3 Things Field Service Can Teach Any Mobile Workforce

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These days, everyone’s obsessed with the mobile workforce, whether that means working from home, implementing a bring-your-own-device strategy, or using other tools to expand the size and shape of the traditional office.

Technology has changed a lot of things about the way we work, and transforming traditional, desk-bound office workers into a mobile workforce is one of the biggest changes to date.

If you’re wondering how to succeed in this new atmosphere, you’ll find great examples of success in the world of field service. Field service workforces—maintenance workers, delivery drivers, and repair technicians—are on the cutting edge of this trend.

Field service technicians are the original mobile workforce, and they’re using field service management software to make the world their office in ways that set a great example for their office-bound counterparts.

Whether or not you’ve ever worked in field service, this post will help you with your mobile workforce. Below, I pair stories of mobile workforce success in the world of field service with key takeaways for your small business.

1. Augmented reality field service solutions are here

It’s been a while since Pokemon Go made headlines, but augmented reality is still very much in the forefront of public (and corporate) imagination.

Companies in multiple industries are starting to explore using augmented reality; field service already has them beat.

Field service management software company ServiceNow is working with Fujitsu to bring wearables with augmented reality to service jobs. This integration lets workers get information and instructions sent directly to their wearable visor.

fujitsu head mounted display

Fujitsu’s augmented reality device, Ubiquitousware

An engineer wearing Ubiquitousware can get up-to-the-minute instructions about the specific repairs that need to be made to an asset.

Fujitsu’s blog describes a situation in which an engineer fixing a pipe can get “change requests and updates” in real time. Another bonus of an AR wearable like Ubiquitousware is its teaching value; if an inexperienced engineer is sent to fix the asset, he can get instructions through the headpiece.

Better yet? It’ll make you feel like one of the space marines in “Aliens.”

aliens space marines

“Aliens” vies with “Empire Strikes Back” for best sequel of all time

How your business can benefit: Even without fancy headgear, your business can still take advantage of AR for other purposes, such as training. An augmented reality smartphone app can be used to “enhance a worker’s access to information required to perform a job including steps, cautions, knowledge from expert workers, schematics and any other digitized data.” When you point your smartphone at a finicky printer, an AR app can display instructions about how to get the machine working.

2. Field service technicians are ditching paper and going green

The office— however you define it— is becoming more flexible. Thanks to laptops and mobile devices, many employees can work from anywhere. With that mobility comes the transfer of paper-based processes to the digital world.

A mobile workforce is a green workforce.

This is nothing new for field service technicians, who went green before it was mainstream. With field service management software, technicians are transferring their data from disorganized paper stacks to cloud-based software programs that protect and organize their information.

Consider Mission Linen Supply, which uses a field service management solution to service customers on its technicians’ 450 routes.

mission linen supply

Mission Linen Supply’s logo

Mission Linen worked with field service software company DecisionPoint Systems (the maker of ApexWare) to design a software solution that eliminated paper-based record keeping. Where Mission’s field service employees previously kept paper records in triplicate, they’re now entering data into a software program.

Papers don’t get lost in the shuffle, and there’s less chance of making data entry mistakes due to bad handwriting. Best of all, Mission saved $300,000 per year on paper. Divide that by the average annual field technician salary of $39,880, and you could hire around seven new technicians.

How your business can benefit: Any business can cut down on paper. The simplest solution is Google Drive, which allows multiple people to view and edit the same document, even if they’re miles apart. If you’ve got a memo that needs to be shared, you’ve got two options: print a copy for everyone (which many will probably lose) or share via Google Docs, where it’s accessible to anyone at any time. If you’re looking to go a step further, workforce management software organizes clerical work the same way field service management software does.

3. Field service technicians are used to agility

It doesn’t matter how much I prepare, I always feel like I’m doing things on the fly. That’s a common feeling for field service technicians, who have to move between locations all day, every day.

Maintaining agility and reacting to changing circumstances is valuable in any industry, but field service technicians who use FSM software have a leg up; they’re used to operating this way.

The Flying Locksmiths use FieldAware to stay up to speed on their “eight to nine service calls each day.” Rather than waiting for the dispatcher to check the calendar and schedule (or reschedule) an appointment, FieldAware’s software automatically finds the closest technician to a job and schedules them during an open period. The messy work of scheduling is reduced from a minutes-long process to mere seconds.

Field service management software has also helped the Flying Locksmiths be more agile in their payment process. Rather than taking 30 days (on average) to get the information from a job entered into QuickBooks and an invoice sent, FieldAware helped the company cut the interval to four days at the most.

How your business can benefit: Even if your job doesn’t require you to drive around installing locks all day, you can still learn something from the Flying Locksmiths. Speed up payment times with billing and invoicing software. Instead of spending time printing and mailing invoices, invoicing software lets customers pay online easily, and quickly. That’s a win for everyone.

How does your mobile workforce get ahead?

How does your mobile workforce demonstrate tech-savvy strategies? Let me know in the comments below!

If you’re interested in how field service management software can help your mobile workforce accomplish even more, check out these other posts:

Looking for Field Service Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Field Service Management software solutions.

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About the Author

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Geoff Hoppe

Geoff Hoppe is a former Capterra analyst.

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