Switching from paper to digital mobile forms can transform field service maintenance operations, says Mark Scott, Vice President Marketing, ProntoForms.
Mobile technologies have taken over our personal lives, enabling us to be more productive and efficient as we shop, consume and communicate daily. When it comes to operations and maintenance in field services, however, mobile technology has been slow to permeate our workforce. Operations and maintenance are critical to ensuring safety, compliance and productivity in field services. Yet, many maintenance practices today are still relying on paper-based processes that are error-prone, vulnerable to audits, and overall, highly inefficient.
Manual maintenance procedures hinder productivity and add unnecessary steps to operation practices hurting your company’s bottom line. For many businesses, ineffective internal practices also don’t guarantee that safety compliances are being enforced.
Mobile forms technology offers an end-to-end solution for a company’s maintenance programme, by enabling users to accurately collect and store field data, then easily share it in real time with key stakeholders.
Mobile forms bring many benefits to any field services operation. Here are five examples of how a mobile solution can make your business operate more efficiently and ensure your customers take notice:
- Embed rich media in your reports
Sometimes words alone cannot accurately capture a problem or issue in field work, but a picture can tell a thousand words. Mobile forms allow maintenance inspectors to sketch and annotate directly on photos from the job site to highlight specific concerns. In addition to taking pictures on site, images like equipment diagrams can also be pre-loaded onto a form for field workers to reference. Mobile form providers are also offering barcode scanning and audio functions within forms as well so users can include richer field data.
- Informed decision-making and a logical workflow
Data gathered in the field is meant to ensure that operational standards are reached and exceeded, but it’s important that the data is communicated in a timely manner and shared with the right people. Mobile forms can be configured to automatically send completed maintenance forms to specific supervisors and decision-makers within a company, based on the data entered. If an inspection pinpoints a safety concern, that form can be configured to automatically send a report to a safety compliance manager. What’s more, maintenance forms can also be scored by the severity of the issue, and if a major maintenance breach is revealed, key stakeholders can be alerted through SMS messages and social media.
- Business intelligence with analytics
Analytics can provide a wealth of information, as maintenance trends can be compared over time. This means that a company can leverage its previous response to a maintenance issue and also determine whether this issue had arisen in the past. With mobile forms, in-depth analytics reports can also be scheduled for regular delivery to key supervisors and decision makers. Since field service data can be logged as it happens through mobile devices, these decision makers can analyse performance and spot hidden business trends in real time to predict potential issues or mitigate risks.
- Dispatching inspections
Field service workers need to provide accurate and in-depth maintenance inspections, however, they are also pressed for time and need to move on to the next job. Across all departments, improving productivity and automating mundane and repetitive tasks is essential, but this is especially critical for your maintenance programme. By using mobile forms technology, maintenance jobs can be dispatched to specific field workers, which saves valuable time. This means that field workers can avoid unnecessary trips to the head office to receive their next assignment, which gives them more time to spend in the field and conduct detailed inspections.
- Calendar invites for follow-ups
Irrespective of the size or efficiency of your field workers, it’s imperative to prioritise tasks and optimize workflows. High-risk maintenance concerns need to be addressed immediately, while less critical issues can wait. However, these low-risk concerns still require a response. As soon as non-critical issues are discovered, field workers can use mobile forms technology to schedule a maintenance technician and send calendar invites while they’re on the go at other appointments
Now more than ever, it’s critical to take maintenance procedures to the next level by adopting the right type of technology. Businesses utilising mobile technology will see increased productivity and reduced costs, while quality of service is improved and risks are mitigated. When it comes to operations and maintenance don’t let your company fall behind the rest of the industry.