Switching from a paper process to an online, automated process is exciting! Not only have you made your supply chain business process faster and smoother with a RequestVu automated workflow, but you have also moved your data online which allows you to build and export custom reports with only a few clicks. Paper processes do not allow you to control the format that your requestors use when completing a form; but, with an online form, you have complete control on the type of format to collect this data. This format control is what we at Spendvu call “Data Validation.”
Adding data validation onto your RequestVu workflow ensures that the information provided in form text fields is entered in the format that you need.
This allows your data exports to be consistent and standardized in how information is reported. For example, with date formatting, never worry if 4/01/2018 is April 1st or January 4th! You can dictate the data to be consistent.
If you are wondering how to get started, I always suggest carefully reviewing each question on your form to see which ones should have information provided in a standardized format. Sometimes it helps to think about the type of reporting you will want, and then determine what fields would live in that report. Pay particular attention to fields that ask for phone numbers, currency values, email addresses, and websites. The more standardization you can put in place, the less time your analysts will need to invest in massaging and cleaning your data each time. This results in faster, more consistent, and more accurate reports!
Data validation can be applied to text fields (single line) and text areas (multiple lines) in your forms to restrict the format of the text allowed in a field, meaning requestors will be unable to submit data in varying formats. This leaves you with cleaner data that’s easier to use.
Here are my top suggestions on data validations to put in place:
- Email format, for example, email@example.com. When this validation is applied to a text field, you can have the email address entered assigned as a stakeholder in your request. This allows for external stakeholders (non-RequestVu users) to be included in the request approval process.
- This validation allows for text only. No numbers or special characters.
- This validation allows for text and numbers, but no special characters.
- This validation allows for whole numbers only. Using a numeric or numeric decimal validation is required if you want to include mathematical formulas on your form (for example, a field that automatically sums the numeric values from 2 or more other fields)
- This validation allows for numbers with decimals. Using a numeric or numeric decimal validation is required if you want to include mathematical formulas on your form (for example, a field that automatically sums the numeric values from 2 or more other fields). This type of validation is good for consistent formatting of currency data when you are exporting data.
- Regular Expression (regex) validates data using string searching algorithms. This allows for workflow designers to set text field or text area validations with almost limitless options for the data that will be restricted or allowed. Within the workflow Designer you can select from several predefined regular expression options, or write and test your own regex. Some examples of validation that could be accomplished with regular expression include: Allowing foreign phone number formats or phone number and extension in the same field. You could also restrict specific characters or words.
- This new phone validation includes an input mask, so users only need to enter digits and the data will be displayed in the format (XXX)XXX-XXXX. This is useful if you need to make certain confidential information to select stakeholders.
- SSN validation masks the first 5 digits of the SSN and encrypts the data. To view the full SSN, users can ‘click to reveal’ in the request’s audit trail.
With your fields consistently formatted, your request data is now ready for whatever comes next, whether that is creating reports, sending data to external applications via our web API, or importing the data into ProjectVu /ContractVu to create, amend, or update projects and contracts.