How to Ensure the Quality of Field Collected Data

Generally speaking, data quality is not a new problem. However, it is a something that could be exacerbated by poor habits or lack of understanding that software exists to help stem the flow of bad data.

The reality for field service businesses is inaccurate data is common. It’s also generally accepted as coming with the territory, with such excuses as taking notes in the field isn’t easy. The situation becomes even more of an issue in the case where field workers are still using paper. At that point, you’re dealing with illegible handwriting, pens running out of ink or the many scenarios that come with paper-based, human-error prone processes.

To ensure the quality of field collected data, there are many different ways to improve data accuracy. The no-brainer, and the one this blog focuses on, is employing field service automation software to do the heavy lifting. Not only will we discuss how field service automation can increase data accuracy, but how this type of automation can help to increase operational efficiency across operations managers, supervisors and dispatchers, as well as field technicians

Without further ado, read on to learn how to ensure the quality of field collected data.

Leverage the Intelligence of Digital Mobile Forms

The goal of digital transformation is to make life easier across practically every facet of a field service business operations and processes. Digital mobile forms for field data collection is one of the first places to start when seeking a way to ensure data integrity.

That said, most companies only scratch the surface when building their forms. To make an even greater impact on the accuracy of data coming from the field, you have the opportunity to fully leverage the intelligence of the digital forms.

Pre-fill Form Fields
For instance, for service businesses that have recurring maintenance work orders, some field service automation software can pre-fill/auto-populate 85% of the form fields before the technician even thinks about the job. The same can be said when visiting the same client, whether it’s seldom or frequently.

If the data exists in the field service software’s CRM or via an integration with a CRM, it should be able to be pulled into the form without you having to do anything. This does three things:

  1. Pre-fills the fields for the technician, so they don’t have to type it out while in the field. If it’s correct in the system, it’s correct on the form.
  2. Enables the technician to focus on the actual job at hand, thereby increasing their efficiency.
  3. Gives time back to the operations manager, dispatcher or supervisor if part of their job was painstakingly contacting the technician to correct the inaccurate data. This could involve multiple steps and multiple days to get it sorted out.

Basically, the field service automation software should allow you to configure it and go.

Utilize Skip Logic and Commands

If you’ve ever taken a survey where is asked a few introductory questions, chances are there was skip logic built in. Incorporating skip logic in mobile forms is the exact same concept.

As the field technician fills out fields in the form, skip logic presents only the relevant questions, hiding any unrelated questions. Many of our customers use such logic in their forms.

Commands are another way to enhance data integrity in the field. Command controls execute workflows at the press of a button, such as executing updates to third-party systems that are integrated with the field service software. This saves the technician valuable time they would otherwise spend doing something that could be automated.

Integrate Your CRM

Not all field service management software come standard with their own native customer relationship management (CRM) capabilities like Field Squared. Sometimes, customers prefer to use a third-party provider (i.e., Netsuite, SugarCRM, Salesforce) to house their customer data. Such information should be readily available via an integration to the provider.

To ensure the integrity of field collected data, the originating data or any data pulled in from a third-party system must be clean to begin with. This is something companies in every industry deal with. Take the time to review and update customer data before you integrate into the field service software. That way, you start fresh.

In the end, the field service management software is just a box if there is no way to integrate with and orchestrate changes across other third-party systems. Interoperability is standard buying criterion for most service companies when it comes to this category of technology.

Build Asset Inspection Workflows via Dynamic Forms

The use cases for field service automation are far and wide. Some field service companies utilize such software to manage their customer-owned assets, while others use it to manage their internally-owned assets. Industries also differ in how they manage and maintain assets. To many, safety, regulations and compliance are a factor in the development of and maintenance of assets.

It helps when the field service software also has enterprise asset management and maintenance capabilities, but there are really only a few out there. Field Squared is one of the few. Managing assets involves the need for a hierarchical asset model that is also tied to mobile forms.

Create Dynamic Forms Tied to Assets
Dynamic forms is a game-changer in the world of asset management and maintenance—customer- or internally-owned assets. A dynamic form tied to assets is one that changes based on the sub-assets that need inspection. The parent asset determines what form is served as well as what sub-assets appear on the form.

The form changes shape based on the sub-assets, and typically involves pre-populating the form with all the sub-asset details, saving time and increasing data integrity.

Keep Assets Updated in the Field with Approval Workflows

In our experience, companies that maintain their own internal or their customer’s assets, updates to any attribute are taken very seriously.

Across our customer base over the years we’ve helped implement many simple to excruciatingly complex and detailed automated approval workflows. The act of capturing a signature or escalation paths based on responses is all part of the process.

Employing Approval Workflows to Asset Updates
It’s not uncommon for inaccuracies to exist regarding the geospatial location of an asset. The error may have been caused by an outdated map used as the original source, the asset may have moved over time or it was a mistake that went unnoticed when the field worker entered the information.

Whatever the reason, seemingly minor inaccuracies translate to lost productivity. It’s entirely possible they may also lead to lost revenue, repeat visits or sub-optimal first-time fix rates.

Updating assets is taken very seriously across many of our customers, especially when safety and compliance are factored in. The moment an asset affects the safety and well-being of a technician is the moment it becomes a problem.

That’s where field service automation shines. For instance, empowering technicians to update assets in the field, improves morale while also making good business sense. At least in the case of Field Squared, the software provides a native geospatial information system (GIS) and mapping engine to easily track and manage assets in the same pane of glass from which work orders and all other field operations take place. Moreover, assets can be visualized on a map to easily schedule work orders and track an asset location in real-time.

In the field, technicians can be allowed to make changes or automated approval workflows can be enabled that notify the operations manager in charge of verifying asset data that an asset is in need of review. The entire end-to-end “asset update submission > verification process” can be automated, thereby ensuring the integrity of asset data collated in the field.

Redline Esri ArcGIS Assets from the Field
Many companies with field operations or services use third-party GIS providers, such as Esri, to manage their assets.

Tapping into the rich ArcGIS asset database within a field service automation solution, is a game changer when it comes to effective mobile workforce management. Technicians have the relevant asset data at their fingertips, right in the field, allowing them to redline asset updates, even in offline/disconnected mode. Meanwhile, operations managers are afforded the ability to schedule and route work against the assets with ease.

Watch the 2-minute video showing our zero-effort integration to Esri ArcGIS

From leveraging mobile form intelligence features like pre-filing fields to keeping field assets updated, how to ensure the integrity of field collected data doesn’t have to be an all-consuming activity. There are tools and full-featured field service automation software solutions to help solve the problem for good.

Want to learn more about how field service automation software can help you? Get a demo today and see it live.

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