You have heard the saying ‘we’re only human’? It’s a phrase we use to remind ourselves that we are prone to making mistakes. In your business, your team members do not intentionally enter incorrect data or lose information but it does happens. That is why it is so important to try to capture data once and put it into ‘action’ immediately. Getting it right the first time goes a long way toward ensuring data integrity and accurate information on which to make decisions.
Many of our customers have staff in the field – maybe a property manager on site, an engineer inspecting a piece of equipment or an insurance adjuster investigating a claim. Let’s think about what they do on a daily basis. They fill in forms, make notes, or take pictures. Typically much of this information is critical to a business process. The question then becomes how does an organization make that information actionable? Forms get dropped off in the office and are manually moved through a process to data entry where eventually an action will occur based on that data. Photos get placed in file shares and hopefully attached to the item they relate to. In many cases forms get destroyed or misfiled, photos get lost, and notes are forgotten. They are simple mistakes but the consequences to the business can be significant.
The move to mobile computing gives us an opportunity to eliminate many of these costly errors. Everyone carries a phone and an increasing number of our team members carry tablet devices. They have high quality cameras, some have a stylus and they can be ruggedized for extreme conditions. In our case we have been working with clients to implement a new digital pen that is capable of recognizing data entered onto a paper form. This solution works really well for employees who are in the field and comfortable filling in paper-based forms. The switch to a digital pen doesn’t feel like a switch at all.
These are all means of capturing critical information in the field thus eliminating one opportunity for human error. They key it to create an automated process that can pick up that data when it is entered and turn it into an action so we further decrease the opportunity that information can get lost, damaged or forgotten. Using tools from the Microsoft platform such as CRM, Lync and SharePoint you can act on the data and create a case or a work ticket, attach it to a customer file, send for review or even use the camera to show a team of experts back in the office what the ‘on site’ situation is in real time.
It is important to trust our team members but we also have to recognize that people occasionally make mistakes. Eliminating opportunities where errors typically occur reduces burden on the employees while also creating efficiencies in the business. And we all feel good about that.