The key steps required for successful mobilisation of your field team…

Mobility has proven that it’s not just a passing fad. Mobility offers many opportunities for enterprises to optimise business processes, empower employee productivity, enable real-time collaboration, improve customer experiences, and drive increased revenues.

Initially, most companies were just trying to get one or two apps out in the public app store. Many started with some type of branded consumer app, what is called business-to-consumer (B2C) applications. Businesses used these apps to allow customers to experience and engage with their brand. Oftentimes, these apps were built and launched by the company’s marketing organisation.

Now, with the “consumerisation of IT”, businesses are not only providing mobile experiences for their customers but also using mobility as a way to empower and enable their employees to be more productive and efficient through business-to-employee (B2E) mobile apps. Particularly those that are out in the field. Whilst the benefits of mobility are compelling, businesses are faced with the complexity that also comes with mobile not just for IT but also for the line of business that is requesting the field services app. The sheer scale of defining, designing, deploying, and managing mobile projects can seem daunting.

To ensure that your mobile application initiative is successful, enterprises need a clear mobile strategy. Here are five essential requirements to ensure your mobile strategy is on the right track:

1. Streamline Business Processes

Streamlining operations is the first initiative that enterprises need to address when mobilising the field force. Businesses should be planning to extend the standard back-office process to the field in an automated way and to ultimately achieve greater operational efficiency.

The creation of a mobile version of an existing process is a common mistake. 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 mobilised and how. 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.

2. Real-time access to real-time information

Field service teams cite cost reduction as a mobile driver, which is a matter of making it easier for the field employee or technician to access the right information at the right time. By reducing system complexity, the business can combat inefficiency and help the employee get their jobs done faster.

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 fieldworker prefers.

3. 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 authorisation 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.

4. Understanding users, devices and 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 mindset 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. It also gives you the flexibility to avoid back-office system integration prior to mobilising your field force if necessary.

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 come with development, security, scalability and adoption issues.

5. Consider Two Approaches to Mobility

Companies can take two options to implement mobility. One option is to implement core business mobile apps that contain a significant set of business processes and functionality, like field service, CRM or asset management application. The other is to leverage micro apps to target and introduce specific business capabilities and returns by delivering better visibility and collaboration between the personas around core business mobile apps

The field service team may choose to use a micro app to manage service level agreement (SLA) contracts, introducing a specific application that could track the association of a work order to the SLA. The app could do more than just create a report, instead of making it actionable and tying it directly to top-line revenue. These value adds are key to the app’s success. By doing so, you would improve the operational efficiency of your field service team, and be more proactive with your customers.

Mobilising your business processes can seem simple. It’s critical to understand your business requirements and align them with a strategy that addresses your specific challenges to ensure that you have the best approach. By carefully considering your strategy and technology, focusing on user experiences and processes, and collaborating between the line of business and IT, you will overcome the roadblocks and build a foundation for mobile success in the field

The greatest advantage is that this information is also available to every member of your mobile workforce, allowing for greater service as well as ensuring service contracts are up to date so work isn’t given away for free!

 Originally by FieldServiceNews and Jonathan Best, vice president of Europe and Africa Kony Inc