Thursday, August 09, 2012

30 ROI Ideas for Mobilizing Field Services

I was reviewing my notes from past mobile strategies workshops I have conducted for field services organizations and thought some of my notes might be useful.

First, what are service companies trying to achieve with mobility?  Here is a summary:

  1. Increasing productivity – more average service calls per service technician in a day.
  2. Improving management visibility into work done in the field
  3. Efficiencies in communicating information between the office and the remote service technician or job site.
  4. Efficiencies in planning and scheduling work based upon qualifications, location, parts and experience.
  5. Reducing fuel costs.
  6. Reducing travel times.
  7. Reducing overtime
  8. Using least cost employees and contractors
  9. Increasing productivity – more average service calls per service technician in a day.
  10. Increasing onsite product and service sales.
  11. Increasing collections with mobile invoicing, mobile printing of invoices and onsite collections.
  12. Improving inventory control and management - visibility to parts needed, the location of inventory and parts used on each job or service ticket.
  13. Reduced risks by reminding service technicians of safety hazards and safety procedures on the job.
  14. Improved customer interactions 

The following list drills down into more specific areas:


  1. Eliminate time spent in the office re-typing data collected in the field
  2. Eliminate time spent on the phone dispatching service tickets or work orders - both the time of the dispatcher and the time of the service technician: Dispatch electronic service tickets direct 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 delivering paperwork to the office and picking it up: Synchronize the data direct from the field to the central database application.
  5. Avoid the time cost 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, time sheets, 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 admin costs by creating and scheduling new service tickets direct from the field:
  9. Provide immediate invoicing for faster collections and better cash management: Allow field tech 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 wait and bill later from the office.
  11. Document proof of work completed to reduce invoice disputes: Leave a GPS audit trail of where 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 will 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 devices.
  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 onscreen digital keyboards.
  15. Reduce administrative costs by ensuring the accuracy of data: Validate answers in the mobile software application on the handheld PDA.
  16. Reduce time on the phone and dangerous note taking while driving: Push documents directly from the office to the handheld.
  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 display the location of the field worker to help managers better organize service responses.
  18. Save time by developing estimation and job analysis mobile apps that 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 apps: Mobile apps 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 apps 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 in mobile apps.
  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 projects to document and analyze the accuracy of work estimates.
  24. Improve technician training: Train new service technicians and inspectors with audio memos or video clips in the handheld computer application.
  25. Reduce disputes by documenting deliveries and work with digital signatures, date and time stamps and barcode scanners on the handheld computer.
  26. Save travel time and fuel cost finding parts: Query available inventory in nearby company vehicles.
  27. Increase profit per customer: Use information in mobile apps connected to CRMs to up-sell more products and services while onsite with the customer.
  28. Provider quicker and more accurate estimates: Query latest shipping status, schedules or inventory levels via smartphones or tablets while onsite with customer.
  29. Increase warranty revenues: Include updated customer information on mobile devices so the service technician can sell warranty and maintenance plans, new products and upgrades.
  30. Dispatchers with real-time visibility into job progress and status can more efficiently dispatch least-cost service technicians (contractors vs. employees).
In order to achieve true situational awareness with a real-time 360 degree view of your operations, you will need a number of systems to be tied into your mobility platform.  Here are just a few ideas:
  • CRM
  • Work Order Dispatch system
  • Scheduling system
  • Workforce optimization (workforce and resource planning needs)
  • GPS Tracking
  • Enterprise Asset Management
  • HCM (Human Capital Management) System
  • Inventory systems
  • Real-time Business Analytics
  • Etc.



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Kevin Benedict, Mobile Industry Analyst, Mobile Strategy Consultant and SAP Mentor Alumnus
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Full Disclosure: I am an independent mobility analyst, consultant and blogger. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.