Magazine Article | May 24, 2012

5 Ways Mobile Can Make IT Field Technicians More Efficient

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

By Bill Lucchini, COO, OnForce,

With the mobile technologies that exist today, there’s no reason your business shouldn’t be benefitting.

The vast majority of IT field service technicians carry an incredibly powerful smartphone with them every day. So, why is it that they’re using these devices more for Angry Birds than anything to do with field services? Mobility has the potential to revolutionize field services, while driving higher quality and greater efficiency. Here are five examples of day-to-day tasks that can be done faster and more accurately with mobile technology.

#1: Get Field Techs On-Site
Good service can’t happen if a technician isn’t at a job site when they need to be. Time spent sitting in traffic or looking up directions is wasted time. An effective mobile device will provide information on how to get to the next appointment by providing route options and traffic information, all with one touch.

#2: Validate Field Techs Are On Time
Dispatchers always need to know what is going on in the field. One piece of critical information is knowing exactly when a technician has arrived on a job site. A mobile device that enables one-touch check-in streamlines the process in seconds.

#3: Provide Efficient Customer Communication
Unexpected things happen on the job, and when they do, there needs to be quick communication and resolution. Whether it’s an out-of-scope repair, a missing part, etc., action must be taken. Making those actions as easy as possible drives compliance and reduces cost. An effective mobile solution enables technicians to have one-touch access to important phone numbers to key contacts, saving them time in looking up information.

#4: Reduce Paperwork
In a digital age, no one wants more paper — especially techs in the field. The paperwork involved with completing a job can be dramatically simplified with mobile. For example, collecting signatures electronically while a technician is on-site eliminates paper trails and radically reduces administrative time. Likewise, the dispatcher no longer has to find paperwork that was faxed over, file it, and then update the information online.

#5: Avoid Customer Disputes
On-site GPS check-in removes any uncertainty about when a technician has arrived to a job site, while beforeand- after photos validate what service work has been completed. These capabilities are critical, especially when disputes can cost hours of technician and dispatch time that can easily turn a profitable job into a huge loss.

How To Get Started With Mobility
Let’s say that all of these benefits sufficiently compel a business to deploy a field service mobile app to its technicians. The first step is to decide how to build the solution. Internal IT departments are often the most readily available and can be a natural option for businesses looking to develop a field services mobile app. However, they must be sure they have the inhouse resources — in both manpower and know-how, to build something that’s functional and improves the service experience for technicians and customers.

A second option is outsourcing to a mobile development company. Businesses must choose their partners wisely. Partners should have experience building similar mobile tools, but be willing to build at a cost that makes sense for their business. This can be challenging and won’t be a fit for every business, but can result in an effective, efficient solution that can really help cut costs.

A third option is for businesses to work with service providers that offer existing mobile applications that address key IT service pain points. They should check with current and additional providers, ask what they’re offering in mobile, and learn how to use any current offerings to cut costs.

There is no question that mobility is changing the game. For technicians, their smartphones are their offices on-the-go. They can get their tasks done faster, stay productive, focus on serving customers, and be more competitive. What would it mean to you and your business if you could increase customer satisfaction while driving productivity improvements that allowed every one of your technicians to book one extra appointment every day?