5 options for creating mobile forms

Smartphones and tablets are rewriting the rules for mobile data collection and field service dispatch. Here are five solutions for getting organizes paperlessly.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

I've been following the Facebook posts of dozens of my New Jersey region friends, some of whom were without power for upwards of two weeks after Superstorm Sandy. (Those are the lucky ones.)

Near my home up in Bergen County, the hundreds of utility trucks crowding the parking lot of the massive Garden State Plaza shopping mall bear out-of-state licenses from far-flung places such as Oklahoma, Georgia and Arkansas.

The enormity of the coordination challenge of the power restoration is mind-boggling – which has got me thinking more broadly about how businesses of all sizes can more effectively manage their field service teams.

I've received many pitches over the past several months about forms software companies that propose to do just that. So I figured now would be a good time to highlight a few of the options I've heard about– as well as point to other companies that are working on forms software tailored to small businesses optimized for smartphones and tablet computers. 

Here are companies you might consider checking out (I'm listing them in alphabetical order):

Device Magic – Available for iOS, Android and BlackBerry, Mobile Forms is meant for data capture, lead information collection or field maintenance work orders. The mobile software works with a cloud service that is priced starting at $10 per device per month.

FormEntry – If your company uses Macintosh software, you should take a look at FormEntry, which supports field data collection (including signature capture) on the iOS platform. You need a Macintosh application ($99.99) or the FormEntry Server ($149.99) to create and distribute the digital forms.

GoFormz – The company's software reconfigures paper forms for tablet computers and smartphones, running either iOS or Android. You'll need the company's cloud service, priced starting at $10 per user per month. 

TrueContext Mobile Solutions– The Canadian developer of ProntoForms has a strategic relationship with AT&T, which is distributing its software – used by more than 1,800 business customers. The application helps organizations like Link Associates in Des Moines, Iowa, coordinate delivery dispatches. "ProntoForms has saved us up to 40 hours in labor a month," said Jim Wilkie, fleet and facilities director for Link. That's a lot of hours for a small business. The app links with a service that starts at $19.95 per month, per user for AT&T subscribers.

Zerion SoftwareiFormBuilder for the iOS platform is a forms-creation and publishing solution for work orders, dispatches, lead capture, surveys, and so on. The forms are distributed "over the air" via the company's cloud service. iForm offerings start at $49.99 per month for up to five users.

There are many, many other forms options listed on the iTunes App store and in the Android app directory. If your small business is using an application that isn't mentioned here, let me know about it by emailing me directly.

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