Let’s face it – collecting and reporting data from the field has its obstacles. With complex operations across multiple sites, it’s often a challenge to clearly communicate issues between the field and the back office, perform timely corrective actions, keep track of form statuses and standardize reporting procedures.
To help, we’ve put together a list of five ways for your team to streamline field data collection and reporting. When implemented, these methods can save you time, money and a great deal of headaches.
#1: Go Digital
Paper-based reporting from the field presents a whole series of issues that can lead to costly errors, miscommunication and slower data collection. A solution is to collect data on digital forms via mobile devices. Compared to paper-based reporting, the benefits of utilizing a digital forms platform are worth the investment:
- Reduce human error
Due to the often strenuous and distracting physical conditions that come with working in the field, human error is inevitable when handwriting measurements and notes or making calculations. Digital forms, on the other hand, significantly reduce human error with features such as dropdown selection lists and auto-calculations.
- Ensure clean, legible reports
If you’ve ever handwritten notes on a clipboard while walking around outside, you know that your writing would probably not win any awards for penmanship. Illegible notes on inspection forms and work orders can lead to miscommunication and errors that could cost time and money. A digital form solution designed specifically for field data collection will ensure a clean, legible report every time.
- Keep a meeting log
If you’re holding daily or weekly safety briefings, you may find yourself forgetting which topics you’ve covered and which ones you still need in order to ensure OSHA compliance. Keeping a log of each talk will help you stay organized. Be sure to record the topic, speaker and any notes for reference.
- Save Time
Because digital forms can contain time-saving components, such as speech-to-text capability, photo/video capture, auto-calculations and pre-filled form fields, your team will save time in the field and increase productivity. Forms can also be instantly submitted from the field to the back office, allowing quicker approvals and corrective actions.
#2: Capture Robust Media
Inspections in the field are significantly enhanced with the ability to capture rich media (e.g., photos with annotations, video, audio). This way, issues discovered during inspections can be clearly communicated for follow-up actions without any details lost in translation. Visual evidence can be used for completed jobs and progress checks, while audio capture can be used for quick voice memos.
Enabling automatic timestamps and geotags on submitted photos and forms can also ensure the authenticity of captured data and help with tracking the location of assets across remote sites.
This ability to capture robust media on one device, especially if it’s automatically embedded into a digital inspection form or work order, allows clear communication and speedy data collection.
#3: Use QR codes, barcodes & NFC technology
Data collection regarding tools, equipment and personnel can be streamlined by utilizing QR codes, barcodes and near-field communication (NFC) technology.
For example, a specific piece of equipment can have a QR code, barcode or NFC tag attached to it. When scanned or triggered by a worker’s smart device, a digital form can appear with that asset’s unique identifying information. This form could be used to check in/out the equipment, conduct an inspection, view its maintenance history, request maintenance or even to provide instructions on how to operate it.
The same technology can be used for employees and subcontractors to check in and out on site. This makes it easier to track on-site personnel and their roles for security and verification purposes.
#4: Allow offline data collection
Depending on your industry, you may find yourself in a remote location with no internet access. Instead of relying on the slow and inconsistent practices of paper-based reporting, it’s important to find software that allows offline data capture for digital reporting.
Offline data collection lets teams in the field conduct inspections, safety checks and any other report while still utilizing the benefits of digital forms, such as media capture, auto-calculations and condition-based rules.
When reconnected to the internet, digital forms can automatically sync back up with the system and be delivered to your desired endpoints.
#5: Automate Your Reporting Workflow
As automation continues to optimize the production of industries across the globe, form workflows can be automated to streamline reporting between the field and the back office – saving companies time and allowing quicker follow-up actions.
With automated forms workflow software, companies can predetermine the delivery method and destination of forms upon submission based on the data that was reported. For example, an inspection form that indicates a faulty electrical outlet at a facility could automatically be sent to both the facility manager and the appropriate maintenance personnel to take corrective action. In combination with automated alerts, this process allows quick notification and resolution of issues found in the field.
Streamline Data Collection & Reporting With FastField
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is a one-stop solution for all of the above-mentioned ways to optimize field data collection and reporting. Our easy-to-use Form Builder lets you create digital forms tailored to your specific needs. Easily create and dispatch forms to your team, who can complete them from the FastField App on their mobile device in the field. Forms can also be accessed via QR codes, barcodes and NFC tags.
Enable rich media capture for workers to embed evidence of findings directly on their forms, along with automatic timestamps and geotags for verification. These features also work offline so you can get the data you need from even the most remote locations.
Having trouble keeping track of forms and monitoring their statuses? FastField’s automated forms workflow solution makes sure reports submitted from the field are instantly delivered to the right places. All activity can be monitored from the FastField Portal, along with insights and statistics on your own customizable Dashboard.
In this digital age, don’t let paper slow down your business!