A lot of companies—both big and small—still upload their documents, one-at-a-time, to their cloud storage the old way…like this:



Calculating the amount of $ spent doing this….

For purposes of a simple cost exercise, let’s assume the following:

  • It takes 1 minute for a clerical staff to review a field doc produced by a field staff member, insert the field doc into the printer/scanner, and scan it to the Project Manager for that project
  • It takes 1 minute for the Project Manager to open the email sent from the scanner, download the attachment, save it to their hard drive, and then upload it to the correct project folder
  • The clerical staff annual salary is $50k and the Project Manager annual salary is $100k
  • This is performed once per day per field staff
  • You have a field staff of 5 people


– 5 min per week per clerical staff and per Project Manager = 260 min per year for each
– Clerical cost: 260 min = 4.3 hrs x $25/hr = $108
– Project Manager cost: 260 min = 4.3 hrs x $50/hr = $215
– Total annual cost for 5: ($215 + $108) x 5 = $1,616

This may not seem like much, but it’s all overhead money, and this is merely the cost just to scan documents and insert them into the right place in your cloud storage.

If you could streamline things and cut down this cost to $zero, why would you want to keep spending payroll money on that overhead exercise?  After all, the Project Manager could be doing something more valuable, like actual “thinking” work, instead of busy, rote work.  You didn’t hire high-performing degreed professionals to do mundane things like upload files to a cloud repository. Or did you?

How to fully automate this process

It’s not that hard to automate this process.  Just use XForms for field data collection.  When a field user submits a completed form, an integration detects the newly submitted form, extracts the PDF generated by the system, and uploads it into the correct place on your OneDrive account.

How does it know where to upload the PDF file?

Easy: if your forms contain listboxes for clients and projects, or some other similar project assignment method, the system can match those values in the form to a similar hierarchy in your OneDrive account.  For new clients and/or new projects, the integration can create folders for those on the fly, without any need to create folders manually.

Can it insert photos?

Yes.  The system can be set up to create a Photos folder within each Project folder, and upload any captured photos into that folder.  That way, you will have a folder containing all the photos ever taken for a particular project, and you can view them in a tiled manner in OneDrive, making it pretty easy to compare them against each other quickly.

Take a look at this screenshot for an example.


 Can it use a specific file naming convention?

Yes.  In the example above, which is an integration of XForms to OneDrive being used by Mid-Atlantic Associates, the naming convention for files and photos was set to [yyyy-mm-dd_projectName_clientName_formType_fieldTech].pdf/.jpg

Some of the benefits of automating the mundane process of uploading field notes and field files to OneDrive (or Dropbox, Box, Sharefile, etc)



There is no way a human can handle this process manually faster than an automation.  No way.  Maybe one file, one time.  But there’s no way a human can match an automation at inserting multiple files for multiple people consistently over time.


Automations are a one-time cost (to build).  Then they are basically free.  You might have to pay a 3rd party tool like Integromat (Make), Zapier, etc, but that’s just coffee money.  Automations don’t take a salary, benefits, or PTO.

No missing files, no inconsistent file names

Unlike humans, automations don’t forget to do something.  If it’s programmed, it gets done.  And if it’s programmed to set the file name to yyyy-mm-dd_projectName_formName_fieldTech.pdf, it names all the files that way.  It doesn’t name things differently just because, like a human does.

How long does this take to implement?

It depends on your own unique needs and internal processes.  Typically a few weeks to develop some form templates, test and tweak them, create an integration, test it, etc.

What does this cost?

At XForms, we use a per user per month billing model currently pegged at $25/user/month.  So if you had 5 people using XForms, the total fee for this system would be $125 per month.  While not free, most firms can afford $125 per month for a system that automates a lot of mundane things, frees up your staff’s time to do more important things, doesn’t make mistakes, keeps things consistent, and ultimately costs less than the payroll hit to do this manually with your own staff.

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