Which mobile devices are right for your business

Which Mobile Devices Are Right for Your Business?

When you’re considering mobile devices for your business there are a number of factors to consider, which can make the difference between a huge expense and a headache, and a vital tool that enhances productivity and communication between all departments.

Any business utilising mobile workforce management has to consider the following factors while choosing mobile devices:

  • Cost of Mobile Devices, Ongoing Support and Replacement/Repairs and Upgrades
  • Security for All Business Data
  • Suitability of Device to the Specific Industry
  • BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) Contracts and Security

Cost of Mobile Devices

Once it was necessary to invest in specialist devices designed for business use but as the technology has developed, it’s been found that most businesses can save money by purchasing consumer devices. These are more than adequate, and with the right apps and programmes installed to perform most business tasks, are saving companies money.

When we talk about cost, you have to consider far more than the initial outlay for the products. As well as the initial cost of purchasing enough mobile devices for everyone who needs one, you have to factor in cost for support. A dedicated service will ensure that the devices are up to date with the latest software and the data being shared are secure. There also needs to be a budget for the inevitable repairs and replacement of mobile devices damaged or lost in the field, and upgrading the software and technology as required.  Furthermore, all users need to understand how to use the device effectively and that the devices are being properly and effectively used for the business needs. Last but not least, the user’s use of the device for non-work related activities should be regularly monitored.

Security for All Business Data

Securing the data being shared across multiple mobile devices is a priority – and this can be achieved by encryption, password access to restricted data, and setting differing permissions for access to files for those in more senior positions, meaning that staff can only access data that is relevant and permissible for their specific role.

This data management is a priority for businesses and will need to be carefully monitored. Detailed device usage policy should outline the guidelines for this data access and the consequences of mishandling company data, or the company device being used for personal reasons.

Suitability of Mobile Devices to the Specific Industry

The industry you work in determines which kind of mobile devices are best suited to your needs. Blue collar workers would be more likely to require a rugged device; something that can handle rough use on building sites, that will survive being thrown in the back of a van and indelicate handling in a more physical environment. These environments are also more likely to need a bigger budget for repairs, as the devices, even when designed for rougher handling, are more likely to be damaged in the workplace.

White collar workers such as field sales team members are better suited to tablets, which are ideal for form filling, document creation and processing large amounts of data. They can access cloud data to share files and process the required levels of ‘paperwork’ digitally that keeps the business flowing smoothly.

A smartphone is the best – and cheapest – choice when the device is required simply for instructions such as where to be, when and why. A smartphone is easily portable, people are used to using the technology, and the range of apps and capabilities of modern phones makes them well suited to a wider range of business uses, such as accessing documents or emails, and sharing files, as well as ensuring that the team members are always contactable.

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) Contracts and Security

There is always an option for a BYOD policy, meaning that team members can provide their own preferred mobile device and use it to access work related data, cloud shared files and work related email accounts. This, of course, will save a business a huge amount of money as there’s no initial cost for the devices. However,  it does open up a number of concerns for safety, the protection of work related data and files, and the distribution of cost for running the device; who pays for the data, the content and the calls. In this case there are many benefits – but the company must have a very detailed BYOD policy that outlines the costs they will cover and those they will not, as well as carefully managed security for files and data with encryption and password access, and regulations and guidelines for what can be accessed and by whom.

BYOD is a good option for white collar workers, who are comfortable with the technologies and may prefer being able to use their own devices to access work related data and documents. However, in a workplace that is more likely to lead to damage, it may be unfair to expect your staff to provide their own device.

 

 

mobile working for sme

Mobile Work Order Management for SME

Once, in years gone by, making your business mobile was left to the big dogs – companies with huge budgets who could invest in the expensive technologies and server space necessary for making mobile working possible.

Team members had to be given specialist equipment. It was a clunky and often frustrating process accessing the data and files they needed. Mobile working was not only expensive because of the technology required but also because of the constant ongoing support it demanded, not to mention the frustrations of slow and patchy internet access in some locations.

These days almost everyone carries a smartphone in their pocket, and the technology available is affordable, widely used and well understood. What was once a ‘would be nice’ is now a must for most people – accessing our emails, websites and data wherever we are.

The expense and problems of cumbersome servers have also been eradicated, thanks to the development of Cloud technologies.

So what’s stopping you taking advantage of mobile working for your business?

The wonderful thing about Cloud technology is that there is no limit to the amount of data that can be stored and accessed from anywhere by anyone with the right permissions. A smartphone is a piece of equipment that we are all familiar with. The range of apps and capabilities that these modern pocket-wonders have means that there are no limits to the ways they can be used for businesses.

From communication to corporate file sharing, mobile working has never been easier. Getting a response to queries or accessing important documents can be done in an instant. Forgotten your presentation? No problem – just download it from the Cloud. Want to send an important document to a client? Not an issue; email it right there from your phone.

More Flexible Workforce

People can still feel daunted by the idea of mobile working – but when you consider the amount of time we spend on our smartphone, it seems that the next generation have essentially grown up with an innate understanding of the benefits of the technologies available. The door has opened to allow more flexible working patterns, with your team no longer tied to their desk. The fast-paced world of business has moved quickly, embracing these technological developments. People expect immediate responses, fast turnarounds and 24-hour communication from the brands they’re dealing with.

The Multiple Advantages of SME

This is where SME have a benefit over bigger companies – less likely to be dependent on out-of-date processes or the slower uptake of new technologies. SME have their pick of the market because they can leapfrog the slower processes of their bigger competitors, tracking their workload on the go and responding to customers demands from wherever they are.

Embracing change takes time, and in a bigger company the rollout for this change can be cumbersome and time consuming; here’s where the SME have the advantage. More agile and adaptable to change, the uptake of Cloud technologies and mobile devices has levelled the playing field. Smaller businesses can outpace the bigger, more staid businesses and give the customer what they want faster, more efficiently and with less steps needed to perform.

Go Paperless

Not only that, but the huge reduction in cost and work hours that were once spent on paperwork means financial savings and greater efficiency; no longer are we printing contracts and waiting on the mail run, or searching through years-worth of files in cabinets for relevant files. With everything stored on the Cloud we can share files digitally, immediately and access data from anywhere.

The savings on printing alone can make a huge difference to a smaller business, not to mention benefits of sharing files with clients, sending information to customers, or getting the all-important contract in front of the vital decision maker. He can sign on the dotted line as you’re closing the deal in a meeting, without having to wait a week for the postal system to deliver.

Embrace the Change

In a business world that’s growing ever-faster, embracing the change and the new technologies as they appear not only means that you’re ahead of the game, but your fast responses, efficiency and accessibility instil confidence in your customer base; they can trust that you are on the ball, and that you’re there when they need you.

For tips for Implementing a Mobile Workforce Management Solution to ensure a smooth transition and a guaranteed success check our blog post 10 Best Practices for Implementing a Mobile Workforce Management System .

 

Mobile Workforce

10 Best Practices for Implementing a Mobile Workforce Management System

Whatever your industry, ensuring effective mobile workforce management system – particularly if your organisation involves mobile working – is vital, but there are a number of things to consider.

In days gone by businesses required professional offices to succeed – a place that workforces performed their tasks side by side, and where out-of-office workers delivered their paperwork and processed their data.

As technology has advanced the need for a pen-and-paper data management system, and for an office to base the workforce, has reduced, thanks to the growth of mobile working devices and technologies. Organisations can communicate at the touch of a button, and much of the workload can be managed digitally from anywhere in the world.

 

“Companies need a mobile strategy roadmap to capitalise successfully on mobile technology and evolving user behaviour”

–        Capgemini

 

If you’re planning to step into implementing a mobile workforce management system, we have created ten best practices that you need to focus on to ensure a smooth transition and a guaranteed success.

1. Mobile Strategy

Planning in advance ensures that your mobile workforce management system incorporates everything that you need; decide before rolling out any technologies, devices or systems, what exactly you need them to deliver, and who needs access to which technology and program. Creating a strategy and training your mobile workforce in advance can prevent problems before they arise, and knowing what steps you need to take to ensure success means that any guess work or complications are removed.

Your mobile strategy needs to include the regulations which manage the use of devices and applications and the security of the data being transferred, as well as creating a uniform system of implementation.

2. Mobile Device Management

Mobile Device Management systems – for example, Airwatch – are cloud-based operating systems that allow data entry, communication and file sharing for organisations to ensure that every member of the workforce has access to the information and data they need; they also give mobile workers tools to submit data that can be processed by other members of the team, from sales orders to auditing tools.

It’s vital to ensure that your organisation sources the best mobile device management for your needs. Your system should incorporate all the functionality that you need now but also can be expanded over time to include any developing technologies and requirements as your business grows.

3. ROI Calculated

When you know what capabilities your mobile devices and mobile workforce management system need to offer, before you start investing your finances on technology, you can plan for the running costs and initial outlay. Ensure that your investment offers reasonable return – and you can offset the expense against your earnings. Sound investments require research and planning and an understanding of the benefits they will bring to your organisation. Not only can the right technologies increase productivity, but the range of services and customer service improvements they bring to your business can lead to increased revenue. Though the initial outlay might be a significant amount depending on the size of your business, the long term ROI makes the right products sound business choices.

4. Device Selection

Research which devices are best suited to your needs – whether that’s smartphones, tablets or more hardy technology suited to a rougher working environment. Delicate tech isn’t suited to industries like building or arboriculture. However, sales team with large regional sales areas would be best suited to fast tablet technologies that can be used to submit paperwork and showcase products to clients. Ensure that you understand what you need from your mobile tech and that the capabilities of your chosen products meet your requirements before investing.

5. Is BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) the Right Choice for You?

Many businesses rely on a BYOD approach for mobile workforce management system – meaning that the workers supply their own favoured device, often smartphones and tablets, to carry out tasks related to their job. When you take this route, it’s wise to ensure that you have a solid and fool proof BYOD policy in place before any work is carried out; this includes a secure cloud network and an agreement on what level of personal use and what level of company use of the data and storage is required.

While this approach can save your organisation money on investing in new tech and maintaining devices, including a budget for losses and damages, it can lead to headaches on data access and permissions, and needs to be thoroughly researched in advance. Everyone needs to be clear about the company’s policies when using personal devices to access secure information.

6. Start Simple and Expand

There are a huge number of mobile workforce management systems available, all utilising cloud storage and multiple access points across an organisation. Many of these applications are offered as an off-the-shelf solution to meet business needs, and this can mean that apps are either too limited to meet your needs, or so multifaceted that the workforce has access to functionalities they simply don’t require, which take up valuable space on your devices.

The best way to avoid frustrations in this area is to work with software designers who can tailor these applications to suit your specific needs. Starting simple, with systems that provide basic functionality to suit your industry, with the option to expand these functions for those with differing roles within the organisation, is a great way to ensure that money and time aren’t wasted.

7. Customer References

An option for your customers and end-users to comment on the products and services they’ve received from your organisation is a great way to prove to your market that you’re getting things right – and to address any issues that may have arisen, and ensure that you continue to grow and succeed. This isn’t appropriate for every industry, but is ideal for the customer service industry or online stores, for example, where positive feedback and ratings from customers builds trust and reputation.

8. Plan a Pilot Project – Including Costs

It’s no use throwing finances and resources at a project without understanding what the risks are, and what steps need to be taken to ensure success. Planning a project in advance, through every step of the process, and mapping out the steps from idea to reward ensures that everyone involved is on the same page, and all working towards the same end goals, with guidelines in place to keep the whole workforce on the same path.

A number of mobile workforce management system providers work on a success based fee – which ensures that they are as invested in the success of your organisation as you are. Working on this basis means that the service is working for you, and that the systems you are relying on are designed to best support your organisation.

9. Allow Subcontractors to Use the Systems

When subcontracting, if you utilise a mobile workforce management system in the daily running of your business, allowing access to the data and systems required for the subcontractor to participate in managing and submitting data and information in the usual format is required. This is an area for which you have to have solid policies in place, which outline the accessibility and functionality of the applications and devices, and which state clearly what access the subcontractor should have and the protection of the company data.

10. Review

Though the investment in mobile devices and systems is significant, it is also – in modern business – necessary, but this technology develops quickly and can quickly expand the functionalities and capabilities of newer devices to better suit your needs. Review the products and applications that you are utilising regularly, and expand the capabilities as far as possible to continue the benefits of the mobile workforce management system you’ve chosen.

To avoid 10 most common mistakes companies do while implementing Mobile Work Order Management Solution, read our blog 10 Mistakes when Implementing Mobile Work Order Management Solutions.

 

 

mobile CAFM applications

Not All Mobile CAFM Applications Are The Same

As technologies for mobile workforce have developed, the use of mobile CAFM applications designed to bring functionality and processing beyond the confines of office based work has grown.

However, not all mobile CAFM applications are created equal. Many of these applications were designed for a specific industry or specific tasks without the benefits of adaptability to a wider range of functions as an organisation’s mobile workforce needs grow. This means that companies are forced to continue investing in a wider range of apps that don’t necessarily suit their needs.

Demands on mobile IWMS or CAFM systems are becoming ever more complex. Organisations need to be sure that the systems and solutions they invest in will not only meet their current needs but can expand and develop as their requirements grow or change over time.

Know Your Organisation Needs

Many ‘off-the-shelf’ CAFM applications attempt to meet mobile workforce wider ranging needs by offering too many functions from the offset, although most of them are surplus to requirements. Such CAFM apps demand a high level of data to store and access, limiting the accessibility and functionality of mobile devices and not satisfying the needs of the organisation. These are clunky applications which add to the workload of those using them, rather than streamlining and making mobile workforce management easier.

Aligning

Aligning the functions of mobile workforce software to ensure role-based security is one of the unique ways in which systems can be designed. It allows organisations to deploy CAFM apps and release further functionality as needs grow, without bloating an application with unwanted functions that not every user needs.

Keep It Simple

The right IWMS or CAFM systems suits the wide-ranging needs of your business at every level. Functions are only released as necessary to those who require them as their role develops, while maintaining a streamlined functionality that doesn’t over-complicate.

Tailored Mobile Workforce Management

Mobile workforce management tailored to your specific needs ensures that your organisation manages information and simplifies processes across the board. It allows for customisation and growth without the need to move to new systems as your needs develop, avoiding mistakes, maintaining simplicity and uniform data entry.

Where an off-the-shelf mobile CAFM application can meet some of your needs, they can’t be tailored to suit your niche industry and can’t be expanded or reduced. Tailored systems can be specialised and unique to your industry, with no compromise of functionality.

Tailoring these applications means that the data footprint on your mobile device is smaller. Each user is only accessing the processes they need to complete their work, yet there are still possibilities for expansion from a basic application to a more complex multi-functional solution for everything from auditing, working hours, orders, surveys and more.

 

mobile workforce management ROI

How to Measure ROI with Mobile Workforce Management Solutions

Investing in a mobile workforce management solution is a considered decision – when you’re thinking about this kind of investment you have to accurately measure the benefits and the return on investment it will bring.

But what things do you need to consider? 

Collect the Right Data

As with so many things, data has the answers. The right data will determine whether it’s a sound investment and will allow you to measure the improvements that a mobile workforce management system will bring to your day to day business.

Identify Costs

Before you invest, consider what it is that you’re hoping your system will do and what cost and time savings you are anticipating from the system long term. Identifying these costs early on can give you a baseline from which you can accurately measure savings and how quickly the benefits of your investment show return.

Have a Contingency Budget

With every investment in new software and devices there should be a contingency budget included for lost or damaged devices in the field, and ongoing maintenance costs for the system, as well as the initial outlay.

Reduce Administration

The benefits that your mobile work management solution can bring include financial savings, but also process improvements and streamlining of communication – which can reduce the number of administrative staff you need for back office functions.

Measure Investment

Most systems should come with reporting tools or provide you with the raw data to help you measure your investment. Make sure your mobile workforce management solution provides unrestricted access to the original data to ensure you can adapt your ROI reporting as your organisation matures.

Automation

The main benefit of any mobile workforce management system is the automation of manually intensive processes. Ensure at the outset that you prioritise and identify the critical processes that can bring the most benefit to automation. Process streamlining not only means that your business can reduce the number of administrative staff required to run the business smoothly, but can also reduce the time taken to process orders, create opportunities and increase the number of jobs completed each day.

Reduce Errors

Automating many processes has been proven time and again to reduce errors, streamline processing and improve record keeping – all of these not only lead to cost savings but reduce the time it takes for your workforce to deliver on services and products, and simplifying their workload. This means that your staff are more efficient and that you need less people to perform daily business tasks. Less mistakes are made, with better communication, meaning that your customer base is happier with the service you provide.

Improved Data Analysis

All mobile data can be measured. Make sure you know what data you wish to collect and what the benefits are. Understanding the benefits of the data will help you decide which mobile work management system is right for your business. Understanding before you invest which areas of your business you want to improve means that you can more accurately measure the improvements in these areas once your system is fully implemented.

For help how to choose the right mobile CAFM application, check our post Not All Mobile CAFM Applications Are the Same.

work order management software

10 Mistakes when Implementing Mobile Work Order Management Solutions

 As with any technology, implementation can involve a degree of change in process – and sometimes even culture. It’s rarely a magic wand that will deliver everything without effort from its users and managers. However, promises are so often made by software vendors that in reality fall short. Before implementing a Mobile Work Order Management Solution, it’s important that you ask yourself what you want to achieve from it.

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Here we are going to discuss the top ten mistakes we’ve seen being made, and how to avoid them.
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1. You get what you pay for!

When it comes to investing in Mobile Work Order Management Apps, knowing that you ought to have one and understanding how to get what you need are often very different things. With this in mind, we’ve seen too many businesses opting for the least expensive option, thinking that all systems are much the same, and then failing to get any real benefit from the software and tools they’ve chosen. This leads to businesses thinking that Mobile Work Order Management Solutions aren’t really for them at all – when in fact they’ve simply failed to match their solution to their needs! While the initial outlay for the right systems can seem significant, the returns and efficiencies the right set up will bring to your business will more than pay for itself in less time than you would expect.

2. Planning!

When you’re setting up your system you have to plan what you want from it – meticulously. While we can, of course, tweak the functionality and expand the initial software beyond what you select, you have to know precisely what it is that you want to get from your system in order to really reap the benefits. We can advise, from our experience of working for many years with a wide range of industries, but you should plan in advance what it is you’re hoping to achieve – and communicate that clearly.

3. Full functionality!

When businesses implement a Mobile Work Order Management Solution they often pick a package and a specification without really looking at the finer details of what that solution can achieve for them – and then they plough on using the new devices and software without ever really exploring all the many and varied ways in which it can help. As with any technology, implementation can involve a degree of change in process – and sometimes even culture. It’s rarely a magic wand that will deliver everything without effort from its users and managers. Before implementing a Mobile Field Service Management Solution, it’s important that you ask yourself what you want to achieve from it.

4. It takes time!

Implementing an entire new system across your whole organisation takes time – not just to set up and connect the system, but to train, tweak and perfect – ensuring that the entire workforce understands and utilises the system. Streamlining a system isn’t an overnight job – and it can take longer than you think to perfect it. Many businesses get frustrated by the time it takes to fully implement the new system – but again, once things are running smoothly, the time saved across all processes is worth the investment of man-hours and facilities initially.

5. Pick your people!

There’s often an attitude of “That’s not my job” when it comes to implementing a new system – and while the executive team may be on board, it’s important that other vital stakeholders – from every department – are involved in the decision making, design and execution of the system to make the transition as smooth as possible. If the right people are involved from the beginning of the process, they are actively involved in ensuring that the right decisions are made, and that things work the way you need them to. After all, the executives aren’t the people doing the daily grind in the trenches – you need people involved who can say more clearly what it is they need the system to do and who will ensure that it happens.

6. Train the team!

Ineffective training is the biggest issue when you implement a new system – not only does it mean that you don’t get the best out of your new system, but it also leads to dissatisfaction in the workforce as more and more voices mutter that they don’t understand the new programmes or technologies, that it doesn’t do what they want, and that they want to go back to the way things were.
Investing in a full and detailed programme of training – with ongoing support and communication over an extended period of time – is another outlay that we see far too many organisations try to skip. It’s absolutely vital if you want to get the best out of your new systems to invest in the right training and support to help integrate the Mobile Work Order Management Solution into your organisation at all levels effectively.

7. Gimme gimme gimme!

While your new system can streamline many aspects of your organisation’s day-to-day business, many businesses make the mistake of wanting it all – and asking for far too many features that simply aren’t needed. Being specific about what you want, what benefits you expect your new system to bring, and the steps you want to reduce in running your business means that you can tailor what you get to exactly what you need. You won’t be left with clunky technology that doesn’t really help because you’re asking far too much of it and investing too much time in things you don’t really need.

8. Take out the trash!

When a new system is implemented we often see that outdated, old systems aren’t effectively decommissioned – meaning that legacy applications loiter and reduce the efficiency of the new system. When the new system is rolled out, make sure that the previous incarnation is effectively removed from play or you’ll end up maintaining and financing applications and systems that you aren’t using, which are simply draining resources and getting in the way of the new.

9. Maintenance!

Pressing ‘go’ isn’t the only step to implementing the new Mobile Work Order Management System; once the new technologies are in place, you can’t just let it run and hope that it’s giving you its best. Ongoing maintenance can stop any minor niggles from becoming big issues, ensure that what you selected initially is truly what your business needs, expand the system to include more functionality over time as your needs expand, and ensure that your technologies stay completely up to date.

10. Future proofing!

New technologies are constantly being developed and designed – picking an off-the-shelf solution might meet your needs right now, but will it continue to do so in years to come? Investing in the right systems from the right people comes with the knowledge that the software you’ve chosen can be expanded as newer technologies become available to better utilise the most modern business methods, with support and development, for many years.

To learn about useful tips for Implementing a Mobile Workforce Management Solution read Top 10 Tips for Implementing a Mobile Workforce Management Solution .