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Thursday, December 25, 2008

US Army Forms Management WWII (1944)

Just received the latest addition to my forms book library: SUGGESTIONS FOR ORGANIZATION OF FORMS CONTROL AND STANDARDIZATION PROGRAM.

I found it interesting to read the objectives and advantages of the program. Naturally, in war time, expenditure savings are vital.

a. To effect a continuous and substantial reduction in the number of printed and duplicated forms used by all elements of the Army Service Forces.
b. To effect simplification and standardization of sizes and design of all forms remaining in use.

Achievement of these objectives will produce obvious advantages to all concerned. Savings of approximately $20,000,000.00 a year in expenditures for printed forms are anticipated. Even greater savings in man hours will be achieved by the speeding up and streamlining of procedures which fewer, simpler and modernized forms will bring about.

But is this enough for organizations today?

Scientific research into forms usage over the past few years has revealed that between 80% and 100% of most completed public-use forms contain errors in the data content. The cost to the organization generally far exceeds the printing cost. Yet most organizations aren't willing to take the simple and necessary corrective action, making use of error analysis and usability testing to improve their forms.

Seems like most organizations (government and private) are stuck in the dark ages, generally using form design techniques that haven't changed since World War II days.

I've written a lot more about this in my book Forms For People: designing forms that people can use and will have even more in a forthcoming book on error reduction. But there is no excuse for this disastrous state of affairs.

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