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EFC



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Wannabe Geek


Topic # 16420 9-Oct-2007 17:10
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Hello amazing people
Love the product reviews - thank you. Our company wants a paper-free solution to data collection. We collect programme information related to a health-funded, home-visiting + telephone, behaviour change programme. So we often work in people's homes and discuss personal matters. We want a solution that considers the impact of technology on such a relationship as well as getting past the paper (and waste). Have gone down the PDA route and been directed to tablets, but hoping for something simple and focused and small. Do need data integrity to be up there as a priority, too. Appreciate your ideas and thank you.

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Hawkes Bay
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  Reply # 90300 9-Oct-2007 17:58
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PDAs can be a pain for non-PDA enthusiasts.

I recommend a convertible tablet - its a normal laptop and tablet in one. That way, people who are comfortable with the tablet style can use the handwriting (which is really good on Windows Vista these days), and also can be used as normal laptop, if someone just wants to type on a normal keypad.

Most are small and light.

You can use industry standard programs (provided they are Vista compatible), and use normal Microsoft Office / OpenOffice applications.

Sounds like you really need to talk to a good sales consultant within a good IT integrator, about the type of data you want to collect, and how and where you want to collect it to...







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Master Geek


  Reply # 90312 9-Oct-2007 19:36
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"need data integrity to be up there as a priority"

I know this is a little off-topic as you were looking at access but the biggest recommendation here is to make the data collection a web-based app rather than software on the "device".

That means that some people could use PDA / phone, some tablets and ... some could use paper until they get to their home PC.  Data integrity is better as there is less risk of getting stung if a device breaks, gets lost or stolen.


Dale

 
 
 
 


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Reply # 90323 9-Oct-2007 20:19
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But you get stuck when there's no coverage for example. With Windows Mobile you can develop applications using .Net and the built-in SQL 2005 Mobile database. Then have replication/reconciliation applied to a SQL 2005 server back in the office/server farm.

This way, if you are on-line things get done, and if offline things still get done...




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Master Geek


  Reply # 90325 9-Oct-2007 20:25
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There are a number of questions around what you want to do with the data prior to deciding how to collect it.  Examples of questions are what type of data are you collect, how long are you going to keep it for, what reporting (if any) are you going to do, what toolset will you use to analyze over time etc.

Without doing this properly up front, there is often a perception that the technology is failing when it can be a case of unclear requirements.


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Master Geek


  Reply # 90331 9-Oct-2007 20:36
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freitasm: But you get stuck when there's no coverage for example. With Windows Mobile you can develop applications using .Net and the built-in SQL 2005 Mobile database. Then have replication/reconciliation applied to a SQL 2005 server back in the office/server farm.

This way, if you are on-line things get done, and if offline things still get done...


I couldn't agree more but there are other bits:

- Mobile apps (and windows apps) cost more to develop in general.  Web-based survey / data collection should be cheap
- It's easy to update a web site than a handlful of mobile apps
- There are many off-the-shelf survey designers for web collection (and services)
- 100% future- and device-proof
- No data to loose

Data replication can be a large swallower of support cost and development time.  Remove replication and ... save dollars.

I mean ... how often is coverage not good (except at my new house ... oh, and my last house) ?

Yes, coverage is an issue but it has to be balanced against cost, data security, ease of maintenance etc.

Dale



EFC



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Wannabe Geek


  Reply # 90351 9-Oct-2007 21:39
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Thanks - do you have a preferred brand of convertable tablet?

EFC



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Wannabe Geek


  Reply # 90354 9-Oct-2007 21:49
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Thanks everyone who replied. We do not think we need all the fancy extras that go with most products and do not need to have real time data entry. Will think on your answers and probably get back to you with more questions as we become more focussed.
Thanks again


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Master Geek


  Reply # 90358 9-Oct-2007 22:04
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EFC:

Thanks everyone who replied. We do not think we need all the fancy extras that go with most products and do not need to have real time data entry. Will think on your answers and probably get back to you with more questions as we become more focussed.
Thanks again



A further note.

If all you are looking at is simple data collection then don't forget something as simple as Excel (and it's mobile cousin).

It is easy to setup an Excel template with read-only and editable cells and then have data entry done on a fresh copy of the sheet (just make it read-only so they can't overwrite the master).  Easy to create and update and most users have some Excel knowledge.

It is relatively easy to write something to read the data into a database (or consolidated sheet) ... even to periodically read an email account and look for sheets to import.

This still gives you a choice of formats (PDA / phone, tablet, home PC) without huge cost or software development. It also means you don't need to be online ...

Disadvantage is that you could lose stuff if you lose a device or it dies. I get around this by saving new files to a "Send This" folder and have a background emailer that will just send the file (then archive) as soon as it can get a connection.


Dale

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