5 ways to increase the productivity of your business

How can your business accomplish more with its current staff?
By optimizing the resources you already have and incorporating new systems that help you get more tasks accomplished in less time, you can substantially boost the productivity of your business – and greater productivity leads to greater profit.

Here are five productivity tips to help you run a more profitable business.

1. Automate your systems

How much time do you and your staff spend managing company information? For example, are you still using manual data collection methods? Imagine if you could instead use all of those hours to set your company apart from your competition and drive your profits up.

Field data collection software and similar automation systems help buy you that time. By migrating to a digital system, you take an essential step towards improving your operating efficiency. Plus, you and your team will be able to spend more time using your unique skill sets to do the jobs you were hired to do, instead of performing tedious tasks that can easily be handled without human resources, which promotes company morale.

2. Be flexible

Creating a happy workplace is good for business. In fact, a study conducted by Harvard University/MIT found that happy employees are absent less often, get sick less often, and are nine times as loyal, 31% more productive, and 55% more creative – all of which leads to greater productivity.

Now, more than ever, employees value their freedom. Offering flexible working hours, remote work options, and more vacation time are three ways you can demonstrate your interest in their happiness while improve efficiency.

3. Use project management software

Project management software systems enable you to monitor employee files and workloads.  They also facilitate communication, making it easier for you to connect with team members regularly and effectively so that you can stay on top of projects, individual tasks, and long-term goals.

Of course, that’s not to suggest that you should never meet in person. Even with an active project management software system in place, you’ll want to bring your team together a couple of times a week to discuss tasks and challenges and find effective solutions in the event unforeseen circumstances arise.

4. Support employee growth

Your employees are your most valuable asset. Treat them as such and they will each contribute to the success of your business in their own unique ways. Neglect them, however, and the opposite will be true.

As human beings, we tend to be far more productive when we are truly engaged in what we are doing. How can you get your employees to engage more? By investing your company’s time and resources in their personal and professional development.

When you give your staff the tools to grow and succeed professionally, you demonstrate through your actions that they are an important part of your organization. This makes them feel more valued, which is key to employee retention.

5. Provide an uplifting work environment

Nothing kills creativity and motivation quite like a soulless office. Look around your workspace. Is it dull, dark, and uninspiring? If so, it’s probably time for a facelift.

Look for ways to make it bright, airy, colorful and cheerful. Inject some personality into your space. You’ll be amazed at the influence a happy work environment can have on employee morale, and ultimately, productivity and profitability.

What steps will you take to increase productivity?

Implementing workflow software, taking steps to improve morale, and offering employee development initiatives are just a few ways that you can create a happier team that’s ready to embrace any project of any size with enthusiasm and engagement.

If you’re interested in implementing a process automation system to support data collection operations in the field, reach out to Coral. We’re here to help.

7 Steps to a Successful Pilot Project

Are you planning to integrate a new technology solution into your workflow?
If so, you should first make sure that you know what your real needs are, and then identify the expected benefits you would like to achieve. Before investing in any technology solution, you will also need to do your research on the pros and cons of the solutions available on the market, talk to your stakeholders, and consider your options to narrow down your choices.
In this article, we examine how running a pilot project will allow you to test various aspects of the solution on a small scale so as to ensure that you make an informed decision.

How to test new solutions for your business?

In order to test potential new solutions for your business, it is important that you follow a proven sequence of steps to ensure that you get the best possible results:

1. Define what you are testing

Defining the content and parameters of the tests is the most essential step to take before starting the pilot project.Take the following steps to identify them:

  • Make a comprehensive list of what you want to test.
  • Identify what you don’t want to test.
  • Make sure you have a set of parameters for success and expected results in mind.

2. Identify your goals

Define clear objectives for the new solution you would like to implement. You have to know what you want to accomplish before you can go about working towards it.

Keep these goals in mind throughout the pilot and find a way to measure them at the end.

3. Create your timelines

Specify the length of the period during which you will conduct the tests.

Then allocate the necessary time and resources according to the amount of time you have determined for the project.

4. Choose an appropriate team

Pick an enthusiastic team that feels comfortable working with the technology that you intend to test.

Once your team has been assembled, train them throughout the duration of the program to help participants become familiar with the technology and tools you have chosen for your pilot project.

5. Configure the right metrics

Use data to measure and evaluate performance against defined goals and expected results

Data is essential for making informed decisions. With good data, you can convince stakeholders of the effectiveness of the desired solution.

6. Analyze your data

Analyzing your data will help determine whether you have achieved your goals.

This will tell you until what point the test of the new solution was successful and whether it should be adopted permanently or if you need to find an alternative.

7. Get feedback on the pilot project

Give your team the opportunity to share their feedback relating to experiences they had during the pilot project.

Bear in mind that the pilot project is a trial-and-error test. As such, its primary purpose is to find out what worked and what did not during the testing phase.

Obtain feedback from your team throughout the process to assess whether the new technology will serve the intended purposes or not.

Another important step is to conduct group discussions, surveys and evaluations at the end of the pilot project to determine what the experiences of the various participants were.

Conclusion

Pilot projects are a great way to test a new idea or technology and make sure it meets your needs and fits well into your workflow. If you are an organization involved in field data collection, carry out your pilot project easily and for free with Coral Collect!

Coral Collect is considered by many to be one of the best field data collection apps and includes the following features (among others):

1. Easy creation of digital forms with the Coral Collect online form builder

2. Easy filling out of forms while collecting data in the field

3. Simple viewing and exporting of data thanks to the intuitive dashboard.

To find out more about Coral Collect, feel free to check out the introductory video here.

You can also sign up directly or contact one of the Coral support staff by heading over to the Coral Collect signup page .

5 steps you can take to improve your data security today

In today’s digital world, data rules. No matter what data collection tools your organization is using to gather data, you need to protect what you collect. Each and every day, your organization gathers, manages, and shares large quantities of data. From technical and commercial business information to customer contact details and banking specifics, data is fundamental to your business. In light of this, data security needs to be a top priority.

One data security breach is enough to wreak havoc in the form of fraud, identity theft, the disclosure of trade secrets, and more. Collateral damage aside, think about the costly and time-consuming task of replacing data. Worse yet, consider the fact that your data may in fact be irreplaceable.

And what about legal costs? It’s common knowledge that security breaches often lead to lawsuits. Last but not least, lose your customers’ data and you’re sure to lose their trust.

The bottom line is this: compromise your data and you compromise the survival of your business. With this in mind, here are some security mechanisms and procedures you can implement to better protect your business data and that of your valued customers.

1. Prevent unauthorized access to your data.

Cyber bullies are constantly finding new ways to outsmart firewalls, passwords, antivirus software, and other security measures. That said, it’s not just hackers you have to worry about. Your employees are human, and human negligence poses as much of a threat to your data security as do hackers.

To help prevent unauthorized access to your corporate applications and/or data and  protect your business against physical and cyber threats:

  • Encrypt your data. This is the most effective way to prevent unauthorized users from accessing information stored within your network.
  • Make sure you update your company software regularly.
  • Protect all company devices with passwords and change passwords regularly.
  • If an employee leaves, change the passwords to all applications they had access to immediately. (e.g. CRM, messaging, software, and database passwords.)
  • Always use two-factor authentication to validate authorized users during login.
  • Implement role-based access controls (RBAC). RBAC allows you to determine who can access what type of data and information based on their specific role. Essentially, you can limit employee access to only the information required for them to perform their duties effectively.

2. Identify data security threats.

To avoid having to deal with damage control tomorrow, identify your security threats today. Here are some steps you can take to assess any defects and/or vulnerabilities in your data security system:

  • Carry out a risk assessment. This will help you understand what your data security system looks like from an attacker’s perspective.
  • Undertake a vulnerability assessment to uncover any security weaknesses in your information system.
  • Conduct a safety assessment.

3. Protect your data.

As obvious as this may seem, not all organizations take sufficient measures to protect their data. If your computer system fails, your data could be damaged or lost. If your company is hacked, your data could be held at ransom by cyber criminals. To protect your data against either of these possibilities:

  • Make sure you backup your company data externally – either on the cloud or on a physical back-up drive. This is the only way you’ll be able to recover losses in the event your system fails or undergoes an attack.
  • Backup your important data and information regularly – ideally every 24 hours; once per week at the very least.

4. Use spam filters.

If one employee accidentally opens a fraudulent email, your entire network could be compromised. Spam filters help protect your employees and networks against viruses that could infiltrate your company via spam and phishing emails.

5. Educate your staff.

As mentioned above, employee negligence poses as much of a threat to your data security as do cyber attackers. Training staff around password management, deceptive emails, suspicious online activities, and best cybersecurity practices, reinforces their responsibilities around network access. This, in turn, helps minimize negligence.

At Coral, we’re in the business of helping businesses collect, save, and share company data with ease. We believe in the value of data and hope you’ll consider implementing some of the data security recommendations shared here. Your business and your customers depend on it.

How to reduce your administrative costs with a field data collection application?

Individually, the administrative costs associated with the use of paper in data management are quite low. On the other hand, if we accumulate them and take into account their impact on productivity, they can become quite substantial.

To increase your profits, you should try to reduce your administrative costs instead of reducing operational expenses.

Today we are going to talk about how to reduce your administrative costs in the day-to-day activities of collecting data in the field. Read on to find out more.

How to reduce your administrative costs with digital forms

As digital technology becomes increasingly ubiquitous, many organizations still use paper forms. However, the advantages of the switch to digital far exceed those of paper. Here are some of the advantages of using digital solutions for data collection in the field:

No more printing and storage costs

Digital form = no paper – so no more printing and paper storage.

Eliminate wasted resources

Field teams fill out paper forms and hand these documents back to the office for manual processing and analysis. This costs your business time and can lead to delays.

Eliminate Manual Data Entry

A digital forms management solution can help you entirely remove the manual data entry process from your information capture process.

Standardize data capture

With digital forms, you can ensure that all forms used in your business are completed the way you want them to be. This will facilitate analysis and storage. When you standardize the data capture process, you automatically improve efficiency and can ensure that the information provided is correct. The use of paper forms makes it difficult to standardize the data collection and entry process. Lack of standardization in data collection complicates the process of entering data into the system and requires time-consuming manual intervention.

Improve data accuracy

You can customize exactly how you want users to interact with your forms to ensure the reliability of the data entered.

Save time

You can directly extract the data you have collected to your databases and save time by using using the Coral Collect app.

Conclusion

Paper forms are cumbersome, cost money to store and print, and can easily be lost or damaged. Paper forms can also be filled out incorrectly, and incorrect data can slow down the project by blocking your workflow and affecting your productivity levels.

Whether you are a small, medium-sized or large business, if your current forms management practices are outdated, inefficient, or expensive, you are missing out on the opportunity to grow your business and maximize productivity by going digital.

With Coral Collect, you can easily:

  • Easily create digital forms with the Coral Collect online form builder.
  • Fill out forms in the field with the Coral Collect mobile form builder.
  • View and export data on the intuitive Coral Collect dashboard.

To find out more about Coral Collect, feel free to contact one of our support staff or watch our intro video here.

To maximize your profits by saving time and avoiding unnecessary errors, sign up for Coral Collect now by heading over to our sign-up page.

How to convert paper forms to a digital forms for free

Reducing, reusing and recycling paper in the office is a factor that all companies today, regardless of their size, should take into consideration. The concept and concerns around environmental protection affect everyone. Both companies as well as individuals are actively looking for alternatives to minimize their environmental impact.
Today, we have easy access to digital solutions which, in addition to improving the efficiency of our work processes, are also environmentally friendly.
Producing one ton of paper requires cutting down 17 trees. By using digital forms, you will reduce your paper consumption and optimize your data collection operations in the field at the same time.

But there are also other benefits to going digital. Read on to find out more.

Reasons to go digital for data collection

Here are the main reasons to use digital forms instead of paper for your data collection operations:

  • They will save you time
  • You will become more efficient
  • You will be more competitive
  • Data collected from digital forms can be organized easily based on different variables such as city, customer name, address or other important information
  • It is easy to search and sort your information by variable or category
  • Digital data can be synchronized, and users can access it in real time

Features of digital forms vs paper forms

By converting your paper forms to digital, you will have access to a wide variety of interesting features, which are only available with digital tools. Some of these features include:

  • Live location sharing
  • Taking photos include with your data
  • Automated calculations
  • Automatic completion of fields
  • Improved data quality

What are digital forms?

A digital form is an electronic version of a paper form. When you use paper forms, you collect the data in the field, then go back to the office and manually enter the data into a database by typing it manually. With digital forms, on the other hand, you avoid the long, tedious and error-prone data transcription phase.

Digital forms can replicate all the useful elements of a paper form, such as:

  • Text input
  • Hand-drawing of sketches
  • Filling in of checkboxes
  • Adding signatures

Digital forms can be completed faster, and they are more accurate because you can implement a system to automatically copy information from the field into a database.

How to convert paper forms to digital forms

With Coral Collect – the world’s most fully-featured field data collection app – you can convert your data collected with paper forms into digital forms and then share it with field teams easily. Here is how to do it:

Step 1:

Register with Coral Collect through our registration page.

Step 2:

Replicate your digital form in the form section with our easy-to-use drag and drop form builder.

Step 3:

Invite your team members through their email addresses.

Step 4:

Give the required permissions to your teams.

Step 5:

Download the Coral Collect mobile app.

Now everyone on your team now completes your digital forms easily.

Are you ready to make the switch to digital? Sign up now for free!

To find out more about Coral Collect, feel free to check out our video intro here .You can also head over to the Coral Collect signup page to find out more about what Coral Collect can do for you and your business.

Automate Workplace Safety Reporting with a Mobile Forms App

In 2019, the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada reported 925 work-related fatalities and a further 271,806 lost-time claims in the same time period. With 67% of fatalities reported in manufacturing, transport, utilities and related occupations, it’s wise for field service organizations to consider the many benefits of automated reporting with a mobile forms app to improve the safety of their inspectors.
This means ensuring safety procedures are followed correctly, and accidents or hazards are recorded and reported in a timely manner.
This is much easier said than done, however. In this article, we’ll show you how a mobile forms app powered with a mobile form builder will help improve safety reporting in your workplace.

The challenges of paper based safety inspections

In the age of digital transformation and Industry 4.0 it no longer makes sense for your field service organization to be following paper-based safety inspections.

There’s the inconveniences of carrying paper around during the inspection and the data collected needs to be input manually into a database at the end of each and every day.

And there’s another thing: this information’s only available to Field Operations Managers, Technicians and superiors at the end of the working day, thus wasting valuable time where remedial action could’ve been taken sooner.

There’s also a duplication of work during data collection when it’s done both at the point of inspection and the office. This carries the risk of errors during data entry, handwriting that’s hard to read or, even worse, data collection forms that go missing altogether.

Delaying or missing safety inspections can have severe consequences for your organization.

Besides the loss of reputation these include:

  • Financial penalties as a consequence of prosecution
  • Increased insurance premiums
  • Inefficiencies created by loss of production
  • Inefficiencies associated with paper waste

The benefits of automated reporting with mobile forms apps

A mobile forms app integrated with a mobile form builder enables the creation of data collection forms for equipment inspections, compliance checklists and site safety audits.

Document and report safety hazards with a mobile forms app

Inspectors can complete their forms on their smartphone in a fraction of the time it would take them on paper. Smart forms dynamically show or hide questions based on their inputs and prompts them for additional information.

Inspectors can:

  • Create digital forms
  • Create complex rules to control the behaviour of field forms
  • Pre-populate data into data collection forms to save time
  • Locate field forms on an intuitive map interface
  • Attach photos and videos and add GPS stamps with the integrated GIS app
  • Enforce consistent safety procedures
  • Perform in-depth and accurate inspections

Share data and safety records with a mobile forms app

Inspectors can analyze their reports and know what information to share to educate their colleagues and superiors about safety hazards and high-risk behaviours.

Inspectors can:

  • Perform offline data collection and sync with the cloud once they’re back online
  • Access data in real-time on a dashboard
  • Structure data in projects
  • Simplify auditing with cloud access to safety reports
  • Simplify compliance reporting
  • Build efficient workflows
  • Reuse data collection forms templates
  • Export data in multiple formats

Conclusion

Paper-based safety inspections are a thing of the past. Large amounts of data can be stored in the cloud and real-time visibility and sharing of information between team members is a reality. The safety of team members relies on timely inspections carried out with diligence. A mobile forms app facilitates data collection in the field and improves the safety of everyone.

How to use the geographic position of field data to help your business

Businesses need reliable, accurate information to make decisions and act quickly.  However, textual formatting of data can make understanding what it’s trying to tell you difficult and slow.
By using the geographic position, decision-makers can visualize all the data and understand it easily.  This helps them turn insight into action fast. Location provides an alternate method of displaying information such as a map and that makes your data easier to comprehend.

Why visualization matters?

  • When you present data without visualization, people just see a bunch of numbers and text. It’s hard for them to understand the significance or coherence of what they’re looking at.
  • When you display the data visually, it is much easier to interpret and more effective. The human brain can process visual information in a fraction of the time it takes to read text or numbers.
  • Location-based data lets you get the big picture while enabling trend detection at a glance. It allows you to easily identify patterns, outliers, clusters, and other relationships in data.

A data visualisation software is a powerful tool for understanding and communicating complex information. Put simply, it’s the art of turning numbers into meaningful information

Who uses location data?

Telecom:

For an industry that is grid-based and requires constant maintenance, location data is critical. Telecom companies use geographic data collected by field technicians when inspecting poles.  This lets them easily determine what poles they need to repair or replace and in what order. It also allows them to set work schedules for their maintenance staff and to prioritize future work. 

Construction: 

Managing multiple side-by-side construction projects is never easy. By using asset tracking systems, managers can keep tabs on what equipment is where at any given time. Location data also lets them track that employees comply with health and safety regulations.     

Non-profit:

For non-profits, optimizing the use of their resources can literally save lives. Location intelligence gives them the tools they need to make sure aid reaches the right place at the right time.  Working in time-sensitive situations such as environmental emergencies or critical third-world aid, this can mean the difference between life and death.

Door-to-door:

Geolocation data lets you track what doors you’ve visited, their responses, and where customers have not opened. This way, door-to-door businesses can coordinate their teams and plan their future routes. Also, geolocation using different color codes on the field forms gives you quick insight into trends by neighborhood.  

Environmental companies:

Field survey data collection is an important aspect of environmental work. Geographical precision is crucial to the success of a project because it establishes areas of interest or environmental damage. It also enables monitoring of future changes in those zones.

When collecting data in the field, it is important to have the right tools and to share data effectively.

Coral Collect provides a solution that allows you to collect, save, and share data in the field with ease. It allows all levels of an organization to manage field data collaboratively.

Coral Collect is a component of the Coral Platform. This lets you have access to all the technological solutions you need to ensure success in your field operations.

If you want more information about our solutions, please contact us today!

The logistics of collecting field data

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

2.1. Design

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?

2.3. Standardization

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.

Five questions to ask before choosing a field data collection application

Gone are the days of filling out paper forms with a pen and having to manually transcribe information into a database.
It’s time to start using digital forms with mobile data collection apps if you want your organization to remain competitive. But before you invest in one, you need to find the right one for your needs.

What is the right solution for your business?

Here are 5 questions you need to ask yourself to find the right one for you.

1. Do you collect data in areas where there is no internet access?

You should know whether you will have access to the internet in the location where you will be using your data collection app. If you will be working in a location that does have internet access, you should find out how reliable it is?

If you will be collecting data in an urban environment, cellular internet service will likely be available, but if you are in a rural area, you will need software that can work offline.

Therefore, you can exclude all software solutions that require access to a web browser to work in the field.

You will need to choose a mobile form solution that can store the data you collect locally on your device and synchronize it with the cloud when you reconnect to the internet.

2. Is location important to you?

Do you need to capture the geographic position of your field surveys?

Can the geographic location of your statements help you? Most likely it can.

Therefore, you should exclude solutions that do not feature a map interface or that do not allow the collection of georeferenced data.

On the other hand, some of these solutions will only allow you to capture and record the current position of the field data collector. Make sure, for more flexibility, that you can define the position of your reading on a map yourself, especially since the GPS of smartphones is not always very precise.

For a solution that has all these features, check out the Coral Collect app.

3. How easy is it to import and export data

It is important to verify that the solution you choose is flexible when entering and extracting your data.

You should also carefully consider the formats for exporting and recovering your data, as well as the ease with which you can import data.

Will you need to import existing data for viewing and editing in the field? If so, you should pay special attention to how easy it is to import and export your data.

Most software allows you to export data in standard formats.

The same applies to media: Find out how the software manages and stores the media you collect in the field. If you collect a lot of photos in the field, the price may vary depending on the amount of storage you require.

4. What is the level of support?

Support is undoubtedly a decisive added value when choosing new software. Technical support will be essential during the process of integrating the software into your business.

Check the following when it comes to the vendor’s app support:

  • Response time
  • Mode of communication
  • Cost

5. Can you try it before you buy it?

Use a checklist to determine which features you will need for your field data collection projects.

Once you have compared the features of the apps you are interested in, feel free to sign up for a trial if the data collection app you are considering offers one.

You should avoid software solutions that do not offer free trials. Trial versions will help you decide which solutions are right for you.

Once you have chosen a data collection app, here are some steps that you can follow to help make your transition to digital data collection as smooth as possible.

  • Recreate existing paper forms that you are currently using in your organization
  • Collect data
  • Import existing data
  • Export your data in different formats
  • Create reports

After these tests, you will be able to assess the effectiveness of the tested solutions and be able to choose the one that is right for you.

Best choice in data collection

Our best recommendation is the Coral Collect data collection app. The Coral Collect app provides all the features necessary for field data collection in addition to excellent support and a free full version.

Check out the Coral Collect app and feel free to contact the Coral support service if you have any questions.

Historical data as an asset

Historical data can be of significant value to your business and can save both time and money insofar as it can be reused. However, problems can arise when trying to access historical data that was stored in old or deprecated file formats, or accessibility of historical data was restricted to specific individuals or departments.

Read on to find out more about how historical data can be leveraged to give your business an edge.

Data collection – old vs. new methods

Historical data is data that was collected in the past, and therefore already exists within a company.

In the past, field data was collected using paper and pencil. It was used and eventually stored in binders or archived in boxes. In many cases this data was never used again.

With today’s digital data collection and storage tools, the process is the same, but the method is different: Instead of physical binders, we now use apps to collect data and databases to store it.

Many organizations do not use historical data at all in their operations. As a result, sometimes identical data is collected more than once. The recollection of identical data costs money and does not provide any real benefit.

Accessing historical data

Once data has been used, it is stored and often forgotten, probably because no one sees its value in the short term.

Data is your business’s memory, and it is of great value. It is a shame that this data too often remains hidden and unused.

Therefore, reusing existing historical data can be of great benefit to your business in terms of both cost savings as well as efficiency. On the other hand, the use of historical data can present a few problems:

  • File formats and versions: Are current tools able to read old data?
  • Access: Where is your data stored or published? Is it possible to access historical data archives easily?
  • Valuable vs. redundant data: What is the useful information contained within the gigabytes of historical data?

These issues must be considered from the start when designing data architectures that will be used to store data collected in the field. Having a future-proof data architecture can make it easier for you or future colleagues to access historical data later on.

Let us examine these issues in more detail.

Accessibility

Formats and compatibility

Accessing historical data presents a problem when it has been stored in formats which are no longer supported.

Companies have huge amounts of historical business data locked away in formats that no one can open any more. Indeed, it is not always easy to predict which file formats will be commonly used in the future. For example, in the past it was not known that Excel would dominate the spreadsheet market.

It is therefore important to use open standards, such as CSV or JSON, when choosing formats for long-term archiving.

It is also a good practice to update your data formats periodically. For example, Lotus 123 formats are always convertible (albeit after a laborious process) into excel databases.

Storing data efficiently and in supported formats is thus essential. For example, the Access format will soon be deprecated, so it is important to find an alternative to this file format as soon as possible.

Restrictions and ease of access to historical data

Is access to your historical data restricted to certain people or departments? If so, you will need to review your data security policies when storing collected data in the field so that you can access it more easily.

In conclusion, here are some points to bear in mind with regard to historical data:

  • Do not underestimate the value of your historical data.
  • Before collecting data in the field, check whether any of it already exists.
  • Use data file formats that will be easily accessible in the future.