Monday, January 02, 2006

Where Do You Get an ROI from Mobile Solutions?

ROI s (return on investment) is the term used to define the value of a project relative to the cost. If the project costs are $25,000, how will you justify this cost to your senior management? Senior management wants to know why they should spend their hard earned money on your mobile application solution and handheld computers. The following list contains some of the most common justifications for mobile software projects.

  • Save the office staff's data entry time. Enter clean, valid data in the field using your handheld computer and have it automatically synchronize with your office business software application.
  • Dispatch service or work order information directly to your field worker's handheld computer in real time. 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.
  • You can use bar code scanning on your handheld computer 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 handheld computer.
  • Immediate invoicing, complete work in the field and immediately print the invoice and hand it to the customer for collections. 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.

The bottom line is that paper based systems are inherently slow and error prone. Many more hands must touch a paper form, and each touch can introduce delays and errors. Creating mobile software applications that can validate the data, ensure accurate input and immediate synchronization to your office software applications creates a much faster, accurate and reliable system.

We have all heard the phrase, "information is power." By providing more information to your field workers, you are enabling them to complete their work faster and access required information without the need to involve the office staff in these routine data look-ups.

Some of the most surprising efficiencies that are not always recognized upfront, are the ability to ensure all the data is completed and valid in the field. Many paper forms are turned in that are only partially filled out. This requires the office staff to contact the field worker for additional information. This adds costs to both the office staff and the field worker. Using mobile software applications in the field, you can require that all data is filled out accurately and completely. So how much time is currently wasted chasing down incomplete paper forms?

In the real world - a field worker may use a variety of tools to complete their job. A smartphone to call the office and receive emails, a fax machine, wireless printer and scanner, a laptop computer on the seat of the truck to look up customer information, etc. A complete survey of the business processes that the field user engages in can often demonstrate that nearly all of these tools can be aggregated efficiently into one smartphone application.