Tech Tools That are Making the Field Service Industry More Productive in 2018
brought to you by WBR Insights
For an industry which spends most of its time assessing and repairing technology, field service can be somewhat slow to adopt new trends. However, with the shift in generations now working in the industry, it's a great opportunity to introduce some new tech tools into your field service business.
Hardware-, software-, and web-based technology have all changed the way many industries carry out their work. From the innovative use of social media platforms to more bespoke services, those companies which adopt these tools intelligently and quickly gain a distinct advantage when compared to their less technologically-savvy peers. The best thing about many of these tech tools is that budgetary considerations need not necessarily be a barrier to their implementation, as a great deal of them are available either completely free or for a nominal charge.
These platforms are often available in-browser or via a smartphone or tablet app and are designed to help geographically disparate team members work together as if they were working in the same office - or as close to it as possible.
"A more remote workforce will become the norm," writes the team behind Slack, a collaboration tool provider. "We're going to see this demand in the workplace to create more work-life balance, or work-life integration. And I think remote work is somewhat inevitable. I think it's kind of like fighting gravity. But that doesn't mean the future of work is without issue. It comes with its own unique challenges."
Platforms such as Trello and Basecamp act as virtual whiteboards which allow people to access information about various tasks and jobs that have been assigned, and have any updates or changes made to them disseminated in real-time. They're great for assigning jobs to people and allowing multiple employees to get notifications and updates on how those tasks are progressing.
Other applications allow engineers to chat with one another in predefined groups, allowing for real-time communication with other engineers, administrative staff, and parts warehouses - further reducing barriers to getting jobs completed and improving productivity.
Workflow Management Software
A step up from collaboration platforms such as those described above (both in terms of expenditure and functionality) can be found in workflow management software.
These kinds of tech tools usually operate via mobile or web apps, and allow field service engineers and administrative staff to organize and carry out jobs in a far more efficient and productive fashion than is possible without them. Jobs can be added to diaries with a few clicks, and engineers updated in real-time to allow for last-minute scheduling changes. Inspection certificates can be filled out in a few moments and emailed to clients, the office, and uploaded to the cloud at the same time. Estimates can be processed and turned into active jobs while on-site, and many more functions besides.
"In an era when customers are used to signing contracts on devices, getting updates on SMS, and receiving receipts via email, messy paper documents and inefficient business practices can make your company look behind the times," writes the team behind workflow management software provider Commusoft.
Of course, the innovative digital tech tools we've discussed above would be next to useless without some hardware with which to operate them.
(Image source: ontaap.com)
Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets are an essential tool in the arsenal of the modern field service engineer. With these devices to hand, engineers can access a full suite of services, wherever they are, to help increase productivity. Thankfully, there are a range of options - from the very expensive to the more conservative - that should suit the budget of field service businesses of all sizes. Many of these devices can also be fitted with robust cases, specifically designed to withstand the rigors of the field service industry.
"What's important is that the mobile fieldworker has access to the right device, the right applications, the right support, and that they are engaged with the technology," said Clive Fearn, Global Sales Director at mobile software applications provider, TAAP. It's about the solution being fit for purpose, and that encompasses so many different areas. But, in my experience, if you get the solution right, you don't look back."
Tech tools are adding a new string to the bow of the modern field service engineer, and are helping the industry's work become ever more efficient and productive.
Innovative tech tools are set to be a hot topic at Field Service Amelia Island 2018 this August at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Florida
Download the agenda today for more information and insights.