Data collection is gathering for business decision-making, strategic planning, research, and other purposes. Efficient data collection is essential for any business or organization. This article discusses some best practices for collecting data efficiently, from streamlining processes to investing in technology and creating data-driven cultures. It also explains the importance of having a plan for data collection and ways to analyze collected data to make better decisions.
What is Data Collection?
Data collection is the process of gathering, estimating, and parsing accurate intuitions for research using standard legit strategies. Effective data collection provides the information needed to answer questions, analyze business performance or other outcomes, and predict future trends, actions and scenarios.
Two primary types of data can be collected: quantitative and qualitative. The former is numerical — for example, prices, amounts, statistics and percentages. Qualitative data is descriptive — e.g., colour, smell, appearance and opinion. Regardless of the field of activity or preference for defining data (quantitative, qualitative), accurate data collection is essential to maintaining the project’s integrity. Both the selection of appropriate data collection instruments (existing, modified, or newly developed) and delineated instructions for their correct use reduce the likelihood of errors occurring. Consequences from improperly collected data can vary from the inability to define and address the inspection findings to distorted findings resulting in wasted resources.
Techniques to Enhance Data Collection Efficiency
Mobile Data Collection
As the name suggests, mobile data collection compiles qualitative and quantitative data through mobile devices, such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Mobile Data Collection originated from a need to improve on the old paper-based data collection methods. Modern technology is proven to improve the speed and accuracy of data collection, service delivery efficiency, and staff performance. Compared to paper sheets, mobile forms provide easy options to edit & update the content of compliance checklists, sync them in real-time and store them in one place. That eliminates the need for a laborious update of paper documents and ensures all employees have up-to-date standards always at hand.
RFID (Radio Frequency Identification)
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a next-generation technology- ready, available, and being implemented today- transforming how companies manage and extract business value from their supply operations. An RFID system has four essential elements: tags, readers, antennas, and software. RFID tags exchange information with RFID fixed or mobile readers by radio or radio frequency (RF). A tag contains a sensor attached to an antenna, enabling data transmission to the reader. Each sensor typically includes unique identifiers, and a reader can simultaneously scan more than 100 tags and does not require line-of-sight visibility. This makes it easy to automate processes that would otherwise require extra time and resources and be subject to human error.
Some advantages of RFID technology are:
- Efficiency: Can scan multiple items at once
- Durability: Can handle exposure to sun & rain
- RFID allows for greater security than barcode
RFID is available in three main types: low frequency (LF), high frequency (HF), and ultra-high frequency (UHF).
Barcode scanning involves using a beam of light to “read” a barcode’s black and white lines. The scanner includes a sensor that creates a signal from the reflected light, and a decoder then translates the signal into text and sends it to a computer or database. Barcode scanners require a line of sight and must “see” each barcode one at a time to capture the data. Using this method for data collection is time-saving and reduces data entry errors. However, these errors can bring irreparable damage to a business leading to higher freight costs, unhappy customers, and enormous time used to track down problems.
Use Cloud Storage
Cloud storage is a service model to save data securely online. It can be accessed anytime from any location and easily shared with those granted permission. The data transmitted and stored on remote storage systems can be maintained, managed, backed up and made available to users over the internet. Cloud storage helps businesses with primary data storage needs to save significant space and money by eliminating the need for data storage infrastructure on business premises. The cloud storage provider owns and maintains all the necessary hardware and software, so the cloud users don’t have to. Data is stored across different sources and often comes in other formats. With conventional analytics systems, this makes data collection and analysis a challenging process. However, thanks to the cloud for analytics, it becomes much easier to unify data from disparate formats, making data analysis easier.
In addition, unifying data from different sources makes testing, exploring, and evaluating data much easier to find strategic insights that can help your organization. As companies migrate to the cloud, understanding the security requirements for keeping data safe has become critical. By default, most cloud providers follow security practices and take active steps to protect the integrity of their servers. The steps required to secure data in the cloud vary. Factors, including the type and sensitivity of the data to be protected, cloud architecture, accessibility of built-in and third-party tools, and number and types of users authorized to access the data, must be considered.
Further Maximize your Data Collection
Businesses spend significant time and money organizing and assembling their input data manually. However, by administering and transferring information through collected data on either of the techniques mentioned above, organizations have a treasure trove of valuable information that can be utilized to thrive in today’s competitive market.
Automated data collection means you don’t need to spend time and resources on manual data entries because the software will automatically identify, select, and process data. This helps organizations optimize the quality of work, draw valuable insights, predict trends, prevent risks, save time, drive profits, and make better decisions. You can also reduce personnel requirements and drive down operational costs without the need for back-end form data entry and processing.
If you’re ready to see how Field Eagle can help you maximize your data collection efforts then contact us today!