Thursday, July 29, 2010

29 Areas to Find an ROI by Mobilizing Field Services

In this article we take a more indepth look at ROIs that can be achieved by mobilizing and automating field services.  We start out by reviewing some of the ROI points we discussed in an earlier article and then adding to the list.

It is important to recognize that ROIs don't just come from cost savings.  Upselling products and services can bring in new revenue.  Providing better customer service can leave a lasting impression that results in more business and referrals.  Automating and mobilizing business analytics and queries can provide new insights and more business opportunties for the field sales and field services teams.  Integrating work order dispatch with enterprise asset management and location based technologies can ensure that you optimize the use of a field service technician's time while onsite with a customer.

Here are 29 areas where you can look for ROIs.

1. Eliminate time spent in the office re-typing data collected in the field by enabling field service technicians to synchronize information directly with the office database.

2. Eliminate time spent on the phone dispatching service tickets or work orders. This saves time for both the dispatcher and the service technician.  Dispatch electronic service tickets directly from your work order management system in the office with the mobile device of your service technician.

3. Save time finding each work location.  Send driving directions or links in the electronic work order that work with the GPS and mapping software in the mobile device.

4. Avoid the high fuel costs incurred by delivering paperwork to the office.  Synchronize the data directly from the field to the central database application.

5. Avoid the time and cost of transporting paperwork from the field to the office.  Synchronize the data collected from the field with the push of a button.

6. Save time and provide better customer service by providing real-time access to enterprise parts, orders, and inventory data while in the field.  Enable mobile access to customer history, product documentation, warranty information, inventory information, timesheets, work schedules and much more.

7. Save time with field data collection by using barcode scanners and barcode labels, or RFID readers and RFID tags on assets.  A quick scan with a handheld computer can automatically display all stored information related to the asset for quick review, edits and additions.

8. Save time and reduce administration costs by creating and scheduling new service tickets directly from the field.

9. Provide immediate invoicing for faster collections and better cash management.  Allow the field technician to print the invoice on a mobile printer at the job site.

10. Save time and postage costs.  Print the invoice and leave it with the customer at the job site rather than waiting and billing later from the office.

11. Document proof of work completed to reduce invoice disputes.  Leave a GPS audit trail showing where the work was performed and include a time and date stamp. Digital photo evidence of before and after work is also useful.

12. Reduce the introduction of errors.  Paper based systems are inherently slow and error prone due to human interaction, copying and re-typing. The more human hands that touch a paper form and add or edit data, the more chances that errors can be introduced to the data which can cause invoice disputes, inaccurate records and confusion.

13. Reduce administrative costs by ensuring complete data is sent from the field, as incomplete or inaccurate field data can take hours of work to track down and correct.  Send data from the field and ensure it is complete with data integrity features on the mobile device.

14. Reduce administrative costs by avoiding errors and misinterpretations due to poor or misread handwriting.  Create electronic forms with pre-made options, check boxes and lists, and by using smartphone keypads.

15. Reduce administrative costs by ensuring the accuracy of data.  Validate answers in the mobile software application.

16. Reduce time on the phone and dangerous note taking while driving.  Push documents directly from the office to the mobile device.

17. Save time and fuel by providing electronic dispatch and least cost routing.  Use vehicle and/or handheld GPS tracking to view your workforce locations. Smartphones with GPS functionality can integrate with GIS and display the location of the field worker to help managers better organize service responses.

18. Save time by developing computation and analysis features on the mobile device in the field.  Programmed analytics can help field users make quicker and more accurate decisions and job estimates.

19. Save time in the field by automating business processes in the mobile software.  Mobile application can be configured to perform all kinds of automated business functions, queries, computations and analytics.

20. Enforce quality work habits.  Automate “best practices” into your mobile software application and provide visibility to managers.

21. Automate quality and best practices.  Activate the appropriate business process based upon the data entered.  A specific answer can trigger the required business process.

22. Reduce inventory loss.  Avoid undocumented inventory usage and unbilled time.  Enforce real time data entry before clock out or work order completion.

23. Improve job estimates.  Require clock in and clock out on work to document and analyze the accuracy of work estimates and improve over time.

24. Improve technician training.  Train new service technicians and inspectors with audio memos or video clips embedded in the mobile application or linked to a URL.

25. Reduce disputes by documenting deliveries and work with digital signatures, date and time stamps and barcode scanners on the mobile device.

26. Save travel time and fuel cost.  Query available inventory in nearby company vehicles.

27. Increase profit per customer.  Use information on mobile devices to up-sell more products and services while onsite with the customer.

28. Provide quicker and more accurate estimates.  Query latest shipping status, schedules or inventory levels via mobile devices while onsite with customers.

29. Increase warranty revenues.  Include updated customer information on the mobile device so the service technician can sell warranty and maintenance plans, new products and upgrades.

If you are involved in the world of SAP, you may want to review SAP's solution for field services automation called the SAP® Workforce Scheduling and Optimization application by ClickSoftware

This list is far from complete.  What additions should I make to the list?  I look forward to hearing from you!

Watch my latest video comments on field services automation and  Enterprise Mobility Changes Expectations.

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Kevin Benedict, SAP Mentor, SAP Top Contributor, Mobile and M2M Industry Analyst
CEO/Principal Consultant, Netcentric Strategies LLC
Phone +1 208-991-4410

Full Disclosure: I am an independent mobility consultant, mobility analyst, writer and Web 2.0 marketing professional. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.




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