Bespoke Data Capture Applications - Work Smarter, Not Harder

Chris Payne
With advances in digital technologies on the rise, and the ability to access and utilise them with a basic level of IT knowledge, it is vital that we embrace the software and let the computers do the hard work for us.

In 2009, a well-known technology company ran an advertising campaign with the tag-line ‘there’s an app for that!’. Almost a decade on, the slogan is as prevalent today as it was back then. To some extent, the surveying world has caught on, as illustrated by the increasing popularity of data capture software solutions such as Kykloud, Go-Report and Formworks, to name but a few. Yet the depth of solutions and tools on the current market place goes far beyond this.

IT systems can provide surveyors with the ability to polish the output and client deliverables with relative ease...

The real challenge is finding the right solution for your clients’ unique requirements. While there are plenty of tools to collect data on-site for a stock condition programme, to take one example, each product carries different benefits and costs which may be more or less suited to the client’s needs in any given case.

Undoubtedly, Faithful+Gould’s ‘in-suite’ can be an invaluable tool in winning and delivering work. But what about the localised scale of a surveyors day-to-day work?

Building surveyors are often deemed a ‘jack of all trades’, yet information systems provide a way in which they can stand out from the crowd. With the wealth of data captured on site and the tools available to manipulate that information into client-friendly dashboards and interfaces, IT systems can provide surveyors with the ability to polish the output and client deliverables with relative ease, even for someone with limited computing experience.

A particular focus of my work within the Cardiff office, as well as collaborative work we undertake with many offices throughout the F+G UK business, has led to many successful projects whereby data capture tools are created bespoke for a particular client to provide them with exactly the data outputs they require. They come with the added ability of using imbedded data validation and reporting at site level to ensure a consistent and accurate approach. Off-the-shelf products are great for very broadly scoped projects, but in practice clients are becoming smarter to the availability of truly configurable IT solutions and are no longer willing to accept the ‘one size fits all’ approach to their work packages. This, teamed with the average surveyors reluctance to ‘only fill in the sections required’ of an off the shelf product is actually causing detrimental progression in the use of IT in the field.

Faithful+Gould’s building surveyors are increasingly becoming the masters of our trade.

Being able to provide a client with a tailored bespoke solution may require an element of up front work, but with a signed off survey mandate before surveying works start, you can be sure that your client is getting exactly what they are after; as opposed to close to what they’re after or even, more than they need or know what to do with.

Of course, a common barrier to any business’ drive to introduce new IT solutions is cost. Most clients simply do not have the time or resource to support wide scale changes to their operating systems. However, whilst many clients have an in-house data basing system for large volume data sources, most will outsource the bulk of the data collection, assessment and, ultimately, the leg work to consultants – and this is where Faithful+Gould can provide a unique offering. With continually developing tools such as F+G’s In-suite, teamed with innovation from in-house ‘app’ development and the user-friendly interfaces of many of the leading tablet computers available on the market, Faithful+Gould’s building surveyors are increasingly becoming the masters of our trade.