The industry is being revolutionized by using mobile technology (smartphones & tablets) as devices used by their workers out in the field to collect data. Workers who use apps on smartphones or tablets are able to enter data wherever they are located, and the work is recorded. As well as providing a better quality of collected data, mobile devices are also capable of capturing dynamic forms of data, for example as images and a GPS geolocation. When data is entered, it is then stored in a database and can be emailed to other people.
Mobile data collection, therefore, reduces time, as well as resources, plus the cost of gathering information from a site, wherever it may be. As well as improving the quality of information collected, the use of mobile data collection enables decision-makers to make better, more informed and accurate decisions and eliminate the guess-work.
The use of mobile data collection enables the accumulation of both qualitative and quantitative data Collecting data digitally is proven to increase the speed and accuracy of data collection. It also enables better service delivery effectiveness and accurate monitoring of employee performance. Mobile data collection also features things such as decision support, form logic, and checklists, which enable an improvement to the quality of the data collected, while ensuring adherence to strict data collection protocols.
It is important to treat mobile data collection the same as any data collection program. Following the whole process of understanding business and program objectives, defining data needs, and then both identifying and implementing a solution that will enable you to achieve what you set out to do.
Mobile data collection entered directly, in the field, eliminates the need for manual re-entry of them into a system at a later point in time. Ultimately the data is being recorded directly into where it is being stored and because no paper is involved, there are no problems with things like lost forms, unintelligible entries, and misinterpretation. It is also an environmentally friendly solution. Mobile data collection puts an end to numerous time-consuming and value-reducing steps. As well as removing the need for paperwork records to be delivered to an office, it doesn’t require a second person to then input the data.
The process of eliminating non-essential steps from this activity when data is re-entered enables the reduction of time and resources. Completion of the process becomes faster and more accurate; the quality of the data collected is improved and teams become far more productive.
On embarking upon a data collection program, the most important factor that you need to determine when planning the process is ‘what are you trying to achieve?’ When you fully understand your own objective, then you can determine the role that data is required to perform.
You should also consider what other people are seeking from the project and a good way of doing this is to consider using a results framework, to put your project objective at the top and then map out the various intermediate results that will contribute to its success.
Bear in mind that mobile data collection isn’t currently the best option for qualitative evaluation. That said, technological advances are rapid in this sector so this could of course change anytime soon.