Case Study

No-Code Data Capture Apps for Japanese Knotweed: Case Study

Written by Lee Glynn
July 2, 2024
No-Code Data Capture Apps for Japanese Knotweed: Case Study

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How *Japanese Knotweed Removal Company Saved 112.5 Hours Weekly with Digital Forms, No-Code Data Capture Apps & Digital Site Survey Reports

In our latest no-code app and digital forms case study, we’re discussing how Emma Sorrensen at “The UK Japanese Knotweed Removal Company” – a leading invasive weed control company, improved data accuracy, and reporting speed, and saved approximately 112.5 hours per week using the forms2 no-code platform to collect data efficiently for digital Japanese Knotweed Reporting Forms and digital Japanese Knotweed Site Survey Reports.

*Caveat – the client wished to remain anonymous. We can say the company is one of the biggest Japanese Knotweed removal companies in the UK.

Challenge Summary

“The UK Japanese Knotweed removal company” faced significant challenges with manual data entry, leading to inefficiencies and inaccuracies in their knotweed surveys and management plans. Their data collection process was inefficient and prone to errors, as their 18 field teams relied on paper forms, causing delays and potential errors in reporting. Emma Sorrensen, the Business Systems and IT Manager, needed an automated solution to improve the accuracy and speed of data collection and reporting.

Solution Summary

During a Discovery Call with forms2, Emma identified the need for a data collection tool for digital Japanese Knotweed Reporting Forms and digital Japanese Knotweed Site Survey Reports that could integrate with SharePoint and Azure SQL Server. This solution allowed field teams to capture and upload data, including photographs, directly from their mobile devices, eliminating manual data entry. forms2 provided development training, enabling a seamless transition to digital forms, which the team rapidly adopted.

Results Summary

After rolling out the forms2 no-code data capture platform, there was improved data accuracy and reporting speed almost overnight – besides, digital forms can be made in 5 minutes, so it’s easy to roll out. The collected data was more accurate and easier to manage, allowing “The UK Japanese Knotweed Removal Company” to really get rid of manual data entry, saving approximately 112.5 hours per week. The automated system enhanced decision-making as they had media files and correct data to work with and communication between field teams and the back office was much better as everyone was on the same page! The accuracy of data collection increased as all job sheets were filled out properly, enabling the company to provide better services to their clients and reallocate staff to more strategic roles rather than trundling through paper forms! The switch from paper forms to digital forms was paying off! 

Challenge

“The UK Japanese Knotweed removal company” has over 50 employees across the UK providing knotweed surveys and knotweed management plans to large-scale businesses and homeowners. Keeping up with surveys her teams provided with paper forms, the labour-intensive uploading and connecting of photographs to half-completed reports – it was becoming unmanageable, as you can imagine.

Emma knew that the data they were getting could be better. Considering they had 18 field teams collecting information on the invasive plants, the need for accurate data and a quick response was absolutely imperative to the success of their business and the safety of their customers, both residential and industrial.

“We have people that go around spraying Japanese knotweed, basically with chemicals or digging it out so that people can get mortgages. But when it came to actually getting the data in…The data quality was absolutely appalling.”

As everything was paper-based, inaccuracies in data collection were rife, and processing of information was taking days when it could take seconds. The lack of customisable form fields in paper forms led to inefficiencies, making it difficult to adjust or add necessary information on the spot.

“When I arrived, everything was done on paper. Lots of photographs were being taken of Japanese Knotweed. It was photographed and it was manually uploaded. The photos were then looked at and the data was manually put into spreadsheets.”

Obviously, this was labour-intensive. And if an onsite inspector failed to fill everything out on the form, it could lead to inefficient action, or worse – no action being taken at all with potentially devastating results.

You can understand the strain on the team was immense. Conscientious staff were doing their best to make sense of handwritten illegible paper forms and then filling them in and two admin staff were working full time to make sense of the data – manually uploading information to Excel spreadsheets. Emma was dismayed at the team having to spend their free time correcting field reports.

Solution: Mobile Forms

During a free Discovery Call, Emma spoke to our platform specialists about how a connection to SharePoint (and eventually Azure SQL Server database) through a business app and the use of mobile forms could eradicate reporting errors and automatically upload data to both new and existing systems. Emma was excited to be able to improve the quality of reporting and reduce the strain on staff in one sweep.

During this call, we identified a need to:

Provide Emma with a no-code data capture app and data capture form that would enable her team to take and attach photographs of the Japanese Knotweed in one sitting using a digital form creator. This tool allowed for advanced customization of forms, including drag-and-drop functionality and mobile accessibility.

The no-code data capture app would be able to scale whenever needed.

The business app needed to send reports directly to the back office and anyone else who needed it automatically when the engineer pressed upload.

Oh, and the information all had to fit nicely into a spreadsheet!

After providing Development Training, Emma moved quickly to begin rolling the forms2 platform out to her team, starting with just 1-2 forms. The team took to it so well, that they actually refused to go back to paper.

Step #1 The Mobile Form Build

Our team worked with Emma to develop an app that would mimic the process they already had in place. The app would enable field teams to report, capture photos, and write up a checklist of issues.

Our platform specialists helped Emma replace paper forms completely with electronic forms. The huge benefit was felt through drag-and-drop fields – site operatives could now fill out fields via their tablet or smartphone.

We showed Emma how to integrate her SharePoint lists and eventually the Azure SQL Server database to their apps so back office and field workers would each have the same information. By integrating form data with these systems, they improved efficiency and ensured secure, easy access to the necessary information. They could also communicate between teams.

The Results

In a nutshell, “The UK Japanese Knotweed removal company” instantly solved data inefficiencies and bottlenecks after switching from paper to digital forms/online forms and automation. This made data way more accurate and much faster too! This resulted in substantial time savings and allowed staff to be reallocated to more strategic roles.

Improved Reporting and Accuracy

The implementation of the forms2 platform and web forms led to a drastic improvement in data accuracy and reporting speed. The transition to digital forms eradicated the errors and inconsistencies that were common with paper forms.

“An early success sign was when our field staff were no longer having to manually upload a whole load of data. It also meant that because we were loading the data in automatically, we were able to start reporting on that data. The quality of our data improved.”

Automated Data Collection

Emma and her team said goodbye to the labour-intensive task of manually uploading data into spreadsheets by using a mobile forms app. The automation ensured that data was uploaded directly to SharePoint and later to an Azure SQL Server database without any manual intervention.

“Initially the data was manually being input into Excel spreadsheets. We started by automatically loading the data into SharePoint lists and then after we’d been using forms2 for about a year, we got ourselves an Azure SQL Server database. And ever since then, it’s gone straight to our database. And it’s lovely because we don’t even have to think about it. It’s just there.”

Increased Efficiency

The digital forms app on the forms2 platform enabled “The UK Japanese Knotweed removal company” to streamline their processes, significantly reducing the time required for data entry and report generation. Field teams could now complete their reports on-site and upload them instantly.

“All of our field-based staff use it all the time, whatever site they’re on, they use it to record what they’ve been doing. They use it to take photographs and we use it to get information to them as well. If engineers are going to a site, they’ll be able to see the data that they need. So, we use forms2 no-code data capture app platform both ways – to send important data to them and to get data back from them.”

Time Saved Per Digital Form vs Paper Forms

Filling out a paper form used to take around 20 minutes per entry. With the introduction of online digital forms, this time was cut down to just 5 minutes. This drastic reduction in time meant that field teams could complete their data entry four times faster than before.

Quick maths on ROI on time saved:

  • 15 minutes saved per form x 90 forms per day = 1,350 minutes saved daily.
  • 1,350 minutes saved daily / 60 minutes = 22.5 hours saved per day.
  • Time saved per form: 15 minutes
  • Forms filled out daily: 90
  • Total time saved daily: 22.5 hours
  • Weekly time saved: 112.5 hours (based on a 5-day workweek)

Rapid Adoption and Integration

The team quickly adopted the new system, refusing to revert to paper forms once they experienced the benefits of a streamlined data collection process. The ease of use and the efficiency of the forms2 platform was seamless.

“Well, I was sort of trying it out and I went to a job with an engineer. We were visiting different sites and I sort of said, ‘look, we can do it like this instead’ and showed him forms2 and the digital forms on the tablet. He said, ‘Oh, can I have a go?’ And then he refused to use paper from that day on. We didn’t roll it out as such. It just started being used and we have been playing catch up ever since! The team were saying things like, ‘I like that. I love that,’ which was quite entertaining.”

Emma was able to onboard the entire team as they saw how much faster it was to fill out a mobile form rather than a paper form.

Expansion and Scalability

What started with 1-2 digital forms expanded rapidly as the team realised the potential of the forms2 data collection tool and no-code data capture app. They now use over 30 digital forms/online forms for various processes like Japanese Knotweed Reporting Forms, Japanese Knotweed Site Survey Reports, job sheets, client quotes, accident reporting, toolbox talks and more.

“We originally looked at forms2 for two specific forms. Now, we must have 30 or 40 because we use them for all sorts of different things. We’ve implemented all of our accident reporting and continuous improvement as well as our suggestion scheme in the last couple of weeks as well.”

Strategic Reallocation of Staff

The automation of data entry tasks allowed “The UK Japanese Knotweed removal company” to reallocate staff to more strategic roles, such as photography, where they could provide greater value to the company.

“Although headcount has increased, those manual jobs aren’t being done anymore.”

We’re not ones to brag but…

We pride ourselves on providing exceptional customer service. It’s what sets us apart from our competitors. So, we were happy to find that Emma appreciated the efforts of our platform specialists in finding solutions.

“I’m actually from a support background. My background is in software development. So, it’s quite nice to actually talk to support people – they’re great because they ask the right questions.”

Although it was clear Emma didn’t need us to coach her, we were on hand with development training when needed when she was building the no-code apps for Japanese knotweed removal forms and audits.

A Lasting Impact

Our team at forms2 was extremely pleased with how Emma was able to make lasting, positive change at “The UK Japanese Knotweed Removal Company” with digital forms and no-code data capture apps for Japanese Knotweed removals. An app that started with just 2 mobile forms/digital forms has blossomed into something that has catapulted form data collection into the 21st century and allowed the business to improve their services, make accurate decisions based on collected data, and speed up workflows.

“It’s the speed we can get development work done, and the way that it just writes so easily into our database. We don’t have any data entry issues. We don’t have any manual data entry. Everything is captured with a digital form now and it’s traceable and we can audit and analyse data.”

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