Alinity logo

Switching from Paper to Online Applications

From experience with our old and new clients, we’ve learned that the transition from a paper to an electronic database is like a big, virtual, spring cleaning. We’ve noticed many clients have been collecting data for tens of years using the same paper application from the beginning. We ask them questions like “Who made this? When was it last revised? And do you use all the data you collect on this application for decisions?” Often, the answer we get is “I don’t know.” Sometimes inertia (a body at rest tends to stay at rest) takes over and that form changes very little – years later you’re collecting information that you don’t even care about!

The truth is, organizations tend to create an application and become very comfortable with it. It’s fairly common that somebody will create an application for students, then another person will create an application for international students with different questions, or the same questions but asked in different ways (check boxes vs. written text). In today’s post, I’m going to discuss things that your organization should do to their applications when switching over an electronic data base. If you are sticking with paper applications, you should do these things as well. A better application process will help you have a higher quality database!

Review your application(s)

Laying out all of your applications and organizing their questions, consistency, and format is a great way to renew applications. A good way to see what questions you don’t need are to review the data you’ve collected from the applications. After, you can organize the applications and make sure there are consistent processes so that review is easier for admin.


First, useless data is data that you don’t refer to make any decisions for the organization. It’s data that you don’t report to anyone, and it’s pretty much just taking up space in your database for nothing. So, are you asking applicants what their favorite color is? Or which is their dominant hand? Or if they are vegetarians? These examples are exaggerations, but the point is: do not keep collecting data you don’t need. You’re only making more work for yourself when you have to sift through it in your overcrowded database later. To prevent further collection of unusable data, review your applications and remove any questions that don’t need to be asked.


Like mentioned earlier, most Colleges and associations have multiple applications, because of different types of applicants (students, graduates, international, etc.), that may be written inconsistently. Some applications were made by different people without references to the types of questions and information asked by other applications. This could affect the database by creating gaps where important questions that are supposed to be asked across all applications are forgotten or neglected. Data that is collected for one question but in different ways can also mess up the database seperating the different kinds of data. Key questions should be agreed on and included in all applications for better reporting later on.


The applications should be organized the same across all types. All applications should have a common format: general information, education, experience, etc. in the same order. This will help with reviewing applications faster. Also, try to remember or find places on the paper applications that applicants have written in extra side-information or that they’ve called you about. If it’s a common occurrence, add a text box for it in the online application.

Tweak workflow to match new electronic processes

Now that your applications are online, your College or association must change workflow processes due to the elimination of paper. This means that there will be tasks no longer needed due to the automation of applications, and new tasks with maintaining and reviewing the online applications. New tasks will include application templates needing to be created and kept up-to-date with the profession’s latest regulations and laws. New workflow will be altered and tweaked over and over until its right for the organization.

With these simple steps, you’ll be able to transition your application process from old tedious, fashioned paper and pen, to modern and quick online applications! Alinity features a quick and easy, drag and drop, application template creator that we will be releasing a video on very soon. If your organization has been discussing procuring new software, use our checklist! It’s a very easy way to compare all association management software and find the one you’ve been looking for.