Mobile technology has changed the way in which data is collected; companies that adopted a configurable mobile data collection tool have a competitive advantage. Since 2010, we have witnessed a rapid increase in digital data collection through the widespread use of phones and tablets, digital watches and the Internet-of-Things (IoT). As part of this shift, many companies have started to adopt mobile data collection solutions as part of their daily routines. While mobile data collection is clearly an advantage for business, there are challenges of using too many tools. This is especially true if you start stacking multiple mobile solutions. On the surface they look cost effective but they do not scale because many “point solutions” are only built to collect data for a single department or process. Stacking multiple point solutions and software apps together can solve specific problems, but in the long run you will also create additional problems with hidden costs including:
- The need for your field team to learn and use multiple versions of software, input methods and processes
- The need for your administration team to support multiple applications and processes
Until recently, a single mobile application to manage all of your data collection across multiple departments and locations didn’t exist. Today, because of advances in technology including:
- Cloud computing
- Open APIs
- Advanced security solutions
- And the decrease in the cost of storage
A single configurable mobile data collection tool is now possible. And using a single data collection tool can provide you will the following cost and business benefits:
1. Entering data is made easier because your data collection employees only need to learn to use one tool. This makes it easier for you to train your employees, and easier for your data collectors to use.
2. Implementation and management is cheaper. With a configurable mobile data collection tool you only need one implementation, and in some cases once your tool is implemented, you only need one person working part time to manage the system for up 100s of processes across your company.
3. Aggregating and reporting on data is easier, faster and cheaper because every department is using the same tool. Management has single source dashboard and reporting tool, allowing them to see data from every department. There is no longer a need to learn, manage and support multiple tools.
4. A single mobile data collection tool makes managing the data collection processes easier. When data is submitted in real-time, you allow managers to see the pace of data collection, the coverage, and which data collectors are submitting data at specific times and exact locations. Having data stored in one single collection tool eliminates “pencil whipping” and limits the ability to falsify records.
5. A single mobile data collection tool allows for real-time visualization of maps and GPS coordinates, photos, barcodes, and a decision tree of answers to each question asked. This improves the accuracy of the data as it can be used to assist with future analysis of multiple departments, instances and processes.
6. A single mobile data collection tool provides cleaner and more accurate data. A single and customizable platform will allow you to customize forms to your process. It will also allow you to escalate and scale back the data you collect. This includes:
- Putting limits on collecting data when there is no benefit to collection
- Making questions hide or show depending on the circumstances
- Disallowing answers that don’t make sense in a specific process
- Introducing additional questions to collect additional data when it is required
- Improving accuracy by allowing the easy capture of other forms of data, such as pictures, timestamps and GPS coordinates
7. Mobile data collection reduces costs. Mobile data collection is far less expensive than collecting data on traditional paper forms and Excel spreadsheets because mobile data collection:
- Eliminates the costs associated with form printing and distribution
- Eliminates the time and cost of double entry from paper into an electronic format
- Eliminates the need for data cleaning
- Reduces administration and storage costs
- A single solution lowers implementation costs, and once implemented you can expect dramatically lower support fees. And, if you pick the right solution, it will be flexible enough to integrate with your ERP system.
8. A single mobile data collection tool can be managed by one or more of your employees. This lowers your costs, and ensures your processes are being set up correctly for your business.
Ultimately, using a mobile data collection tool simplifies your business processes so you and your staff can focus on higher value tasks. Business owners and managers that were once receiving a stack of collated, signed-off paperwork from their plant operations can now use a single mobile data collection tool to increase accuracy and accountability while reducing redundancies and costs. A single configurable mobile data collection tool not only reports valuable data to stakeholders in real-time – allowing for faster and more educated analysis – it also makes team members more effective and efficient, and that’s good for business.