Managers at small and medium-sized businesses often feel overwhelmed by the steps required to implement an automated field service solution. But don’t despair. Let’s break down the factors into three categories.

  1. Your people
  2. Hardware/devices/connections
  3. Back-end/accounting integrations

Your People

Your field service automation project will not deliver the results you expect unless your people are on board. Achieving buy-in from all service personnel (customer service/dispatch/field service worker/administration) is mandatory. Push back from staff should be expected and must be managed effectively. Staff that have been relying upon legacy systems may be uncomfortable and possibly threatened by new solutions.

Communications and Devices

Choosing the right hardware, devices and infrastructure to support the new system is critical in achieving your objectives.
Factors to consider in the selection of the mobile device:

  • Environment: Will there be fluctuations in temperature, humidity or vibration? What is the likelihood of the device being dropped?
  • What are the voice/application requirements? Will there be more than one application open simultaneously?
  • What type of transactions will be executed on the device? Will financials be accessed? Will there be payments? Will printing be part of the client site transaction?

Evaluating these factors is helpful in identifying the right category of mobile device.
 The enterprise-class device is assuredly more durable and, though twice as expensive as its consumer-grade counterpart, it may pay for itself over time. Ninety percent of total cost of ownership on consumer-grade devices occurs after the initial hardware purchase, and the failure rate of “non-rugged” devices is four times higher than rugged devices.

Adaptability and security are other important factors to consider when investing in devices. Consider your organization’s future needs before making a purchase. As for security, it’s important to feature authentication, encryption and data security in your system’s architecture. Choose VPN for mobile environments to ensure that your low-bandwidth network will not be a bottleneck, limiting field technician productivity.

Accounting System Integrations

Achieving the highest possible ROI on your field service automation project will require a real-time connection between your technician in the field and your back office system. Evaluate connections and processes for:

  • Inventory
  • Pricing
  • Billing

Ideally, analysis may be done to standardize pricing on as many items as possible. Simplify the most troublesome parts for the technician. Identify the parts of your system where costs or prices fluctuate most. Enure that the connection you build will support these anomolies.

Real-time connectivity will give your organization the following advantages:

  • More accurate inventory
  • Shorter order-to-cash cycle
  • Fewer billing errors
  • Fewer productivity-draining phone calls from the field

ABOUT Chris O'Neill

Chris O’Neill is an expert in the area of field service sales and operations. With experience in logistics, medical equipment, commercial electronics, office equipment, technical infrastructure, ERP and SCM, Chris provides his customers and industry partners unparalleled support and guidance on matters of field service delivery and resource management.