing and evaluating, which are abstract and at the higher end of the taxonomy.

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BFMA Body of Knowledge and Certificate Program

Posted By Shantelle L. Boatright, Friday, March 3, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, March 7, 2017

How We Got Here (Part 2)

By Margaret Tassin, CFC, CFSP

Did you see the recent blog about the new BFMA body of knowledge and certificate program? 

To quickly recap, BFMA is soon to implement a new certificate program.  It is supported by a new body of knowledge for forms management that will be used as the basis for all BFMA education, including the new certificate programs, the CFSP, the annual conference, webinars and more

Here’s some information regarding how all this came about.

In late 2013, I committed to the Board of Directors to begin a process to develop a forms management fundamentals certificate program for BFMA.   However as a group, the committee agreed that they could not focus on a certificate for forms management fundamentals unless they understood the entire body of knowledge for forms management. To that end, the committee has been working steadily since January 2014 to develop a significant and comprehensive body of knowledge (BOK) and to develop a certificate program based on that BOK.

Other members of the committee, now called the Forms Management Education Development Board (FMEDB), include:

Ray Killam, CFC, CFSP
Louise Laperrière
Lisa Lee, CEBS, FMLI  
Bet Morash
Leslie Peterson, CFSP
Jim Pritchard

What is a body of knowledge?  Wikipedia defines it this way: “A body of knowledge (BOK or BoK) is the complete set of concepts, terms and activities that make up a professional domain, as defined by the relevant learned society or professional association.”

The FMEDB has defined the forms management BOK as consisting of ten different sections. 

  • Governance

  • Communication Skills and Functions

  • Project Management Skills

  • Business Analysis and Work Simplification

  • Information Management within Forms Management Function

  • Forms/template Design and Development

  • Forms Print Production

  • Procurement and Contracting

  • Inventory Management and Warehousing

  • Administration of Forms Management Program

Each section is composed of many elements and sub-elements that detail that section.  Each element and sub-element has an expanded definition.  For example, here are an element and its definition within the Communication Skills section:

Element:  Facilitator

Definition:  Lead/facilitate information or fact finding sessions, informal discussions on forms or processes.  Forms professionals are often called upon to facilitate discussions to gather information and requirements to map a business process or determine gaps or obtain feedback or change an existing form, etc.

Redefining a Body of Knowledge from scratch is a substantial undertaking. We were fortunate to have experienced professionals in the field with widely varying perspectives voluntarily contribute their expertise to build this authoritative reference. They did this because they see the benefit it will provide to our profession.

Watch for our next BOK blog – where we will talk about CERTIFICATE vs CERTIFICATION!

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BFMA Announces Body of Knowledge & Certificate Program

Posted By Shantelle L. Boatright, Friday, February 3, 2017

Unlock Your Potential!

Coming – A New Body of Knowledge for Forms Management – and Certificates

By Margaret Tassin, CFC, CFSP and Lisa Lee, CEBS, FMLI

Based on requests to our association, The BFMA Board of Directors has long desired a certificate program as a way to provide training to those new to the forms management profession.  As part of the effort to develop the certificate program, a new body of knowledge has also been developed.

BFMA is announcing a new Body of Knowledge for Form Management. This body of knowledge is comprehensive and entirely updated. It covers the principles, practices, technology, terminology, and issues addressed by today’s Forms Management Programs. This Body of Knowledge (BOK) will become the basis for all BFMA education, including the new certificate programs, the CFSP, the annual conference, webinars and more.

This is a milestone in BFMA history. It is only the second time the association has produced a comprehensive list of knowledge needed for our profession, and the first time was twenty years ago. It’s obviously time for an update!

We are very excited to introduce the Forms Management Body of Knowledge at the 2017 BFMA Annual Conference in Chicago on May 1st to 3rd, 2017.  The Forms Management education track will be dedicated to providing our community with orientation to the BOK, and relevant related topics.  For more information and details about the annual conference, and all the benefits offered, please visit 2017 BFMA Annual Conference

For twenty years BFMA used the content outline from its Certified Form Systems Professional (CFSP) professional certification as a basis for its educational programming.  Based on a constant review of the CFSP content outline simultaneously with the new BOK, we know there are many, many more topics covered in the BOK than in the CFSP content outline. We believe this is significant and speaks directly to the wide-ranging nature of the forms management profession.

Both the new body of knowledge and the certificate programs are exciting news.  To support the body of knowledge outline, there will be a new book dedicated to forms management best practices.  The book means the forms community will have a resource for day-to-day work and reference.  The book will also serve as the information resource for the certificate program.  Learn that body of knowledge, prove it via a test, and earn a certificate.

All members of the professional forms community can benefit from the new BOK and certificate program.  Education in forms management is hard to come by.  The certificate program will be set up to meet your schedule and interests. You will be able to enroll in certificates on demand. You will be able to show your management that you have demonstrated knowledge for each topic that you choose. Plus, the certificate travels with you. Should you change positions it can be used to establish your proven knowledge to your new management.

It has been even harder to prove to management that being proficient in forms management takes more than a transfer into the forms department.  The certificate program will help to demonstrate that there is a defined body of knowledge for the profession. It will provide a method to demonstrate knowledge of essential information for different job roles.

Stay tuned for more information on this exciting announcement!

Tags:  BFMA Conference  Body of Knowledge  Chicago17  Forms Management  Launch 

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The Evolution of Forms Management

Posted By Kelly Halseth, Tuesday, March 22, 2016

​​ 

by Ray Killam

 

The history of the “Forms Industry” is really two different histories. One is the forms product industry and the other is the forms management profession. They are two very different aspects of what we do.

We have long talked about the forms product industry. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, forms were mostly printed in very small, local printing shops and consisted mostly of single sheet forms. That began to change with the autographic register, which enabled multiple part forms presented on a small machine. The forms product industry really blossomed in the 1950s with the introduction of high speed computer-driven printers that used continuous forms and could print at 1100-2000 lines per minute. The forms manufacturing industry grew exponentially and we shipped forms by the truckload.

In the 1970s, digital printing grew rapidly with all-points-addressable printers that, for the first time, could print graphics. Over a relatively short time frame, continuous forms gave way to cut sheet form and pre-printed forms were replace by blank paper. Today, the forms manufacturing industry has all but disappeared, either out-of-business or diffused into the commercial printing business. Forms products are shifting from paper to electronic format. Virtual forms, including web forms, are the real growth.

There is quite a different story in the forms management part of the forms industry. Forms Management, as a profession, is and has always been about business process efficiency. Beginning with the Cockrell Committee1 (1887-1889), a major shift in focus started. This effort was one of the earliest attempts to improve process efficiency. Many inefficient processes were identified in the US Government, mainly due to burgeoning record generation and no easy way to find things. Since most business processes begin with a form, finding a way to streamline forms development and records retention came into focus.

In 1935, the National Archives published a report that stated:  “A forms management program eliminates extra paperwork, improves office communications, reduces operating costs, and reveals inefficient or unnecessary procedures.” It went on to say “Efficient forms provide accurate, dependable and readily accessible information for policy formation, decision making, and the direction and coordination of operations.” It made many recommendations for improvement to administrative processes. However, World War II intervened and not much was implemented.

After the war, the first Hoover Commission took up the challenge. In the mid-1950s, the Second Hoover Commission provided additional recommendations. It was this commission that published the assertion that “for every  $1 spent producing forms, it cost $20 to process the forms.” This placed the real focus on improving those processes and not solely on the cost of the forms themselves.

 1For a detailed view of this work, and that of subsequent committees, visit:  http://americanarchivist.org/doi/pdf/10.17723/aarc.21.2.j1337301gv1625h0

It was the rapid growth of continuous forms, with their inherent complexity, the spurred the creation of forms management departments.  Management understood the special training and expertise needed for these more complex forms. In addition, keeping track of the proliferation of forms became a paramount goal. Forms Management departments grew rapidly, as did forms training requirements. Companies were spending millions of dollars on forms and the need for control was evident.

During this time, process efficiency was considered to be an important role for forms managers and process analysis and forms analysis were a major focus. However, as continuous forms matured and became more of a commodity, forms manufacturers offered inventory and warehousing services as a means to differentiate themselves from the competition. They usually offered these services as “forms management” and process efficiency faded to the background.

During the 1990s, as forms products matured and the shift away from continuous forms accelerated, and as electronic forms grew in popularity, some management people saw a diminishing need for forms management and the trend to downsizing and outsourcing began. Process analysis and process improvement were not considered as a part of forms management. This trend accelerated again with the World Wide Web.

Forms Management as a profession is at a cross roads. While the profession has always been about efficiency and process improvement, this contribution has not been in focus or well understood. As web forms continue to grow as a percentage of the total forms population, the need to manage forms development, deployment and design efficiency has grown in step. A new breed of web designers and programmers are just discovering how important usability principles are in forms development, as if this is something new. Forms Management can, and should, provide an important service in this area.

Managing all those electronic forms is another challenge. Forms decline in efficiency over time as processes change and evolve. Forms become obsolete and need to be retired. Edition and version controls need to be applied. Forms, regardless of medium, require the ability to implement process requirements, and their business rules, by proper selection and implementation of elements in a forms container.

Still, after all these years, we can learn from the lessons of the Cockrell Committee and return our focus to why we even need forms, and forms management – to improve business processes. That is, and remains, the primary role of a Best Practices Forms Management Department. Some things never change!

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An Old Lesson-repeated Again! by Ray Killam

Posted By Kelly Halseth, Friday, January 8, 2016

From a recent article in the Washington Post

 

“Heaving under mountains of paperwork, the government has spent more than $1 billion trying to replace its antiquated approach to managing immigration with a system of digitized records, online applications and a full suite of nearly 100 electronic forms. A decade in, all that officials have to show for the effort is a single form that's now available for online applications and a single type of fee that immigrants pay electronically. The 94 other forms can be filed only with paper. This project, run by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, was originally supposed to cost a half-billion dollars and be finished in 2013. Instead, it's now projected to reach up to $3.1 billion and be done nearly four years from now, putting in jeopardy efforts to overhaul the nation's immigration policies, handle immigrants already seeking citizenship and detect national security threats, according to documents and interviews with former and current federal officials.” (read full article here)

 

I realize that this was a major undertaking, involving new back-end systems and more. However, I think it demonstrates what we in the forms management community have known for a long time: if you automate bad processes you just get bad results quicker.

 

So most of the work would have been done in studying the existing processes, determining how to improve these processes, developing the new process requirements, and ONLY THEN, deciding what technologies would be employed to implement the new processes. While I cannot say for, sure (I wasn’t there), it appears to me that did not happen; rather, technology was first selected and the processes were developed to fit that technology.

 

To be sure, automating 100 forms just isn’t that hard, once you know exactly what the requirements of the back end processes are to be. Adding fields and field properties, along with proper scripting, enables the form to be connected to a database and the data automatically captured upon submit. The data are then available to support any back end operations, including pre-filling related forms with the data already captured.

 

The hard part is mapping each of the business processes involved, streamlining each process, understanding the business rules that the form is required to implement, and developing a central depository for the data (the technology!)

 

I can see how starting with the technology and trying to make the processes fit could be a recipe for disaster.

 

I wonder how many forms professionals were involved in this project.

Tags:  electronic forms  FAFSA  forms  INS  process improvement  usability 

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Clear privacy policies

Posted By Lisa Lee, Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Do you have a hand in your organization’s privacy policy? Here’s an interesting take on privacy policies and plain language. http://time.com/3986016/google-facebook-twitter-privacy-policies/

Tags:  plain language  privacy policy 

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Signing forms in the wrong place?

Posted By Lisa Lee, Saturday, August 1, 2015

A Harvard professor says that if forms are signed at the top that users are much more likely to be truthful, because they are reminded that they are giving their word right up front. Could that be? She has a study that demonstrates it. Read the story here.

The problem is that signing at the top isn’t our convention. We’re used to signing forms at the bottom. Companies don’t want to move the signature block so radically. Just imagine dealing with the change-resistance on that one, customer by customer.

Have you ever considered changing up the signature block? One of my colleagues, Bill Hill, swapped the position of the date and the signature fields on some forms. Next thing you know, they were changed back.

Change is hard. Even when there may be good reason for it.

Tags:  signatures 

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Forms in Song

Posted By Shannon Lerner, Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Filling in a form is a universal experience, for better or worse. As forms professionals, our goal is to make the experience better, but often completing a form is the butt-end of a joke. At the risk of being labelled a romantic, here are a couple of love songs with lyrics about completing a form.

 

Completing a simple customer experience survey? There's a song about that. In George Strait's Check Yes or No, Emmylou gets caught passing a note to her childhood crush in class:

Do you love me?

Do you wanna be my friend?

And if you do, well then don't be afraid to take me by the hand, if you want to.

I think this is how love goes. Check 'yes' or 'no'.

Although her question didn't follow best practices by combining two distinct questions in one—I mean, what would a nice young man answer if he only wanted to be friends?—Emmylou's survey question was successful at obtaining a clear answer: the song ends with a 20th anniversary celebration.

 

Is it a contract? Or a request for service? The Beatles covered both in When I'm 64:

Give me your answer, fill in a form:

Mine for evermore.

Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm sixty-four? 

Despite the confusion about the purpose of this form—establishing ownership of one's heart versus an agreement for long term care—this hit endures.

 

What songs did I miss? Comment with your favorite song lyrics about filling in a form!

Tags:  forms  fun 

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A solution that’s too good to implement?

Posted By Lisa Lee, Sunday, March 8, 2015
Updated: Sunday, March 8, 2015

What do forms and the IRS have in common? Everybody loves to hate ‘em.

Here’s a rare moment when the IRS could actually shine. The IRS could be super helpful and make life easier for college aid applicants by prefilling the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) with data from previous tax filings. That, together with a rule change, could dramatically improve the process of applying for financial aid. The improved process would lead to a form that is easier to fill out. More people would actually complete the form and more applications would be received.

Oops, new problem. Find out here why this solution probably isn’t going anywhere soon.

Tags:  business process  FAFSA  forms  IRS  process 

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