Benefits of Mobile Apps for Your Field-based Teams

Organization at your fingertips.

Mobile Apps for your field-based teams can improve productivity and enhance efficiencies in your business operations.  Here are a few mobile app benefits:

You need to track the location of your field-based teams. Using the location tracking features of a smartphone or other device in your mobile app has a few different benefits.

First, you can monitor where your field team members are going during working hours. This will create accountability, and reduce or eliminate personal side trips that may not be approved.

Location tracking is also beneficial if you have an urgent service call come in during the day and need to see which team members are closest to the job site where a technician is needed. 

A custom mobile application will enable your technicians to get any required customer signatures simply, by asking the customer to sign the screen. Their signature is then uploaded instantly to the cloud. No paper necessary.

Even if your field-based team members are in remote areas (or large buildings) without access to the Internet, your mobile app can be designed so it will continue to work. They will be able to view and enter job details; and if they need to report a potential problem they can do it while it is fresh in their minds. Any related information such as digital photos can be added.  When the app detects that they are back in range of an Internet signal the information they added will be uploaded.

When a different field team member or technician goes into a job, they need as much information as they can get. Giving your field team members the means to detail their findings and results of a job makes it easier to work with a client going forward. Any promises made or problems encountered are readily available to the next technician who services this client.

One of the key benefits of a mobile app is that it syncs information to and from the field, ensuring your in-office teams have the same information as your field teams, and vice versa. Cloud sync ensures that everyone has access to the same information in real-time.

Schedules change – that is the nature of field service. Whether a customer requests to change a date or cancel an appointment, you want your field team to get as much warning as possible. With the ability to look at the current status of projects, dispatch will be able to coordinate should an issue arise. If a team finishes a project early, or if it looks like a project will run late, dispatch can see this without needing to pick up the phone and ask.

With a complete history at their fingertips, field team members are able to make better decisions in less time. Too often, technicians have to make snap decisions with little information. A mobile app can ensure that all of the details they need are in one place so that those quick decisions are informed, not just quick.

If a customer takes the time to provide details when they make a service request, the last thing they want is to be asked to repeat those details again and again. Your custom mobile app makes it easy for field team members to get right to work based on specifications your client provided.

If your company takes it a step further and provides your clients with a mobile application, they can use it to view status updates about their service call, view and pay invoices, make service requests, update service requests and even view timely updates of when they can expect their technician to arrive.

Exceptional customer service leads to repeat business and recommendations, without additional marketing. 

Humans aren’t perfect. From not remembering precise instructions to missing pertinent information in a work order, manual errors are going to happen. You may not be able to get them down to zero, but you can significantly reduce them with automation.

Your field app can automatically make calculations that are currently being done by the technicians and a calculator. Your custom mobile app can create reports, capture GPS coordinates, prompt the tech for more information, correct errors, prevent closing a work order if information (such as a customer signature) is missing, and so on. This saves time on-the-spot and saves time and money later when you avoid sending your tech back to the job site to get missed information.

If you want to really impress your clients, having the ability to provide automated quotes on the spot is a big plus. Field apps make this not only easy, but quick. With some customization, you can make sure that all pertinent information is included in the quote so that there are no surprises after you get the job.

Depending on your industry, you may need a way (void of tampering) to document that the job has been completed, when and by whom.

With a custom mobile app you can automatically capture the time and GPS coordinates of the team member when they complete certain actions (such as taking a photo, getting a signature, recording data).

You then have documented proof of when and where the information was captured. Hand-written job notes do not provide this level of detail and may not be enough proof in the event of a conflict.

The definition of workflow:

“The sequence of industrial, administrative, or other processes through which a piece of work passes from initiation to completion.”

There are multiple reasons to consider using workflow in an organization, as it can automate and improve processes in all areas of a business.  One of the most notable examples of workflow is the assembly line which helped to shape the standard of workflow, not only for car manufacturing but for all industries.

Henry Ford set the standard for this workflow, and the production of the Model T is legendary.  Toyota adopted Ford’s assembly line in the 1950s to develop their own lean production system. Over the following years, the benefits of their system resulted in:

Just a couple of examples of how workflow enhances business.

So here are 10 ways workflow can benefit any business:

  1. Workflow can help by identifying and removing any unnecessary steps in the process.
  2. Modifying the order of the steps can make the process more efficient. For example, some steps could run simultaneously as opposed to sequentially.
  3. Tasks can be assigned to the people with the skills to perform the task, rather than allocating to anyone who needs work to do, which compromises quality!
  4. Management can concentrate on strategic business-oriented activities, rather than the day to day operational tasks, such as task allocation and monitoring progress. This means the organization can grow as a business.
  5. Workflow has provisions to answer all possible questions that arise when deciding on or actioning a task. This helps an individual’s work confidence level, which in turn reflects in the quality of the outcome.
    Some of the questions answered include: What actually needs to be done?, Who am I doing this task for?, How long should I take to perform this task?, Who else is involved in the process?, What will happen after I action this?
  6. Workflow follows a sequential order. It ensures that all steps have been completed correctly (especially areas typically prone to human error) and checkpoints met before moving forward.
  7. Paperwork and paper chasing is eliminated thus reduces waste and saves time. Automatic routing with no paper handling and fast travel time will significantly cut time. The constant movement of the workflow means once a person has finished their part, they can immediately pass it on, so it doesn’t sit around where it can get forgotten or lost.
  8. It improves visibility. Tracking can allow a staff member to instantly check the status of the item. It allows the key people to see the critical processes at every point, identifying problems, and bottlenecks, and monitor end-to-end performance throughout.
  9. Decisions that were determined by people can be made by the workflow, based on businesses rules that can be made to represent human decisions.
  10. Since the workflow is linked to a database, it keeps a record of what occurs in the system. An audit trail shows who, what, when and what actions were performed.

In summary, workflow provides major benefits for any organization. The ten described here are just some of the many benefits of workflow. It makes an organization become more efficient by helping to save time, remove waste, cut out unnecessary work, better use of human resources, which overall saves money and will help an organization to grow and improve.

Adapted from Nathan Gilligan – All Things Workflow.