In the first part of this exclusive research project run in partnership with Advanced Field Service, we looked at the types of mobile devices being used in the field and why it seems that the days of pen and paper are becoming increasingly numbered. In the second of this four part series we look at whether there is a future for wearables in field service, are devices being used rugged or consumer and has BYOD worked?
Now in the third part of this series we turn our attention to the feedback our field service engineers are providing…
There is also a white paper accompanying this series, with even further insights, which you can download here
Engineers reaction to mobile devices in general
We asked our respondents “Do you think your your field engineers have appreciated a move to using a mobile device?”
The results showed that in the main there is a strong acceptance from field engineers that using a digital device as part of their role is a benefit. In fact over a third of respondents (37%) stated that they had “absolutely taken to mobile” while the largest response to this question was “we have mostly had a positive response from our mobile workers” which was stated by just under half (44%) of respondents.
Just under a fifth of companies (17%) stated they had received a mix of positive and negative feedback from their field workers, whilst less than 1% admitted they had “some success but getting widespread adoption is tough”.
The largest reason for engineers responding to the implementation of a mobile devices was that it “makes their work-flow easier” with 57% of companies stating this to be the case.
One respondent summarised the dual benefits of the approach for both engineers and company alike stating: “The engineers have appreciated the move from a rugged PDA to an Android device because it offers them more advantages; web, apps, email, etc. From a business perspective we got them access to industry apps (fault code analysis, parts availability, etc.) as well as improving the acceptance of the company solution”
Involving engineers in the selection process
Given the importance of quick user adoption, we wanted to see how involved field engineers were in the selecting the devices they would be using. We asked our respondents “Did you have any input from your field engineers in selecting both the devices and apps they use in the field?”
Whilst it is an approach recommended by many hardware, software and change management experts to help improve swift user adoption rates, it is not one that is adopted by the majority of companies when selecting the tools their field service engineers will be using. In fact almost two thirds (61%) of companies admitted that they don’t involve their engineers in the decision making process.
Almost two thirds (61%) of companies admitted that they don’t involve their engineers in the decision making process.
Indeed it would seem that whilst the majority of respondents failed to take advantage of their engineers insight during the selection process, there may actually be a growing groundswell to see this happening more frequently as almost half of those who didn’t take input from their field engineers admitted that in hindsight they think this would have likely helped speed up the adoption of the new solution. “The engineers have appreciated the move from a rugged PDA to an Android device because it offers them more advantages; web, apps, email, etc.”
The decision making unit
So engineers input aside, who is involved in the decision making unit when it comes to selecting a new field service mobility solution? Having put that question to our respondents our research would certainly back the assertion that the single decision maker seems to be somewhat of a myth, or at least a very rare scenario.
The most common role to be involved within the decision making unit (DMU) is IT Director with 64% of companies stating that their IT Director would be involved in the decision making process. This was followed by MD/CEO (58%), Field Service Director (53%) and Field Service Manager (45%). Meanwhile 20% of companies have procurement involved within the DMU also. Perhaps contradictory to these statistics is how a company will approach the early selection process.
The most common approach for this initial phase of selecting a new field service solution is when the “field service director/manager identified the need for a mobile solution and made recommendations to the board.” Which was how 35% of companies began their search for a new system. The second most common means of instigating this process is when “the board decides to implement a mobile solution and tasks the IT manager & Field Service Manager together to identify the right solution” which was what was reported by exactly a quarter of companies.
Other options that were board driven were for the board to task the “Field Service Manager/ Director to identify the solution” (13%) and the board task the “IT Director to identify the right solution” (8%) whilst amongst 17% of companies it was the ‘IT Director identified the need and advised the board”
Choosing a solution
When it comes to selecting a solution the most common approach is to view three different solutions which exactly a third of companies opted to do.
Just under a quarter (23%) of companies will leave no stone unturned and look at five or more solutions when making their decision
A similar amount (22%) will look at just two solutions whilst a tenth of companies made their decision based solely on looking at one solution. In terms of the frequency of updating a field service solution the consensus is very much that every three years is the optimal time between updates with just under half (47%) of companies stating they believe this to be the case. The second most common thought is two years (30%) whilst all other options were 10% or below.
But how does compare to the reality?
Well, whilst a similar majority (42%) refresh their solutions every three years it would also seem that many companies keep their existing assets longer than they would like.
41% of companies state they will wait four years or more to refresh their field service solution,
Compared to this ‘finding the time’ to arrange an implementation was a minor worry for most with just 12% of companies stating that this is their primary concern. What is interesting is that 34% of companies see worries around integration being their biggest challenge. Of course the irony here being that the longer you ‘sweat’ an asset the greater the chance of the technology becoming tougher to integrate with the latest emerging tech.
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