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Paper is great, but… the alternative to pen and paper field inspections

August 15, 2020

Paper is an amazing tool. Think about it. Anyone can use it, it’s consistent, it requires zero training, and it’s inexpensive. In the technology age, the truly wise will not forget the lessons in simplicity from the great days of the pen and pencil. But we can do better. In field data collection, paper should be the inspiration, but not the operation. Here are four reasons why you need to consider the alternative to pen and paper surveys — mobile data collection technologies:

Transcription errors

The fact that everyone knows how to use a piece of paper doesn’t shield it from error. Inconsistent data, incomplete reports, and disorganization can jeopardize any project.

Communication delays

No matter how good your paper airplane is, your paper data collection can’t communicate at the rate you need. Communication between the field and the office is critical in making sure that questions are answered as they arise.

No inherent workflows

Paper doesn’t prescribe an efficient and organized workflow, and can be a burden in the field. Patterns and consistency are the key to organized data collection.

Complexity limits

Too much of a good thing can often times go wrong. While the simplicity of paper is an admirable trait, the innovation cap can stifle productive and demonstrative improvements.

Stacks of paper - Paper is great, but... the alternative to pen and paper field inspections

Luckily there is a solution that has taken the best elements of paper and the possibilities of technology to make data collection a simple process with maximized returns.

A better way

Mobile data collection replaces clipboard surveys and serves as a pen and paper alternative with customizable apps that can sync back to the cloud while in the field. Real-time collaboration allows for errors in reporting to be caught, communicated, and rectified before the crew ever leaves the site.

Workflows become an inherent part of mobile data collection with features like Webhooks, which can push notifications of data creation/modification to your own servers. These notifications can initiate your data analysis and keep your entire team running smoothly.

The quality of your data improves tremendously as photo records, video records, and location are seamlessly integrated into mobile data collection technology. What would previously require a compilation of separate data for one record now smoothly blends into one collection process.

Those paper field surveys may have taught us a lot in regard to an appreciation of simplicity, but we’ve found a better way to keep things simple.

Sign up for a free trial of Fulcrum and see what you can make of your mobile data collection.