5 business benefits of shifting from paper forms to mobile apps

Mobile apps mobile devices
Jason Peck, Director of Marketing at Canvas

Business adoption of new technologies often flows from the personal use of these technologies. This can certainly be said when it comes to mobile apps and devices; the ability to download an app in seconds, share photos and data via the cloud in real-time, and communicate from any location at any time have evolved from “nice to have” to “need to have.”

These consumer-grade technology expectations are just beginning to spill over to the business world. Yet, despite increased adoption of mobile devices and technologies, paper forms are burying businesses today.

Consider that the average office worker goes through 10,000 sheets of paper each year, which means that at an estimated cost of $40 (about £23.8) per case of paper, businesses are spending $80 (about £47.6) annually on paper per worker.

The sheer volume of paper not only costs your business money, but it also grinds productivity to a halt. It takes 18 minutes on average to find a paper document, and a whopping 70% of businesses would fail in three weeks if they had a catastrophic loss of paper due to a fire or flood.

The technological challenges

The costs and inefficiencies of paper forms are no longer lost on businesses that are ramping up efforts to shift paper forms and manual processes to mobile apps – and to integrate mobility with key business processes.

However, getting from paper forms to mobile apps is not without technology, business and cultural challenges. Part of the reason that businesses – particularly small to mid-sized firms lacking the budget or internal resources to undertake mobile IT projects – cling to archaic paper processes and Excel spreadsheets is a fear that developing a custom mobile app will prove costly and time intensive.

Some also harbor concerns around moving hard data that exists on paper to the cloud, maintaining control and security of customer and business data, and introducing new processes to employees who are set in their ways.

But these obstacles continue to fade; today, mobile business apps are accessible to businesses of any size due to the benefits and economics of the cloud and Do-It-Yourself app builder tools that eliminate traditional costs associated with custom app development, reduce the need for internal IT and development resources, and speed time to market from app creation to deployment across your workforce.

As a result, your business can now rapidly and affordably shift from paper forms and experience five key cost saving, productivity, and customer experience benefits that a cloud-based mobile app solution delivers.

1. Mobile time cards enhance workforce visibility

Businesses with mobile workforces often struggle to see in real-time what workers are doing on a daily and even hourly basis, where they are at any given point in time, and if they are being as productive as they could be. Paper forms compound this problem because it can often be several hours or even days before a mobile worker returns to the office, files paperwork and enters customer and project information into your system.

Cloud-based mobile apps provide greater visibility into workforce productivity in several ways. For example, businesses that rely on mobile workers in the field are fully aware that time cards are crucial for tracking employee time worked and thus, labor costs for projects. Traditional time cards present their own challenges, but by creating a time card mobile app, businesses can have the time automatically entered to ensure accuracy, and that information can be sent in real-time via the cloud to the office. Greater accuracy means fewer issues, and allow you to spend less time tracking employees and more on their actual work performance.

2. Mobile work orders improve workforce productivity

For businesses with field workers, tracking how many jobs each employee does in a week can be cumbersome and time consuming with paper work orders. They can also be hard to read, inconsistently returned to the office, lost or damaged, and impossible to get in real time. At a more granular level, fields often aren’t filled in fully or correctly, and pricing is entered or calculated incorrectly.