OS/400 Edition
Volume 11, Number 27 -- July 15, 2002

CAP Ventures, Create!form Show How e-Forms Deliver ROI

by Timothy Prickett Morgan

Though companies have predominantly used high-speed impact and laser printers for decades, myriad electronic alternatives to paper documents have been available for years. This is not news. What is news, however, is a cost analysis and return-on-investment study put together this week by CAP Ventures, a document and form market researcher and consultancy, and Create!form International, an e-forms and document management software vendor.

If you are trying to puzzle through how moving your paper documents to e-forms can save you money or improve and streamline your paperwork stream, this study, entitled Achieving ROI for an Electronic Forms Implementation: A Roadmap for Success, is a must read (download PDF file here). The study is based on information culled from case studies of Create!form's customers, as well as primary research and market statistics about the document market performed by CAP Ventures. Organizations profiled in the study included Blue Cross of Idaho, Gallatin Steel, Interbrew UK, MTV Networks Europe, Siemens Energy and Automation, Torbay Borough Council (near Bristol, England), and Variform.

The basic gist of the study is something many IT executives and accounting departments have been either hearing or preaching for years: Preprinted forms--invoices, bills of material, packing slips, receipts, statements, reports--are expensive to print and store and are by their very nature unalterable. Moreover, handling paper documents requires people and machines that are apt to break and, perhaps most significant, relies on the postal systems, which just cannot compete with the immediacy of e-mail and fax delivery. Mailing paper documents is also expensive, which is why every utility, bank, insurance and financial services company under the sun is trying to get its customers to opt for electronic statements and bill paying. The June 30 rate hike in the United States for first class postage, from 34 cents to 37 cents, should be enough to make a lot of companies that push a lot of paper documents into the mail stop and think again about what they are doing. This is the purpose of the study, and it is obviously no coincidence that CAP Ventures wants to sell consulting services and Create!form wants to sell products to companies as they make the transition from paper to e-forms. But the market data, case studies, and equations that CAP Ventures and Create!form outline in their study apply generally to e-forms products from Create!form, although specific cost savings may vary from product to product and from platform to platform. This document is a good starting point if you haven't implemented an e-forms solution, regardless of whether you have an OS/400 server or some other kind, or you want to buy Create!form's products or some other vendor's products.

The most interesting bits in the ROI study are the numbers CAP Ventures puts together in its case study examples. In one example, a company cranking out 444,000 invoices a year on preprinted forms was able to save $173,684 in the first year it implemented its e-forms solution for invoices. That's a savings of about 39 cents per document. Another company that printed 21,600 purchase orders, bills of material, statements, and delinquency notices on preprinted forms (this represented 43 percent of its total output of documents--some of which were already in electronic format--in these areas) was able to save $45,585, or more than $2 per document, in the first year. A third company, cranking out 25,000 purchase orders, accounts payable remittances, and statements, was able to save $22,940, or about 92 cents per document, in the first year. The implication is that e-forms solutions pay for themselves with the ROI they engender, something vendors usually espouse but do not publicly demonstrate to prospective customers. With this ROI study, you can play around with the numbers for yourself and reckon where you might implement e-forms and how much money you might be able to save your company.

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Timothy Prickett Morgan

Managing Editor
Shannon Pastore

Contributing Editors:
Dan Burger
Joe Hertvik
Kevin Vandever
Shannon O'Donnell
Victor Rozek
Hesh Wiener
Alex Woodie

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Last Updated: 7/15/02
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