March 4, 2019 | Written by: Michelle Reinhold
How to Capture Data in the Field with Your ERP
Using Custom Apps to Streamline Your Job Site
Data capture and entry while in the field can be a time-consuming process that often requires the transposing of physical documents into your enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, and constant filing and looking up of paperwork. Finding ways to streamline the way you record and access your data in the field can help you focus more on getting the job done. The Business Information Group, Inc. (BIG) application development team has created a solution by integrating tools into the Viewpoint Vista ERP to help automate your day-to-day processes.
Custom Reporting Apps for Viewpoint
These tools, or apps, are easily accessible by signing into BIG’s custom web portal. The portal offers a series of apps including, but not limited to: mobile questionnaires, timesheets & expense reports, and QR code badges. The mobile questionnaire feature allows you to create and complete: daily or weekly checklists, certifications, accident investigation reports, inspection logs, general surveys, etc. All data, once captured, can be tracked by the answers given in user-defined tables which are available for review immediately. The captured data can be viewed in a separate app in the BIG Portal either by employee name or by the certification type. Some examples of this would be to view all users who passed a certain certification or to find an employee with the certification you need on an upcoming project in your pipeline.
One of the most frequently used questionnaires featured is to complete and track certifications in the field. BIG has recently created a Heavy Equipment Operator certification package for a client. There is a separate survey for each piece of equipment, and the Certifier can only see certification surveys they are eligible to give certifications on. At the end of the survey, a pass/fail notice is given. The survey is uploaded into the ERP and updates the employee’s Certification record as well. In this example, all questions were a simple pass/fail, but question types and possible responses can be set by the end user including areas for comments. Here is an example of what one may look like:
Time & Expense Tracking
Time and expense tracking in the field is another obstacle a lot of construction businesses have. Current processes may require having physical timesheets filled out by a foreman or having the information sent to someone else to enter into their ERP. With BIG’s mobile portal Users can use the same portal to submit not only their timesheets but also their Labor, Equipment, Material (LEM) tickets. This app allows for time to be entered per job and phase for one user or an entire work crew at once. Weather, job conditions, and additional notes can also be added to a LEM ticket for each date entered. Time submissions captured in this tool are immediately stored in the ERP, are available for editing, and for payroll processing. You are also able to review and access previous entries, making review of older time and LEM entries a breeze.
Another data capture app is QR codes for badges to grant access and log vendor visits to the job site. I reached out to our Lead Developer Greg Gross to explain in further detail. “In the Vendor Scan App, Vendors (Subcontractors) are checked in when they enter a job site, so you know who was on the job site each day. The information is then saved to your ERP for reporting use. The person at the site responsible for checking vendors in can either manually check them in by selecting the vendor name from a list specific to that job or have the vendor scan their badge by putting the app in Kiosk Mode. The badges are printed, using a free Google tool, on plain paper (expensive plastic badges are not required). The QR code on the badge holds the personal information for the vendor and is picked up on the scan.”
Utilizing this suite of apps is simple and can be accessed on any devices that have access to a web browser such as a mobile phone, a tablet or a PC. The portal and apps are mobile-friendly and will automatically format to fit the screen of the device being used. Authorized users enter their credentials and authenticate their login by entering a two-factor authentication code. The two-factor authentication helps to secure and protect your data. You are able to regulate which apps each user has access too, limiting their apps to only those that are essential to their role.
Save Time & Money with Data Collection in the Field
Think of all the processes you could simplify, the time you could be saving, and live data you could review just by capturing data electronically. Questionnaires, time and expense reports, and QR badges electronic capture will help reduce the need for paper, promote automation of everyday processes, and help you to stay focused on the job at hand and not worrying about if the paperwork was processed or recorded.