As an ecologist, you understand how important accurate data collection is. Without the correct data, you run the risk of creating inaccurate reports, which could have implications for your business, your client and the environment.
Many consultancies still rely heavily on paper-based surveys. This can cause problems including wasted staff time entering data into an electronic system, slow data flow, needing supporting materials such as maps and photos, and the potential for errors in data transcription.
This is where data collection software comes in.
In one system, you’re able to set up, collect and manage all the information you need. Using an app for data collection allows you to obtain accurate locations for your records, capture images and audio and even build in reference guides where needed. It all works offline too and records can be uploaded and used by other team members as soon as you have data.
However, the introduction of software might ring some alarm bells, as it can be thought of as being expensive, complex and difficult to transition to. This is where some research and testing, coupled with a cost-benefit analysis and simple business case can be invaluable.
Here are our top tips to help you write a strong business case to showcase why data collection software should be assessed for use in your consultancy.
Tip 1 – know your facts
As the person championing the use of software, you need to be the expert. You’ll be the main point of contact when it comes to providing answers to the questions people have across the business.
When researching software, you should establish a sound knowledge of the following:
- Benefits – how will software improve your consultancy? Think about the direct benefits (such as more accurate data) as well as the indirect benefits (happier staff).
- Costs – how much will it cost? What is included? Will the costs change significantly over time? What are the hidden costs of your current approach (see tip 2)?
- Usability – is the system easy to use? Will there be much training required for employees? And is training and documentation available if needed?
- Support – is there someone to speak to if you need help? What type of support is provided?
- Fit to purpose – how well geared to your industry is the software? Are there case studies and use cases that match your requirements?
- Types – what are the current options on the market?
When it comes to developing a cost-benefit analysis our ‘9 reasons to use software’ blog is a handy guide to refer to.
Tip 3 – run a trial and find some software champions
It’s always good to present a balanced view, so setting up a trial with some key data collectors within the organisation is a great idea. No software will solve every issue you have, so being aware of the pros and cons and having a consensus opinion is important for making sure your business makes the right decisions.
The trial team can greatly support your business case, by undertaking research themselves and providing further information around the use of software. They can also help support any concerns surrounding particular areas of change, by providing context from a range of perspectives. You’re also likely to discover key software ‘champions’ in this process, who will enjoy helping the business roll out and implement the new solutions.
Tip 4 – writing your business case
Writing a business case can seem daunting. However, it doesn’t need to be long or complicated. Having a clearly laid out structure will help you to succinctly capture the key points. We recommend you look for a suitable template online or, simply use a set of headings like the following:
- Executive summary
- Situation analysis
- Summary of current issues with data collection processes
- How data collection software can support our business
- Summary of main ways software can benefit the business
- Cost-benefit analysis including
- clear breakdown of projected outline of the annual costs
- Projected return on investment
- Highlight any non-financial benefits to using software (e.g. remove key pain points for staff)
- Timeline of introduction
- Research process
- Buying process
- You could include a case study in this section. You can find some Coreo case studies here.
We hope by using our top tips, you’ll be well on your way to helping your consultancy business improve its efficiency and effectiveness by moving to a digital workflow for data collection.
If you have any questions, or would like to find out more about the benefits of using software within your business, or you’d like a demonstration of Coreo, please get in touch today and we’ll be happy to help.