5 Easiest Ways to Avoid Field Data Collection Errors

6 months, 2 weeks ago by Traci Wilson

At some point in our professional or academic careers, all of us have felt that we, humans are difficult to understand. No two of us are alike. And it becomes quite difficult for a project, be it related to business, academics, or social work, to decide a strategy because of these differences. There is information on the web about a lot of things, but sometimes, a project needs independent research before a marketing strategy around a product can be designed. The audience or customer base needs to be analyzed through a collection of field data. In the age of technological advancement we live in, this otherwise daunting task is being eased by a simple invention known as a form app.

A form app simply said, is a software application for your phone or any other handheld device that helps you collect data from the field.

Let's compare and examine the five most common errors in two scenarios of field data collection, namely, with and without advanced technological tools, and try to understand how they can be avoided!

1. Basic Data Entry Errors

The process of data entry can get quite complex when a lot of stages are involved. Data is collected on forms and physically transported to the team that sorts the forms and finally feeds everything to the computer software. All of this is done manually, and the whole process involves so many steps that the data gets extremely diluted, and is full of mismatches. This conversion or manual entry demands a lot of manual labor, and still, the final data that the project manager gets can show a lot of errors, given the multiple stages of conversion. 

A form app reduces the number of steps in the data collection process. The data can be collected on any kind of handheld devices, and directly transferred to the computer software, without any further intervention from another person, eliminating any chances of further human error. 

2. Errors in Transportation

Starting from the place where the forms are designed and printed to the people that carry them to the workers, who will eventually go to the field to collect the data properly, there is a lot of scope for errors. In so much physical transportation, the simplest typographical error can have a significant impact. Given that everything is physically transported, if in case the team back at the office realizes that there is a change they need to make, or if an error in the design and the language of the form is recognized, there simply can be nothing that they can do. And in situations where this typo is in some significant area of information, say "the format of the address," then the entire process itself may need to be repeated, or the entire collected data itself becomes useless.

An Android form app or an iPad form app removes the need for such tedious logistics completely. The team can quickly update the workers in the field when there is a change and update the process through which data is to be analyzed. These changes can be much quicker if the process is digital.

3. Errors due to extended timeframes and unexpected delays

There is no way of completely eliminating the risks of physical damage to the data forms involved with their transportation. This is further aggravated by the time that the transportation can take. Further, other than the transportation, storage of these forms is not entirely safe either, especially while being transported. Rains, winds, and "the elements" are always there to make things difficult.

Collecting data electronically on a handheld device with an Android form app or an iPad form app gives the field team and the project management team back at the office the ability to remove such gaps. Transferring and storing data digitally is quicker and infinitely more secure than the primitive physical transportation and storage.

4. Errors due to lack of monitoring ability

There is no robust monitoring that can enable the project team back at the office to control the quality of the data they are receiving irrespective of how much cost and resource is involved. Data can be manipulated, collected from invalid sources and be forged too. Paperless data collection tools can minimize these risks to a great extent. And not only real-time data collection through online apps, but an offline form app can be a great tool if used properly. Simply by adding a requirement for the "picture of the person being surveyed," the risk of manipulation can be reduced to a large extent. This flexibility is not possible with paper-based data collection.

5. Delays due to workflow

Finally, all these errors can be put under this one category. Limited ability to control quality, and physical paper that is vulnerable to all kinds of damage, and the arduous, tedious data entry hassles, can all be removed with a proper digital tool. Not only data for surveys and research but marketing and sales, businesses can get an order form app that offers all these benefits too.

Human beings are difficult to understand. There is a different preference, a different understanding of things, and a different response we all have to different situations. Proper data collection tools can help businesses understand the market they are targeting. And data collection with digital tools is the perfection of this process.

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