The growth of smartphones is not news anymore. But the statistics are still remarkable. The latest forecast from IDC shows that the smartphone market will ship 1.38 billion units in the year 2022, an increase of 1.6% from the numbers in 2021.
In 2009 that figure was just 174 million. By all accounts, that is a considerable increase. These stats do not account for shipments of tablets and other ultraportable devices, either.
That is all well and good, but why should you care? Simple – if you are yet to embrace mobile technology in your business, you are putting yourself at the risk of being left behind. The field reporting technology is not something to put in the ‘one for the future’ pile.
Introducing mobile devices and a field reporting app to your business is something you need to do now to stay relevant in your business. Field service businesses are already harnessing the power of mobility with mobile devices and sophisticated field reporting apps. To enforce this further, the Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA) published a recent infographic that revealed mobility trends in field service.
Notable stats mention that:
- 82% of companies using mobility tools have seen an increase in worker productivity,
- 50% witnessed increased customer satisfaction rates, and
- Mobility tools reduce paperwork and travel times.
Adopting the latest mobile hardware and an accompanying mobile field service software solution will help you bridge the gap between your field workers and office-based staff.
You will break down silos and facilitate collaborative work in your organization. The result? A happier, more productive workforce, improved business performance, and a healthier bottom line.
Steps to Embrace Mobile-based Field Reporting
If you want to embrace mobile technology in your business, here are three basic steps you will need to take:
- Get mobile devices.
- Get a field reporting app that works online and offline.
- Train staff to use the new gadgets and solutions.
Of course, each step will take time and have multiple sub-steps. But these are the essential elements required to adopt mobile technology to benefit your business. Now, let us look in a little more detail at each step.
1. Choosing Mobile Devices
When it comes to buying devices, there are many factors you will need to consider. This is a crucial step in the process, so do not neglect it.
Here are some of the questions you will need to ask when selecting mobile devices:
- What type of device will suit your business needs best? This is likely to come down to a choice between tablets, smartphones, and laptops.
- Do you need rugged devices? If they will be used in harsh environments or are likely to be subject to a lot of wear and tear, then the answer is probably yes.
- Which mobile operating system should you choose? There are three main choices – Android, iOS, and, Windows.
Deciding which best suits you will depend on many other things too, such as user experience, security, compatibility with your existing systems, and budget.
2. Getting Mobile Field Reporting App
Once you invest in devices, you will need a mobile lead-capturing service or app to complement them. Without this, gaining great value from your new devices will not be easy.
Although it is possible to use a ‘home-grown’ solution (for instance, you could use Google Calendar for basic scheduling), you will find that these solutions do not scale well.
As your business grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to manage. This is when a professional and dedicated field reporting app becomes mandatory.
Invest in a complete field service solution if you can; this way, you will be well positioned for growth and able to adopt scalable working practices from the outset.
So, what should you look out for in a field report app? It should have mobile capabilities, allowing your field staff to use mobile devices to undertake their daily jobs.
Here are the main things that your agents would want in a simple lead capture app:
- View their schedules
- View details about every job they have been assigned
- Update jobs as they work
- Record additional data about a job if required
- Capture signatures and pictures if required
Any field reporting app that you pick must satisfy the above basic requirements. In addition, your organization may require additional functionality or a specific feature unique to your industry.
Moreover, if you want to get real value from a mobile solution, look for a reporting app that captures information such as travel time and the time taken to complete each job. You can analyze the data to identify issues with your organization’s working practices.
3. Overcoming Connectivity Issues
What happens when your workers in the field face connectivity issues? There will inevitably be occasions when they work in areas with little or no network coverage. When this occurs, you don’t want them to lose access to vital information about their job.
To overcome connectivity issues, look for a field reporting app that can seamlessly work both online and offline. Typically, the field report app should capture and track information regardless of network connectivity. Once the device goes online, the data can be posted to the central storage.
This is done by storing information locally (on the device) and means that you can still access the information even if connectivity is lost. Your field staff can continue to work, with or without a signal.
4. Training Staff to Effectively Use a Field Device and Field Reporting Apps
Do not neglect this step; training should be an integral part of any new software or hardware investment. The provider of the software should offer training to help you make the most of the field reporting app, so make sure you ask about this.
Also, adopt internal initiatives to ensure buy-in from your employees. Here are a couple of suggestions:
- Appoint a member of your team as a ‘super user’ who will be the reporting app expert. They will come to learn everything about the product and be the go-to person for anyone in your company who has questions about it.
- During the implementation phase, open the floor to the software users (your field engineers). Let them see the software in action and raise any questions or concerns.
- When you decide to train your staff to use new technology, involve them from the beginning of the process. Get them on board and make the most of the technology once it has been implemented.
With the right mobile device and field reporting apps, your field representatives can effectively network with the offshore employees of your organization.
Collecting and processing information on the go has gone from being a luxury to a necessity in the world of field management. Equip your field reps with the necessary tools to capture, track, and report critical data with ease.
This will help them do their jobs most efficiently and will help your organization succeed in the long run.