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. 

6 Effective Ways to Learn and Master new Technologies

As technology evolves, so does your need to navigate learning curves in order to keep up. Given the rapid pace of this evolution, keeping up can be a challenge. No sooner have you mastered one piece of software than a better alternative or update is released. And so, the learning cycle continues as you adopt, adapt, and repeat.
As a result, you not only need to be efficient in your day-to-day tasks; you need to be an efficient learner. With that in mind, here are six considerations to help you learn and master new platforms and tools with greater ease.

1. Let go of fear.

As the saying goes, “the only constant in life is change,” so try to roll with it.

One of the greatest obstacles to learning is fear, especially when it comes to technology. Accept that you’re going to make mistakes. Even the most experienced professionals make them.

Mistakes and failure can be our greatest teachers. The more you resist them, the harder it will be to learn. So, shift your perspective and embrace both as opportunities to master the tools that will help you become more successful.

2. Learn the lingo.

In today’s digital world, jargon abounds. Familiarizing yourself with tech terms and acronyms will make the learning process a whole lot easier.

Be patient with yourself. Learning any new language takes time, but perseverance pays off. Sure, in the beginning you may find yourself tripping over terminology. However, put in the effort to memorize and comprehend and eventually your brain will adjust and enable you to learn more efficiently.

3. Make time for play time.

Approach learning like an adventure and experiment with a curious mind.

Explore the features of your new technology one by one. Once you’ve figured out how each component works, you’ll be able to put the puzzle pieces together and excel as a solutions master.

4. Take advantage of available resources.

The technology sector is highly competitive. As a result, tech providers make resources readily available in the hopes of becoming and remaining your ‘chosen one.’

Take advantage of these resources to obtain the information you need to overcome your lack of solution experience.

5. Learn from other users.

If you encounter an obstacle when learning a new technology, chances are that someone else has faced the exact same challenge. Set aside your pride and ask your peers for help.

Also, check out technology discussion forums and knowledge bases like Stack Overflow for questions and answers that may meet your needs.

6. Teach others.

Just as there are those who know more than you, there are those who know less.

As you work your way through the learning process, teach other beginners what you’ve learned. Articulating your newly acquired knowledge will help you maintain and hone your skills.

Remember, technology is your friend.

As is the case with many relationships, you may get off to a bumpy start but stick with it. Over time, you’ll come to reap many advantages.

From unlimited access to information to cloud storage and mobility, today’s platforms and tools are designed to deliver greater workflow ease. Before you can master these platforms and tools, however, you must embrace your willingness to learn.

Looking for a solution for your field data collection projects? Coral Collect makes learning easy. We have an abundance of helpful resources, including videos, articles, guided onboarding, and more, to help you master our solutions. Let the learning begin.

The next generation of digital maintenace professionals tools

While quality, service, and customer satisfaction are the cornerstones of any business, it is ultimately operational efficiency that determines a company’s long-term success.
Consider the money you invest, the equipment you buy, and the tasks your employees perform.
Do your outputs in these and other areas exceed your inputs and, if so, by how much? Needless to say, the more your outputs outweigh your inputs, the more profitable your business will be.
As maintenance professionals know, optimizing operational efficiency can sometimes require drastic changes. Other times, small, incremental changes suffice. Either way, improvement begins with identifying your existing inefficiencies. With that in mind, here are some questions you might want to consider:

  • Are there ways to spend less on your processes?
  • How can you eliminate the problems that cause costly emergency outages?
  • Does your company have a balanced maintenance strategy?
  • What tools can you implement to improve operations and reduce the possibility of future problems?
  • Can you reduce unscheduled maintenance hours by conducting regular, reliable inspections?

Today’s digital solutions provide exceptional benefits with respect to performance, maintenance, repair, and overhaul. Here, we take a look at how and where these solutions can offer you an operational and competitive advantage.

Compliance, audit and security management

Cloud-based automation platforms enable your maintenance professionals to completely reshape your asset management processes. They improve collaboration between maintenance teams while helping them identify and resolve disruptions.

Because of their data analysis capabilities, automation platforms also allow maintenance professionals to:

  • Use company data to verify regulatory compliance
  • Identify potential hazards and risks
  • Take proactive measures to resolve problems

Intelligent decision-making

The faster your maintenance team is able to filter complex information, the more efficiently you can identify and prioritize assets that require attention. Fortunately, there are applications specifically designed to aid you in this regard.

Decision-making software can rank tasks on your behalf, in order of urgency. Such applications can also:

  • Ensure that information is available in a concise and simple format immediately upon request
  • Deliver the right information can into the hands of the right decision-makers more efficiently

Planning and timing

Maintenance may be essential to your business, but it needn’t result in significant company downtime. Take a proactive, preventative approach and you can complete maintenance programs efficiently, with little downtime, less waste, and less energy consumption.

Look for planning and timing tools that allow you to schedule preventive maintenance so that it has the least impact on production flow.

Work order management

Companies that use maintenance management software see an approximate 20% reduction in equipment downtime and material costs, among other benefits.[vs1] 

Such software can help you maintain accurate records, making it easy to track your progress against your operational goals. It also:

  • Gives your technicians a clear understanding of what they need to accomplish
  • Enables technicians to easily document their work, access it from anywhere, and automatically track measurables

Mobile maintenance

With a mobile computerized maintenance management system, your technicians can receive and send information in real time using their smartphones. This means that, regardless of where they are, they can edit tasks, submit work orders, and view open orders.

No need for them to remember or write down work order instructions when they leave home base. All of the information they require when working in the field can be accessed easily from a mobile app.

Monitoring and surveillance

Online repository services store a complete history of working machines in the cloud. Remote access to this history means you can quickly identify machine locations, as well as any tasks that need to be performed.

Such platforms can also:

  • Assess machine performance data and inform you when you need to replace parts[vs2] 
  • Address repair tasks with mobile services that facilitate on-site maintenance operations using augmented reality applications

Asset data collection

Often referred to as a company’s crown jewels, asset data can strengthen a company’s decision-making processes, provided you can access it, of course.

Data gives you the insights you need to optimize resource allocation, among other things. That said, large amounts of data stored in large databases serve little purpose if it’s hard to access. Just as it’s important to implement precise data collection methods, it’s important to implement precise data analysis procedures, too.

In conclusion

The Internet of Things is at your fingertips. Use it to your advantage.

Leverage digital solutions so your company’s decision-makers can make informed decisions about resource allocation, machinery investment, and more.

And automate your data collection methods to simplify data exploration, preprocessing, and analysis. By doing so, your maintenance professionals will have easy access to up-to-date information anytime, anywhere.

Want to learn how Coral Collect can help you improve your company’s data collection and data management processes?

Sign up to Coral Collect

Field data collection: How to save 40% of your time

How much time does your company spend gathering and managing data? At Coral Collect, we help businesses save time, money, and human resources with the help of our proven field data collection software. We know this because our customers regularly tell us so.

Of course, we don’t expect you to make software decisions based purely on anecdotal evidence. So, let’s take a look at some real facts and figures.

Time equals money.

Our customers tell us that the Coral Collect platform reaps them time savings of up to 40% both in the field and in data processing. That’s 40% of time that they can then spend performing other important business tasks in their day-to-day operations.

How does Coral Collect accomplish this? By automating many of the data collection tasks that would otherwise need to be performed by workers in the field. Coral Collect also eliminates the need for employees to return to the office and manually transcribe collected data.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways Coral Collect‘s data collection methods can help you achieve similar time savings.

  • Easy access to previously collected data
  • Easy access to collection routes in the field
  • Faster form completion thanks to digital (versus paper) data collection methods
  • All-in-one access to forms, camera and GPS
  • Real-time access to collected data
  • Automatic transfer of data from forms to database, i.e., no manual data transcription required
  • Automatic management of photos linked to data
  • Automated creation of reports
  • Easy data sharing between teams, managers, and clients through the Coral Collect dashboard

Let’s take a look at the dollars and cents 40% represents.

Given we’re not privy to our customers’ financial information, we’ll explore a hypothetical scenario.

Company X is an environmental engineering company. The company employs a civil engineer who spends much of his time collecting and processing field data.

According to the Job Bank, the average civil engineer earns around $40 CAD per hour. If he works a 40-hour week and saves 40% of his time by using Coral Collect, he frees up 16 hours per week.

To Company X, those 16 hours are worth $640 per week, or $33,280 per year.

As for the upfront investment, Coral Collect’s standard plan costs just $25 per month, or $300 per year, netting a $32,980 return on investment. That’s $110 saved for every dollar spent.

In summary:

16 hours saved per 40-hour weekX 52 weeks $33,280
Less annual standard subscription fee– $300
Total annual return on investment$32,980

But wait. There’s more.

The savings outlined above don’t even factor in the cost savings associated with:

  • Paperwork
  • The storage and handling of paper forms
  • Lost forms and data entry errors
  • Resumption of the resulting data collection

One Coral Collect subscription covers an unlimited number of users.

Unlike some software licenses, ours is based purely on the volume of data collected and stored in the Coral platform.

And if the volume of data causes you to migrate to the higher plan, the ROI remains greatly beneficial, and it’s even more true if your data collection and processing team consists of more than one person.

Interested in buying your company 40% more time? Watch this introductory video to learn more about Coral Collect or visit our registration page to sign up or connect with a member of our customer support team.

Enterprise software: The pros and cons of building versus buying

From order processing and accounting platforms to customer relationship management and data collection tools, the need for enterprise software becomes more and more important as your business grows. After all, your ability to compete in an increasingly complex and dynamic market depends on your efficiency and productivity.
The question isn’t do you need enterprise software but rather, should you purchase software from a third-party provider or develop and maintain your own.
Building versus buying!

Developing your own software gives you the ability to meet the exact needs of your company and use your own identity mark. That said, software or technology purchased from an external supplier can be highly customized to address your needs. Of course, not to the same degree as custom-developed software.

Still, even large global organizations – both public and private – are beginning to migrate to third-party software. This, after having invested millions of dollars in the development of their own proprietary solutions. Why? Because doing so substantially reduces their IT costs and reliance on software and development support.

Ultimately, both options are valid, and the route you choose depends on a number of variables, from cost to functionality and more. Here, we look at the pros and cons of both based on some of five variables.

1. Time to market

With so many cloud-based software solutions now on the market, many companies are migrating away from building their own in favour of buying. In-house solutions can take months to develop. In fact, development projects typically take anywhere from seven to 18 months to complete. To complicate matters further:

  • Only 19% of application deployments are delivered on time
  • Approximately 70% of IT projects fail
  • The larger the development project, the lower the chances of success

On the other hand, most third-party software can be integrated into your existing application in minutes. What’s more, these ready-made solutions can usually be applied easily, with little to no technical expertise required on your part.

2. Total cost of ownership

Ready-made solutions, such as the offline data collection tools offered by Coral Collect, are available at a set price. You get what you pay for at time of purchase. With internal solutions, however, pricing is rarely predictable.

According to a McKinsey survey conducted among IT leaders:

  • Large IT projects run over budget 45% of the time while delivering 56% less value than expected
  • 17% of projects go so badly, they “threaten the very existence of the business”

These high-impact overruns, often referred to as “black swans,” result in budget overruns of 200 to 400% and can result in project abandonment or even bankruptcy.

Also, consider your opportunity costs. Developing and maintaining effective in-house solutions usually requires a dedicated IT team. Here, you have two options. You can:

1. hire individuals who are qualified to take on the task of development and maintenance

2. reassign existing employees to the task and bring in new people to fill their shoes

Either way, you’re going to need to expand your talent pool, which requires both time and money.

3. Features and functionality

In-house development gives you unlimited flexibility to create software that meets your unique goals. You get to include and retain ownership of features your rivals have no access to, which gives you a competitive edge.

However, ensuring these features operate without malfunction can require several months of testing and working through the kinks. Meanwhile, with third-party software, thousands of hours have already been invested in trouble shooting. Furthermore, you have the freedom to shop around and evaluate vendors based on features and functionality.

For the most part, software vendors offer free demos, trials, and proofs of concepts, thereby minimizing risk. You might even be able to negotiate future features in your contract for a premium.

4. Knowledge and know-how

As mentioned above, if you opt for in-house solutions, you need the resources to manage both development and maintenance. Your IT team is responsible for identifying and solving any problems you encounter.

With third-party software, you not only get the technology you need; you get the expertise required to manage it. Most vendors have dedicated representatives who can help you get the most out of your software. At Coral Collect, our experts have worked with clients of all sizes to develop best practices, and can work with you to create a personalized plan for success.

5. Basic skills

Last but not least, you need to ask yourself if you have the core competencies to build great software. And if so, will doing so be faster, cheaper, and/or more efficient than sourcing it from a third party?

If you can confidently answer yes to the above questions, building your own enterprise software will be to your advantage. If, however, you are even a little unsure, delegate the business function that software solves to a third party. Doing so will save you future headaches and mitigate the risks associated with in-house development.

The bottom line is this: deciding whether to build or buy enterprise software is a question of resource allocation. It’s up to you to determine how to invest your time, money, and talent, in order to reap the greatest return on investment.

How efficient are your current data collection methods?

If your organization uses pen, paper, and/or spreadsheets to gather and manage your company data, it’s probably time to rethink your data collection methods.

Let’s face it. You’re in business to make a tidy profit, and the profit you earn isn’t based solely on sales. It’s also related to your operational costs. Regardless of the size of your organization, the more efficiently you run your business, the lower your operational costs.

The perils of pen and paper data collection.

If you’re still collecting data the old-fashioned way, chances are you’ve encountered some or all of the following problems:

·   Paper forms end up lost or damaged, requiring you to repeat the data collection process.

  • Illegible handwriting and entry errors lead to inaccuracies in the data.
  • Surveys have to be geolocated manually, requiring an additional investment in time.
  • Videos and photographs can’t be attached on paper and must be attached to the corresponding data after it’s been gathered.
  • Analyzing the data involves you reviewing paper forms and, even then, only provides a general sense of what’s going on, versus actionable information.
  • Manual transcripting data takes time and generates human errors.

To address some but not all of the above challenges, many companies that are looking to modernize their data management processes look to spreadsheets for a solution. Spreadsheet programs, such as Excel or Google Sheets, record data in the form of rows and columns, which certainly allows for greater clarity. Unfortunately, however, spreadsheets come with their own set of constraints and limitations.

The drawback of data collection using spreadsheets.

  • Spreadsheets aren’t mobile device-friendly. Viewing data on a small screen requires endless vertical and horizontal scrolling, and locating specific cells for the purpose of data entry is tedious.
  • Because spreadsheets don’t have geolocation capabilities, you have to determine geographic coordinates using a GPS and then add them in manually.
  • Field data entered into a spreadsheet can’t be accessed in real time, which means managers and analysts are required to wait until surveyors have returned from the field and updated information.
  • Photos and other media can’t be entered into spreadsheets and must be matched to data separately.
  • Although spreadsheet software contains powerful tools for statistical analysis of data, data analysis and report creation are still cumbersome and time-consuming.

Consider the inefficiencies of the following scenario. A charity goes door to door collecting donations. Collectors gather data from each address they visit. In order to share that information with their manager, they need to enter it into the company database when they return to the office.

Their manager then manually creates a map of all addresses visited, putting them into one of four categories:

1. Donated

2. Declined

3. No response

4. Undecided

This manually created map is then used to plot the route for the following day’s field personnel, and this laborious process must be repeated every day.

Consider also the task of managing field data pertaining to remote areas. Enter incorrect latitude and longitude information and you can end up with a rural property of interest in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean versus its actual location.

Spreadsheets offer no safety net. No validation of entries. Enter the wrong information and without close examination, human errors remain unidentified. Field data collection apps, on the other hand:

  • offer data traceability and validation
  • eliminate the need for manual, time consuming, and error-prone manipulations and transcripts
  • provide access to real-time data
  • allow for the integration of data analysis and report creation

Ready to update your field data collection methods?

Look for a field data collection application like Coral Collect.

With Coral Collect, your field workers can enter data using a mobile device, with or without cellular or WiFi service. Once that data has been synced to the cloud, it gets instantly transferred to a database and becomes available in real-time to anyone with access to your organization. Among the many benefits:

  • No damaged or lost paperwork to worry about
  • No retranscription required
  • Significantly fewer data entry errors
  • The ability to take and automatically link photographs and other media to data

In the interest of maintaining more accurate data, operating with greater efficiency, and turning higher profits, get started with Coral Collect.

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 .

Softwares that can help during a field operation

The huge variety of softwares and apps that exist today allow us to optimize our performance in field operations of all types.
Operational efficiency is, without a doubt, one of the most important element of all production or service activities. In addition, precise control of field operations can be the difference between achieving goals and losing competitiveness.
Below is a list of the softwares that can help you with your company’s field operations at all levels.

Pix4D

Pix4D is a must for all your photogrammetry and drone flight configuration needs.
With Pix4D, you are in complete control of all aspects of your project and have access to:

  • Defining specific areas of interest
  • Selecting processing options.
  • Adding ground control points.
  • Editing point clouds.
  • DSMs.
  • Meshes.
  • Orthomosaics.

SimPRO Software: Project and inventory management

SimPRO is a powerful field service management software which was designed and created by trade contractors, for trade contractors.
If you’re struggling to come up with offers, manage multi-stage projects, manage inventory, connect the office to the field or any other area of your workflow, SimPRO provides a streamlined platform to meet all your most pressing needs while helping you increase your productivity and profits at the same time.

Coral Collect: Mobile data collection

Coral Collect is a solution for the collection and management of field data.
If you want to carry out inspections and readings or make checklists, this solution is ideal for you. In addition to being very easy to use, it allows you to automatically create databases and reports from data collected in the field.
In addition, all the information collected is georeferenced so that you can view it on an online map or other mapping software.
Coral Collect is without a doubt the best value for money in terms of solutions for data collection in the field. Coral Collect offers free plans and an unlimited number of users.

Slack: Communication first and foremost

Slack is one of the most widely used employee-to-employee communication platforms in companies today. You might think that only office workers use Slack, but it’s in fact an excellent tool for communication with field teams thanks to its linked mobile application.
In addition to being free, the application allows you to communicate with all the members of your organization and create specific channels for each team.

TOMTOM: Full control over your vehicle fleet

The TomTom software technology appears to be a very effective option for managing vehicle fleets in real time.
This solution has a simple and user-friendly interface with clear lines and no complexity. It instantly displays traffic information, providing more detailed visibility of the exact status and location of monitored vehicles.
With TomTom’s Dashboard function, it’s possible to:

  • View the status of fleets
  • Check the individual performance of each driver, as well as evaluate their equipment,
  • Obtain a full overview of all fleet members and equipment at your fingertips.
  • Get access to the most relevant information, so that the supervisor can detect (and even prevent) possible unforeseen events.

This means that users can make better strategic decisions relating to:

  • Adjustment of variables.
  • Choice or change of routes based on traffic conditions.
  • Sending of new instructions to drivers.
  • Warnings when too much fuel is being used, excessive acceleration is detected, or the brakes of a vehicle are performing poorly.
  • The app is a flexible tool and has mobile versions for iOS and Android systems too.

We hope this list of softwares that can be used during field survey work was useful. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding the Coral Collect app.

What are the end products that can be obtained from a field data collector?

Field data collection apps provide users with the ability to produce detailed data reports. Ideally, this is to be done as quickly as possible and with the minimum of manipulation on the user’s end.

To provide a practical illustration of their use, let’s discuss the problems of the following working professionals:

  • Michelle is a 43-year-old Field Operations Manager who oversees a team of field workers. She is always on the lookout for versatile ways to increase her team’s efficiency.
  • Jonathan is a 33-year-old maintenance technician who works in one of the world’s most complex water management systems. He sometimes feels that his technological tools do not completely suit his needs.
  • Greg is a 49-year-old VP of operations and technical metering. He is looking for tools that can increase the accuracy of his team’s reports on field infrastructure.

While their careers and level of seniority differ, these individuals all share problems caused by inefficient data collection methods. Each would benefit from the tools in Coral Collect’s mobile data collector, including:

  • The ability to organize and modify data in numerous ways.
  • Access to georeferenced surveys of all the locations one has visited.
  • A wide variety of export and data synchronization tools.

Organizational Tools

A highly customizable mobile forms app allows one to set parameters for data input and adjust as needed. One can view, sort, and modify their data in various ways via an online tabular format.

Another key point concerns the fact that in modern work environments, field forms often need to be digitized. Handwritten notes are often disposed of after they are inputted. Thus, our data collection app’s ability to automatically transcribe into a database various forms of data would reduce a workflow inefficiency.

Location Tracking and maps

The data collection teams have access, though the app, to their location in real time, which greatly facilitates their orientation in the field. In addition, users of the Coral Collect app will have access through the web, from anywhere, a map that displays all the georeferenced surveys that you have collected. A color code and filters also allow you to visualize this data on the map according to the desired themes. This eliminates the often-redundant task of tracking one’s location in addition to the corresponding data.

Create maps 

Coral Collect users, like Michelle, will be able, once the field data is collected, to create PDF reports automatically that will be shared with their supervisor and clients.

Exporting the Data

One of the biggest advantages of a data collector is the ability to integrate the collected data into Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Through an export in shapefile and GeoJSON, geomatics specialists will be able to export and use this data in their GIS software to rework them later.

In addition to GIS app support, Coral Collect is built to maximize ease of use, allowing workers to collect data offline and synchronize them at a later point. It also allows users to export data in Excel, CSV, and PDF formats.

Conclusion

Presently, not all data collectors offer the possibility of producing these final outputs. The value of a data collection solution for Greg, Michelle and Jonathan is assessed based on the results it can produce and the problems it can solved. Coral Collect is a tool that meets all the above criteria and will easily adapt to your workflow.

Curious? Start using Coral Collect for free.

Cloud Storage vs Local Storage in Data Collection

Cloud technology has continued to increase in popularity in recent years. This growth is driven by the fact that users can access stored documents, applications, and additional processing capacity without having to invest in their own software and hardware systems.

Most businesses have found that cloud storage is the right solution, but some organizations prefer to use local based software and databases. Some use cases, like a field data collection application, will only reach its full potential if utilized with a cloud-based solution. On the other hand, a simple word processing application may be able to function properly on local infrastructure.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both solutions, and this article will help you understand the pros and cons of each!

Understanding Cloud Storage Solutions

Cloud storage solutions refer to technology that allows to store information online rather than in a specific server and location. Typically, a third-party service provider manages the cloud storage platform, and you can access the information from anywhere.

Advantages of Cloud Storage

There are many advantages to cloud storage solutions, including the following:

  • Cost-Effectiveness
  • Improved Accessibility and Scaling
  • Enhanced Data Integrity and Recovery

Cost-Effectiveness

Cloud-based options are more cost-effective. You are generally paying based on your usage, so you will only be required to pay for what you use.

Local based solutions require physical infrastructure that costs the same to install and maintain whether you use 1% of its capacity or 100%!

Improved Accessibility and Scaling

A mobile forms app that integrates with cloud storage can allow your field inspectors to create digital forms and upload results directly to a database – which can be accessed from anywhere, at any time. The only requirement is an internet connection (unless your solution allows you to work offline, which is usually the case), and you can have a fully functional field data collection app in the palm of your hands!

The improved accessibility this provides also makes it easier to scale your operations. If your business experiences seasonal demand or unexpected increases, the service provider can increase your available storage capacity on the spot.

Enhanced Data Integrity and Recovery

Regardless of which data collection methods you use, keeping a history of changes and having the ability to recover data are essential. Field data collection software that uses cloud-based solutions lets you do just that!

All of the survey data collection that has occurred is duplicated in several places, ensuring the security and integrity of the data. You can roll back the system if an unwanted change is ever made, but those changes that are intentional will be automatically synced and updated across every device.

Disadvantages of Cloud Storage

While there are many benefits to cloud storage, not every solution is perfect. These are some of the disadvantages related to cloud solutions:

  • Reliance on a Third-Party
  • Added Security Risks

Reliance on a Third-Party

One of the few downsides to a cloud-based inspection app is that you are dependent on the company that developed the solution to access your data. In other words, you are relying on the supplier for performance.

Added Security Risks

If access to your field data depends on a cloud service provider, you are also trusting them to keep your data safe. Your organization does not have exclusive control over the security of your data, so you must trust them!

What about Local Storage Solutions?

A local storage system keeps digital data on physical devices like solid-state drives, hard disc drives, or other infrastructure. You can access the data stored on local storage solutions if you are connected to the local network or if you connect the device to your computer. 

Advantages of Local Storage

Local storage systems have some advantages like the following:

  • Fast Speeds
  • Enhanced Security

Fast Speeds

Since an external or internal hard drive does not need to upload to the cloud or download the data, you can access the information much quicker.

Enhanced Security

When you use physical devices to store field data collection forms, you have complete control over how the information is stored and who can access it. Your organization can design strict security protocols to ensure your data is kept safe.

Disadvantages of Local Storage

Here are some of the disadvantages of local storage:

  • Lack of Accessibility
  • Increased Costs
  • There is no Back-Up

Lack of Accessibility

The biggest drawback of local storage is that your data is not easily accessible. It can be complicated to share survey data with team members and clients if they’re not all connected to the local network. 

Increased Costs

A local solution can be more expensive because it requires investment for infrastructure, maintenance, and regular upgrading costs.

There is no Back-Up

If the server or hard drive that contains all of your survey data collection dies, the information dies with it! When you store information locally, you increase the risk of data loss due to fires, floods, or other issues.

Which Solution is Right for You?

Cloud storage solutions are the future. Local storage is the old way of working. However, many organizations continue to rely on it because they have misconceptions about data security and are resistant to change.

The advantages provided by cloud storage for field data collection far outweigh its disadvantages.

Looking for a cloud-based field data collector? Try Coral Collect for free!