While many businesses are improving customer experiences with widely available apps for scheduling, paying, and communicating with companies, some businesses are missing opportunities that not only improve the customer experience, but employee experience as well. Five reasons to improve tech for your field crew are: optimizing business processes, empowering employee productivity, enabling real-time collaboration, improving customer experiences, and driving increased revenues.
While the benefits of a well-equipped field team are compelling, businesses may feel overwhelmed or underinformed on the many details to make a mobile workforce IT infrastructure successful. From defining, designing, deploying, and managing a mobile workforce, businesses need a clear strategy. Here are considerations you should prioritize:
Streamline business processes: Ultimately, you are better connecting your field team to your office staff, so planning for tools for them should be an extension of standard office practices in an automated way. This does NOT mean creating a mobile version of an existing process. Successful mobility is not as simple as delivering an existing system on a smaller screen. It requires thinking in a different way about what is mobilized and how. What type of devices work best, is the device and data secure, does the process enhance the usual field operation task and process? The key component of operational efficiency is enabling the field to have access to real-time information that will make their job easier and more predictable. If it doesn’t do this in an effective way, you will not see an increase in employee adoption of the app, which means your mobile initiative is doomed to failure.
Real-time access to real-time information: Many businesses look to mobile technology to increase employee productivity. For field service teams, this means defining current roadblocks and areas for improvement. Raising the productivity of the field force could mean focusing on key performance indexes (KPIs) such as first time fix rates, time on site, and speed to issue resolution. This translates to doing the right job right the first time, by ensuring the right person is assigned and the right information is available and consumable in the way the field worker prefers.
Security: Security is an essential piece to any mobile strategy. IT must secure not only the device and application, but also the data itself. Considerations include how the data is integrated from the back office, transformed into meaningful data for the mobile application, sent securely over the network, stored on the mobile device, and managed to the integrity of the business. With these layers come different security methods, including authentication and authorization of the systems and data to the encryption of the channels and of the data itself. Mobile extends outside the four walls of IT, and must be approached in a holistic way that ensures it can do so safely and without compromise.
Understanding users, devices, & peripherals: It’s critical to understand your users. Mobile workers operate differently in the field than back-office workers. Mobile processes are unique, which requires an outside-in mind-set and approach. You must identify the task, understand the process flow, and connect it to the data and systems that store it. This enables you to create a first-class user experience based on the way the field works. Understanding the devices and peripherals that your mobile application must support, and the speed of updates and operating systems upgrades is another challenge. The cost and velocity required to deploy and manage your app for all of those devices comes with development, security, scalability and adoption issues.
Durable hardware appropriate for the field. Your field staff are working in significantly harsher environments than your office staff and it’s not just the weather elements. Their devices need to be weather resistant of course, but they also need to be durable, secure, and equipped for specialty peripherals and software.
Pearl Solutions Group is experienced with equipping and supporting IT infrastructure for mobile workforces. When you partner with us, our experts work with you to define a strategy focused on integrating user experiences and processes, collaborating between the line of business and IT. Our solutions include design and integration, device and mounting procurement and installation, and continued help desk and support. Learn more about optimizing your field team through a strong IT infrastructure.