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Should You Switch to Mobile Forms?

March 6, 2018

You have probably noticed that many companies have switched from paper to mobile forms, whether it was while checking in at the doctor’s office on a tablet or signing for a package with a stylus.

You may have even considered going paperless at your own business, but questioned whether it was worth the cost (those tablets do look expensive) and disruption to your current workflow.

The truth is that most companies (if not all) can benefit from using mobile forms, in terms of both cost- and time-savings.

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, the average organization spends:

  • $20 to file one paper document
  • $120 to search for each misfiled document
  • $220 to recreate a lost document

And that’s just labor. Combine those numbers with the price of paper, ink, printers, and printer maintenance, and the cost of using paper forms adds up … and continues to add up over time.

However, the decision to go paperless is about more than money. Switching to mobile forms helps you streamline workflows, reduce waste, improve productivity, and create efficiencies that open up new revenue streams.

Before we get into the how, let’s delve into the what:

What are mobile forms?

A mobile form is an electronic application that functions on a smartphone or tablet that replaces paper forms. Users can collect data out in the field using mobile devices and quickly transmit that information back to the office.

Some common uses for mobile forms are:

  • Fixed asset management
  • Inspections
  • Inventory
  • Invoices
  • Safety checklists
  • Work orders

And that’s just scratching the surface. Basically, anything you once needed paper forms for can now be accomplished digitally.

If you’re considering transitioning to a paperless office, here are some questions that will help you determine whether mobile forms are right for you.

How much equipment do your employees carry in the field?

Depending on your industry, your field reps might be carrying a smartphone, a laptop, a camera, a paper map, a GPS unit, a barcode scanner, a clipboard/pen/paper, or any combination of these devices to collect the information they need.

Not only is that a lot of equipment for one person to juggle out in the field, it’s a lot of equipment for your company to buy and maintain. (On top of the costs of that printer, paper, and ink.)

So if your answer is two or more, you might want to consider making the switch. With mobile forms, all your employees need to collect data is one mobile device. And in most cases, it can be their own!

How many employees touch your data?

The more people who come into contact with your data, the higher chances are of something going wrong. Humans make mistakes!

Illegible handwriting, lost or damage forms, and data-entry errors cost your company time and money.

Here, again, if your answer is two or more, going digital is probably a good idea.

With mobile forms, data is entered once in the field — that’s it. You can even minimize manual entries by building your forms with drop-down or multiple-choice options and pre-filled fields so that each employee only fills out the information that is directly related to their work.

This means you can have more confidence in your data.

Does your data include a geospatial component?

If reliable location data is an important part of your job, mobile forms are a good bet.

When you use mobile forms, geospatial data is a built-in feature. Field workers can simply drop a pin to mark the location of an issue or job site so it can be easily found by the next employee.

In addition to location, digital forms create a lot of metadata that can help you more effectively manage your teams, such as:

  • When and where a form was created
  • Who created it
  • When and where a form was completed
  • The status of existing forms (Are they incomplete? Are they awaiting your signature?)

You don’t get that with pen and paper.

Is the data you collect time-sensitive?

If your answer is yes, switching to mobile forms is a no-brainer.

With paper forms, you may have to wait until your employees come back to the office at the end of the day before you know the status of your field operations — or at least until they’ve had a chance to scan their paperwork.

With mobile forms, you can follow your team’s data in near real-time so you can make critical business decisions faster, and address problems (and potential problems) right away. Digital forms also enable you to evaluate and compare data immediately, without having to wait for information to be typed into spreadsheets and analyzed.

Plus: Using mobile forms, your employees can go home straight from the field, rather than waste mileage driving paperwork back to the office.

In short, if you’re looking for ways to increase productivity, improve data accuracy, save money and resources, and better manage your field reps, mobile form apps like Fulcrum can help you do it.

Want to give mobile forms a try at your business? Sign up for a FREE trial of Fulcrum today!