Opinion: Why you should give your business up to the paperless revolution

Leanne Owen, partner at tech consultancy HSJ Strato, discusses how using mobile forms can improve the accuracy of what you do while saving countless hours lost to duplication.

There are many benefits to embracing the paperless practice when it comes to business.

Firstly, it’s environmentally friendly; that’s a bit of a no-brainer. However, more importantly, it can reduce both overhead costs and time, hugely.

Think of a health and safety assessor; they compile audits, assessments and reports. A typical task for them would be to attend a building site in order to carry out a risk assessment.

This would involve surveying the site, making as many notes as possible, either in continuous prose or on a printed form, then returning to the office to type up the report into a correctly formatted document in order to send over to the client.

The above process takes a reasonable amount of time assuming it is completed all in one go. Yet, when you take into account a health and safety assessor’s regular working week, numerous site visits, travel time and the not-so-minor detail of other tasks and time off, it can take an unreasonable amount of time to get the end product. Profitability is impacted heavily.

If we brought mobile forms into the equation, we could eliminate over half the time it takes to complete the process. By using mobile forms to input data during the site visit, not only are they providing a way to capture “hard to capture” valuable information like photos and sketches alongside check boxes, list selections and simple text, they drastically improve accuracy in a time efficient way.

Rules can be also be defined to present different questions based on previous selections speeding up data capture.

Their report is being built in real time. And once the site visit is over, the form data is transformed automatically into a fully customisable multi page word document that only needs, at best, tweaking before sending on to the client. It’s as easy as that. Just to squeeze in one more benefit – no internet connection is required to fill out the form.

Just capture the information, save it, next time a connection is available it will generate the report and save the data in the cloud and send it where it’s needed: to a database, email, GoogleDrive, Dropbox, OneBox, Evernote etc.

The beauty for those back in the office is that they don’t need to wait for paperwork to come back. The latest visit/inspection/survey/sign-off  is with them at a click of a button in exactly the format they need. This boosts team productivity and customer service tremendously.

Using other features such as capturing signatures on site, there and then to get jobs or visits signed off increases accountability, speeds up invoicing and payment processes. Who doesn’t want to get paid faster?

The uses for mobile forms are vast and applicable to any business that goes out to site to carry out some form of work, be it trades contractors, quantity surveyors, lift maintenance, fire risk assessors, loss adjustors, health and safety inspectors ….. the list is endless.

The common theme is that these businesses want to work smarter by spending less time on paperwork and having more accurate data that can be distributed automatically to the office team.

The digital capture of real-time, accurate data pushes the boundaries of how you work and increases the quality of the end product.

To simply save time by reducing duplication is one thing, but to boost workforce productivity by getting work out quicker and of higher quality will make a noticeable difference to your business and give you the edge of your competition.