Choosing an electronic forms (eForms) solution: Free apps vs enterprise-grade
eForms: What are they, and what purpose do they serve?

eForms are digital versions of paper forms. They collect information, capture signatures, and facilitate online payments from various users, such as students, faculty, vendors, and suppliers. This helps complete different workflows.

eForms allow real-time information collection and data processing. They can be customized to meet your organization’s specific needs. eForms are widely applicable and can be used in educational institutions, companies, manufacturing, hospitals, and more.

How can you benefit from eForms?

Are you still trying to figure out the benefits of digitizing forms in your organization? Let’s explore some of the significant ways that eForms can help.

Becoming more user-centric: Whether you cater to students or external/internal customers, their preferences and pain points change rapidly. eForms enable organizations to engage with users and respond more quickly to these evolving needs and requirements. From customer feedback forms to incident reports and everything in between, eForms empowers you to prioritize customer satisfaction and promptly address your customers’ needs and desires. By leveraging eForms, you can involve your customers in the solution by seeking their insights on various aspects such as product design, service experiences, and more.

  • Increase accessibility and efficiency.

 eForms have many advantages over paper forms. Unlike paper forms, there’s no need to physically hand out and collect eForms, as they can be accessed and interacted with from any device. eForms eliminate the tedium of forms for both users and respondents and reduce the possibility of errors. They also provide easier accessibility, as eForms are stored in a central cloud-based system, eliminating the need to search countless filing cabinets for crucial information when required.

  • Establish cost-effective and convenient processes.

eForms are a convenient way to create forms, manage submissions, and automate workflows. They offer a range of customization features and can flag errors in formats and data input. eForms also reduce the need for personnel for data entry and administrative work, allowing you to better utilize your human resources. In addition to saving time and money, e-forms help maintain the confidentiality of critical data by streamlining the process, limiting middlemen, and providing access to only authorized users.

How to select the right eForms solution?

Whether you’re managing data collection, conducting surveys, or processing applications, the right tool can make a significant difference. The decision often comes down to choosing between a free app and an enterprise-grade solution. So here’s a guide to help you make the right choice.

1. Understand Your Needs

Before diving into the specifics of a particular tool or tools, it’s crucial to assess your requirements:

Volume of Forms: How many forms will you be creating and managing? High-volume usage often necessitates robust features found in enterprise solutions.

Complexity: Do your forms require advanced functionalities like workflow support, conditional logic, integrations, and customizations?

Budget: What’s your budget for electronic forms? Free apps offer basic functionality at no cost but provide little support for customizations, while enterprise tools involve a financial investment but offer unlimited possibilities for customization and integrations.

Compliance and Security: Are there regulatory or security standards your forms must adhere to? Industries like higher education and finance often require enterprise-grade security features.

The answers to these questions will define the type of eForms tool most suitable for your use case(s).

2. Understand the difference between free tools and enterprise-grade ones

Free Electronic Forms Apps


  • Cost-Effective: The primary advantage is cost. Free apps are budget-friendly, making them ideal for startups, small businesses, or individual use.
  • Ease of Use: Free tools are designed with simplicity in mind, offering a user-friendly interface that requires little to no training.
  • Quick Deployment: You can start creating and distributing forms immediately without lengthy setup processes.


  • Limited Features: Free versions often need more advanced features, such as integration with other software, extensive customization options, and detailed analytics.
  • Capacity Constraints: Many free tools limit the number of forms you can create or the number of responses you can collect.
  • Support and Reliability: Free tools may offer limited customer support and might not be as reliable as their enterprise counterparts.
  • The fine print: Free doesn’t always mean free. Many so called free apps use form information for marketing purposes, and when scaled quickly introduce costly plans.
Enterprise-Grade Electronic Forms Tools


  • Advanced Features: Enterprise solutions offer a wide array of features, including integration with CRM and ERP systems, extensive customization, and advanced analytics.
  • Broad usability: Enterprise solutions allow you to quickly build and deploy any form to serve any user (both internal and external) across the enterprise or campus
  • Rules and workflows: Enterprise form solutions can handle rules to perform complex functions and natively support workflows for approvals and signatures.
  • Scalability: These tools are designed to handle large volumes of data and forms, making them suitable for growing businesses.
  • Enhanced Security: Enterprise tools often come with robust security measures, ensuring compliance with industry standards and protecting sensitive information.
  • Dedicated Support: You typically receive dedicated customer support and account management with enterprise-grade solutions.


  • Cost: The primary downside is cost. Enterprise solutions require a financial investment, which can be a barrier for small organizations.
  • Complexity: These tools can be more complex to set up and use, often requiring training and a more extended implementation period.
  • Overhead: The extensive features and capabilities might be more than necessary for smaller operations, leading to underutilization.

3. Making the Decision

To decide between a free and an enterprise-grade electronic forms solution, consider the following:

  • Evaluate Your Needs: List out your requirements in terms of features, volume, security, and budget.
  • Compare Features: Compare the feature sets of free and enterprise solutions to see which best meets your needs.
  • Consider the Future: Think about your organization’s growth trajectory. If you anticipate needing more advanced features soon, an enterprise solution might be more cost-effective in the long run.
  • Trial and Feedback: Take advantage of free trials or demos offered by enterprise solutions. Gather feedback from your team on usability and functionality.

Selecting the correct electronic forms solution depends on balancing your current needs with future expectations. Free apps are excellent for simple forms that do nothing but collect basic information with low security, while enterprise-grade solutions provide advanced features, scalability, and security for more demanding applications. By carefully assessing your requirements and comparing options, you can choose a tool that enhances your organizational processes and supports your growth.

With today’s enterprise-grade eForm solutions like dbs LiveForms, you can quickly create and process a range of custom, responsive, and sophisticated electronic forms. This will enable your organization to streamline information capture and automate the flow of information for decision-making.

With dbs LiveForms, you can design and manage all your eForms from one location, and because it’s a cloud-based solution, you don’t need to install any software. By leveraging the power of modern enterprise-grade solutions like dbs LiveForms, all types of organizations can eliminate paper forms altogether and enjoy all the benefits eForms can provide.

dbs Software & Services (dbs) is a long-standing provider of document management and process automation solutions for education and business, and the exclusive provider of Tessi Docubase® in North America.

Tessi Docubase® is an enterprise-grade modular, secure, and easy-to-use document management system that seamlessly integrates with Business Information Systems. Its secure architecture and a broad range of features make it the perfect solution for a wide range of enterprises and use cases.

dbs LiveForms, is a low-code Business Process Automation platform. Its sole focus is simplifying complex processes by automating repetitive steps – from data capture to alerts, notifications, email confirmations, and everything in between quickly, without involving a programmer.

dbs eSign is a cloud-based electronic signature solution that allows users to manage the signing process for a document, from upload to signing and sealing, from any mobile device or computer.