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AWARDS-BA For the Mobile Workforce

By BDS, Tuesday, 13th August 2013 | 0 comments
Filed under: Product Traceability, Legacy Technology, Continuous Change, Technology.

Mobile WorkforceAs a field service professional, you may well have been the first of your friends to carry a mobile phone. Your company may have been early adopters of mobile and wireless technology. Today, children carry mobile phones and its hard to find companies who do not make use of smart phones, handheld computers, GPS or other technology to support field operations.

Over the years, technology has enabled new standards for customer service and productivity. Today, remote, real-time communication is a de-facto requirement for many companies - live inventory, sales, financial and CRM information is fast becoming the new norm.

“Fact: Mobile Technology offers limited competitive advantage - but extensive savings can be achieved in applying it to update current field practices.”

In the current recessionary climate, organizations continue to focus on driving down costs, improving efficiency and achieving revenue growth through enhanced processes and technology.

Companies in the sales or service sectors can generate superior cost benefits by adopting technology to enhance field service processes. For example, as mobile handheld devices add functionality, new areas of business value emerge. The convergence of technologies such as Bluetooth, GPS, GIS, WiFi, RFID, Voice-to-Text / Text-to-Voice, and digital camera enable more powerful applications. The current rapid rate of development of Android, iPad and iPhone apps was inconceivable just a few short years ago.

Increased productivity can be realized from applications such as Route Planning, Location Identification and Traffic Management to optimize sales reps travel time to customers, support technicians to client sites, delivery trucks to geographically dispersed drop sites etc. Even the best practices can be made better by taking advantage of technology developments and application innovation.

The following examples outline some applications of mobile computing technology to common field service processes and explain how systems can be leveraged to drive additional improvement.

Workforce Optimization

Workforce Optimization represents the low-hanging fruit for field sales automation, providing an easy opportunity to improve efficiency.

In this example, Workforce Optimization encompasses Call Schedules, Data Management and Productivity Management. Scheduling software as in AWARDS-BA³ provides the foundation for automating these operations - real-time access to optimally organized cells, Live CRM, Financial and Inventory Data, allied to Real-time Routing and GPS capability of the mobile device drives significant productivity and cost saving benefits.

Workforce Optimization

Other technology tools and enhancements provide further benefits e.g Online Diary, Electronic Forms, Mobile Printing...

Maximum benefit is achieved from the capability to continually update order status, customer information and reps location / availability via real-time dynamic communication. This practice helps hit targeted sales and service windows.

The process is enabled by taking advantage of mobile real-time wireless communication to provide data for workforce management. It also increases workforce efficiency and visibility and optimizes workforce utilization e.g recording of times, visits and mileage can now be an automatic ‘side effect’. How often does a company representative complain of having to ‘do the paperwork’...?

Application Optimization

Application Optimization will yield immediate benefits over traditional ‘mobile’ applications. The old processes generally involved downloading data to a field operative’s computer, with subsequent uploading of Orders and CRM Information as part of daily housekeeping.

Today’s Rep uses iPad or Android devices over a live link (3G / WiFi) to access real-time information. Modern applications like AWARDS-BA³ have been designed to include an application layer dedicated to managing the User Interface (UI). In practice, the user of the iPad is using exactly the same application business logic as the local telesales or accounts clerk, albeit through an interface designed specifically for his device.     

In other words, there is no possible difference in the information available out in the field to that ‘live’ back at HQ. With real-time processing, both the remote and local operators are sharing exactly the same information.

As well as sharing the same enterprise data, the ERP application itself is acting upon and reacting to a more accurate and complete set of figures - ‘real’ data is now monitored by internal processes for alerts, automation and workflow.

Revenue Optimization

Revenue Optimization

Organisations adopting truly integrated mobile enterprise applications have much greater opportunity to grow their revenues. A number of different factors contribute to this - field sales persons have a greater capability to up-sell and cross sell.

In addition, they now have a greater capability to “close” the transaction based on having complete access to the real-time contracts, promotions, pricing, stock and shipping information.

Consider also the benefit from early closing of the transaction - no more follow-up calls from the rep or an assistant back at the company. All the paperwork, including invoices, is prepared and printed as part of the initial transaction, where appropriate cash collection and posting to the accounts all serve to promote revenue optimization (whilst at the same time, cutting service costs.)

Conclusion

The examples above are representative of the inevitable investment organizations will have to make in mobile technology. Before investing in this technology, consider the small extra investment required to integrate this technology into a best-in-class status solution.

As this paper shows, most of the technology required to make the improvements will have already been purchased by many.

Why not look to leverage this investment to make incremental process improvements? Why not make good practices better ones? 

As seen in the examples above, small innovations and technology tweaks can make significant improvements in workplace efficiency and revenue generation.



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