Blog Post

How to Use Digital Forms to Collect Better Data in the Energy Industry

Posted by Brett Long

collect data on mobile for the energy industry

“We did not know about the problem.”

As a manager in the energy industry, you want to avoid saying that to your peers and the public. When you are unaware of problems and issues in your organization, you may appear incompetent to the public and your peers. Ouch! How do you avoid the embarrassment of being surprised by problems like electrical failures or broken pumps?

Develop Your Personal Management Information System

For years, organizations have invested in information systems to meet financial and regulatory needs. What about the information needs of managers in the energy industry? Excel reports and statistics are helpful, but they are often too far removed from the front lines. So what’s the answer to keeping you informed?

Use digital forms in the energy industry so your front-line employees can keep you informed in real-time. To kick-start your process, here are five suggestions of how digital forms can help to gather better information.

1. Document a Maintenance Problem With Digital Forms

Let’s say you oversee an oil pipeline system in your state. You might have hundreds of miles of pipes and support equipment to monitor. An equipment failure in a remote area could take a long time to identify and fix. To avoid those problems, ask your staff to carry out periodic inspections.

When you see rust or another problem on a pipeline, describing the problem in sufficient detail is difficult. As a manager, you may struggle to decide “is this problem worth preventive maintenance?” Asking your staff to attach photos to preventive maintenance inspection forms makes those decisions easier.

2. Expedite Insurance Claims by Adding Photos

In some states, insurance companies have up to 40 days to acknowledge insurance claims. However, if your claim lacks required documentation, the whole process may take longer.

When a disaster hits your energy company, getting insurance reimbursement quickly matters. While you cannot control how quickly your claims are processed, you can speed up the process on your end.

Create a digital form based on your insurance coverage and documentation requirements. Once that form is created, train your staff to take photos related to the insurance claim. By taking digital images, you have clear evidence showing damage.

Tip: By using mobile forms, you can send form data directly to Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox and other services. You can set up a dedicated “insurance claims documentation” folder and keep all that information organized.

3. Improve Project Planning

In project management, the time you spend on planning and estimating saves you hours of pain later on. Let’s say you have a project to upgrade monitoring equipment on your pipeline network. To create an accurate budget, you need to collect data on your network’s current state.

To guide your project planning efforts, establish a project planning research form. Direct your staff to head out into the field and take photos of the monitoring equipment you currently have in place. By reviewing these photos, you may find out that only a fraction of your equipment actually needs to be replaced.

This process will also help you to create a database on the condition of equipment for future reference.

Resource: If you are feeling overwhelmed by loose papers and forms in your office, you need to digitize. Find out how to get started: 6 Steps for Reducing Paperwork in the Energy Industry.

4. Satisfy Energy Regulatory Requirements

Keeping up with regulatory requirements in the energy industry is tough. You never know when the government will surprise you with an audit. As a manager, you can still take a proactive approach to keeping regulators satisfied.

How would you know that your energy company is well managed and fulfilling all regulatory requirements for safety and other matters? A digital archive of detailed inspection reports is a good start to demonstrating your diligence.

5. Reduce Customer Service Resolution Time

Customer service failures are inevitable. The real question is what processes you have in place to recover when a problem occurs. In the energy industry, failing to deliver for your customers can’t be taken lightly. Your customers may freeze or be unable to run their business if their energy supply is disrupted.

Collecting data on customer problems is one way to speed up solutions. For example, ask your field staff to submit a problem report on a broken system including detailed descriptions and photos using mobile forms. Once that information is sent back to the head office, your engineers will be better able to diagnose the problem and have it fixed.

The Easy Way to Improve Productivity With Digital Forms

Stop wasting time in endless back and forth email with your team. Use mobile forms for energy industry to streamline your operations. Your staff can attach photos and send reports back from the field in seconds using mobile devices. Even better, you do not have to retype any data into other systems.

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