Digitizing Forms

Move your data collection out of the dark ages and into the modern era.

Hey guys, if you’re like me, you probably have more than your fair share of paperwork and forms to complete for every task, project or job that you complete. The paperwork then needs to be either filed, reviewed, signed by a co-worker, transcribed etc. If you’re comfortable working with electronic copies of forms, or at the very least, know that there is potential to save yourself a ton of time by utilizing an electronic copy of the document, you’d probably be interested in learning how to make your company’s pre-existing forms in a format that can be manipulated digitally.

Good news! Did you know that Adobe Acrobat X Pro can convert a pdf to a form in a matter of seconds? It will likely take some tweaking to get it looking as you’d like, to make boxes ‘tick boxes’ or drop-down menus, but once the form is set and ready to go, goodbye paper stack of forms. You can also add your electronic signature to a document, and email it straight away as soon as it’s finished.

If you need a free resource and want to build a custom form from scratch, check out Google Forms. The forms can be saved in your Google+ account, saved to a hard drive, exported in spreadsheet format, and the list goes on. Definitely a great resource to have on hand.

Last, if you’re in need of switching to¬†an electronic form but want to use an iPad or tablet while you’re collecting data in the field in a hazardous work environment like a refinery or gas plant, check out Xciel. The company makes smartphone, tablet and iPad cases that have met the specs required to operate in Class 1, Div 2 hazardous environments (i.e. most oil and gas facilities). Unfortunately, the lacklust quality of the company’s website distracts your attention but try to keep in mind what you can potentially do with your phone or tablet handy at more job sites.

Have any other tricks to making your fieldwork more efficient? Found a way to produce sample lists or automatically fill out chain of custodies from electronic field notes? Let us know!

June 20, 2015

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