The field service management industry has been facing a period of new opportunities as digital technologies take hold in the sector. The ability to collect, manage and analyze forms and data digitally lets workers communicate and collaborate with greater ease, something that is even more powerful with the rise of mobile devices and mobile-optimized field service management software.
According to Computerworld, mobile solutions have gained momentum as a way to bolster productivity and improve job satisfaction. In the field service management world, workers can use the instant access they have to company data and systems to resolve customer issues with a higher degree of efficiency.
This is a big promise, but how do mobile technologies actually deliver on that potential?
Using mobile at an organizational level
Field service firms that adopt mobile-focused solutions must first think about how the technology can change expectations and processes within the organization. Neglecting this big-picture look at mobility can lead to diminished returns as employees interact with systems on the go, but the underlying procedures aren't optimized for the mobile workforce. A few big-picture issues organizations must keep in mind as they embrace mobile solutions to manage their distributed field service teams are:
- How scheduling and dispatch teams will use data from mobile users to optimize employee routing and adjust work order assignments based on regular updates from the field.
- How accounting will process invoices, bills, payments and similar transactions that are captured using a mobile device.
- How warehouse and inventory management procedures will need to be adjusted to reflect more timely and accurate updates from drivers in the field.
Mobile devices offer the potential for innovation in all of these areas. Giving field service workers access to smartphones or tablets alongside mobile field service software allows those users to interact directly with enterprise systems without having to check back in at the office. However, this flexibility can be diminished if the back office processes and systems being used aren't aligned with the needs of the mobile work force.
Using mobile technologies to optimize the field service workforce begins by changing operational and cultural expectations within the organization as a whole.
Empowering the mobile worker
Once business processes and strategies have been adjusted to suit the mobile workforce, businesses can use field service management software to establish remote access and empower employees in the field. Beyond giving users the ability to view and update information through a mobile app, field service software can fuel greater operational coordination.
"Mobile apps allow for seamless data communication between field workers and the teams that support them."
For example, mobile tools allow for greater coordination between drivers and dispatch teams. A driver stuck in traffic can radio dispatch. The dispatch team will be able to work with data from the driver's mobile app to look at the work orders the individual is scheduled to complete. From there, the team back at the office can shift around work orders and schedules with other field service workers to avoid delays. All of this is possible when the workers in the field are updating systems accurately on the go, giving the schedule and dispatch team the tools it needs to manage the distributed workforce.
All of this is possible because mobile apps allow for seamless data communication between field workers and the teams that support them. As a result, organizations can establish a greater degree of flexibility, making the field service team more responsive to changing customer demands. Furthermore, the ability to handle end-to-end transactions, from kicking off a work order to signing off on an invoice, all in the field, ensures that key procedures don't slip through the cracks.
Managing a distributed workforce presents unique challenges, but the growing mobility movement is creating new opportunities in the field service sector.