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Remote Data Collection: 10 of the Best Apps for Gathering Data in the Field
Computers come with far more than just a keyboard today. Your laptop at least has a webcam and microphone, while your smartphone or tablet has a GPS, camera, touchscreen, compass and more. So why limit yourself to gathering just text in your in-house forms, when your team is carrying devices that could capture so much more?
Digital forms let you replace paper forms with the devices your team is already carrying, as a simple way to get survey data and job updates directly from the field. Then, Formitize takes it further, with in-house mobile forms that let you get the most out of your team's devices. You can build rich forms that snap photos or scan barcodes with the camera, record voice notes or interviews, save GPS coordinates of where the form was filled in, use the touchscreen to sign documents or draw a quick diagram, and even accept credit card payments from clients. Everything a custom-built app would offer, Formitize includes in an easy-to-use online form builder.
To start out, you'll create a Formitize account and build your form from your computer. Or, you can upload a copy of your old paper form, and the Formitize team will digitalize it for you. Making your own isn't that difficult, though—as with most online form builders, Formitize has a drag-and-drop editor so you can add in the features your forms need. Customize each element as you want, and lay out the form elements into the workflow that's best for your team.
Your team might need a bit more help on the field, and perhaps currently have to carry paper manuals and documentation to job sites. Formitize can eliminate that, with its resource library. Upload your PDF documentation, guides and more, and your team can view them right alongside their work forms.
Once everything's ready, just deploy the form, and your team can view it and any related documentation on their iOS, Android, or Windows Phone devices. They'll get a notification when new forms are added, and can sync the forms for offline use just in case there's no cell signal at the job site. Once they've completed a form, you'll get a notification back in the office, and all of the data they've gathered will be visible in the Formitize web app.
With text forms, sorting data is easy—but with the images, GPS data and more that your team will be gathering in Formitize, you'll need better tools to sort through it all. That's what you'll find in Formitize's dashboard. It includes a map to show form entries based on where they were created, a photo library to sort through graphics based on tags, location and more, and rich entries that show all of the data gathered in each form in one page. Or, you can setup Actions that will automatically create out a PDF invoice, update database records, send an email and more whenever forms are filled out, so you don't have as much management work to do.
Data collection is hard enough on its own, so Formitize handles the data management part so you don't have to worry about it. It's a powerful way to gather data on the field and then easily put the data to work back in your office.