VDA has been a long-term M-Files customer since 2016. Like many businesses, they gradually adapt antiquated business processes into the digital age to improve accuracy and efficiency. M-Files customizability was a perfect fit to facilitate this transition.
Transitioning from paper surveys to a Mobile Application
VDA had a paper problem. Every Field Service Consultant that went to a client’s site to perform inspection surveys on elevators and escalators would start with a blank form. The technician also used a new blank form on return trips to the same client. Once the survey was filled, they would return to their office, potentially at home, and type the collected data into a word document and send that to their main office. After review, another employee would send the compiled report based off the survey to the respective client. Massive amounts of paper were generated each month, either sitting with the consultant or printed and filed away at the main office.
It was easy to see the inefficiencies in this process, from redundant work on-site for return visits, copying survey data into a word document and emailing it, and then having more hands on the survey before it gets returned to the client. VDA knew it was time for a change.
VDA wanted to convert their lengthy paper surveys and process into a form-based data capture mobile app, allowing for offline & online activity, as well as a web-based interface. VDA had already invested in M-Files as their information management platform and Salesforce CRM for customer management and were looking to capitalize on these technology investments already made.
Beyond data capture, VDA also had a process and efficiency problem. Capturing the data digitally wasn’t enough. They wanted to automate both filling the survey and delivering that data to the respective parties as much as possible and utilize the customer information systems they already have.
VDA engaged TEAM IM for help as they are the leading premium partner on M-Files solutions and mobile app deployments. Through TEAM IM’s extensive experience, they knew that the standard M-Files capabilities and proprietary mobile app wouldn’t be able to accomplish the outcome that VDA was searching for. That is why they recommended their all-in-one cloud-based rapid development framework M-Connect: Field Services. This framework allows them to build precisely what VDA and their Field Service Technicians need to accomplish their surveys—for example, creating efficiencies in data capture by prepopulating customer information and processing the data after submission.
From a high level, the Project included three objectives:
- Convert the Modernization and Equipment Evaluation surveys from paper to a Mobile App
- Bidirectionally sync data between the Mobile App and the back office to ensure both systems have the most up to date information
- Automatically generate a report in MS Word from each completed survey, which can be shared with the client via the M-Connect: Digital Workplace
After understanding VDA’s more advanced business logic with tens of thousands of projects, companies, and data sync requirements, it was clear they exceeded the regular scope of a traditional eForm solution. As a result, TEAM IM utilized their M-Connect: Field Services platform to create a fully integrated solution with Salesforce and M-Files. M-Connect: Field Services is a proven enterprise solution, as the underlying technology framework is regularly deployed with larger enterprise-level customers, including GE and Halliburton.
With M-Connect: Field Services, form data captured via the application is automatically saved to a local database in the device storage (iPhone, iPad, Android, etc.). This database automatically syncs with M-Connect: Field Services cloud servers or, if offline, whenever the user regains connectivity, drastically reducing the risk of data loss. All data is saved exclusively in device memory until synced to the cloud. Features also include the ability to use native device technology such as GPS location, time and date, stopwatch, altitude, accelerometer, and data acquisition capabilities within the surveys. Technicians can also take pictures with their devices and include them in survey submissions.
This solution took a lengthy paper-based survey with redundancy and potential data loss and turned it into a digitally optimized and automated workflow, potentially saving more than 60% in survey completion time. In addition, this platform gave the VDA team confidence, and they are pleased with their new, enterprise-grade solution.