If you’ve ever worked in environmental consulting, you know that field data is valuable. Collecting, transcribing, analyzing, manipulating, and synthesizing field data takes up the majority of consultants’ time and is at the core of the value they provide to their clients.
It’s easy to see why environmental consultants are still so deeply reliant on traditional pen and paper field forms: Paper forms are simple, straightforward, and have been around for decades. But they’re also inconsistent, time consuming, and wasteful. Issues arise with everything from illegible handwriting to forgetful errors, while transcribing data from handwritten forms to digital format takes time. Furthermore, printing and storing paper forms wastes resources and storage space. Contract bids and cost proposals must account for these expenses and project managers continuously struggle to manage these costs and stay on budget.
However, recent advancements in digital communications and tablet devices have made digital data collection equally dependable to paper forms. In fact, when done correctly, digital field data collection platforms actually fill gaps in efficiency and data quality left behind by paper forms and can lead to significant savings.
Individual firms that use digital field data platforms are able to offer more competitive proposals than their peers. As more firms leverage these new digital systems to get a leg up on their competition, the industry as a whole will shift away from paper forms in favor of digital platforms.
Recently, software developers have identified the potential to capitalize on this trend and a number of applications offering digital platforms have come to market, but are ultimately lacking in performance.
“Write-over PDF” and other similar applications don’t provide the full functionality needed to effectively leverage digital data collection. These types of programs provide little more value than taking a picture of hand written field forms. Data still has to be transcribed and is still subject to typos and other errors.
“Form builders” offer some data capture capabilities but try to cater to such a wide variety of industries that they end up being very complicated to setup and maintain. These applications typically require enterprise software licenses and in-house staff to create and maintain forms and databases. Cost savings realized from reduced field staff labor are consumed by additional IT staff and software license costs.
While other applications fall short, QNOPY offers a complete digital alternative to the paper field form. QNOPY’s digital platform eliminates handwriting related errors and automated workflows ensure that all the required data is collected. Dedicated QNOPY engineers build forms, generate custom reports, and maintain databases. Modular pricing and weekly, monthly, or annual contracts mean you only pay for what you need. From the point of collection to secure cloud storage to database management and formatted reporting, QNOPY provides a truly end-to-end digital solution that is complete and cost effective whether it is being used for one project or integrated across thousands of job sites.
Digital alternatives to traditional, non-digital processes can provide significant increases in efficiency and data integrity for the environmental consulting industry. Companies that implement these solutions quickly and effectively will have a leg up as the industry continues to evolve.