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Mobile Forms: The Best Data Collection Method

Today’s forward-thinking enterprises rely on data rather than pure intuition to make decisions. This approach increases their chances of success by 79% according to a Helical IT survey. Accurate data can also pinpoint performance breakdowns, improve teams’ productivity, and optimize business processes. With so much importance given to data, enterprises can’t afford any mistakes while collecting it. That’s why data collection via mobile is vital for the success of businesses.

“But Paper Forms Have Been Effective So Far…”

Despite the ease of traditional paper-based processes, enterprises are actually shifting away from them. In fact, leading organizations have been removing paper from their workflows over the past decade. A 2014 AIIM survey titled ‘Paper Wars’ revealed 302 of 444 respondents believed business-at-the-speed-of-paper would be unacceptable in the future. Moreover, 204 respondents state removing paper is their business’ biggest productivity improvement.

Some of the reasons paper is deemed inefficient are:

  • Paper Impacts Overall Productivity – Paper processes can slow down workplace productivity. According to International Data Corporation (IDC), employees spend 3.5 hours per week searching for paper documents. Often, they never find those documents. As a result, more time is wasted on recreating the “lost” documents.
  • Paper Documents Costs Companies More than They Think – Printing and circulating paper documents aren’t the only expenses your enterprise will incur. Every misfiled document can cost $125 whereas a lost document can amount to $700. If sensitive data is leaked through paper documents, organizations may also face legal issues or be forced to go out of business.
  • Data Collection via Paper is Slow – Paper forms take a considerable amount of time to be filled out, sent back, and digitized for further processing. This prevents businesses from applying KPIs and accurately analyzing results.

Manual data entry is another issue associated with paper documents. This tricky and often-mind-numbing process comes with its own set of pain points, including:

High Error Rate

There are many reasons why manual data entry is riddled with errors, including human error and misinterpretations. These errors, unfortunately, can negatively impact the business’ internal operations as well as external relationships.

Slow Data Entry

For manual data entry to be deemed effective, employees need to be able to enter data from paper documents at the rate of 10,000 to 15,000 keystrokes per hour. This rate may be difficult to achieve when digitizing text heavy forms.

Ambiguous Fields and Unclear Formatting

According to Data Quality Assessment by Arkady Maydanchik, missing values poses a challenge for data entry operators. This problem can create discrepancies in the output as missing values can be interpreted in several ways. Further contributing to this issue is the fact that many operators don’t even understand fields and their organization.

Need for Quality Check

Quality check is an integral part of manual data entry. However, the costs associated with it can drain an enterprise. On average, it costs $1 to verify the accuracy of data when entered. This amount rises to $10 for cleaning or correcting data in batch form. However, if no action is taken, verification can cost $100 in the future.

Increase of Volume of Data

There are several instances where the volume of data may increase in your enterprise – a new project, a sale, or the opening of a new branch. Managing this spike in work and data may put data entry operators under pressure. This, in turn, could increase the chances of error.

Loss of Focus

Employees may be distracted from completing core tasks.  This can affect organizations in the long run, preventing them from meeting strategic objectives on time.

“Fair Enough. What about Mobile Forms?”

Data collection via mobile forms is the perfect fit for organizations regardless of industry. Mining firms, for instance, can use a range of mobile form apps, including Operations Management forms. Here are some reasons which make it a better alternative to paper forms.

Reduced Costs

By eliminating paper from the data collection process, companies can save greatly. According to the World Bank, it managed to save around 71% by shifting to mobile data collection. Moreover, the financial institution enjoyed efficiency gains due to improved data collection quality and reduced processing time.

To be realistic, however, organizations need to opt for mobile data collection solutions which don’t require programmers or tech consultants. Their salaries and other personnel related costs will counter your cost savings otherwise.

Increased Speed

Mobile forms ensure faster communication. Data can flow in real time from on-site workers to the enterprise’s database. This, in turn, can trigger a series of actions including PDF reports emailed to key personnel. Even if users collect data while offline, they can still benefit from near-instant analysis and response once their devices are connected to a hotspot.

Enhanced Data Quality

Mobile data collection improves the quality of collected data in a three ways:

  1. Pre-Submission Quality Checks – There are several ways a mobile form can control the accuracy of data and reduce data cleaning. For instance, controls such as the Segmented Control allow users to select from multiple choices. As a result, errors during data entry are significantly fewer.
  2. Task Notifications – Systems such as Transform Studio allow supervisors and the like to assign tasks to remind data collectors of activities such as carrying out an inspection or submitting a certain form. With ample time and a clear deadline, users will provide accurate, quality data.
  3. Enhanced Supervision – Mobile forms enhance employee accountability. Workers’ communication with supervisors is streamlined and strictly recorded. With features such as timestamps, geo-tagging, and submission to business systems, data collectors can be supervised effectively.

Easy Scaling

If more data is expected to flow to your organization, paper will be inefficient. Not only will the process become cumbersome, chances of lost documents will increase. Moreover, changes to paper forms will lead to a nightmare of cost and logistics. After all, previous forms need to be tracked down and destroyed before new forms are printed and circulated.

Mobile forms can be updated on the fly and automatically pushed to users’ devices. Users can receive notifications to download the latest version of a form to ensure they don’t submit older versions.

Secure Storage and Backup

Data collected via mobile forms can be transmitted and stored securely in your organization’s backend systems. Adding encryption further ensures the safety of your data. As data can easily be replicated, enterprises don’t have to worry about losing important information.

“Maybe it’s The Right Time to Shift to Mobile Forms”

If you’re considering making the shift to mobile data collection, try Makeen transform. Comprising of a collection of mobile forms, it helps you transform your business by eliminating ‘paper’ from ‘paperwork’. You also get all the benefits mentioned above and more.

Download Makeen transform today and discover unprecedented efficiency and productivity, sans paper.

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