Sunday, May 11, 2008

Visibility - Mobile Software on PDAs & Handheld Computers

My PSO (professional services organization) team has been assisting several organizations around the world this month on mobile software projects for handheld PDAs with a common theme - visibility. Let me explain:

Managers are often responsible for field work in locations where they are not physically present. They are personally accountable for the work delivered, but often have limited visibility into it. This is ALWAYS a challenge and a big risk.

In the last few days we have been working on mobile solutions that provide the following benefits:
  • Help a large Paintless Dent Repair franchiser track the quality of work through mobile and onsite customer surveys, work orders and inspections
  • Track the shipping and delivery of medicine throughout Africa and South America using mobile handheld computers that synchronize to a central database
  • Help a construction manager document construction projects with inspection software and other applications that help manage many projects in different geographies, log each issue, assign a contractor to fix the work, reinspect and document
  • Help a pharmaceutical company monitor their customers and any change of conditions in the USA and Canada
  • Help a service company track their work orders, the time each service ticket takes to resolve, and the location of every service technician
  • Help a shuttle service dispatch vans and track pick-ups and deliveries

Each of these examples demonstrate how companies that have work locations distributed over wide geographic areas can have better visibility into the work being done in the field.

Here are some of the tools that mobile handheld computers provide to help remote managers better track the work:

  • GPS - vehicle and technician tracking
  • Date and time stamps integrated with GPS to show the time a vehicle or technician was at a specific location
  • GPS/Date & Time Stamp/Connected to Work Order or service ticket to provide evidence of work completed at a location and time
  • Onsite customer survey - get real-time customer feedback on the quality of work performed so issues can be resolved immediately
  • Digital images of before, during and after work performed. Photographic evidence associated with digital signatures, customer feedback and GPS coordinates are powerful tools for remote managers
  • Inspections - upload and synchronize inspection data to the remote manager. The remote manager can then assign people/organizations to fix issues discovered on the inspection and monitor the repairs. This enables remote managers to effectively have "eyes and ears" at the jobsite and manage resolutions.

In summary, the collection of field data through human input on mobile handheld computers, plus technology like GPS, digital photography, mobile synchronization, digital signatures, mobile forms and shared websites to show real-time reports enable talented and experienced managers to effectively manage their areas of responsibilities remotely. This reduces risk, promotes field accountability, quality work and peace of mind for the managers and their companies. The ability to use and scale the talent and experience of your best managers over more projects located in more areas is a huge asset.

These are the kinds of mobile solutions MobileDataforce helps companies design, develop, deploy and support worldwide every day. If you would like to brainstorm about how a mobile solution might help your project or company please email us or call 208-384-1200.