- Author: The Field Eagle Team
- Published: 12/15/2021 2:03:26 PM
If you've been experimenting with mobile data collection tools for your workforce, you've probably realized all of the benefits that they provide. The next step in implementing them is deploying them to the field, but this process can often be quite daunting.
Companies need to consider many different factors such as:
- Ease of use for inspectors: One of the most important considerations is how easy it is for your inspectors to use. Make sure the software is intuitive and easy to navigate. You don’t want them struggling with using it in the field.
- Efficiency: The goal is for the software to help make your field data collection process more efficient, so be sure to choose one that will save time and money.
- Serviceability: Choose easily serviceable software to better deal with any issues that might arise – preferably one with support available.
However, once a decision has been made, the process for deploying a mobile data collection software solution is relatively straightforward.
Choosing the right device
The most suitable device varies based on needs and requirements. Making the right choice here is crucial and needs to be considered carefully. Decisions will need to be made depending on where the software will be used and for what purpose.
A tablet is a better option in some cases, while in others, a smaller mobile device like a smartphone might be a better fit.
When picking a device, consideration needs to be given to whether or not internet access, either cellular or via WiFi, will be available. Also, understand if the software can store data locally or if it needs a real-time internet connection.
A balanced approach
As always, a balance needs to be maintained, and the best option could often be a combination of different devices in your fleet. Mobile data collection software doesn’t need to be only available on mobile devices. If there are locations where internet connectivity is functional, tablet devices can collect and sync data for later use. And in turn, if no internet connection will be available on location, customers can still use tablet or smartphone devices to collect and store data locally that they can wirelessly sync when returning to an area with internet connectivity.
Once the devices are chosen, the next step is to install the software. Mobile data collection software is often installed on employee devices by IT teams directly or the manufacturer. Often, the software isn't available through public app stores and must be sideloaded onto devices.
The installation process generally requires a unique code or activation key that is provided by the software supplier. Employees should also be aware of any special requirements, such as disabling passcode locks, for the software to function properly.
For employees that choose to use their own devices, consideration must be given to existing IT policies. Personally owned mobile devices may need to be registered and approved by the IT department before being allowed access to the corporate network. If not registered, there are often security measures in place that will require the device owner to enter a PIN or passcode to unlock it.
It's also important to decide how the devices will be used. In some cases, company policies may restrict employees from using their own devices for work-related tasks. In these cases, it may be necessary to issue company-owned devices.
Choosing the right data plan
With field data collection software, it's vital to understand overall data usage. Look at suitable data plans based on employee needs and evaluate what type of data will be collected. It's essential to determine which network will work best in the areas where your employees will be working.
Additionally, if you plan on using applications that require internet access, such as email or mapping software, it's important to factor in how those services will impact data usage. Many carriers offer unlimited talk and text plans, but the amount of data that can be used before overages are incurred varies greatly.
Employee-owned Mobile Devices
Suppose the decision is made to allow employees to use their own smartphones, tablets, or other mobile devices for work-related activities. In that case, employers should have a policy in place that outlines what's allowed and how much employees will receive.
When choosing a data plan for employee-owned devices, it's important to determine how much data the employees are allowed to use before overages are incurred. Some carriers offer “unlimited” plans that include a set amount of high-speed data each month, but once that limit is reached, the speed of the internet connection is reduced significantly.
Another consideration with employee-owned devices is data protection and security. Security for all mobile devices has become increasingly important with the rise in cyberattacks and online breaches. Mobile devices are especially vulnerable since they can be easily lost or stolen. With mobile data collection software, the true value is the data itself, and if this is lost or compromised, the company can incur significant financial penalties. A Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution can help manage and secure employee-owned devices.
Phone usage policies
It's also important to consider what type of Mobile Device Management (MDM) software will be needed to track and secure company data. MDM software can manage employee-owned devices, as well as corporate-owned devices. It can also enforce security policies, track the device's location, and remotely wipe data from a lost or stolen device.
Your policy should also consider hardware issues, including loss and damage. These devices will often be used in the field, and electronic devices are notoriously fragile. Mobile field data collection is only as good as your hardware, so make sure to leave room in the budget for replacement devices when they are lost or damaged.
Flexibility is key regarding mobile data collection software and the devices they're deployed on. To get the most out of your data, you need software that will work with a variety of devices and platforms.
Field Eagle is Mobile Data Collection Software
If you're looking for a way to run inspections or fill out checklists on the field, Field Eagle is the tool for you. Our inspection software can immediately synch data with a server for analysis, or store it until a connection is available. We take care of all the setup and installation so you can have a customized solution ready to go.
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