How Digital Solutions can Help Weather the Pandemic

Since its arrival, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the wellness of individuals, communities, and countries worldwide. In one way or another, we have all been forced to pivot to digital solutions; some of us more than others.

 In 2020, global economic growth was negatively impacted beyond anything the world has seen in nearly a century (Congressional Research Service, July 2021). This has taken and continues to take its toll on businesses, particularly small- and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs).

SMEs are especially vulnerable during economic downturns. In an effort to survive (let alone thrive), they have been exploring and adapting to new ways of working. If you fall into this category, you have no doubt felt the pressure.

As an SME, your business contributes to an essential economic pillar. Your survival doesn’t just support you and your employees; it supports the economy at large.

How can digital solutions play a role in your business recovery?

To help businesses pivot and support their recovery, digital solutions are advancing at a faster pace than ever. This is creating a divide between the haves and have-nots, i.e., those that have adopted digital solutions, and those that haven’t.

Which side of this divide are you on?

Technology is playing a major role in the way businesses are adapting, particularly those who were relying on face-to-face interaction before the arrival of COVID-19.

Take restaurants for example. In order to survive, many of those who weren’t online before the pandemic have shifted to accommodate online ordering. In fact, many small retailers have done the same, leveraging technology to carry out their normal activities and improve their business processes.

Ultimately, the businesses most likely to overcome pandemic-related challenges are those willing to adopt technology in order to improve production and services. Below are seven areas in which you can use technology to your advantage.

1. Communication

With much of today’s workforce operating remotely, information and communication technologies are not an option; they’re a necessity. Such technologies have undergone great advancements since the pandemic began, improving virtual communication in the business world.

Google Workspace, Microsoft Teams, and Slack are just a few of the communication platforms you can choose from. Give your employees the ability to “conduct business as usual” in these most unusual times by finding the right platform for your company.

2. Project management

Effectively monitoring employee progress has its challenges in light of today’s popular work-from-home business model. In order to adapt, businesses like yours are adopting technologies like those offered by Tempo to manage their projects and staff.

Many of the technologies and tools available are specifically designed to provide insight into the specific tasks employees are performing. To determine how productive your employees are when working remotely, you may want to consider a tool that also has a time-tracking feature.

3. Workflow

No matter what industry sector you’re in, there is sure to be a workflow solution that can help you run your business more efficiently. One of the first steps to take in the interest of workflow efficiency is to minimize paper work.

For example, many companies that once had their field workers use paper forms for information gathering are now using digital collection tools like Coral Collect. These tools eliminate the need for companies to process field inspection sheets.

4. Business development

Today’s business environment is highly competitive. Only the fittest will survive the pandemic. Digital solutions are now a vital necessity, and not just because they help businesses look “more current.”

Integrate technology into all aspects of your business and you’ll witness a shift in your company culture. Digital solutions inspire people to explore, experiment, and challenge the status quo without fear of failure, which opens doors to opportunity.

Consider Hubspot, Jira, Github, and Coral Collect, among others, when exploring digital solutions that can help you accelerate the development of your business.

5. Service

Regardless of the product or service you offer, providing quality service is essential to your success. In the face of COVID-19, businesses have had to find new ways to deliver great service without compromising customer or employee safety.

Whereas applications like digital signatures and digital identifiers were once helpful to have, they have now become essential. Since the pandemic began, there has been a massive increase in their use, and not just in the case of product/service purchases. Hospitals, social services, and other organizations are now using applications like these to provide high quality, personalized service from a safe distance.

 6. Data management

Data is one of your business’s most valuable business assets. It helps you understand your customers’ habits, intentions, and purchase habits. That said, there is little point in gathering data if you don’t have an easy way to mine and extract it when you need it.

Fortunately, there are plenty of data management apps that can help you organize,  process, and make sense of the data you collect. If you want to base your business decisions on facts, don’t use outdated data collection methods. Take advantage of purpose-built data collection methods like Coral Collect.

7. Productivity

Working faster isn’t the only way to maximize productivity. With the right technology you can improve productivity by eliminating time-consuming tasks. Document management software, for example, eliminates the need for data entry, filing, and manual file retrieval.

There are also digital solutions with diverse tracking capabilities that help improve efficiency. For example, a single piece of software allows employees to track their hours, mileage, and expenses all in one convenient place.

In which area of your business could you most benefit from technology?

Whatever your priorities may be, rest assured that there are plenty of digital solutions designed to meet your needs. If field data management is on your list, be sure to explore Coral Collect’s efficient data collection solutions.

How mobile technology improve field inspections

In today’s increasingly competitive marketplace, businesses are under pressure to deliver more – and to deliver it better and faster. As a result, organizations are being forced to change the way they do business.
Fortunately, technology lends a new dimension of efficiency to the quality control process. With the help of automation, errors can be minimized, which results in more safety, reliability, and trust in field inspections.

In an effort to compete with one another, developers are frequently adding to and enhancing the features of their applications. These advancements are making it easier for individuals and organizations to manage daily activities. This is good news for you, especially as it relates to the field of operations.

Gathering and managing field data with the help of purpose-built applications like Coral Collect is now becoming the norm. Such applications automate processes, which results in less manual labour, more efficiency, and a greater ability to compete.

 Collecting data isn’t as laborious as it once was.

Today, field workers can access data collection tools on their mobile devices. These tools allow them to collect and share data more efficiently than manual processes. Keep in mind that the more efficient your workers are, the more competitive you will be in field inspections.

Some of the features today’s mobile data collection apps offer are: 

  • Geolocation features: using a phone or tablet’s GPS, geolocation features help ensure that inspections are being carried out in the right location, that the required actions are being executed and that they can be displayed on a map.
  • Real-time access: data can be shared in real time, thereby enabling all team members to work in tandem, regardless of where they’re located.
  • Automated file association: photos can automatically be attached to digital forms, simplifying image management.

Now, let’s explore four of the most practical advantages.

1. Safety

Most field inspections require a checklist so that inspectors can ensure that processes, equipments or services meet established specifications. These checklists are essential as they flag failures and inconsistencies that could put consumers or end-users at risk.

However, when manual processes like spreadsheets and paper forms are used, risks aren’t flagged in a timely manner. That’s why experts recommend using the digital checklists available with some mobile apps.

Because digital checklists are connected to your company’s servers and/or the cloud, your inspectors have real-time access to all of the parameters they need to review. This means the responsibles can analyze data, identify areas of concern quickly, and take prompt action.

 2. Accuracy

Manual data collection methods are frequently subject to human errors, like incorrect data or missing documentation. The easiest way to minimize such errors is to incorporate a mobile forms app into your data collections method.

With a mobile forms app, no paper forms are required, so you never have to worry about them going missing. Furthermore, because all of the information collected is digital and immediately transferrable, transcription is never required. This eliminates concerns around the delays and inaccurate data entry.

 3. Traceability

Mobile applications add an extra layer of security to on-site inspections as they provide better traceability than manual collection methods. This means you can take corrective actions sooner to better manage contingencies.

With the right application, you can easily oversee the activities being carried out by individual participants in your production chain. Plus, you can monitor activities to ensure they comply with company standards to support more efficient, safe and productive onsite inspections.

With respect to compliance, digital checklists make it easy to establish parameters and standardize the criteria for compliance or non-compliance. This, of course, is of great benefit when it comes to quality control.

 4. Collaboration

Digital data collection tools allow for real-time communication between team members and their leaders. Your field workers can share their data instantly; no need for them to return to the office and enter it manually.

Furthermore, leaders can provide field workers with immediate feedback on any deficiencies or corrective actions that need to be taken.

 Is mobile technology right for your organization?

Whatever industry sector you’re in, whether yours is a public or private entity, the answer is yes. Why? Because in today’s business environment, speed and agility are a must. They help you optimize your performance, save money, and, ultimately, be more competitive.

Are you interested in reaping the benefits of a user-friendly digital data collection solution? If so, visit Coral Collect now and learn how it can help you gain an edge on your competition.

10 Ways to Keep your Remote Workforce Productive and on Task

When COVID-19 began, businesses everywhere pivoted and working from home became the norm. Today, some pandemic-related restrictions have been lifted. Still, many companies continue to allow (if not encourage) their employees to work remotely.
Some companies maintain the remote workdorce model in an effort to serve the greater good by helping to lower the spread of the virus. Others do so because they’ve found that their employees not only prefer to work from home, but are actually more productive.

Whatever the reason, if all or much of your workforce is home based, you’ll know that this model presents its fair share of challenges, including:

  • Controlling business processes
  • Keeping your operation running smoothly
  • Ensuring your teams are able to communicate with ease

Here are 10 best practices to help you keep employees engaged, maintain operational efficiencies, and optimize productivity – even with a remote workforce.

1. Improve collaboration.

The more collaborative your team, the better it will perform. The better it performs, the greater your productivity. To this end, you should ensure your remote teams can collaborate as easily as they might if they weren’t dispersed.

With this in mind, consider implementing collaboration software if you haven’t already. Programs like Jira and Slack can help you minimize the misunderstandings that easily arise when team members are out of contact. They can also help you and your teams avoid errors and manage projects, as well as crises, with greater efficiency.

2. Set goals for home-based workers.

Did you know that 39% of[vs1]  home-based employees complete their tasks faster than those working in fixed workplaces?[1]

To ensure the work they carry out aligns with your business priorities, it’s important to set clear and measurable goals. Rather than making assumptions, articulate clearly. Given your employees are working in isolation, be specific about their individual duties and responsibilities to avoid overlap and optimize productivity.

3. Empower your remote employees.

Nobody wants to be micromanaged. On the contrary, people value autonomy. In fact, according to research[vs2] [2], employees who experience a low level of autonomy tend to be less engaged in their work than those with a high level of autonomy.

Get more out of your employees by empowering them to make their own decisions,  communicate new ideas, and implement them.

4. Create daily reports – and use them.

Daily project status reports are essential, especially when your team is dispersed. So, set aside time each day to create a daily snapshot of current business tasks and project progress.

Status reports are an efficient way to monitor jobs, review data, and avoid communication issues, as well as unpleasant surprises. Make them a daily habit and you’ll be better able to manage and monitor your team. Plus, you’ll have greater peace of mind that all is going according to plan.

5. Keep track of customer support.

Customers are the heart of every business. The best way to improve your customers’ satisfaction is to communicate with them regularly. Are you confident that your home-based employees are connecting with your customers sufficiently?

One way to monitor this (without micromanaging your staff) is to implement software that allows employees to record customer outreach. In the interest of efficiency, take advantage of automation features but don’t go overboard. Your customers value human contact.

6. Plan, plan, and plan.

It’s easy to wander aimlessly when you don’t have a roadmap. To achieve your goals with efficiency, you need a plan. This plan should prioritize the most urgent tasks so that your employees know what’s expected of them individually and as a team.

To ensure tasks are completed on time, include a clear schedule in your plan. This will help you and your employees forecast resources so that they can be allocated to the most urgent tasks.

7. Communicate with your entire staff frequently.

As mentioned, collaboration (see #1) enhances performance, and communication is key to collaboration, especially among remote workers. Some ways to promote communication include:

  • Hosting one weekly virtual meeting for all employees so that you can keep everyone up to speed with company plans
  • Proactively connecting with individual employees on a daily basis so that remote workers don’t feel disconnected
  • Giving employees the opportunity to express any doubts and concerns
  • Using technology to your advantage (see #8)

8. Choose the right communication tools.

Technology can simplify and facilitate remote communication and team collaboration. Make it easier for remote employees to stay current with company news and locate the documents and information they need to work effectively.

Look for software solutions like Slack and Microsoft Teams, which help businesses keep the lines of communication open.

9. Focus on real-time data.

Nothing allows you to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening like real-time data analysis. With real-time digital solutions like Coral Collect, you can track your team’s day-to-day progress by viewing a single dashboard.

Such applications enable managers and employees to see what’s going on and what needs to be done at any given time.

10. Trade in manual forms for mobile forms.

Sending manual updates to teams, customers, and internal stakeholders takes time. Switch to a mobile forms app like Coral Collect and you and your teams will be able to make more accurate and frequent updates.

Not only will you all have access to information sooner; updates will take less time and require less management. This will free you up to spend more time improving your products and business operations.

If you want to reap the benefits of real-time data and mobile-based data collection methods, learn more about Coral Collect.

5 Tips to Help you Effectively Manage your Field Team

Manage your field team takes skill. You need to be able to prioritize, delegate, and communicate well. You also need to know when it’s time to step back and trust your team members to do what it is you hired them to do.

When your team is dispersed in the field, team management becomes even more challenging. You may have field workers that span the city, state, country, or even globe. Perhaps you have different time zones or communication logistics to contend with. Either way, you’re unable to rally your team together in one place, at one time. This makes it much harder to keep your workers motivated and engaged.

Below are five tips relating to best practices and helpful tools to help you navigate the challenges of field team management.

 1. Focus on deliverables.

When you’re managing an office team, you get to see your employees at work. Some, you may notice, spend far too much time chatting with colleagues at the water cooler. Meanwhile, you may notice others putting in hours of overtime in the boardroom and at their desks.

When you manage a field team, however, you can’t keep an eye on workers. As a result, you need to modify your benchmark. Instead of evaluating your workers based on the busyness you witness by eye, you need to focus on their deliverables. All that matters is that they achieve what you’ve tasked them with achieving.

 2. Trust your team.

As a team manager, you can’t be in multiple places at once, which means you can’t oversee all members of your team. This is good news. Many managers find it hard not to micromanage their team members. With a dispersed field team, however, micromanagement is impossible, which makes way for a better approach.

Say your company collects charitable donations by going door to door. Whether a field worker knocks on 10 or 100 doors an hour, you’ll never know. All you’ll ever know at the end of the day is how much they’ve collected. Subsequently, your measure of success becomes results – as it should be.

Rather than micromanage you team, you need to adopt an empowering style of management, which looks more like this:

  • Trust your team’s abilities and judgments (remember, you hired your field workers because of their skills and capabilities)
  • Give your field workers the freedom to make decisions without your authority
  • Encourage a two-way dialogue so that both you and your field workers can give and receive feedback

Coral Collect is one of many tools available that support a more empowering management style. It doesn’t only facilitate real-time communication. It allows you to avoid micromanagement by selecting only those elements that you genuinely require feedback on.

 3. Prioritize strong communication.

Maintaining communication is key regardless of industry. When you manage a field team, however, it’s especially important.

From obtaining updates on jobs, costs, and/or asset information to managing data collection and reporting, having the right tools in place is essential. It helps your employees do their jobs efficiently. It can also give your workers the chance to connect with one another remotely, which helps build morale.

 4. Keep an eye on the field.

There’s a big difference between micromanaging your field workers and keeping an eye on their progress. Invest in the systems that provide real-time visibility and you’ll be able to:

  • See which field workers are where, and when
  • Gain real-time access to data collected without having to bother your employees
  • Identify and prioritize tasks, and schedule them more easily
  • Organize resources more efficiently to deal with unexpected circumstances
  • Increase your operation’s efficiency and decrease risk

A transparent view of operations empowers teams to make informed and responsible decisions. Real-time visibility enables your business to plan, predict, and detect faults throughout operations. Better yet, it can help you prevent errors altogether.

 5. Use technology to your advantage.

There are many tools available that can help you keep your remote team connected and monitor your business operations. Take Slack, for example. Slack has numerous features that help teams communicate easily and efficiently, no matter where in the world they are. It also has organizational tools designed to help manage project flow.

There are also data collection tools like Coral Collect. Coral Collect includes a map that shows you and your field crews where they’ve been and where they have yet to go. It also lets supervisors monitor the progress of data collection so they can manage field operations from their desks in real time.

The tool you choose depends on your business’s unique needs. Find the one best suited to your team and watch your productivity improve.

Team productivity depends on team management.

Which of the above steps have you taken to overcome communication barriers, minimize inefficiencies, and keep your team productive and engaged? Which of these tips will you try next? If you need support managing your field team remotely and improving the efficiency of your data collection methods, learn more about Coral Collect today. 

The relevance of technology in business

Technology has changed the way the world is doing business. Always evolving, it enables us to work more efficiently than we did yesterday – provided we keep up.

Are you staying on top of the latest trends? If not, you should be. From sales and marketing to logistics, accounting, human resources, and more, technology is impacting every aspect of business. As your peers, clients, partners, and suppliers adopt the latest innovations, so too must you if you want to run a sustainable business.

To many, adopting new technologies feels overwhelming but it needn’t be. You don’t have to rebuild your entire company from the foundation up. All you need to do is figure out where and how technology could impact your organization for better.

Say, for example, your business could benefit from a new approach to managing your field operations – an approach that makes data collection faster, more efficient, and more convenient. Begin by exploring and adopting new technology-based data collection methods.

 Why is technology so essential in business?

Because it has a significant impact on operations at all levels. No matter how large or small your business may be, technology will reap you many benefits. It will help you deliver more of the goods and/or services your customers demand. Ultimately, that means growth in business, which leads to an increase in revenue.

Two of the most common types of technology that businesses across multiple industries rely on are customer management relationship software and project management software. These and similar platforms facilitate internal and external communication, which helps optimize production, inventory management, and record-keeping.

 Below, we discuss the role of technology as it pertains to:

  • Business communication
  • Management optimization
  • Efficient field operations
  • Improved security
  • Globalization

Business communication

Do you have employees working in the field? Without the support of technology, once they’ve completed a project they need to return to the office in order to pick up the next. With the right software, however, this isn’t the case. Your workers can access all of their tasks from their mobile devices – while still in the field.

Communication platforms like Slack make it easy for your field and remote workers to stay connected to your office at all times. This level of connection promotes greater efficiency, productivity, and problem-solving.

 Management optimization

No matter what business sector you’re in or what needs your goods or service meet, technology helps you optimize management and production. It also levels the playing field. Thanks to evolving solutions like low-cost SAAS software, for example, small businesses can now compete with large organizations in terms of operational efficiency.

 Efficient field operations

Technology improves efficiency by helping you reduce or eliminate errors, avoid duplication, minimize workflow delays, and speed up processes through the automation of certain tasks. With respect to inventory and reporting, it gives you more control over your data collection methods and management processes.

 Improved security

Cyberattacks are on the rise.  Security isn’t just important; it’s critical. Keep your data safe and your organization will have less exposure to ransomware attacks, supply chain attacks, and phishing attacks, among other threats.

These and other emerging technology-based security solutions hold the key to data loss prevention:

  • Hardware authentication
  • User-behaviour analytics
  • Encryption and tokenization
  • Artificial intelligence
  • The cloud

Globalization

Technology has eliminated the borders and boundaries of yesteryear, enabling businesses to more easily and seamlessly expand their reach into global markets.

Technology-enabled innovation has spurred globalization through the growth of e-commerce. The high speed of communication has enabled real-time collaboration, supporting the growth of  international trade. App stores now make solutions like Coral Collect’s data collection tools readily available worldwide, levelling the business playing field.

The labor market is changing.

At the forefront of that change is technology. While it does pose certain threats, as discussed in the security section above, the benefits far outweigh the risks.How and where could you and your employees better leverage technology to boost productivity and increase your competitive advantage? If data collection and management is one area that could benefit from greater efficiency, learn more about Coral Collect.