It’s here! It’s here! Microsoft Forms preview for commercial licenses is here! Join us in welcoming back Chloe Fox, Business Analyst Extraordinaire and self-proclaimed Microsoft Forms Fangirl, to chat about Microsoft’s latest update to the Office suite. Admittedly, we’re all fangirling a bit here after Microsoft’s recent release of a public preview of Forms for those with commercial licenses. Microsoft Forms is an easy to use app that allows you to create surveys, quizzes, and polls in minutes that until last week was only available to those with educational licenses. In educational institutions, it’s been used to create quizzes, collect feedback from teachers and parents, and plan class and staff activities. Now, we get to uncover the exciting applications for businesses. From collecting customer feedback, measuring employee satisfaction to organizing company events, it seems that the sky’s the limit when it comes to Forms. But don’t take our word for it; check out our interview with Chloe to learn what this Forms preview means for you.
What are you most excited about after seeing the Forms preview?
I’m most excited about how easy it is to use them. I also love how similar they are to current forms programs people may have used before, but with an intuitive and clean design.
How does Microsoft Forms compare to Google Forms?
I think the UX is way cleaner. Microsoft really stepped up their game. Sharing is really straightforward; it’s clear when you’re sharing anonymously or otherwise. The results view has such a clean display, making it easy to view responses and results. Plus, you can export your results into excel effortlessly.
Can you tell us a bit about how Forms will integrate with other Microsoft products, like Flow?
I haven’t had much time to experiment with it yet, but I’ve seen that there are quite a few Flow templates already set up. I think businesses will find the most value in Flows where they receive an email when someone completes their form. This feature saves time and ensures you can act on real-time results instead of having to manually go back into the form to see what results have come in. There’s also a Flow for putting the data into a SharePoint list which I believe will prove to be quite useful because you could now display that SharePoint list in a webpart on your intranet for your whole team to see.
What will these integrations look like and mean for users?
I think it means the end of using multiple Microsoft tools. Microsoft is moving in a direction where the tools are integrated in a way that you don’t really realize where one starts and the other ends. Thanks to this seamless integration, gone are the days of using Forms and email and SharePoint, you’re really using Office 365 as a whole and the tools all blend really well together.
What integrations are most useful? Any tips or best practices you can share?
Since we haven’t had enough time to dive deep and we haven’t done a lot of external sharing yet, were learning and honing best practices that will stem from experiencing and defining governance for acquiring form data from external people outside of the organization.
What productivity and collaboration benefits can you see coming from this release?
I think the major productivity benefit will be that users won’t have to receive extensive training on a special program or use in a program outside of Microsoft to build forms and gather data internally or externally. The collaboration benefit is twofold: you can easily survey people or request information from people without having a special skill set and you’re no longer forced to use a complex tool inside or outside the Microsoft toolset. Plus, teams can collaborate and build a form together!
How do you see PixelMill using Forms?
Overall, PM strives to be cutting edge and very transparent, so forms are a great way for us to get information from employees in our company. I’m excited about discovering ways to simplify workflows and everyday process with Forms. For example, admin tasks like expense reports and requests could easily be moved to Forms.
From a Business Analysis (BA) perspective, I’m most excited about its application for user surveys. When we launch a project, we ask for general information about the technologies being used in the organization; now we can implement this survey in Forms so we stay in the Microsoft suite. A major part of our BA phase is performing user interviews, but sometimes an organization finds it challenging to schedule their employees. In this case we recommend a survey instead. With Forms, I can stay in the Microsoft suite to do this very easily.
For our design team, I see them using Forms as a way to gather feedback on design elements and learn what employees are most attracted to. For example from a polling perspective, we’d ask, “If you had a choice between this icon set or this icon set, which do you prefer?”
How do you see our clients using Forms?
Our client base ranges, but we do a lot of work with educational organizations and they use Forms a lot in the classroom for quizzes and such. With Flow integration…they no longer have to turn to 3rd party tools. We’ve had education clients who had access to Forms but still turned to 3rd party tools because Forms didn’t offer notifications. Forms may not be as robust as some of the 3rd party tools, but now with those Flow integrations, it’s much more attractive.
What would you like to see next from Forms?
I would really like it if there was an option to upload documents and images when submitting a form. I’d also like to see a rich text format box as a form submission box option and an ability to customize and edit the completion page. I think it would also be great if Microsoft created a way so that end users know whether or not a form is anonymous. As it stands right now, an end user has to trust the form creator when they say forms are anonymous.
Forms has only been available to those with education licenses; how does this preview release for commercial licenses change the game?
Many people who aren’t on education licenses are using 3rd party tools, or Google forms if they don’t want to pay for 3rd party tools, but now they’ll be able to keep their forms and all that data in the Microsoft Office suite. Some clients using 3rd party tools should easily be able to migrate back to Office Forms and cut the cost of 3rd party tools. It should be noted that this may not be the case for clients who are using 3rd party tools with very robust workflows.
What is YOUR favorite part of Forms?
That it exists. 😀 As a Business Analyst my job is to gather information through discovery and research. Forms allows you to discover and research in an extremely efficient way. With forms I can create a form, share it with a client and get results in a clean and easy way. The bottom line? I’m going to be able to do my job in a different and more efficient way.
As you can see, Forms has many exciting applications. The day after the preview release we launched an anonymous employee suggestion box that’s already seeing exciting results. Stay tuned for a full case study on that in the very near future. Until then, give Forms a try! Simply log in to http://forms.microsoft.com with your Office 365 school or work credentials, and you can start creating surveys, quizzes, and polls.