Field data collection: What Is It, Its Importance, & Steps To Collect It (2023 Guide)

What is Field Data Collection? This guide contains the solutions. Find out what it means as well as how to gather.

Introduction

In day-to-day life, we come across many works that require proper planning and strategic execution of strategies and plans that help in governing the processes of work. Therefore, it becomes essential to pay heed to every work process so that the work gets carried out most efficiently. One of the many required systems includes the collection of field data to check the execution of the work and also to know about the capacities of the work. Field data collection is one of the most suitable methods that lead to the proper execution of tasks.

What is field data collection?

Field Data is referred to the summation or aggregate of all the data points that are collected from the field operations. For example, an electricity company would likely involve all the real-time data from every asset and piece of infrastructure across the geography and field that it covers. Mentions are made of transformers, stations, substations, wiring, utility poles, and the overall data involved in the field. Similarly, an oil and gas company would involve all the data regarding the status of every piece of machinery in the oil drilling facilities, the processing units, refineries, oil tanks, etc. Field data helps the team to get information regarding each data involved so that the operations team has complete visibility of all that is going on in the field which will help them to make decisions. This is applicable across large and operations-intensive sectors like utility companies such as telecom, utilities (electric & water), oil & gas, or even companies in environmental projects, etc.

When should you choose field data collection?

Field data collection is the best for projects with specific environmental requirements, such as specific mechanisms for sound recordings or a particular visual environment for images or videos. For example, a company that excels in developing in-car speech recognition technology may need to record the voices of participants from within the actual car where the system will be in use. 

Which industries can benefit from field data?

Some of the industries that benefit from field data include the following:

  • Engineering
  • Electric utilities
  • Water & sewer
  • Oil & gas
  • Telecom
  • Construction
  • Environmental protection
  • Agriculture

Types of field data collection 

Here are the many forms of data collection that are involved in the field:

  • Investigation – An investigation is a process that involves the gathering of evidence and data to solve various problems.

  • Inspection – An inspection helps in assessing and determining the system of building blocks or the areas to determine the current conditions.

  • Assessments – Assessments are the systems for determining the significance, size, scale, or worth of a field setup. If damage is determined, it involves the recognition of the problem and drawback for the smooth overcoming of the problems.

  • Inventories – An inventory is the count or list of items that help in ensuring that the goods remain stocked and this helps in checking which goods are out of stock and needs to be replenished. 

  • Checklists – A checklist refers to a list of items or tasks to be checked after they are completed. For example, a job site safety checklist will be used to collect all the information to verify that the site meets the required safety standards.

Steps in the data collection process

There are several steps involved in the process of data collection. They are mentioned below:

  • Step 1: The Presence of a Plan

A good data collection procedure starts with the formation of a structure or a plan. It is very important to find the answers to the objectives of the data collection, the available information, the required information, etc. Once these questions are answered, the next task is to find out the overall budget. 

  • Step 2: The Survey of the Structures Involved

The structure of the design of a structure has a severe impact on the procedures of field data collection concerning the number of respondents, and how the data is collected, processed, and analyzed.

  • Step 3: The Tools to be Used

Mobile data collection is a faster, eco-friendly, and more economical method. The tools to be used depending on the nature of the audience. However, paper surveys are used in special cases where the usage of mobile services is not guaranteed, say, in the cases of the presence of a poor network zone, etc. In such a case, one can use offline survey apps. Collection of data can be made on hand-held devices that can store the data in the cloud and can upload it to the platform once they are back online. 

  • Step 4: The Features Involved

The creation of complex structures is an essential element when there is a business that involves handling lots of data. This is one of the reasons why powerful forms of creation systems are required to make the process of field data collection and analysis easier. 

  • Step 5: Testing the Method

Many things go out of the plan and strategies fail in the process of gathering data during research. For example, the software can malfunction and there may be connectivity issues, and so on. Testing the field data collection method is a time-consuming method but it helps in saving a lot of time. It is very essential to reduce the chances of problems by testing the field data collection process in advance. 

  • Step 6: The Resources

The basic resources that are required for any field data collection process include the presence of a good amount of resources or a team that would help in the proper planning, management, and other services like framing the questionnaire, designing the surveys, understanding data analytics, and so on.

  • Step 7: Creating the Report

Firstly, to create a report, it is extremely essential to receive and collect feedback on the entire process. Questions involving the planning out of the entire survey process, improvement of the data collection methods, the reaction of the respondents, challenges of the field survey, etc. Secondly, it is important to note the process. Thirdly, it is important to create an analysis of the data. Lastly, the distribution of the findings is equally important as others. Once the analysis of the results is available, the next step is to distribute them to various stakeholders, including the clients and respondents. The charts, maps, graphics, and reports, all can help one to create a story with the data for reference. 

Challenges in creating field data

The collection of field data is a complex, complicated, and lengthy process but the success of the operations depends on several factors. The general challenges faced during data collection include the following:

  • Training/managing staff
  • Inclement Weather
  • Environmental hazards
  • Language barriers
  • Access to/faulty equipment
  • Time restraints

Some other constraints of data collection methods involve the following:

  • Lost, damaged, incomplete, or incorrect forms of data
  • Illegible handwriting
  • Transcription errors
  • Inaccurate/lack of location data
  • Labor-intensive reporting
  • Out-of-date information

How does field data collection help in field data management?

Field data is an essential component for both understanding the customer experience and gaining more insights that lead to strengths and remove weaknesses. 

  • Evaluation of customer experience 

One of the greatest benefits of field data is the ability to achieve a quick overview of the customer experience. 

The data can be accumulated to understand where customers are most satisfied, and where there are scopes for further improvement. This will ensure smooth progress.

  • Evaluation of the performance of the employees

Companies can implement daily surveys that would be completed by the field technicians themselves. These surveys would help to collect information such as the number of sales, upsells, new customers, etc. In addition to providing a clear idea of how each employee is performing over time, these surveys can also help to demonstrate the strengths and weaknesses of the employees. Proper field data collection enables the companies to understand the capabilities of the employees better so that they can optimize the workforce.

  • Identification of extra costs and expenses

Companies that can identify and eliminate additional costs gain a prominent position in the competition. 

  • Identification of workflow challenges and improvements

Field data collection offers a clear sketch of the various processes and workflows so that one can easily identify the issues that are holding back the proper performance. It is very important to first understand what is happening in the processes of daily operations. 

Obtain accessible, actionable data

Field data collection is essential for companies as it provides them with the data that would help them to improve, grow, and move forward. All of the information is sent to the managers, who can put the information to use immediately. Access to reporting helps both managers and field workers to operate efficiently which would boost the company's bottom line. Companies that use field data to make their decisions save money and time while also helping the field workers to become even more efficient and productive.

Field Data Collection Using A Mobile App

The evolution of technology helps in the collection of more reliable, timely data, that allows businesses to take action and this helps in responding quickly to realities in the field. When there is the collection of data with the help of mobile-driven apps instead of using traditional pen-and-paper processes, progress can be easily followed and this helps in the visualization of data in real time rather than having the conditions to wait for the team to return to the office. A paperless data collection process also helps avoid transcription errors and this helps in reducing inaccuracies and errors. With the help of a mobile data collection platform or an app, the field workers need to carry only one piece of equipment. This helps in eliminating the need for juggling and finding different tools. With the help of a well-planned and executed mobile data collection process, one can save money, stay in compliance, and create more value from field operations and investments.

Try Zorp

ZORP is a platform that helps create Field Data Collection apps without writing a single line of code. With Zorp's pre-built templates, organizations can easily and quickly create one that is tailor-made for their needs.