How Does DATArrive Improve Field Services?

Looking for a quick overview of how DATArrive can bring value to field service operations? Here is a quick overview.

Also, you can download the industry overview here.

Three Field Service Trends That Continue to Deliver Success

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In a recent article at Field Technologies Online, Scott Dutton summarized the three trends in field services that are allowing companies to  cut service costs, improve productivity, and boost customer satisfaction.

Mobile Devices – the continued saturation of mobile devices into our everyday lives has made this resource a swiss army knife of sorts for field service companies. According to a recent survey by Field Technologies, about half the mobile workforce currently uses smartphones as the primary means of communication from the field. The other half is divided unequally: roughly 40 percent still use laptops, and approximately 11 percent prefer tablets. Interestingly, more than a quarter of both laptop users and smartphone proponents are considering a switch to tablets because of the portability, popularity, and screen size tablet provide.

Field-Service Workforce Automation – As the partnership between mobile devices and web-based workforce automation apps continue to become more integrated, companies have an even more powerful resource in the hands of their mobile employees. Web-accessible apps for work-order assignment, customer relationship, billing, and inventory management all provide field-service professionals with the real-time data necessary for informed, on-the-spot decision-making. Longer-term benefits include accurate forecasting and reporting for more productive allocation of personnel and material resources.

Location-Based Services – As customer experience is such a huge factor in field service success, having a toolset that is able to provide the right information at the right moment becomes critical. Having the right expert with the right equipment in the right place at the right time improves field-service performance and productivity, which results in sharp increases in customer satisfaction and noticeable improvements to the bottom line.

Best. Deployment. Ever

By way of follow up to the previous post highlighting several factors that can contribute to headache deployments, here is the list of reasons for success. This list represents the reasons customers are happy and become our biggest evangelists.

  1. Looking to improve process, not just technology – anytime a client’s driving motivation is to enhance or create actual process, we know it is a good sign. Technology is as only as good as the process it supports, and when you support the desired process with great technology, it is a win.
  2. Willing to invest time on the front end of a project – peeling back the various layers of business rules and mobile process can takes a bit of investment and commitment. But without this critical step, even the best mobile technology will struggle at some point.
  3. A single point of contact who “owns” the project – having a primary relationship with one person within the company is critical. Not only does this cut down on miscommunications and confusion, it bolsters the mobile technology’s place within the company as this person becomes the resident expert and champions the new approach.
  4. Having a genuine pain point – yes, in this case pain is good. The recognition that the existing environment is a detriment to the company, only provides more motivation to ensure that the new approach is the right fit and executed well.

Worst. Deployment. Ever.

While we all love to tout our best mobile deployments and write up case studies on our success stories, I was recently challenged to describe what a bad deployment looked like. While each mobile deployment has its challenges, I discovered there are some scenarios that lend themselves to just becoming massive headaches. In our experience, here are a number of factors that can lead to the worst deployment ever:

  1. NON-MANDATED – there is no driving motivation to implement this mobility project. It quickly becomes clear that this is a “want to” vs. “have to” scenario. There is no cost justification, demand for legal compliance, a requirement to meet specific service level agreements or company mandated policy. This is simply a case of “it would be nice if we could _______.”
  2. ROI IS NOT CLEARLY DEFINED – going into the project there was no clear definition of success. Nothing that clarifies “we need to improve productivity by X”, cut operational cost by ___”, or streamline workforce by X.” Without this there can never really be a tangible sense customer satisfaction.
  3. NO DEADLINES – Especially when there is no mandate for the solution a lack of deadline leads to drawn out implementation, delays in pre-production training and a general hesitancy to eventually go live.
  4. OPERATIONS PEOPLE ARE NOT INVOLVED – when the influencers and decision makers are not directly involved in the operations side of the business, there is such a huge disconnect in expectations, a clear understanding of needs and a “boots on the ground” approach. This inevitably leads to all manner of delays and chasing rabbit trails for items that in the end, really really do not provide value to the project.
  5. UNWILLINGNESS TO INVEST TIME ON THE FRONT END OF THE PROJECT – because a successful mobile deployment relies so heavily on operational workflows, it demands a fair amount of investment on the front end of a project to evaluate process, define the proper business rules and work through the current vs. expected process. An unwillingness to roll up the sleeves and wade through this work ultimately leads to greater frustration and headaches as technology is rolled out to the larger team.
  6. NOT CONSULTING THE END USER – working with operational team members is critical but not consulting the actual end user is even worse. Assuming or even dictating how a mobile process should work with out input from the actual mobile worker is the “ivory tower” approach to mobility that typically leads to a fumbled implementation and poor user adoption.

But it’s not always bad. Next up – best deployment stories.

What Transportation and Logistics Managers are Saying

Intermec has recently commissioned a new study surveying logistics managers at organizations of over 500 employees within the UK, France, USA, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. Apart from the usual findings a few are worth noting:

  • $282,000 – the amount companies expect to save in the next 12 months from GPS technology
  • 92%  – the amount of transportation and logistics managers struggle to meet same-day delivery requirements
  • 60% – the percentage of respondents who believe mobile communications offer the most promising return on investment to their organization

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Critical Strategies for Mobile Solution Success

In a recent interview, James Mylett, VP and GM of field and business operations at Johnson Controls, shares some lessons learned from a recent rollout of mobile technology. Two very simply yet foundational take-aways are worth mentioning:

  1. Culture Will Eat Strategy for Breakfast – taking a page from Peter Drucker’s book, Mylett insists that culture, how things really get done, what people really believe and what people really value, ultimately impacts whether or not your strategy will stick. If the culture is factored into the strategic planning, then strategy often struggles to gain traction.
  2. Bring in the End Users to Help Define the Process – by taking in feedback from existing field technicians they were able to develop a mobile strategy that the technicians felt would help them perform their jobs better. Employee engagement is critical to success.

You can read the entire interview here.

Is Your View Of What Mobility Can Do Too Narrow?

A good insight from Sarah Howland in the recent issue of Field Technologies Magazine:

The reality is that mobility can be used to transform businesses in many ways, to accomplish a variety of objectives — and mobility is often being deployed for a combination of reasons, not just one. While improving productivity of your workers is a common goal, and a very valid one, the potential for what mobility can do reaches beyond that narrow view.

When you sample the marketing material and websites of most mobility companies the usual features and benefits boilerplates are front and center. Profitability and productivity are the usual suspects, but mobility can do so much more. Case in point:

Trimble published a report this year titled The Road Ahead Report: The Future of Field Service Delivery, for which it surveyed 100 field service managers and directors in the UK (you can view the report at http://bit.ly/S1zGjz). According to this report, it seems that — at least for some organizations — productivity gains aren’t the only objective in mind when it comes to optimizing the mobile workforce. In fact, a majority — 68% — list improving customer satisfaction as the number one priority of their service organization. Increasing profitability came in at 43%, and improving productivity/employee utilization at 41%. So while the respondents felt increasing mobile worker productivity was an important strategic objective (88% said that’s the case), the results show that these companies realize improving productivity can’t be the sole focus.

The big idea here: mobility can quickly become pigeonholed into the all too familiar benefit buckets of industry-speak, but thinking through the downstream effects of a well designed mobile process can open up a world of benefits.

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

Forbes on the Future: Trends Affecting Enterprise Mobility in 2013

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With 2012 wrapping up and 2013 a few weeks away the varied top lists of 2012 and predictions for 2013 have made their annual arrival. Among them, Forbes has put together a list of trends affecting enterprise mobility in 2013. They are as follows:

  • 2013 will be the year of the app – Can we possible have a greater focus on ‘the app?’ Forbes states the influx will come as a result of “user friendly” apps that allow non-IT staff to create individual customization to a platform.
  • Business users will drive up app developmentCertainly agree that the “app for everything” world we live in drives expectation for enterprise mobility
  • The digital C-suite’ will be making decisions on the fly – Meaning, c-level leaders will have mobile access to enterprise data and analytics will lead to a true virtual office enabling strategic decision making based on information that can be accessed on a smartphone or tablet
  • Simplicity + speed + scalability = mass adoption – the perfect equation every enterprise mobility software company aims for. However, Forbes claims the potential rise of a PaaS (platform as a service), would allow non IT staff the ability to build away

In short, 2013 will see user friendly applications, driven by business minded individuals, providing strategic decision makers with critical data. That sounds like a bright future.

Case Study: Cosumnes Community Services District Parks & Recreation

Cosumnes CSD Park Maintenance Reengineers Maintenance Work Order Process with Dispatch Driven Mobility Solution 

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Fred Bremerman and a few members of the CSD Parks Maintenance crew

Cosumnes CSD Park Maintenance is one of our newest customers and one we are really excited to support. Recently, our team had a chance to sit down with Fred Bremerman, Management Analyst at Cosumnes Community Services District Parks and Recreation, to put together a case study around their adoption of mobile technology and how it transformed their approach to work order management.

About: CSD Park Maintenance was looking to replace their manual work order process with a dispatch driven mobility solution.

Summary: By partnering with Sierra Data Systems, CSD Park Maintenance has successfully invested in a mobile solution which has resulted improved productivity and operational visibility.

Solution: Sierra Data Systems has worked with CSD Park Maintenance to deliver the following:

  • Work Order Management
  • Dispatching
  • Job Costing

You can download the case study here.

Case Study: Arrow Construction

Sacramento-Based Regional Construction Company Experiences Spike in Productivity and Profitability Through Investment in Mobile Technology

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Vice President Sal Rivera and President Mike Wegener of Arrow Construction

Arrow Construction is just one of those companies we love doing business with. Aside from being a firm believer in mobile technology, Arrow has rightfully earned the reputation of ‘specialist’ in the underground utilities and construction services industry. Recently, our team had a chance to sit down with Mike Wegener, President of Arrow Construction, to develop a detailed case study around their approach to mobile technology.

ABOUT: Arrow Construction is an industry leading underground utility specialist looking for a process driven mobile workforce management solution.

SUMMARY: By partnering with Sierra Data Systems, Arrow Construction has successfully invested in a mobile solution which has resulted in cost savings, greater productivity and enhanced visibility into daily operations.

SOLUTION: Sierra Data systems has worked with Arrow Construction to deliver the following:

  • Time and Labor Management
  • Asset Management
  • Dispatching
  • Billing

Download the case study here.