Getting rid of cumbersome paper might be the first reason you decide to digitise your field data capture, but it’ll soon become one of many. Following the successful transformation to a mobile data capture solution, two of our construction sector clients, BAM Ritchies and Skanska Norway, provided us with some interesting insights into their projects.
Here are the 7 key takeaways for field team managers looking to move away from paper forms and digitise their field data capture processes.
1. Design flexibility and scalability of solution were important considerations in the buying process
Design and scalability of the solution is key. Moving from paper to digital forms is a journey that requires a flexible solution so that you can continually change, adapt and optimise your mobile data capture processes based on the feedback from your team and customers.
“I didn’t like the look and feel of the other solutions I tried. Their flexibility and also the functionality and potential capability of the digital forms were limited from a programming perspective” – Formworks User
2. Look at the data capture problem from the user’s perspective
Listening to the needs of your field team from the get go will help you succeed. It’s easy to sit in an office and create a mobile data capture process. However, what you think might work well from the office doesn’t necessarily translate to something that works well in the field.
As our clients have found, creating an optimal mobile data capture process in the field requires ongoing feedback and learning from users, with continual tweaking over time to get it absolutely right.
“You need to know the needs of your field agents, otherwise you land up creating bloated digital forms that nobody wants to use.” – Formworks User
3. Users will be resistant to change but happy with the end result
Field team workers come in a variety of age groups and levels of exposure working with mobile technology. Choosing a mobile forms solution that was first and foremost easy to use made a massive difference to the adoption curve and resistance to change.
“Even the technophobes become converts when they see that digital forms are easier than the pen and paper they are currently working with.” – Formworks User
4. Change requires change management
Change management was an important element when it came to ensuring that field team workers on the ground had access to managers, who were then able to answer and respond to all queries as they came up during the early stages of learning.
“We spent time visiting the various sites to help our field teams as they were using Formworks for the first time, so if they had any problems we were on hand to help.” – Formworks User
5. Have a small, fast moving project team
Our clients sped up the initial phase of deployment by having small, fast moving project teams who were capable of configuring the mobile data capture solution and workflows. The project teams included field users to get their input so they could quickly adapt and optimise.
As a result, they were able to get up and running in weeks rather than months (or years).
“There was no involvement from IT, we got a few engineers involved who are up to speed with scripting and coding. We kept the implementation within a small group just to fast track the process.” – Formworks User
6. Focus on your biggest wins first
One client compared the digitisation of their paper forms to walking into a big warehouse where the choices are endless.
“There will be a lot of ‘nice to haves’ when deploying digital forms in the field, but you need to think practically about the features and forms that will have the biggest impact – and structure your development timeline accordingly.” – Formworks User
7. Expect to see immediate time savings and noticeable improvements in data accuracy
Field staff, who were previously re-keying data from paper forms, now submit the forms on the job as long as they’ve filled in all the required fields. The forms are immediately synced with the central admin systems and databases. As a result, there is a significant decrease in data administration, with the digitisation automatically removing common barriers such as poor handwriting and missing information.
“Everyone is happy that they’re not using paper anymore. We used to have to do all types of manual calculations, which Formworks now does and saves us time as a result.” – Formworks User
Another immediate win for our clients is the impact on the service levels provided to customers, who have commented on the faster turnaround time of the onsite work and the improved quality of the data being reported to them.
“The quality of the data we collect has definitely gone up, which is because of the scripting within Formworks. People need to record certain types of data before they can record data associated to it. They can’t send a form before they’ve completed everything that needs to be completed. Nothing is forgotten because the form will prompt them.” – Formworks User
If you’re a construction company looking to digitise your field data capture process, we hope you found these learnings useful.