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- November 18, 2014
- by Chase Moritz
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Once the decision has been made that it’s time to implement a mobile workforce management solution, how you approach the project can be a huge determinant of its success. Process and workflow changes within any organization always have the potential for a major positive impact, but when done wrong that impact can quickly become negative.
When considering which solution will be best for your organization, here are four pitfalls to stay away from if you want to have a successful long-term solution.
Rushing into a solution for mobile workforce management
One of the most important things to determine before implementing a mobile workforce management solution is what you want the outcome to be. Some organizations simply want to eliminate paper processes while others want to make their field workers more efficient overall. Many need to improve the quality and simplify the collection of data from the field. Oftentimes the desired outcome is a combination of many things.
With so many options available today, it’s easy to think that you could pop in to the app store, choose one with a high rating and away you go with a new mobility solution. While it sounds nice, more often than not that option won’t end well.
What to do
Whatever goals you hope to achieve, they should be outlined before you start talking to a solution provider. Due diligence is an absolute necessity in this case. If you haven’t done so already, gather key members from relevant groups within your organization (Operations, IT, Finance, etc.) to determine where current weaknesses reside in workflow and decide what an ideal situation looks like. From there, you’ll be able to determine what your desired business outcomes are as you begin talking with providers.
Thinking a generic application will work
In nearly any instance, a universal approach may work for a short time but will ultimately leave you wishing for or needing more. It’s no different in this case where a generic field service application may meet your needs for the short term, but eventually you’ll find that there is quite a bit missing.
What to do
Your industry has very specific features that make it unique from any other. Even within the Field Service industry, for example, there are drastically different challenges and workflows associated with HVAC, Plumbing, and Pest Control. Odds are, if you choose a generic field service mobility solution you’ll end up with something that doesn’t quite meet your needs.
It’s best to research and talk to others in your field who have implemented these solutions before. You’ll find out which providers can best meet the specific needs of your industry.
Ignoring your field users
As the group that will be most impacted by a mobility initiative, it’s important for your field workforce to be comfortable with the solution. Every company has a different group of users ranging in age and technology comfort level. While you may have younger workers with the latest smartphones, you probably have older workers who are intimidated by technology. That must be taken into consideration to some degree.
What type of environment do they typically work in? What impact will that have on the device itself?
While you may think that a tablet is the best option, you may quickly find out that they aren’t tough enough and need to be replaced often. If your environment is prone to a device being dropped or bumped repeatedly, a rugged device may suit you best.
What to do
Hardware options are countless – tablet, handheld, smartphone, etc. – but that doesn’t mean it’s unimportant. Get the hardware wrong and the entire project can be a bust. The main consideration here is how a device will work in your environment and whether an Android/iOS application can work on a consumer grade device, a more traditional system delivered on a ruggedized device, or some combination of the two.
One final consideration here is the learning curve of your workforce. It will be important to provide ample training for your users so you’ll need to understand the resources made available by solution providers.
The best option is to do a pilot with your chosen provider to ensure the solution will meet your specific needs.
Not considering integration with other applications
Ultimately, when you implement a mobility solution you’re going to begin generating valuable data, and a substantial amount of it. Data on customers, workers, vehicles, and more will be available in ways that it had not been before if you don’t currently have any sort of automation or mobility in place. The key now is how to leverage that data to further improve processes across your organization.
While a mobility solution may have solved your challenges for now, chances are that you’ll eventually grow to need more advanced automation in other areas connected to your mobile workforce management – Fleet Tracking, Dispatch, and Route Optimization for example – and you don’t want multiple, disparate technologies within your system. Read more
What to do
During your research of mobility providers, be mindful of additional solutions they offer. Even if you aren’t ready for them now, you’ll know that you have the capability to add these solutions as needed down the road. The more you can automate those traditional manual processes, the more efficient and productive your mobile workforce will become.
The key to a highly successful mobile workforce management solution is to find a partner who will take a consultative approach rather than just sell you a solution. Mobility is simply not a ‘set it and forget it’ technology but requires a trusted partnership to continually improve processes along the way.
Learn more about our integrated approach to mobile workforce management delivered through the FleetAtlas Framework.