A surveyor of mine demonstrated a simple idea he had that has had a huge effect on his business. What he does is dictate his notes to the office and the office produces all the reports and invoices immediately!
He visits a property to carry our a building survey. He uses a Windows Mobile based phone that has, as most do, a method of recording his voice. As soon as he has finished the survey, he emails the .wav file to the office.
The admin department receive the email with the .wav file dictation and they type up the survey, deliver the survey to the interested parties and invoice. This happens before the surveyor has even returned to the office.
We have had 4 full time surveryors using this system. The use of this dictation has made his business highly efficient and I think it is a simple, yet great way of using technology.
We use this with:
HTC Mobile Phones (Smartphones) with dictation software enabled
Decent data mobile contract for all the mobile phones
SBS 2003 Server with activesync
Windows Media Player and some head phones for the typists.
The iPhone could not attach the email with the file, so I setup a simple passworded FTP server in his office. He can now record to his iPhone and then he logs into the FTP sever and the admin staff get the .wav file and work from there. I am sure someone will write a better dictation/email integrated application soon, but at least there is a solution.
We have now rolled out the phones and system to an estate agency. The agent needs to save time and money. He visits as many properties as he can, each one is dictated as he walks the property and typed up before he returns the office. As the only "valuing" agent in the office, this has allowed him to maximise his time and money. He had to let go staff in order to survive the crunch!