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:
3. No response
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.