As we continue our serialisation of The Service Manager Handbook (2015 edition) published by Advanced Field Service we look at mobile working and reporting…
Operating in a fast-moving environment doesn’t allow time for your engineers to wait until they’re back at the office to give you an update on their status. Having the ability to report onsite directly from their mobile device is invaluable.
With time-sheets, inspection sheets, job cards, expenses and invoices being completed on the spot, accurate data is fed back to the call-handling centre and engineers can move swiftly on to the next job. Live capture of information means that back-office systems have a constant stream of up-to-date information – reflecting the business as it stands today, not how it was days or even weeks ago.
Mobile software that works seamlessly hand-in-hand with your back-end service management software will give you the added benefit of instantly analysing the performance and productivity of your workers and can react immediately to any potential issues. You no longer have to be office-based to run your reports: this can be done at the touch of a button, whatever your location.
Sharing information with your customers
Mobile technology also enables you to share with your clients up-to-date information on your performance, with the latest stats and reports, demonstrating the value of your service.
If your service management system can provide this information in dashboard format, as opposed to spreadsheets, customers have the added reassurance of knowing that the data cannot have been manipulated at any point. This is a great selling point when tendering for new business or to extend a contract.
How are businesses like yours adopting mobile?
There is clear evidence of the wide scale take-up of mobile technology.
According to a recent Field Service News research project, commissioned by Advanced Field Service, far from encountering user resistance, it is a trend that is welcomed by engineers out in the field, as a way to make their workflow easier, enhance productivity and increase first-time fix.
Key findings of the survey include:
- 46% of field service companies are now using a mix of different digital devices – many are now in their second, third or even fourth generation of digital device for their field engineers
- 100% of companies still using pen and paper feel at a commercial disadvantage
- 57% of field engineers state that their digital device makes their workflow easier
- 81% of field engineers are happy to be using digital devices as part of their daily tools
Making mobile work for you
The benefits of adopting an integrated mobile and service management solution are obvious. So, why then, do some mobile initiatives fail to become an integral part of the business? There are four common pitfalls that can impede the smooth transition to mobile:
Lack of integration
Poor integration between the field and back-office systems can make the mobile solution inherently unstable and lead to a disparity between the situation out-in-the-field, on stock, engineers’ timesheets and resource utilisation, and your back-office systems for scheduling, billing and reporting.
Sometimes the biggest barrier to a successful roll-out of mobile technology is a psychological one. However, as research shows, engineers can be some of the most positive adopters of mobile.
Organisations embarking on mobile initiatives can attempt too much too soon.
Lack of synchronization
Whether working in a remote part of the country or stuck onsite in a basement, there are bound to be times when your engineers have poor connection or no signal at all. If the facility isn’t available to work offline, engineers operating in less-than-ideal conditions will be forever catching up, entering data later in the day.
So how can you overcome these barriers and what can you do to improve your chances of successful mobile adoption across your entire organisation?
Choose a system with mobile technology at its core
Avoid field service management systems where mobile functionality has been bolted on at a later stage. A seamless flow of information from the field to the back-office is essential.
Encourage user adoption
Engage your engineers at an early stage of the mobile implementation process through team meetings and later through formal training. In the Field Service News research, of those companies that did involve their field workers in the selection process the overwhelming majority (93%) felt that doing so had aided adoption of their chosen solution.
Keep it simple
Don’t try to introduce too much functionality too quickly. A gradual phased approach can in the long run be more effective than a ‘big bang’ implementation.
Connectivity is key
To be fully effective, your engineers need to be able to use the mobile solution offline as well as online. It must offer the ability to store information such as photographs, worksheets and customers’ signatures that are entered onsite, and then automatically transmit this information back to the call-handling centre once coverage is regained.