Kuali Days 2021 Registration is Now Open!

What Is A Form Automation Platform?

As the rise of digital transformation continues to grow and expand into more and more industries, it comes as no surprise that organizations are automating as many manual processes as possible to improve efficiency and reduce costs. If you’re new to this concept or are looking for a solution to help automate your institution's manual processes, you’ve come to the right place. 

In this guide, you’ll learn about the difference in form building tools and form automation platforms, the benefits to both, when and how to apply them in higher education, and much more!

What is a Form Builder?

Despite the fact that numerous processes are now offered in a digital format, paper forms have not made the shift as quickly--especially in the higher education industry. Form building tools can help. 
So, what is a form building tool? It’s a tool that allows users digital forms that are user-friendly and secure. Depending on the type of form creator and its sophistication level, you may be able to scan existing PDFs and transform them to be more efficient, secure forms which can be filled out online, create brand new forms using templates, provide pre-populated fields for saved data, and more.
The ideal form building tool can deliver more than a PDF-based form. It should offer no-code capabilities allowing citizen developers and business users to create online forms in just a few minutes using templates and drag-and-drop interfaces. These forms can support a variety of roles or existing systems and help to improve processes and workflows without bogging down IT departments.

What are the Differences in Form Building Tools?

There are three tiers of form building tools, progressing from least to most sophisticated. Here are the three most common types of form building tools available on the market today:

Basic Form Creator

The basic tier allows users to turn a PDF form into a digital version with text field options. Integration opportunities are minimal; data filled within the form will not be automatically saved elsewhere or trigger other events. Some examples of building basic forms include Adobe Acrobat forms or simple forms you might encounter from the DMV or voter registration website.

Intermediate Form Creator

The next level allows users to create forms from a set of field types. Then, each form submission is stored in a database. You can manually export the data for reporting and create simple integration capabilities (Google forms are an example of this).

Advanced Form Creator + Form Automation

The most sophisticated tier can do everything the more basic versions can do, but it’s completely customizable to fit the nuanced processes of your organization. Advanced form creators like Kuali Build offer a user-friendly interface, robust integrations, a powerful workflow, approval routing, and more.
Advanced forms automation software is by far the most convenient, time-saving choice for higher education institutions needing to make forms more efficient or customized to address their needs. Rather than simply creating text fields within a PDF, this advanced software offers sophisticated features that streamline processes and enhance any workflow.

What Should You Look for in a Form Building Tool?

In reality, form building should be just one component of your overall automation software. But even the most basic form building tool should incorporate certain features to make the process more cohesive and helpful to your organization.
Here’s what to look for when you’re shopping for an intuitive, user-friendly form building tool:
  • Easy—and fun—to use
  • Powerful workflow and approvals
  • Ability to integrate with campus systems
  • Mobile-ready and responsive design
  • Built-in single-sign-on capabilities
  • Comprehensive process reporting
  • Cloud-based, multi-tenant architecture
  • Industry-leading service-level agreements
  • Pricing that aligns with the needs of higher education

How Can Higher Education Institutions Benefit from Form Builder Tools?

Higher education institutions can benefit greatly from online form builder tools. From IT departments to the registrar’s office, there are limitless uses for automating forms and manual processes. Unlike paper or PDF forms, digital form creators are easily scalable and far more secure. Above all else, automation allows for faster responses, which in turn improves the agility of the team or department.
Higher education institutions will spend less time and use fewer resources when creating and managing forms, meaning they’ll have more time to focus on their institution’s mission.

How to Create a Form Using Kuali Build

Creating a form using Kuali Build is easy and intuitive. You can have your form built out in just minutes by choosing relevant text fields from our gadget panel using a simple drag-and-drop method.
We’ll even simplify the process of configuring your fields, adding API integrations, and other advanced features that make your forms more powerful. Then you can brand the form with your institution’s logo, colors, and more.
Want to skip some of the steps in the middle? Automate the process using our workflow builder, then make edits as needed. Get workflow approval in an instant and rest at ease with auto-saved changes. Then preview the form to make sure everything is to your liking, and you’re ready to put your form into action.

What Is a Form Automation Platform?

Form automation takes form building tools to the next level. Form automation platforms allow users to quickly and easily digitize paper-based forms and build an approval process. Electronic forms with digital approvals are easier to automate, update, and scale, saving time and eliminating the inefficiencies associated with processing paper-based forms.

Form automation is done using a software platform that enables users to create accessible, secure forms and powerful, customizable workflows.

What Are the Benefits of Automating Forms?

There are countless ways all types of organizations and institutions can benefit from switching to an automated process instead of manual. Form automation is more efficient, cost-effective, and streamlined. Here are just a few advantages to consider:

1. Boost Transparency

Form automation platforms provide informative reporting capabilities. Your institution can gain entirely new insights with access to rich metadata on your processes. Not only can you create and view reports, but you can also export data to use in your preferred data processing platform. 

2. Increase Efficiency

Form automation platforms give users the ability to eliminate manual data entry, limiting opportunities for human error. As form creation and approval processes become increasingly streamlined at the department level, the institution as a whole begins to benefit.

3. Improve Campus Agility

Forms automation is so easy, institutions will quickly find ways to further streamline processes by creating new and improved forms they didn’t have the resources to create in the past.

4. Deliver Enhanced Experiences

With integrations to campus systems, your forms will feel “smart.” Students can submit a form on a mobile phone while walking to class without the need to input their campus ID number, date of birth, or other data the institution has already collected.

5. Better Data Security

Information security appeared on EDUCAUSE’s Top IT Issues yet again, and fortunately, form automation platforms can provide much more protection than traditional paper and PDF processes. With controlled access and data encryption, private information is kept safe.

6. Upgrade Scalability

With cloud-based forms automation tool, institutions will be prepared to scale as needed. A cloud-native solution with built-in single-sign-on capabilities allows institutions to address forms of any scope.

Benefits of Form Automation for Higher Ed Institutions

Kuali Build is designed specifically for higher education institutions, meaning the software has all the features needed for registrars, researchers, IT departments, and more to create digital forms and save time and resources. All campus departments can benefit from form automation, giving them more time to focus on the institution’s mission—and less time fumbling with manual approvals.

How Does Automated Form Processing Work?

Automated form processing requires no coding experience. There’s little to no learning curve—just click to create a new form and watch it come to life.

Here's how it works:

1. Decide on the form you want to create
2. Click to build a new form
3. Drag and drop new fields to create the form, including checkboxes, multiple choice, date picker, email, signature and more
4. Configure fields and add rules
5. Preview the form
6. Build the workflow with necessary approvals, acknowledgements, and notifications
7. Simulate the workflow
8. Publish your form and workflow with one button
9. Share and put form to use

What Should You Look For in a Forms Automation Platform?

Not all forms automation software is created equal, so it’s important to research options before making a decision. Some basic form creators only allow users to scan existing PDF forms, and don’t allow for saving data or customizing the form.
On the other hand, the most advanced software makes it easy to build new forms, store data in the cloud, integrate with other software, and more. Here are some form automation software features to look for:

1. Form Builder

  • Easy no-code capabilities
  • Mobile responsivenessIntegrations to trigger automatically fillable fields
  • Ability to customize branding
  • Complex field types improve them later on.

2. Workflow

  • Integrated look-ups
  • Field validation
  • Integration with existing systems
  • Approvals routing

3. Analysis and Reporting

  • Ability to export data
  • Detailed reporting

4. High-Level Security


  • Cloud-based storage
  • Data encryption and protection
  • Continuity in any situation

5. Identity Management

  • Integrate with identity management systems
  • Create groups and customized roles
  • Create anonymous users
  • Granular access

Additional Resources

The True Cost of Paper and PDFs in Higher Education
When you add up materials from printing PDFs, staff processing time, manual entry between PDFs and the security risk posed by PDFs, the figures are excessive. Read to this infographic to help your team do the math and determine the savings of alternative solutions.

Read More
Higher Education's Forms & Workflow Checklist
Interested in implementing forms and workflow software at your institution but not sure where to start? After interviewing customers and colleagues on their combined decades of experience using forms and workflow software, we prepared a summary starter guide for you.

Read More
Step-by-Step Guide for Creating a Fillable Form
Creating a fillable form complete with integrations, branding, and reporting may seem daunting, but it doesn't have to be. This article will walk through the creation process from top to bottom with five steps to creating your first fillable form.

Read More

Give Kuali Build a Try!


If you’re ready to automate forms and manual processes using the highest quality software on the market, give Kuali Build a try. Our software is all-inclusive, so you won’t just be using it to build forms. You’ll also be able to enhance and automate workflows, get detailed reports, optimize forms, and manage access.

Our forms automation platform easily integrates with your existing systems, can be viewed from any mobile device, and is incredibly secure. Every department will benefit from faster response times and more sophisticated, intuitive forms. Test out the product in a virtual demo today!

Get Started Today