Thursday, February 07, 2013

Reducing Paperwork, Increasing Efficiency

I'm going to share a tip about a tool I am currently using to help reduce the amount of actual paperwork I have to deal with.

While I don't believe it is possible to go entirely paperless (nor is it necessarily entirely desirable), I do like the idea of real-time reporting directly to clients as a means of both efficiency as well as cutting back on the time I spend on admin after I'm done for the day.

For the last few months I have been using an app called Canvas where I have created predefined forms for routine tasks, then fill them out while at the subject's address on my BlackBerry Playbook and have the output emailed directly to the client.

It works particularly well for document service jobs or field visits - automatically entering dates and times of visits, even giving GPS co-ordinates if you like (although this doesn't work on the PlayBook) and I have created other fields including those with pull-down options for common outcomes. Also, I can attach a photograph taken at the scene if I wish - such as evidence of documents affixed to a door, for example.

Previously, I'd spend 30 minutes to an hour after getting back home sending emails. Now, while some extra time is spent while at a Subject's address, I'm pretty much done. When I get home I can put my feet up and not worry about things.

Also, the Client gets an update immediately via an emailed PDF with a customised title including their own reference number. 

Okay, the generated PDF is pretty basic - field names on the left, input data on the right - but Canvas offer to convert paper forms you might be using into a mobile format (at an extra cost).

Cost-wise, you can opt for a per-use or unlimited monthly arrangement. 

Canvas isn't the only option either. There are a bunch of companies out there that offer similar services, it's just the one I preferred after testing out several as many offer free trials. Not all offered a BBOS version though, obviously iOS and Android are more popular options, and Canvas covers them all.

Check out others like:

You are bound to find something that suits your requirements.

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