Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Field Service Automation ROIs and Service Optimization, Part 1

Andy Wright, in a recent blog article wrote, "According to a recent study by the Aberdeen Group; organizations that adopt a scheduling solution see on average a 12 percent improvement in workforce utilization. While many field service organizations are slow to adopt a scheduling solution, those considered “Best-in-Class” are 50 percent more likely to adopt and implement resource planning tools that harmonize the execution capabilities of their scheduling applications."

From personal experience I would agree with the Aberdeen Group's findings.  When you consider all of the different areas where a service company can receive a positive ROI, not automating a field service organization seems simply irresponsible.

Here are some of the most basic areas to look for ROIs:
  • Save the office staff's data entry time. Enter clean, valid data in the field using your smartphone and have it automatically synchronize with your office business software application.
  • Dispatch service or work order information directly to your field worker's mobile device in real time. This improves work efficiency and customer care.
  • Synchronize data from the field, so you don't have to drive into the office to deliver your paper work.
  • Provide access to database information anywhere you go. This can mean customer history, product documentation, warranty information, inventory information, time sheets, work schedules and much more. This creates efficiencies both for the field worker and the office staff.
  • Use bar code scanning on your mobile device to scan equipment, inventory, buildings, products, etc. Scan a bar code and have all the relevant information on your asset immediately available for your review on the screen of your smartphone.
  • Immediate invoicing - complete work in the field and immediately print the invoice and hand it to the customer for collection. This improves cash flow and reduces collection issues.
  • Create an immediate audit trail of work and locations by integrating GPS to your invoices and work orders. Detail work completed in that location.
  • Take digital photos of before and after work to document tasks and the completion of work to reduce costly invoice disputes.
In part 2 of this article I will take a deeper look at ROIs available from mobilizing field services.  In the meantime, SAP mobility partner, Clicksoftware has a short video that describes how to mobilize various tasks in the field.

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.