Move Your Business Information to Mobile: Here’s How

By Michael Benedict on March 12, 2015

Paper to MobileHow are you capturing and storing all the business information that your employees collect during a day, a week, a month, a year? Does everything still get recorded onto paper forms, transferred by hand to your office, and then stored in file cabinets?

That’s probably the way you’ve always done it, and while it may be kind of working for you, it could also be hurting your company. Those forms and the associated inefficiencies can actually really impact the bottom line. A 2011 Coopers & Lybrand study (now PricewaterhouseCoopers) shows that companies spend $20 in labor to file a document, and $220 in labor to reproduce a lost document. Approximately 7.5 percent of all documents get lost.

Maybe you believe you have a better record system than that. So, if your staff isn’t losing your documents, then you’re filing them, right? Consider that if your small- or medium-sized business gets just 20 important documents per day that must be filed, according to that study, here is what that probably costs you:

  • 20 documents x 6 minutes average per document to file = 120 minutes per day 
  • 120 minutes = 2 man hours per day 
  • 2 man hours x $15 per hour (inclusive of benefits and burdens) = $30/day 
  • $30/day x 250 working days per year = $7,500 per year

And that’s just the time involved in your filing. It doesn’t include your storage costs, supplies, distribution, mailing, or the time involved in finding those documents that really do get lost.

You probably know deep down that a new system that doesn’t involve all that paper would make sense. But as you watch what seems like the rest of the world go mobile, does taking your small business in the same direction seem like a feat you have no idea how to tackle? It’s easier than you might think. And it could save you time, money, and make a difference in your business.

Here’s how to take the first step moving your business information from paper to mobile.

Start small

Don’t try to overhaul your entire organization at once. Some companies make the mistake of trying to make a shift to all mobile all at once. Just choose one or two forms that you use most frequently and start with those. Skip forms that need a wet signature or that might need to be notarized.

Good forms to start with might include:

  • Inspections 
  • Expense 
  • Reports 
  • Work Orders 
  • Checklists

Time for a change

Next, think about how the form you selected is working for you and your staff. Maybe the best solution is not to replicate it exactly as you currently have it.

This is where you can, and should, enlist the help of the people who actually have to fill out that form. Input from your staff can help them feel more invested in the process and more committed to moving to your new mobile app. Ask them what they would change on your old form, what works, and what doesn’t.

Some questions to ask to help you tailor your mobile app include:

  • Are there questions staff routinely forget to ask customers? 
  • Are there sections on your form that should be optional for specific situations? 
  • How might you break or order the screens to make them most logical and efficient for workflow?

Consider new information to collect

An app allows you to do things that your paper form couldn’t manage. Think about what would make an inspection form or a work order truly go the extra mile for your company. Adding images directly to an inspection form can provide extra validation. Signature capture or GPS coordinates can be perfect for delivery confirmation. Consider what new information might be useful to your business and affect your bottom line, such as the following:

  • Photos 
  • GPS coordinates 
  • Checkboxes 
  • Date and time stamps 
  • Signatures 
  • Drawings 
  • Calculations 
  • Summaries

Now that you’ve pulled all the information together for your new mobile form, it’s time to give it a try. You’ll see that efficiency will be accelerated, forms will work better for your staff, and information will be captured more effectively and accurately. And once you start collecting all of that business information, you can expand how you use it. For ideas, download The Ultimate Guide to Collecting & Using Business Information.

Still struggling to figure out whether switching from paper to mobile is the way to go for your company? Take a look at how eight other companies made the switch and the difference it’s made for them.