How To Avoid Turning Your Expensive GPS Equipment Into a Paperweight

GPS and GIS seem to have an unlimited number of applications in today’s society.  The tools used to collect and manage spatial data are almost as endless.  You have carefully considered which hardware and software has the best combination of accuracy and functionality to fit all your needs.  You have probably invested thousands in the perfect solution.  Can you now afford not to invest in learning to use it?  Will you send your crew into the field with your professional equipment, but no professional training?  This, unfortunately, is how your well-thought-out investment ends up costing your organization valuable time, causing frustration, and worst of all, sitting on a shelf collecting dust.  Getting the right training has so many benefits.  Improve employee satisfaction and motivation, save money, understand and improve the results of data collection, and organize and manage spatial data so that it is valuable to your organization.

How does training improve employee satisfaction and motivation?

If your employees don’t understand how the equipment and software work, and they don’t understand how it can make their jobs easier and more efficient, what is the motivation to practice using it?  You purchased the system to improve the consistency and quality of field data and increase efficiency in the office, but if the end-users believe the paper and pencil are easier and faster and see no reason to change, they won’t.   Studies have shown that investing time and money in the proper training increases not only the quality and quantity of employees’ work, but more importantly improves attitudes toward new technology and increases motivation to adopt and master new techniques.  Students may come into a class skeptical of the technology and their ability to use it, but most of them leave expressing excitement to put their new knowledge into practice.

“What’s worse than training your workers and losing them? Not training them and keeping them.”  —Zig Ziglar, success speaker

How does training save me money?

Figuring out a new system on your own may seem cost effective at first, but consider the time it takes to get everything up and running smoothly.  From the Howard Community College article sited below: “Based on the training investments of 575 companies during a three-year period, researchers found that firms investing the most in training and development yielded a 36.9 percent total shareholder return as compared with a 25.5 percent weighted return for the S&P 500 index for the same period.”  This should not be surprising to us.  If you spend 2 weeks figuring out what you could have learned in training in a couple hours, have you really saved money?  How much does it cost you to send a field crew out collecting data for days or weeks at a time only to discover it was collected incorrectly and is unusable?  How much does it cost to spend time solving problems or fixing mistakes that were probably avoidable?  The time and money you spend getting training in the beginning should more than pay for itself in the end.

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin

How does training improve your results?

How can you put any faith in the results a tool provides if you don’t understand how it works?  Your car salesman can show you how to turn on the headlights and windshield wipers, but does that mean you know how to drive?  (hopefully it does if you’re buying a car, but you get the point)  GNSS data collection isn’t about just turning the unit on and pushing the buttons.  Different situations and environments may call for different settings, data collection techniques and post-processing techniques.  There are no set-in-stone rules for every scenario.  In order to make educated decisions when you find yourself in different situations, you need to understand the fundamentals of how GNSS works, what factors impact your accuracy, how the technology can improve your accuracy, and the data collection techniques that can improve your efficiency and reduce frustration.

How can training increase the value of my data for my organization?

You have collected data all summer long efficiently and accurately.  Now what?  Maybe your job was to map all the manholes in town so that they can easily be found in the winter when covered with snow.  Is your data organized and projected in such a way that you will be able to quickly locate it, move it to a handheld and navigate to the appropriate feature at a moment’s notice?  Maybe your equipment was used to locate the culverts that needed maintenance and repair to ensure road safety.  Has your data been collected in a consistent way so that your GIS team will easily be able to query all the culverts in need of immediate attention?  Maybe you achieved great accuracy through good data collection and processing techniques.  Can you now ensure that the spatial reference of your data will allow it to line up with other GIS data?  Do you know how to easily share your data with your organization or with the public?  Organizing, maintaining, and more than ever, sharing your hard-earned data are vital in improving the usability and value of that data.

There are a huge variety of training options available: onsite, online, self-paced or even free YouTube videos.  You can attend a 3-day advanced class or a 2-hour workshop.  Want to learn more than TerraSync and ArcPad?  We are also now teaching 1-day classes on ArcGIS Online and Collector and half-day workshops with TerraFlex.  Whatever your training needs, we can customize a class to meet them.  Come see us at one of our upcoming events.  We’re always here to help you ensure your investment doesn’t end up sitting lonely on the shelf.