Mastering Mobile-First: How to create Digital Forms for Effective Data Collection

15 March 2023

Mobile devices have become ubiquitous in our daily lives, and the way we interact with the world has changed as a result. For businesses, this means that the days of paper-based processes have ended (Check how: even your most change averted employees will agree), but the abundance of data generated at an ever-increasing pace can be overwhelming if you aren’t sure where to start.

According to Statista, the total volume of data was 64.2 zettabytes in 2020; it’s predicted to reach 181 zettabytes by 2025. Heavy industries such as mining, construction, and manufacturing generate a large volume of data that needs to be collected and analyzed in real-time to optimize operations, improve safety, and increase productivity. In this context, mobile ready digital forms can be a powerful tool for efficient data collection, enabling field service workers to collect and submit data in real-time from any device, anywhere, at any time.

 

Benefits of Mobile-Friendly Digital Forms:

Mobile digital forms offer a range of benefits for heavy industries. First, they can significantly improve data quality by minimizing data entry errors, enabling real-time data validation, and reducing manual data entry. Second, they can increase productivity by reducing the time required for data collection and analysis, enabling workers to focus on core tasks. Third, they can reduce costs associated with paper-based data collection, such as printing, storage, and transportation costs. Fourth, they can improve safety by enabling field workers to report incidents in real-time, enabling management to take immediate action to prevent further incidents. These are just some of the basic features any form builder should have.

 

Challenges of Creating Mobile-Friendly Digital Forms:

Despite these benefits (and the non-monetary advantages like increased integrity over temper-prone paper processes), there are several challenges associated with creating mobile-friendly digital forms. One of the biggest challenges is UX design, which is critical for creating forms that are easy to use and navigate on small screens. This is where even if legacy software provided by Microsoft, even if responsive, fail to pass real-world applications. Have you tried scrolling left and write, zooming in and out of a dynamic table, while trying to keep your balance on ladder?

 

To create an effective mobile form:

1. Optimize your form design by removing any redundant or irrelevant sections that can make it challenging to use on mobile devices.
2. Utilize drop-down lists whenever possible to minimize the number of fields and simplify the user experience.
3. Ensure your submission buttons are large enough and positioned in easily clickable areas to make it effortless for users to submit their form entries.
4. Prioritize speed and efficiency by testing and optimizing the loading time of your digital forms, especially for mobile users who may have slower internet connections.
5. Thoroughly test your digital forms on various devices and platforms before publishing or distributing them to your field team and ensure they are functioning correctly and delivering a seamless user experience.

Another challenge is ensuring that workflows are optimized for mobile devices, enabling field service workers to collect and submit data quickly and efficiently. Different user permissions and collaboration are also important considerations. It’s also important to ask your regulators if cloud solutions comply with your industry’s data handling policies, or would an On-Premise solution abide by those better. Take note that mobile devices can pose security risks if not properly configured. Finally, offline-first capabilities using Progressive Web App technology are crucial for enabling workers to continue working even when connectivity is poor or non-existent.

 

In-house development vs Enterprise-Only Solutions vs. Traditional SAAS Providers:

When it comes to choosing a software provider for creating a digital form app, businesses have three options. Spend millions on in-house research and development, traditional SAAS providers or enterprise-only solutions oriented companies. Traditional SAAS providers typically offer economical and mid-tier options with a limit on the number of features, templates and users, which may not provide the necessary level of support, flexibility, security, and control required by heavy industries.

On the other hand, enterprise-only solutions oriented companies offer a SAAS like agility and low barrier to entry without compromising on the needs of heavy industries, providing customized solutions and a true partnership approach which seamlessly align with diligence, accessibility and operativity often greater than giant ERP’s.

Using mobile forms has lead industry pioneers like Agnico Eagle to improved data quality, increased productivity, and reduced costs. By addressing the challenges associated with creating digital forms and choosing the right software provider, businesses can master their data collection processes and stay competitive in an increasingly data-driven world.

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