Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
April 18, 1996

ISU forms go online

by Anne Dolan
Put away your typewriter. Cancel that trip to the bookstore to buy another pack of travel expense vouchers. University employees with computer access to the World Wide Web now can obtain document templates for a number of Iowa State's business forms.

Lynn Prior-Miller, manager of business and finance systems and member of the ad hoc committee spearheading the forms project, said the Web emerged as a place where the problem of dealing with Macintosh and personal computer versions of a form could be resolved. The document templates on the Web can be accessed from both Mac and PC stations. However, computers need to be equipped with Microsoft Word version 6.0 or Excel version 5.0. (The Word 6.0 forms were created with a forms feature that doesn't exist in older versions.) The templates also will print out on a variety of printers.

Some of the forms available now as templates include the out-of-state travel authorization, purchase requisition, intramural purchase order, report of cash receipts, budget transfer and the correction voucher.

Offices around campus have been creating their own computer forms for several years, but the forms were tailored to each office's hardware and software combinations, and many were simply text documents that could accidentally be altered.

The new library of form templates has been developed and tested according to standards set by the committee. As templates, the documents can't be easily altered or destroyed. Users simply "tab" to open spaces on the document, fill in the blanks and print the document before sending it to the appropriate office. For offices that use Microsoft Mail as their electronic mail software, the documents can be mailed as an attachment, as long as a document doesn't require a signature from the office of the sender.

Prior-Miller said the templates aren't true "electronic" forms yet, because options don't exist for things such as electronic signatures and routing, or attachments, such as travel receipts. True electronic forms would require all university offices to be on one network.

"In the university's current networking environment, this is as 'true' as we can get," he said.

Forms that are used across the university are available through a Web page called "University Form Templates," found under "Policies & Handbooks" on the ISU homepage. The URL address for the forms page is: Prior-Miller said documents specific to offices, colleges or departments will be accessible as well through the forms page.

"We're trying to provide a convenient place to get to forms that everyone uses," he said. "Each unit or office that develops form templates will need to decide whether to make their forms available through the University Forms Page."

Questions about any of the form templates should be directed to Barb Marvick, 4-7711.

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Revised 4/18/96