Field Service Mobility – What’s in it for me?

appField Service mobility has become easy to imagine. As we speak, companies are achieving a mobile and connected field service based operation because the technology building blocks are firmly in place. Even the small and medium businesses are able to embrace the inherent automation of a robust mobile solution. If right now is the best time for your company to embrace Mobile Field Service, then it is quite natural to ask yourself … what’s in it for me?

Mobility, enabled by the ubiquitous smartphones and tablets of Android and Apple, is real and easier than ever to use. The interface and workflows are intuitive and the steps to properly execute a Job, Work Order, Project or Service Ticket are all in place, and driven by commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) applications such as WithoutWire™ Field Service from Appolis. The WithoutWire Field Service app works in conjunction with your ERP and any job/ticketing systems such as Fieldpoint Alert, FieldConnect Dispatch, ClickSoftware, MASterMind, Dynamics GP, NAV or SL Field Service, Wennsoft, TOA, FieldOne, Microsoft CRM, SalesForce or even your custom built job/ticketing system.

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In the past companies were limited by the need to work offline. There were limits to the mobile device scanning capabilities and processing power. The mobile devices were clunky, slow and cost prohibitive. Smartphones and Tablets were limited in their available applications, and the required enterprise level security.

One by one, these limitations have dissolved making this the ideal time to embrace the power of mobilizing your Field and Depot/Warehouse workforce. Enabling them to communicate Field activities such as inventory receipts, transfers, returns, truck cycle counts and job completion in real-time. The value of this is becoming apparent to all of your cross-functional stakeholders: your Field Technicians/Engineers, Accounting/Finance, Warehouse/Depot personnel, Operations, IT and Executives. And each stakeholder is naturally asking themselves … what’s in it for me?

The Field Technician can now complete a job or “ticket” in one trip due to min/max replenishment to their trucks so they always have the inventory they need to complete their tasks – JIT. Mobile automation through an app on their smartphone or tablet eliminates hours of decoding their hand written notes from the day or working from memory, and firing up the laptop to begin their nightly or weekly data entry. Or alternatively, this mobility greatly reduces calls to customer service for repetitive data entry. Think of it as the LEAN approach to Field Service. Did you find yourself outside of cellular or wifi range? No problem you can take the WithoutWire Field Service app into batch (offline) mode, continue your work and re-sync when you are back in range!

The Depot/Warehouse Manager has real-time visibility to the inventory wherever it exists within the 4 walls, other branches, in-transit, in trucks, trunks, storage lockers and job sites! JIT inventory now becomes a reality through powerful software tools connected to the ERP accounting system and the Job/ticketing system. The result is integrated, real-time enablement of quicker, more accurate business decisions.

Accounting has the ability to purchase supplies for JIT delivery to the Depots. Returns can be tied to jobs and reconciled quickly and accurately. Consumption of inventory against a particular job is scanned and tracked in real-time. Real-time information means same day invoicing and better use of your precious cash resources!

IT can now achieve enterprise level security with their field team’s use of smartphones and tablets. You can limit the available apps to your field techs and provide the necessary secure protection with tools such as MobiControl and Apple security. Company owned phones mean standards of quality and consistent performance can be monitored and met. Compatible systems and industry standard open API’s (JSON Objects and RESTful Services) lead to an ease of implementation, investment protection and future scalability!

As an Operations leader you are no longer making decisions from old and inaccurate data. The real-time flow of information and visibility to the furthest of your inventories and job status’ mean your time is spent working on strategic decisions rather than crunching static spreadsheets with dated information. Field Managers discover that one technician has the inventory that another technician needs; without your intervention, they can view GPS truck coordinates and direct a transfer (technician parts swap) in real-time. This minimizes shipping costs, extra labor and delays in closing field jobs.

And finally as an Executive leading a Field Service organization, you have the satisfaction of enabling an enterprise class organization at an optimal level of efficiency, communication and empowerment to meet the time, cost and quality expectations of the Customers that you serve! We all know that repeat business is less expensive to obtain than finding new customers. Field Service mobility has an attractive ROI based on labor savings, inventory reduction, elimination of re-work, data entry mistakes and it can drive world class time to cash cycles!

So you ask, what’s in it for me? I think it really comes down to teamwork, selecting the right scalable tools and applications to get the job done and cross-functional empowerment at all levels of your organization.

Look for Appolis at the upcoming Field Service Fall Conference.

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For more details on how you can enable your field service organization, please contact Appolis.com. Or call 612-315-2122 to schedule your Depot and Field Service mobility demonstration.

Steve Dwyer

Vice President Sales and Marketing

Appolis, Inc.

www.appolis.com

About the author

Andrew Greissman is a digital content manager for WBR Digital. Andrew's writing background spans genres and formats from poetry and magazine writing to website copy and press releases. When not writing, Andrew enjoys travel, good food and reading books.