Field workers are one of the most important direct interactions your business has to your customers. How well and effectively they perform is crucial to a positive customer experience. Empowering your workforce with the tools they need to succeed in the field has become a best practice for businesses of all sizes. Access to technical resources, customer data, stock availability and route scheduling can be the difference between a satisfied customer and a lost opportunity.
With integrated management software and handheld computers, you can fully mobilize your workforce to be more informed and productive. Eliminate the gap between the network of resources your business has in the office and your workers out in the field. An integrated field mobility solution can completely do away with paperwork, improve service levels and increase revenues. Accomplish more everyday with fewer burdens to your resources.
What are the Key Benefits of a Field Mobility System?
A field mobility solution can help improve any application with the benefits of:
- Accuracy – Eliminate errors in the field with real-time access to customer data, service logs and manuals.
- Efficiency – Allow workers to do their jobs on-the-go and provide a better customer experience.
- Productivity – Reduce man hours through automated data capture to visit more customers per day.
- Optimization – Improve workforce management with visibility into performance metrics.
What is Field Mobility?
Field mobility is a term that can mean several things depending on the type of business you are talking to. The term often encompasses applications like field service, repairs, sales, delivery and inspections. The key aspect that ties all these applications together is the need for access to data in the field and the direct interaction with your customers. While businesses have been able to accomplish these tasks with paper based systems in the past, the proliferation of mobile computing devices has opened opportunities to improve existing processes and offer newer services that were not possible with static systems.
Imagine a situation where every worker you send out into the field has access to every resource and functionality you normally could only have at the office or warehouse. The gains in efficiency and productivity alone would validate embracing such a possibility. With all the needed tools at their disposal, a worker could visit more customers throughout the day reducing overall costs to you business while maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction. With the right technology in place your business can do more with the same or less human resources.
Current mobile computers and tablet PC along with wireless connectivity have opened up the possibilities of more robust field applications. It is possible to provide each field worker with a mobile computing device running appropriate software to access everything from customer data, invoices, service logs, manuals, maps for their daily travel route and even conduct sales. The advances in mobile computing offer the ability to stay linked to your resources at all times with Wi-Fi, WAN (cellular) and GPS connectivity. With a hand held mobile computer you can empower your workforce to accomplish any task in the field with real-time visibility back to your office.
With the range of possible field applications there is a variety of software that can be used to support workers. Many times the software application you utilize will be fairly customizable as each business has its unique process and requirements. The key thing to have in mind is that when you have a mobile device that can always be connected wirelessly, many functions can occur in real-time over the network. An employee can take an order in the field using customer information they accessed remotely as opposed to storing everything on the mobile device itself. This order can then be transmitted back to your facility to start being processed immediately instead of at the end of the day. The right software in place can drastically reduce the time it takes to accomplish any task since you can access, process and move data at all times.
Every minute that is wasted in the field directly translates into slower service to your customers and loss of profitability. Implementing a field mobility solution can address many problems in any process by reducing errors, optimizing time usage and increasing visibility. Competition is greater than it has ever been in every business sector and a mobile solution can provide you a formidable edge. Chances are your competitors are already deploying field mobility solutions; can you afford the costs of a limited and ineffective workforce?
What Should You Address When Making a Field Mobility System?
When putting together an effective and suitable field mobility system there are a few key questions to answer:
- How many users will you have in the field?
- What are the key functions you need to do in the field? Repair, service, inspection, sales, etc…
- What information will you need access to in the field? Customer, sales, technical, inventory, etc…
- Will you need to transmit data back to your facility in real-time?
- Do you have a current WAN provider? Will Wi-Fi access be available to users?
- Will you need any printing or signature capture on-site?
- Do you need direction and mapping information from the field?
- Do you need integration with existing ERP or management systems?
What are the Components of a Field Mobility System?
A field mobility system consists of a combination of several components:
- Field Management Software – Your software application will determine how your workforce conducts business and their effectiveness. No matter your specific requirements, there is an application that already supports your needs or can be customized to do so.
- Mobile Computer/Tablet PC – The mobile device is the main tool and information source your employees will have in the field. Making sure you have a device that has the connectivity your application requires and is rugged enough to handle everyday use is essential to a successful mobility solution.
- Portable Printer – For many applications, each transaction will need to end with a receipt. In their vehicle or on their hip, worker will need a means to provide customers a record of the services provided.
- Device Management Software – When you have a fleet of workers in the field all using mobile devices, a tool to handle general management and updates of the devices is crucial. Prevent loss of time due to hardware issues that could have been resolved remotely on-site.