When considering the bring-your-own-device phenomenon, most think of the corporate world — sharing documents, reading email, using apps to manage projects. However, employee use of personal devices is not restricted to mobilizing the traditional office. Many companies within the field service industry are using BYOD to successfully complete work.
Consider the following statistics:
• 70% of users carry three or more devices;
• 67% use their own personal devices for work;
• 78% of employees believe having a single mobile device balances work and personal lives; and
• By 2018, 70% of mobile professionals will complete work on personal smart devices, estimates desktop virtualization company Virtual Bridges.
The nature of the field service industry often means employees spend most of their time traveling from customer to customer, and it’s time for personal device technology to adapt to the specific needs of this workforce. InsideCounsel magazine says work-related apps and cloud-based software solutions are becoming increasingly popular and allow users to address and complete work responsibilities when needed.
Providing employees with the tools needed to work efficiently when mobile means increasing productivity and both employee and customer satisfaction.
1. Fuel, trucks and GPS.When considering the number of tools field service technicians potentially use on a daily basis, the vehicle used to travel from one customer location to another is arguably the most important. Fleet management software allows companies the ability to track all vehicle and driver-related data: fuel spending, vehicle maintenance and repairs, compliance requirements, and driver behavior.
Often, these fleet management systems include GPS tracking with real-time data collection. Vehicles are managed on-the-go by both field technicians and their supervisors by accessing the web-based fleet management software on either a smartphone or tablet, or by using the software’s downloaded app, if available by the software provider.
A number of fleet management systems are currently available for the savvy small-business owner.
2. Technician dispatch.Workforce management software allows users to plan and dispatch field service technicians and their vehicles to customer locations quickly and efficiently. These management systems provide real-time data to both managers and field workers. Work schedules can be organized and assigned based on open customer work orders and available technicians.
WMS is often combined with fleet management software, ensuring that both supervisors and field technicians are able to respond quickly to customer needs. Data entered by mobile technicians into web-based software or into a mobile app allow supervisors to constantly monitor the progress of open work orders and make adjustments when necessary. This collected data also allows for future comparison between work that was planned and work actually completed, allowing processes to be modified when needed.
3. Equipment tracking.An automated fixed-asset tracking system decreases weighty administrative and replacement costs. However, the best asset-tracking system provides users mobile functionality. If completing a particular task requires access to information available using only a conventional computer, that task is automatically more difficult and cumbersome, especially if the information could be accessed by a mobile device.
Instead of manually tracking fixed-asset information, an app conveniently downloaded to a personal device provides individuals the ability to quickly view and accurately record asset information when needed.
4. Consumable inventory.The automated process of tracking consumable inventory data eliminates chances for errors by ending manual tracking of data by hand. A centralized, automated system allows users to easily monitor stock levels — ensuring inventory levels are accurate and adjusted to reflect customer demand. Too much or too little inventory causes companies to lose money. Either money is wasted paying carrying costs to store excessive inventory or profit is lost because customer demands can’t be met.
If service technicians are sent into the field without the proper inventory — whether it’s parts for installation, routine maintenance or unforeseen repairs — they can’t perform the assigned work tasks regardless of being there on time or having the right equipment to complete the job.
5. Mobility empowers.Asking employees to set aside technology to which they’ve become accustomed to complete a process using pen, paper or even a desktop computer is asking them to spend excessive amounts of time documenting information. According to the CDW 2012 Small Business Mobility Report, 94% of the mobile device users polled say using a mobile device for work tasks has made them more efficient.
Employees expect technology to make their jobs easier. If it is a struggle to complete a task because the process is inefficient, not only does employee productivity suffer, so does morale. Morale is one of the most important factors in determining how efficient and productive a company will be. Using devices to make a task easier to complete and with less opportunity for error will make your employees feel they are productive. Mobile devices empower employees by increasing control and choice over how they complete work.
Author bio: Brain Sutter serves as Wasp Barcode Technologies’ director of marketing, where he sets the strategic direction and oversees the tactical execution of the company’s marketing programs.