For most people that work in the field regularly the business case for the use of tablet computers is often obvious and compelling. However, it is often not so easy to articulate to your accountant and IT Manager.
Generally when a small business owner understands the basic functionality of a tablet computer they jump in very quickly as they can see an immediate impact on their bottom line. The primary benefits for field use include:
If I could only have one app on my tablet computer it would be PDF Maps by Avenza. By loading geo-referenced PDF maps into the app I am able to navigate when driving and walking much more efficiently than with map and compass. Usually I save at least 30 minutes per day because I always know where I am. No wasted time finding my way into a work area and much more efficient travel when on foot. GPS apps such as GPS Kit are also terrific because I can cache Google Earth images within the app for use offline.
When I had to use paper maps, project documents, safety plans, checklists, etc. I could end up spending hours preparing for a week of fieldwork. This preparation time almost completely disappears when using digital versions of these documents. Copy – Save – Sync and all of the required information is loaded on my tablet computer. In my case this is an iPad and Documents To Go is used to transfer the data from my PC to the iPad.
As much as is practical I capture data digitally. If I can do so with a database this is even better. Databases applications such as Time Master, Tap Forms and iSNAP are not only efficient ways to capture data but will make pulling this information together back at the office much faster. As an example I used to record my billable time in a paper diary. At the end of the month I would spend about 2 to 3 hours per client going through my diary entries to create a spreadsheet to summarize my time. By using the app Time Master this process now takes 20 to 30 minutes.
There are many other financial benefits to using a mobile device but if you are looking for the most significant benefits I think the three listed above are heavy hitters.
I hope this can help you develop a sound business case to move ahead with the use of mobile devices as an aid for fieldwork.