Collecting data in the field is a complex process that requires significant material and human resources. That’s why the quality of logistics is an essential factor when it comes to data collection.
Good project planning will save time and improve productivity in addition to guaranteeing that you have more reliable data to work with.
In this article, we provide step by step instructions on how to optimize your field data collection logistics.
1. Know and define your goal
Before entering the field to carry out data collection work, it is essential that all your collection team members know exactly what the purpose of the project is. i.e., what information do we want to get from the field?
You will get better data if collectors know the relevance of the data they will need to collect and for what purpose.
On the other hand, we may be tempted to collect more data than is necessary. Do not fall into this trap. The goal is not to collect as much data as possible, but rather to collect the right data, i.e. the data that is necessary to achieve your current goal. Collecting data that is not essential to achieving your goal will quickly increase the amount of time spent conducting your operation. Excessive data collection can also result in increased processing costs.
2. Create your form
The design of your form will be the starting point when it comes to defining the right data to collect in the field.
The content and structure of this form will have a great impact on the quality of your data and how it will be collected, processed, and analyzed.
2.2. Defining questions and fields of observation
It is important to define the questions or fields of observation that will allow you to obtain all the essential information for your project.
When defining your questions and fields of observation, it is also important to bear in mind how the data will be treated. For example: Do you want the questions to be open-ended or do you want to define closed answers with predefined choices?
Standardize the answer elements with closed questions. Use open-ended questions only if absolutely necessary. Examples of such cases are those in which the opinions or expertise of the person collecting the field data is required, or comments added to data collected can be useful in the analysis results.
2.4 Using existing data
Determine whether existing data can help you when collecting field data. Existing data that your company has already collected, or publicly available data (open data), can save you time during the field operation.
3. Train your field data collection teams
It is essential that you properly introduce your team to the tools they will be using in the field. If they are using mobile technology ,make sure their training in using the app is adequate. If it is your first time using a given data collection tool, try to get training from the developer or vendor.
Conduct a mini-operation test (pilot project), so that your team members become familiar with the tool as well as the process to be followed during the field operation.
4. Draw your course
Before you can send your teams out to collect data, you will need to plot the course that they will be taking during their field work. If they will be working in multiple sites, drawing the course will help you define the optimal route. Using Coral Collect, it is possible to trace your route on a map and display it on the app interface.
To do this, consider the following:
- The number of hours your collectors will be spending in the field per day
- The distance between the individual collection sites
- How long it takes to complete each survey
5. Equip your teams
Finally, consider the human needs that your collectors might have during their field data collection work. Here are some of the questions that you should ask before data collection in the field commences:
- How much time do they realistically need to complete their collection tasks?
- What’s the weather like/going to be like?
- Can they obtain water and food and access nearby services while they are collecting data?
- If the necessary supplies are not available on site, how will they be provided?
- Should they be divided into teams of two, three or more?
- Has your equipment been checked to ensure that it is in working order?
- Do your team members know how to maintain optimal device battery management?
In conclusion, before you dispatch your field data collection teams, you have to think about all these (and potentially other) scenarios and prepare accordingly.
Because, as Murphy’s Law says, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”. On the other hand, “Victory favors the prepared mind.”
Once you’ve followed the above steps and taken all contingencies into account, you will be ready to start collecting data!
To find out more about how Coral Collect can meet all your data collection needs, feel free to head over to the Coral Collect signup page here. or contact the Coral Collect support team,You can also check out the Coral Collect introduction video here.