There’s a long-time saying about data: Garbage-in, garbage-out. It means that the quality of the insights you can glean from data is only as good as the quality of the data itself. And there’s now a new corollary to that truism: The richer, more accurate and more voluminous your data, the more accurate and useful your insights will be.
Both those sayings spell out exactly why if you’re still using paper forms, you’re gathering data the wrong way. Mobile data collection software offers far more accurate data, which yields far more and far richer insights than when you use paper forms.
For just one example of that, consider this blog post, “The Benefits of Using Mobile Technology for Data Collection and Reporting,” from Steve Niro, Business Unit Leader for Operations & Management for the environmental consulting firm Woodward & Curran.
Here are just some of the benefits he cites for moving from paper data collection to mobile data collection: “Errors are significantly reduced, and richer data is collected, including photos, video, GPS coordinates, and automatic date and time stamping. A high level of security can be employed with user authentication, password protection, and automatic backups. This means no more lost forms and data can only be viewed and edited by authorized individuals.”
He points out that mobile data collection tools do more than just yield greater insights — they can help a company move much faster on those insights, often in real-time:
“With a mobile application, data can be immediately validated in the field with notifications if or when an entry falls outside the normal or expected range. In addition, since real-time data is instantly uploaded, managers can be alerted when new information is available or action needs to be taken. Notifications can also be set to send text messages and emails alerting staff when, for example, chemical supplies are low or a permit violation has occurred.”
He's not alone in his view about the ways in which mobile data collection yields richer, more accurate and more useful data than paper-based forms. This is especially true when apps collect data in real-time. Consider what the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency has to say about it:
“There are numerous advantages in using mobile phones in survey data collection. Combined with the knowledge of well-trained supervisors, team leaders, measurers and interviewers, mobile technology has improved the quality of the data collected… Collecting and digitizing data right at the source makes data entry more efficient and cleaner and leads to improved data quality. Experience shows that data collection so far has yielded good or excellent data quality (based on SMART plausibility check) in all surveys conducted with mobile data collection.”
The Best Platform for Creating Mobile Data Collection Apps
Alpha TransForm (free trial and template forms available) is a robust and affordable solution for building mobile data collection apps that work on any mobile device. Alpha TransForm allows both developers and business users to digitize mobile forms of ANY COMPLEXITY for under 1 hour of work per form page.
Coding is optional, so virtually anyone can turn a paper form into a mobile app with the latest smartphone features (camera, QR codes, GPS, time/date stamping, electronic signatures, radio buttons, etc.). Power users can use the built-in programming language and on-device database storage to add more advanced capabilities, such as workflow triggering or pre-loading forms data. And the best part is that Alpha TransForm apps always work offline, so no need to worry about having an internet connection.
With affordable pricing and flexible licensing models, Alpha TransForm lets companies build as many mobile forms as they need for their field team members. Companies use Alpha TransForm to digitize data collection for order intake, inspections, Gemba Walks, 5S Audits, maintenance inspection, punch lists, safety checks, patient data intake and more.