Certificate of Achievement Program

2020 Academic Year


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What is this?


Best Practices in Forms Management is a year-long course consisting of 22 classes that covers all aspects of forms management. Successful completion of the course results in a Certificate of Achievement issued by the Business Forms Management Association, the Association for forms and forms management professionals. 2020 is the ninth consecutive year in which this program is delivered.


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Where are the classes?


All classes are delivered online and require only a browser and access to the Internet. All class materials are provided in advance of each session. Exams are submittable PDF forms available online.


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When are the classes offered?


Two classes are scheduled each month over a twelve-month academic period, except December (only one class). Each class lasts approximately one hour. See Schedule for details.


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Curriculum Outline


See Class Descriptions for more information.


Section One – Understanding Forms

4   01-Understanding Forms-The Four Components

4   02-The Forms Industry: History, Current State and Future Scenarios

4   03-The Forms Development Workflow


Section Two – Forms Design

4   04-Container Design

4   05-Data Collection and Display

4   06-Usability and User Interaction

4   07-Design Standards and Conventions

4   08-Managing Forms Deployment

4   09-Issues in Electronic Forms


Section Three – The Best Practices Forms Department

4   10-Definitions and Standards

4   11-Forms Policy and Strategy

4   12-Structure and Staffing

4   13-Policies, Process and Procedures

4   14-Forms Control and Forms Technology

4   15-Metrics and Management Reporting


Managing Successful Forms Projects

4   16-Branding Your Forms Program

4   17-Conducting a Call for Forms

4   18-Electronic and Digital Signatures

4   19-Designing Forms for Retention

4   20-Developing a Program Manual and Style Guide

4   21-Implementing Design Analysis

4   22-Strategically Aligning Forms Management with Management Objectives


Exams are given after each section, and a final exam is given at the conclusion of the last session.





Click here to register online.


Email registration form to


Telephone 913-284-6573 and register via phone.


Fill, Print and Mail registration form to:


Essociates Group, Inc.

13305 W 126th Street

Overland Park, KS 66213


We accept Visa, Master Card and American Express cards. Upon registration, you will receive an emailed invoice which is credit card enabled.


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Full registration fee is USD $899.00 per person. Each student registers separately and is assigned a logon. Only one student per logon is allowed.


Group discounts are available. Contact Essociates Group for details.


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Refund and Cancellation Policy


Full refund, less 10% processing fee, is allowed until 30 days after the first scheduled session. After that date, a 50% refund is allowed until three months after the first scheduled session. No refunds after three months!


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Missed Classes


Missed classes may be made up by arrangement with the instructor. Make up sessions are generally delivered via an online recording of the session.


Students enrolling during the year can begin classes with the next section. Missed sections can be completed during the following year or by special arrangement. Prorated fees apply.


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About the Instructor


Ray H. Killam, CFSP, CFC has worked in the forms and forms management industry since 1971 and has taught many classes on forms over the years for several associations, including BFMA, IADT, Xplor International, ARMA and PSDA. Ray founded Essociates Group as a full-service forms management consulting firm. Visit, Meet Our Consultants, for additional information.


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Class Descriptions


Section One – Understanding Forms

*       01-Understanding Forms-The Four Components

All forms contain four basic components – Intent, Container, Data and Image. Although these components overlap, it is useful to consider each separately for study purposes. Well-designed forms must satisfy the workflow requirements, including implementing any business rules and regulatory requirements within the form. They must consider both the source of the variable data and the ultimate use of the collected data. The container type selected is based on the most cost-effective processing methodology. Finally, the form must meet or exceed all usability requirements. This class sets the stage for continued study of best practices in forms management.


*       02-The Forms Industry: History, Current State and Future Scenarios

As the go-to person within our organizations for forms knowledge, we need to have a solid sense of where we’ve been, where we are at and what the future of forms development is likely to be. This class examines these elements and presents seven seminal inventions that changed the course of forms management, examines the current state, and presents four distinct scenarios that could define the future of our profession.


*       03-The Design Workflow

Forms development in any organization is a business workflow, just like any other business system. This class examines the forms processes involved in this workflow, from analysis to design to testing, deployment and management. It provides the framework for a best practices forms management department.

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Section Two – Forms Design

*       04-Container Design

There are many types of form containers available to the experienced designer, including:

§  Physical Substrates (pForms), including printed forms, pressure-sensitive labels, envelopes, mailers, checks and other secure documents, and more.

§  Electronic Forms (eForms) – forms that open and operate in a proprietary environment and whose design must meet the requirements of that environment.

§  Internet Forms (iForms) – forms that open and operate within a browser. These forms use HTML, XML and other web technologies.

§  Virtual Forms (vForms) – forms that exist as code and present themselves to users when this code is executed.

This class examines these container types and the technologies behind them. Knowledge of these issues is vital to effective forms design.


*       05-Data Collection and Display

Data can come from many different sources, including databases, keyboards, scans (OCR, ICR, HR, bar codes, MICR), mobile devices and more. This class reviews these requirements from both a data input and data output perspective.


*       06-Usability and User Interaction

Many factors affect usability, including perception, accessibility, marketing image, readability and user interaction. This class gets into detail about these issues and presents proven research into what makes some forms effective and how to prevent data collection errors.


*       07-Design Standards and Conventions

Designing to industry and organizational standards helps contain costs while improving effectiveness and productivity. Use of a Style Guide can assist in achieving standards and conventions. This class discusses the common standards for forms design, including size, fonts, styles, spacing, use of color, use of white space, and more.


*       08-Managing Forms Deployment

Helping users find the right form and making them readily available is in important part of forms management. Deployment can vary, based on the form type. Organizations use repositories, catalogs, portals, multiple web sites and physical distribution from warehouses, including requisitioning systems. Knowledge of user technologies can prevent frustration and abandonment. This class discusses these and other issues in deployment, including proprietary deployments such as SharePoint, PDF and others.


*       09-Issues in Electronic Forms

This class focuses on the unique issues around electronic forms development, including signatures, routing and workflow tracking, database connectivity, script development and mapping.


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Section Three – Best Practices in Forms Management

*       10-Definitions and Standards

We begin our discussions on Best Practices by examining definitions for forms, documents and records. This includes definitions for document management, content management, records management and forms management. Agreeing, in advance, to organization definitions can eliminate or reduce many management issues that can de-rail the best of intentions. This section introduces the Canadian Standard for Forms Management as a guideline that can be useful anywhere in the world. The new BFMA Book of Knowledge is presented and discussed. We also provide a comprehensive Glossary of forms management terms.


*       11-Forms Policy and Strategy

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there”. This mantra, well-know to senior management, underscores the need for a defined forms strategy for all organizations. This class recommends policy statements and then presents and discusses elements of an effective forms management strategy. We present 24 strategic talking points that serve as the basis for developing an enterprise forms management strategy.


*       12-Structure and Staffing

Once the policy and strategy are in place, the reporting structure for the forms management department is considered. We discuss different reporting relationships, the advantages and disadvantages of each, and recommend a best practices structure. We then consider staffing requirements, including positions, skills and levels. Sample job descriptions are presented and discussed.


*       13-Policies, Process and Procedures

The forms management function must implement organizational policies on security, privacy, accessibility, regulatory and legal reviews and more. Accordingly, the department must develop and maintain the procedures to ensure compliance. This class presents standard policies and procedures that ensure an effective, best practices forms management function.


*       14-Forms Control and Forms Technology

The forms control function is vital to effective forms management. Proper form numbers, titles, forms testing and record keeping help ensure that the form development function works. Maintaining a legal record of editions, development notes, effective dates and documented processes helps avoid future problems and liability. This class examines the forms control requirements.

Forms development technology includes analysis tools, design software, mapping software and the forms database. Proper selection of the right tools is critical to high productivity and effectiveness. This class discusses options, and a methodology for evaluating different tools.


*       15-Metrics and Management Reporting

So how is the forms management department doing? Answering that critical question requires identifying the metrics needed and how to measure and report on these metrics. This class presents a proposed metrics tracking system – and how to implement it.


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Managing Successful Forms Projects

*       16-Branding Your Forms Program

Every department within an organization needs to market their services and sell their capabilities. How else can the people learn about what you can do for them? This class discusses personal and departmental branding issues, techniques and procedures for selling the brand internally.


*       17-Conducting a Call for Forms

Managing a large forms population is a lot like raising small children – left alone, they will get in trouble! Over time, rogue forms proliferate, forms become obsolete, regulations and policies change, new software systems are adopted, mergers, acquisitions and reorganizations take a toll and the forms management department has to adjust. Once every five years or so, or when a major change occurs, an organization-wide collection of samples of all forms in use is required. This class presents a methodology for conducting this Call for Forms and the analysis and updates that are required.


*       18-Electronic Signatures

Signing forms in the electronic world presents specific issues and challenges. There are many different signature solutions available, but each has its own issues to deal with. The challenges are quite different for forms “inside-the-firewall” than for forms “outside-the-firewall”, where users are anonymous. This class examines the issues and provides a framework for developing solutions within your organization.


*       19-Designing Forms for Retention

Proper records retention programs have always been required, but the post-Enron era has certainly highlighted the need. In addition, privacy and security requirements in the Internet era have introduced new urgency to this problem.

Well-designed forms consider the retention requirements for the forms development process as well as the forms created. Completed forms become records and must satisfy retention needs. The growth of electronic and Internet forms, including vForms, complicate the process. This class discusses retention requirements and methods for compliance.


*       20-Developing a Program Manual and Style Guide

All organizations need a formal Program Manual and Style Guide to provide users with instructions for requesting new or revised forms, deploying forms, and instructions for effective design (yes, users will design rogue forms!). This section presents the contents of these documents and shows samples, as well as alternative methods for deploying your Program Manual and Style Guide.


*       21-Implementing Design Analysis

Design Analysis is the process for bridging from the understanding of the workflow to placing form elements in a container. It provides a methodology for effectively implementing business rules within the form based on the container type selected. Many people contend that effective design analysis separates the good designers from the average. This class presents this methodology.


*       22-Strategically Aligning Forms Management with Management Objectives

All departments within an organization must align their departmental strategy with the organization’s strategy. When working with senior management, it is important to speak in the same terms as they do – and to demonstrate through the department’s actions and reporting that they are in alignment.

It has been said that forms management is the “Rodney Dangerfield” of the business world – “we don’t get no respect!” This class examines these issues and presents some ideas on how to rectify that situation and get the respect we deserve.


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Class Schedule for 2020


Note: All Times are Central Time. Depending on class enrollment, each class will be taught either once or twice on the scheduled day. Time(s) will be decided by polling class attendees.




Session No.

Day of Week



Jan. 9



10 am

Course 10 – Orientation Session

Jan. 23



10 am

Understanding Forms-The Four Components

Feb. 6



10 am

The Forms Industry: History, Current State and Future Scenarios

Feb. 20



10 am

The Forms Design Workflow

Feb. 28



5:00 PM

Exam 1 Due

Mar. 5



10 am

Container Design

Mar. 19



10 am

Data Collection and Display

Apr. 2



10 am

Usability and User Interaction

Apr. 16



10 am

Design Standards and Conventions

May 7



10 am

Managing Forms Deployment

May 21



10 am

Issues in Electronic Forms

May 29



5:00 PM

Exam 2 Due

June 4



10 am

Definitions and Standards

June 18



10 am

Forms Policy and Strategy

July 9



10 & 3

Structure and Staffing

July 23



10 am

Policies, Process and Procedures

Aug. 6



10 am

Forms Control and Forms Technology

Aug. 20



10 am

Metrics and Management Reporting

Aug. 28



5:00 PM

Exam 3 Due

Sept. 3



10 am

Branding Your Forms Program

Sept. 17



10 am

Conducting a Call for Forms

Oct. 8



10 am

Electronic Signatures

Oct. 22



10 am

Designing Forms for Retention

Nov. 5



10 am

Developing a Program Manual and Style Guide

Nov. 19



10 am

Implementing Design Analysis

Dec 3



10 am

Strategically Aligning Forms Management with Management Objectives

Dec 11



5:00 PM

Exam 4 Due

Dec 28



5:00 PM

Final Exam Due


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