3 Simple Ways to Increase Data Quality

Yes, We’re Talking About You

If your organization gathers field data as part of its work, whether that is in the form of periodic surveys (e.g. household surveys) or continuous data (e.g. supply levels), today there are ways to reduce the cost, increase the speed AND increase the quality of that data collection.  And you’re probably not taking advantage of all of these simple approaches to reach that better, faster, cheaper data.

3 Things You’re Not Doing to Increase Data Quality

1. Mobile Data Collection: the No-Brainer

No matter what sector you working in, from public health to extractive industries to education, the chances are that you’ve got staff in the field right now carrying paper forms on clipboards.   Twenty years ago, when mobile data collection (MDC) was just getting started (mostly on Palm PDAs), it was pretty hard to transform those paper forms into electronic versions.  So you had an excuse not to use it.

Now it’s 2016 and mobile data collection is simple and inexpensive and works on every mobile device (including the one in your pocket right now) – and it allows you to put in place several easy strategies to reduce data errors and increase quality, including:

  • Enforced Skip Logic – with paper forms it takes training (and sometimes lots of it) to get staff to always follow the form logic.  You have to teach it to them, and then make sure that they always follow it. Always.  With MDC, that part of the training is reduced or eliminated, because the mobile device you’re using always, always, always follows the logic that you’ve built into your form.  Even when the person collecting the data is tired, or distracted. Always.skip pattern
  • Numeric Range Limits – as with logic, it takes training to get people to follow your instructions for numeric range limits.  And when the paper form says “enter a number between 1 and 10” and they enter 15 – you just have to thrown out that data.  Time and money wasted. But with MDC, they simply can’t enter that 15.  Time and money saved.
  • Real-Time Data – as connectivity improves around the globe, the chances are increasingly good that your teams will have connectivity wherever they go.   If they do, a good MDC tool will let you eyeball that data as it comes in, spotting problematic data as it happens.  And a really good MDC tool (yep, we’re talking about Magpi) will let you automatically flag or respond to that problematic data (more on this below).

At this point, no question about it, if you’re still using paper forms, there has never been a better time to switch to easy, inexpensive electronic.

2. Automated Supervision: the Supervisor That Never Sleeps

As we recently touched on in this blog post, there are now a variety of tools built into Magpi to let you automatically react to your incoming data using our Respond feature.  For example, if certain values, or combinations of values, are reported, you can automatically send a text message to the data collector, or the supervisor.  This means instead of you having to eyeball the data, Magpi can do it for you.  And you can set this up in minutes.

And the available tools aren’t just inside Magpi: because Magpi is now part of the Zapier ecosystem, it means that Magpi’s Enterprise users can easily (and I mean SUPER easily) flow their Magpi data into other software, from the Excel-like Google Sheets to Salesforce to MySQL databases.  And of course each of those tools has an incredible array of automations that you can apply to your data.  This means that instead of just eyeballing the data, or even periodically generating reports, you can create a system that is always looking at the data and always applying quality checks.  While you are sleeping.

That means the supervisors don’t have to focus on the low-level-but-time-consuming stuff, like making sure people are following the skip patterns, and can focus on higher-level, “big picture” supervision.

We’ll admit it, the variety of tools that you can now connect with Magpi for automated supervision can be a little overwhelming (try going to Zapier and browsing through their “app directory”), but if you have questions just let us know.  We’d love to help you answer them.

3. SMS Reminders: Tired of Nudging Your Team? Let Magpi Do It For You

It’s always amazing to us at Magpi when users are already using Magpi for MDC, but they’re not using reminders — which are built into Magpi’s messaging system.  The fact is that even simple automated messaging — like reminding data collectors every Friday morning to submit data — can save a human supervisor from having to do the same thing by manually texting everyone.  And save that same supervisor from having to track down the people that forgot.receiving a message

And Magpi will do it day after day, week after week, for just pennies.

Click here for more information about Magpi Messaging and reminders.

Conclusion

As we said, #1 on the list above — switching from paper to electronic forms — is the real no-brainer.  It’s cheaper, faster, easier, AND leads to higher quality and that means that you almost certainly ought to be using mobile electronic forms.   And once you’ve made that little jump, #2 and #3 are easy to add into the mix.

Any questions?  Write to us and let us know.  We can set up a demo in-person or by Skype or Webex and show you what you need to know.

Taking the Paper Out of Paperwork

Anywhere paper-based data collection forms are needed - from field research to construction sites to field inspections of equipment - Magpi takes the paper (and a lot of the work) out of paperwork.

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