Mobile data collection has become more pervasive over the last few years which means that if you haven’t considered it for your business yet, you are most likely behind. Mobile data collection is not for every company, but for those that are currently collecting critical information in the field on paper, mobile is imperative for many reasons. These include visualizing data quickly, eliminating errors and delays from manual data entry, and empowering your field staff with the tools they need to get their job done accurately. To shift to a mobile-oriented data collection solution you must first identify your goals. These goals will help you maintain focus and will be a yardstick by which you measure your progress.

GOALS:

For instance, a goal for mobile data collection may be to reduce the time it takes to get data from the field so that you can eliminate manual data entry and replication of work, and thereby significantly reduce delays with reporting. Delays may result in lost revenue, fines, or, in the worst case, injury from a potential job hazard. When considering going to mobile, setting goals is important, but quantifying the return on your investment and implementing the correct capabilities will ensure that you are truly benefiting from the transition to mobile data collection.

DECISIONS TO CONSIDER:

When deciding on mobile capabilities, it’s also important to take in to account the culture of your field teams and how they will react to a new or different method of data collection. Consider solutions that will address your current processes and address the needs of the end user to ensure that they can and will embrace the change. Resistance to change typically comes from lack of experience with something new or the fear that technology will diminish the value the employee brings to the company. If you involve the end user early in the process, they will assume the role of ownership, but most importantly they will provide valuable feedback which will reduce resistance to adoption in later stages of deployment.

SHORT TERM & LONG TERM NEEDS

Finally, always consider that the change to mobile data collection is both a short and long-term investment. Finding a solution to address your immediate needs may be good, but you need to be prepared to answer many questions and fully understand your company culture and risk tolerance.

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER?:

· Do I build a solution in-house or find a solutions provider?

· Does the solution provider I choose have a proven record of success with customers like me?

· Can the mobile solution scale to meet my needs for the short term and as my business grows?

· Can it address other data collection needs outside of the immediate need?

Mobile data collection may sound good to solve the problems with getting and reporting field data quickly, but there are many challenges to consider both with technology and culture. If you are considering going to mobile data collection, first invest in the time to analyze both the benefits and risks.

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