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Common Mistakes to Avoid in Field Data Collection

Field data collection help project managers, engineers and other employees stay informed throughout each project stage. Here are several common mistakes that can rob field data collection process of its effectiveness:

Lack of Training on Specific Collection Procedures

If you send 10 random field reporters to the same project and ask them to collect data, the results will vary from reporter to reporter. This should highlight the significance of training on data collection procedures. Ensure that each person within your field reporting team is thoroughly trained on exactly what they should report in the first place.

Since the details and specifications change from project to project, it is imperative to conduct this training on a regular basis. Taking the time to properly brief and guide your field data collection team on the frontend will save you time and money on the backend.

Improvisations and Self-Interpretations of Data

Self-interpretation and improvisations can basically destroy the quality and efficiency of data collection. Even when using a field data collection app, a team member may decide to answer specific questions or report certain details based on their preferences instead of protocol. As mentioned earlier, this is where a lack of consistency in results and analyses come into play. As recommended by the UC Davis Center for Evaluation and Research, your team should follow the exact instructions outlined in the survey protocol and avoid the temptation of using their own personal preferences and interpretations.

Rushing through Reports to Save Time

Project managers and field data collection team members are encouraged and instructed to save as much time as possible. Doing so ensures that they meet deadlines, exceed expectation and hopefully come in under budget. However, data collection should never be an area that is cut short or rushed through just to accomplish this goal. This is again where proper training and pre-project briefings come into play.

If a data collection team member is known for rushing through their reports, work with them one-on-one to learn tips and tricks for managing their time wisely in the field. This type of targeted training will help them to collect field data completely and properly while also in an efficient and timely fashion.

Periodic Inventory Checks Not Conducted

Project managers and team members are essentially programmed to conduct regular inventory checks on tools, materials and even payroll hours applied to each project. However, a common mistake is that they forget to check and analyze the data collected from the field. It is not realistic to think you could ever record or track every single thing in the field within your reports – not even with the very best field data collection software on the market.

Therefore, it is essential to ensure your team focuses on collecting the most pertinent data and significant details as a priority. Conducting periodic inventory checks allows you to see what:

  • Key information has been obtained
  • Key information has been obtained
  • Unnecessary information should never have been obtained

Technology Takes a Weight Off

Today’s mobile data collection solutions, such as the options available through 360 Field Reporting, make the gathering of relevant information simple and quick while making it easier for teams to avoid these common mistakes.

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