Schools are continuing to implement ParentPaperwork’s School Forms module to handle internal paperwork and improve administrative processes, and giving us fantastic feedback. This week we have launched a powerful new feature as part of the Form Template and Workflow system – locking and unlocking fields on sections of a Form as it moves from one User to the next through a workflow.
Take the use case of a Professional Development form, where a staff member wishes to attend a seminar or undertake some other PD. The workflow might be:
- Staff member completes information about the seminar
- Staff member forwards form to Department Head for them to confirm budget line; append notes about requirements for another teacher to cover the absence.
- Department Head forwards form the Deputy Principal for Approval
- Deputy Principal may Approve or Not Approve, and append their own notes.
Thus there are three groups of fields on the form, each which can be managed by a different person on the workflow.
Assign Fields to Groups
Fields on a Form Template can be allocated to a Group. When you edit a Field you will see an option to allocate the Field to a Field Group (if this option does not display please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to ensure this feature is enabled). Group 0 means the field is not allocated to a Group.
If you allocate Fields to a Group this will be displayed in the Form Builder after you Update the Field.
Lock/Unlock Field Groups on Workflow Steps
Once you have Fields allocated to Groups, you can manage those Groups from the Workflow. When you edit a Step on the Workflow you can decided to Lock or Unlock a Field Group. For example in the screenshot below Group 1 is unlocked and thus editable on Step 2, whilst Groups 2 and 3 are Locked and would not be available to be edited by Users on this Step.
The ability to lock and unlock fields offers a powerful way to control a Form as it moves through any number of workflow steps.
Today we are pleased to launch a new feature for our Parent Slips, enabling you to capture a signature from parents when they submit their online forms.
The vast majority of ParentPaperwork schools do not require a parent to physically sign a form. Ever increasingly there is less and less need to actually sign something. In some countries signatures for credit card payments have been discontinued, and with the advent of online transactions and interactions a ‘consent’ or ‘authorisation’ is deemed to have been given through the action of selecting certain options on a web page and submitting the page.
However, we recognise that there is not one common standard, and with schools in seven countries using ParentPaperwork we have now added the capacity to capture a signature from parents.
The signature feature is configurable for each Parent Slip you create, so you can choose to use it for some and not others. You will see the Require Graphic Signature option below the parent fields section. Select Yes if you wish to require parents to provide a signature.
When the parent clicks through to their form a signature box will be visible. On a computer or laptop they can sign their name using their mouse.
On a mobile device such as a phone or tablet with a touchscreen they sign their name using their figure.
Once they have signed and submitted the form you will see the signature when you view the form.
A common request from ParentPaperwork schools has a way to organise Slips and Forms into Folders. For quite a while we have had the ‘Current’ and ‘Archived’ folders, which we introduced to give at least the ability to ‘hide’ older records. But it’s become apparent that we needed more than this.
We have now enabled a new Folders system for both Parent Slips and School Forms.
Set up Folders
Click on your user name at the top right and select Settings, then the Slip and Form Folders option.
You can add and edit the Folders as required. You can delete Folders but only if there are no Slips or Forms allocated.
Allocate Slips and Forms to Folders
Once you have created some Folders you can now allocate Parent Slips or School Forms to the Folders. You can allocate multiple records at the same time, click the checkboxes next to the records you wish to allocate
Once you have selected the records click the Action drop down and select ‘Copy/Remove Selected to Folder’, and whether you wish to Copy the records to the Folder, or Remove From the Folder. Select the destination/source Folder and click the Go button.
The records will be allocated to the Folder (or removed). You can view the records in the Folder by selecting it from the drop down list and clicking the search button.
Records can be in multiple Folders at the same time.
The Current and Archived folders remain separate, so a record is either in the Current or Archived Folders, AND maybe in one or more Folders you have created.
Email is a key function in ParentPaperwork, and the primary way we communicate with parents to advise them of new online forms they need to complete, indeed our email notifications are critical if your school does not have our SMS text notifications enabled.
We know it is important to many schools that communications to parents reflect the branding and corporate style of the school. You can upload your logo which is shown on all web pages and emails seen by the parents.
You can now also set the colours in the email notifications sent to parents for:
- Advising of a new Parent Slip
- Thanking them for submitting a Parent Slip
- Reminding them they have an outstanding Parent Slip
Click on your user name at the top right, click Settings from the menu, the from the Settings page select Customise Email Templates.
By default, if you do not select any colours, the top and bottom banners in the email will be in the ParentPaperwork corporate purple shades.
You can set the colours for the banners. Click on the corresponding field and select a colour from the picker. Or, if you know the hex code for the desired colour, simply enter this in the field.
As you change the colours the live preview will update to illustrate how your emails will look.
If you decide you don’t want the custom colours click the Reset button to return to the standard purple shades.
Today we have added date fields to our online slips and forms, expanding the list of available field types.
These new date fields are designed to capture a specific date – day, month and year. They are going to be useful for all manner of information, excursion dates for a permission slip, a student’s date of birth, the dates a staff member wishes to take a vacation.
The Form Builder now has 10 date fields available for each of the School and Parent sections on the form templates. As with other field types, just drag a field over from the list of available fields on the left hand side.
When a Slip or Form is created from the template, the user can select a date using the pop up date picker.
When a parent is filling out a form they also can use the picker to select a date. You can have multiple date fields on the same template.
We’re rolling out a number of improvements to our online forms over the next week or so, and first up is the ability for someone to Not Approve a Parent Slip or School Form.
Our schools already make great use of the form workflows, especially to ensure that the appropriate staff members have approved a form before it is distributed or moves to the next step.
For example, perhaps the Business Manager needs to approve an excursion permission slip before it is sent to parents; or the HR Manager needs to approve a staff member’s leave request.
It’s become obvious to us that not everything is going to be approved the first time; up until now we’ve generally recommended this be an offline process – the approver might contact the requester outside of ParentPaperwork to advise that something about the form needs to be altered.
But now this can happen on the workflow within ParentPaperwork. Whenever a User is asked to Approve something there is now also a button to Not Approve.
Clicking the Not Approve button opens a window where the Approver can enter a comment or feedback about the reasons for not approving the form.
When the Go button is clicked the form is sent back to the person on the Send for Approval step, and new Send for Approval and Approve steps are displayed, along with the comment. The status of the form is changed to Not Approved.
An email notification is sent to the person on the Send for Approval step advising them they need to take action, the email also includes the comment.
This cycle of Send for Approval/Not Approve can loop endlessly until the Approver is satisified and clicks the Approve button.
We’re celebrating the start of a new week with a great new feature in ParentPaperwork – the ability to select individual Students for a Parent Slip as well, or instead of, the traditional Student Lists.
Ever since ParentPaperwork launched we’ve held firm to the principle that we send Slips to groups of Students, it always made sense when we thought about the ways paper forms are used in schools for group activities like excursions and field trips.
However, as more and more schools sign up for ParentPaperwork, the more ways they are finding to use the system to solve paper-based communication tasks. Over the past couple of months we’ve had schools in several countries ask us why we are so tied to Student Lists, and why can’t they just select a couple of Students and send out a form? That feedback made us reflect, and come to the conclusion there really wasn’t any reason! And so we’ve made the change.
As of today you can now send a Parent Slip, or a Broadcast, to any combination of Student Lists and/or individual Students. When you add a new Slip or Broadcast you will see the usual Student List selector, and a new field to select Students. Just start typing the name of the Student and a list of suggestions will display, click the name of the Student to add them to the recipients list.
In all other ways the Parent Slips and Broadcasts work the same, the individual Students will be displayed on the lists of Responses and Statistics along with any Students from selected Student Lists.
You can even send a Slip or Broadcast to a single Student, there’s now no requirement to select a Student List at all.
It’s a source of pride to us that ParentPaperwork’s ongoing development is in direct response to the needs and desires of our schools – and this new feature is a great example of what happens when customers put forward ideas that resonate with other schools – because we are always listening and will always adopt great innovations that will be of benefit to the whole ParentPaperwork community.
There’s nothing worse than staring at a blank piece of paper waiting for inspiration to strike. The same could be said when you are confronted with creating a new form.
Life is so much easier when you can lean on your professional network and learn from their past experiences – and ParentPaperwork now gives you access to the collected wisdom of school administrators around the world via our new Form Template Library.
The Form Template Library is a collection of dozens of Form Templates you can add to your school’s ParentPaperwork account. We’ve curated a group of many different Templates from our schools around the world and made them available to everyone to use.
To access the Form Template Library, click the Form Templates link on the left menu, and click the Add New button at the top of the Form Templates List page.
The New Template page has two tabs, the first is to create a new Template from scratch, the second tab is the Form Template Library.
You will see a list of all the Templates in the Library, and can filter and search by keywords and Categories.
Click the Preview button to see what the Template will look like. To install the Template into your School account, click the blue Select button.
Once you’ve installed the Template you will be able to edit and manage it just like any other of your Form Templates.
Photo: Creative Commons/OpenScheduler
We’ve released two great improvements to the form workflows in ParentPaperwork:
- Select User on Workflow
- Autocomplete of Workflow Steps
Select User on Workflow
Until now multiple Users could be selected on an Approval workflow step, when the workflow step ‘Send for Approval’ was actioned all those Users would receive a notification, and any of them could then take the Approve action.
This feature allows an option to be set when configuring the workflow to say that the User taking the Send for Approval action must nominate one of those Users to take the Approve action.
When editing a Workflow Step for an Approve Step, there is a new drop down option to ‘Choose from one selected User’.
When a Slip is moved through the Workflow, the User who actions the ‘Send for Approval’ step will be prompted to nominate one of the group of Users allocated to the Approve Step.
Autocomplete of Workflow Steps
We have tweaked the workflow system to auto complete steps under two circumstances to make usage more intuitive.
- After an Approve step is actioned where the next step is a Send for Approval, the Send for Approval will auto complete. Deals with workflows with multiple approvals and means the person actioning the first Approve step then doesn’t have to manually action the next Send for Approval step
- After the Approve step is actioned where the next step is Queue to Send, the Queue to Send step will auto complete. This means if the person approving doesn’t realise they need to take an action again to Queue the Slip, the job is done for them.
Note: Auto-complete will not fire on a Send from Approval step after an Approve step if a User needs to be selected for the next Approve step – otherwise there’s no opportunity for that User to be selected.
Read about more features: Annual student record keeping just got smarter
Photo: Lucélia Ribeiro
We’ve had a bunch of feedback recently from schools piloting our new School Forms module about User permissions. One request has been the ability to split a User’s read only/edit permissions between Parent Slips and School Forms.
For example, you might have a staff member who only needs View Only Permission for Parent Slips, to generate reports and search for parent Responses. But as a member of staff they need to be able to add and edit School Forms.
We’ve now split the permission, so it can be set separately. To edit a user click your User name at the top right, then Settings > Users. There are now two fields:
- Parent Slips User Permission
- School Forms User Permission
The ‘Only these Student Lists’ option remains in force for Parent Slips, and the ‘Only the User’s Slips/Forms’ remains active both for Parent Slips and School Forms.