Why You Should Automate Field Service

Posted by khoppe@decisionpt.com On September - 12 - 2013

Guest Written by Sunny Ahmed – Business Development Manager

APEXWare™ Field Service (FS) enables you to capture lost revenue, provide proof of service delivery, reduce inventory shrinkage, and reduce back office administration. A field deployment of wireless handheld devices with integrated bar code scanners enables your business to run completely paperless. APEXWare™ FS is also offered as a Software as a Service (SaaS) model, thus eliminating the need for costly IT infrastructure (on-site server, IT resources).

APEXWare™ Field Service (FS) is a function-rich application that provides the needed tools to effectively manage mobile field technicians while at the same time allowing them to efficiently perform their jobs in order to better service your customers. Customer work orders are dispatched throughout the day, mobile field technicians complete and invoice work orders and transmit them back to the central office as they are completed. Key features and functions include:

WHY YOU SHOULD AUTOMATE FIELD SERVICE:

  •       Mobile Field Service – Achieve Double Digit ROI
  •       Biggest Benefit Could Be Inventory Management
  •       Mitigate Risk – Software Fit & Solid Deployment Plan

BEST-IN-CLASS FIELD SERVICE OPERATIONS ACHIEVE THE FOLLOWING SUCCESS METRICS WHEN AUTOMATING FIELD SERVICE:

  •       ~8% More Work Orders/Day Than Average Performers
  •       12.5% Higher Service Level Agreement (SLA) Compliance
  •       2.5% More Profitable
  •       88% of Best In Class Use Some Type of Mobile Technology

KEY BENEFITS OF AUTOMATING FIELD SERVICE:

  • Improve the quality of service
  • Increase field workforce productivity
  • Bar code scanning and signature capture increase accuracy and efficiency
  • Reduce inventory shrinkage by managing inventor y levels in real-time
  • Reduce the service to payment cycle by 60-90 days
  • Web-based portal eliminates the need for a back-end system
  • Eliminate time-consuming and error-prone manual data entry
  • Improve the control of technician processes in the field
  • Detailed historical work order data helps identify new revenue opportunities
  • Eliminate requirement for annual inventory counts by tracking in real-time
  • SaaS model reduces start-up costs

For more information on this topic, contact Sunny Ahmed at sahmed@decisionpt.com today!

Are inadequate off-the-shelf applications preventing you from going mobile?

Posted by khoppe@decisionpt.com On August - 27 - 2013

While Google and Apple advertise the availability of tens of thousands of mobile applications ready for download, the reality is these applications are not intended for nor meet the requirements of business users.  Business ready or “Enterprise class” mobile applications remain the domain of specialized software development companies that focus on specific vertical markets and business processes.  While the number and reach of these software development firms is growing, there still remain a very large number of customers that simply cannot use off-the-shelf mobile applications.  Whether it is due to a lack of availability or because general purpose applications cannot support all of the unique business processes that give your company its competitive edge, the result is the same.  The lack of a mobile application means that the company will not be able to take advantage of the benefits mobile computing can provide.

 

Luckily there is a solution.  In addition to off-the-shelf mobile applications there are also a number of software development firms that provide custom development of mobile applications.  In fact, custom applications are responsible for the mobile movement that we enjoy today.  Custom mobile applications are exactly what they sound like; they are mobile applications that are specifically designed and built to meet the unique business requirements of their intended audience.  As such, no two applications are identical.  While this might sound risky, in fact, a properly designed and executed custom application often gains greater user acceptance, faster deployment and achieves a better ROI than off-the-shelf applications.  The greatest reason for this is that off-the-shelf applications rarely meet all of your business needs and as a result,  compromises for process or performance are necessary or application changes are required.

 

If a custom mobile application sounds like a possible solution to your mobility needs, please give us a call to discuss our CMAD (custom mobile application development) service offering.  DecisionPoint has been building custom mobile applications for more than 20 years and has deployed 100’s of solutions to Fortune 1000 companies in many industries.  For additional information visit the following links:

 

CMAD datasheet

Webinar Recording: Best Practices in Building Enterprise Cross Platform Mobile Apps 

Webinar Recording: Top 3 Business Concerns for Mobile Application Development 

 

The Secret to Effective Content Delivery to your Field Workers

Posted by khoppe@decisionpt.com On August - 20 - 2013

Many mobile workers have difficulty accessing to up-to-date content. Typically, mobile workers do not have a convenient way to access corporate content in the field. Because of this, they usually keep a copy of the content with them at all times. The problem is, content is constantly changing, therefore it is hard for mobile workers to ensure they’re carrying the latest spec sheet or pricing model in the field. What you end up having is 10 mobile workers carrying 10 different versions of your content – what a nightmare! Not only that, but they are carrying around laptops, 3-ring binders and stacks of collateral. Talk about inconvenient. That is why having a content management application on a tablet is a convenient way for your mobile workers to stay up to date with your corporate content.

With a mobile content delivery application, you can simplify the management and delivery of mobile content and organize this content so it’s easy for mobile users to access and utilize. That way, you can ensure that your mobile workers have the most up-to-date collateral right at their fingertips. A mobile content delivery application also provides huge savings on printing and shipping costs.  It’s a win-win situation! DecisionPoint offers a mobile content delivery application called ContentSentral that runs on tablet computers and equips your workforce with relevant information. For more information on ContentSentral, its features and use cases, watch a live recording of our webinar here: Webinar Recording: Mobilize Your Corporate Content

Tablet Computing – Changing the Way We Work

Posted by khoppe@decisionpt.com On July - 17 - 2013

By Greg Henry, Vice President Product Management, DecisionPoint Systems Inc.

 

The acceptance of tablet computing

Consumer tablets are out selling laptops while new form factors and features are continually being introduced.  While consumers continue to be a significant purchaser of these devices for reading eBooks, watching videos, playing games and web surfing, these devices are also becoming common place in workplace.  To understand why tablets enjoy such great acceptance we need to look at what makes them different from other computer form factors.  First and foremost, their bright, large color displays make them ideally suited for displaying visual content (pictures, videos, large amounts of text).  Additionally, they intentionally lack large storage capabilities, keyboards and other space requiring features, thus they can be contained in a small, lightweight package that is easy to take on the go. In short their success is largely due to the fact they filled a niche many of us did not know existed.

Having spent over 20 years building and deploying mobile solutions for both large and small corporations, the question arises, “Does a similar niche exist in the enterprise?”

To answer this question we must evaluate the following parameters in relationship to one another:

Does your company use or create visual content?

In reality all corporations use some form of visual content.  The largest example is internet usage.  There is not a corporation in existence that does not at least occasional require internet access to locate a partner, research a part or service or find directions to a customer location.  However, this question is really more about what type of content do you use to run your day to day business.  Like the consumer world, visual content in the business world also includes pictures, videos and large amounts of text.  However, the types and usage of this content vary greatly.  As an example, while consumer video is largely for entertainment, corporate video may be related to training on the installation of a specific piece of equipment or it may be an overview of corporate policies or even a corporate sales presentation that is delivered to prospects.  Unlike pictures of your summer vacation, corporate pictures include building blueprints, circuit board schematics and product images.  Large bodies of text include assembly manuals, procedures and policy guidelines as well as corporate forms.  If you use this type of information within your business operations you need to consider tablet computing.

 

Do your mobile workers need access to corporate content?

This question should be viewed from two perspectives.  First, will your mobile workers benefit from access to corporate content and second will the organization benefit from such access.  Ask yourself the following questions:

 

If my mobile workers had access to existing corporate content…

 

  • will they be more productive?  Corporate content can mean many things depending on your industry and the work your mobile workers perform.  Content may include: pricing guides, blueprints, repair manuals, invoices, order forms, deliver routes, maps and so on.  “Productive” may be defined as the ability to perform more stops, repairs or calls in a day or the ability to sell more products or collect more revenue.

 

  • will my operation run smoother?  Think about the time consumed between corporate staff and mobile workers updating routes, checking inventory levels, order status, locating customer locations, generating invoices, etc.  If these mobile workers had instant access to these corporate resources how much time, energy and money can you save?

 

  • will my customers be happier and will I provide greater value?  For many industries, mobile workers are in constant contact with the customer.  As such, they are often the face of your company and trust me, the impressions they make are lasting.  This is about how effective a sales person or service technician can be in identifying and resolving issues if they have access to existing information at the point of service.  You will not only improve their life but build happy repeat customers in the process.

 

If the answer is “yes” to any of these questions you should determine the financial benefits and evaluate this against the costs of deploying a mobile content solution to determine the resultant ROI.

 

Are there additional mobile requirements that may not be met by a tablet computer?

What makes tablets a great “go anywhere” display tool also creates some limitations.  As we mentioned earlier, tablets do not have the flexibility of a laptop computer or durability of ruggedized handheld computer.  Therefore, before going all in on tablets consider your needs for extensive data entry (keyboards), large file storage or support for peripherals such as printers and test equipment.  If your mobile workers require such features tablets may not be the right tool for you.  Or you may be able to create a hybrid solution as there are a number of supporting products on the market that extend the tablets native capabilities (cases, keyboards, printers, and expansion products).

 

Cyber Criminals Are Entering Through The Mobile Doorway

Posted by khoppe@decisionpt.com On June - 18 - 2013

Guest Written by Greg Henry – VP Product Management

We are all familiar with and have probably encountered computer viruses at one time in our lives.  The intent of each virus is unique to the intentions of the creator.  While many render your computer inoperable, cyber criminals use viruses as a method to gain access to computer networks with the purpose of stealing valuable information.  With the explosion in smartphone usage and mobile application downloads, cyber criminals are now gaining access to this information through mobile devices.

You can protect yourself from cyber-attacks by taking the following steps:

  • Only download applications from trust worthy providers
  • Turn off your blue tooth and Wi-Fi radios when not in use
  • Do not connect to unknown wireless networks or devices

In addition to users taking proactive action, enterprises can protect their information by implementing a mobile device management service such as MobileCare EMM which adds additional levels of security such as; password protection, data encryption, black listing and device wipe among many other features.

Webinar: Top 3 Business Concerns for Mobile Application Development

Posted by khoppe@decisionpt.com On June - 11 - 2013
Join us for our Webinar on June 18! 

Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:
https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/132646942

 
Take the lead in preparing your organization to embrace this enterprise changing technology by attending our webinar!

During this webinar, industry veterans will discuss:
• Increasing user adoption
• Reducing development risk
• Ensuring deployment success

With 75% of the world’s population now able to access a mobile phone, the possibilities for communication and connectivity are staggering.  And what’s more, we’ve barely scratched the surface when it comes to connecting this network into our business processes.  Mobile devices are all around us and are being used to significantly improve worker productivity and customer satisfaction.  Business leaders are no longer considering if mobile technologies make sense but rather which mobile technologies to invest in and where to start.

As a business leader it is up to you to drive mobile initiatives within your organization. Whether you are in charge of sales, operations or field service, mobile computing will improve your employees’ job performance and bring positive results to your bottom line.

 

Title: Top 3 Business Concerns For Mobile Application Development
Date: Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Time: 9:00 AM – 9:30 AM PDT

 

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

 

System Requirements
PC-based attendees
Required: Windows® 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server
 
Mac®-based attendees
Required: Mac OS® X 10.6 or newer
 
Mobile attendees
Required: iPhone®, iPad®, Android™ phone or Android tablet
For more information, feel free to contact me at 604.318.8077 or bmackenzie@decisionpt.com

Consider Parts Inventory Management When Selecting A Field Service System

Posted by khoppe@decisionpt.com On June - 5 - 2013

Guest Written by Sunny Ahmed – Business Development Manager

Optimizing parts levels can be both an intimidating and difficult task, especially while balancing location and stocking levels. Automating your Field Service provides immediate visibility to inventory – in the warehouse, in transit on your vehicles, at a customer’s job site or in the hands of a service technician. Gaining access to accurate inventory of parts allows companies to improve forecasting, balance stocking levels, and quickly respond to the immediate demands of their respective business.

It is important to consider parts inventory management for the following reasons:

  • 90% SLA compliance vs. 38% followers
  • 52% of calls require parts management
  • Leaders 62% more likely to use parts data in dispatch (60% vs. 37%)
  • Leaders 58% more likely to use software to integrate field service with parts management initiatives

Data from Aberdeen Group Analysts Insight : “People and Parts Linked Together to Solve Customer Issues” Nov 2012

 Why Automate Field Service Workforce?

  • Best-in-class field service operations:
    • ~8% more work orders/day than average performers
    • 12.5% higher service level agreement (SLA) compliance
    • 2.5% more profitable
    • 88% of best in class use some type of mobile technology

Reduce “Lost” Assets and “Missing” Inventory

  • Expensive assets can be easily tracked
  • Inventory is better controlled
  • Ultimate reduction in lost assets and “missing” inventory

Improve Work Order Scheduling

  • Work orders can be scheduled by technician
  • Take into account tech skill, inventory, job location
  • Results in less miles traveled per tech per day
  • Results in more billable technician time

Improve Driving Route

  • Daily work order schedule is known
  • Driving route optimized using turn-by-turn
  • Results in less miles traveled per tech per day

Reduce Days Sales Outstanding (DSO)

  • Work order completion reported immediately
  • Quicker invoicing
  • More accurate invoicing – less disputes

Reduce Inventory and Spares

  • Warehouse and truck inventory is more accurate
  • Reduced inventory level possible due to more correct inventory and less safety stock (reduce “JIC” inventory)

Operational & Financial Improvements (Average Improvement)

Mean Time to Repair  (21%)

First-Time Fix (20%)

Workforce Productivity (22%)

Ticket Close Out Times (24%)

Overtime Costs (13%)

Inventory Carrying Costs (19%)

Call Center Support Costs (17%)

Total Service Costs (16%)

Service Profitability (17%)

 

Area of ROI

Reduction in Lost Assets or Inventory

Improved Work Order Scheduling

Improved Driving Route

Reduced Days Sales Outstanding

Reduction in Inventory and Spares

 

Technology that Empowers Me

Posted by khoppe@decisionpt.com On May - 21 - 2013

Written by Greg Henry – VP of Product Management

I began my corporate career as a Systems Engineer for MSI Data which many years and a couple acquisitions later became a division of Motorola.  My first day was spent meeting with various co-workers to get a lay of the land.  That day was also the day I received my first piece of corporate technology a “pager”.  As the role of a Systems Engineer was to meet with customers, I was often “in the field”. With the pager firmly attached to my belt, I was now available or at least reachable to everyone in the organization.  As I soon learned, being available had its drawbacks and while I knew when I was needed, I was not always able to promptly respond due to the limited (one way) communication that this device provided and the lack of public phones in various parts of the country.  Over the years the pager evolved. First supporting two-way messaging then came along the cell phone and text messaging, more recently my device not only began to support voice and data (text) but I also had a real-time connection to the corporate email server.  Each new advancement allowed me to be contacted by more methods as well as respond in real-time.  The latest iteration of my corporate technology provides the ability to access the world wide web.  Now, not only can I communicate with co-workers and customers in real-time but I have access to an unlimited source of information such as receiving driving directions, downloading company information or making travel reservations.  Although I have a technical background, I am not one to invest in technology just because it is new or cool.  If it does not make my life easier and allow me to get more done in less time, I generally pass right by.  The point is that mobile computers empower me to be more productive and build better relationships with colleges and customers alike.  If mobile computers can do this for me they certainly can do the same for you and your mobile workers.  If you are interested in empowering your mobile workers, DecisionPoint can help.

Supporting BYOD

Posted by khoppe@decisionpt.com On May - 14 - 2013

Guest Written by Greg Henry – VP of Product Management

Prior generations of computing solutions remained stationary and where typically clustered into a few locations such as office buildings and warehouses.  This clustering simplified the support requirements since technicians could “touch” a large number of devices in a short time period.  Mobile computing has complicated the support model not only due to the devices being able to change locations on a moment’s notice but they are also no longer deployed in clusters.  As a result, new technologies and processes need to be considered when supporting a deployment of mobile devices.  Items to consider include:

  • When, where and how to  deploy software updates
  • Remote diagnosis of mobile application issues
  • Updating of security credentials
  • Location of mobile assets
  • Bandwidth utilization
  • Remote user training
  • Identification of hardware failures

 

Like the enterprise class support tools of the past and today, we also have a set of mobile device management tools (MDM).  These tools are designed to specifically meet the unique demands and requirements of mobile devices.  These requirements include; least cost routing (being able to choose the communication network depending on application function), the ability to push application updates on demand or schedule for at a specific time, the ability to take remote control of the device to resolve issues or for user training purposes as well as many other.  DecisionPoint has been installing and supporting MDM tools since their beginning and has the deep industry knowledge to provide you with best practice consulting in the configuration of your MDM tool or provide you with a completely managed MDM offering (MobileCare EMM).

Personal Privacy

Posted by khoppe@decisionpt.com On May - 8 - 2013

Guest written by Greg Henry, VP of Product Management

 

“According to Forrester Research, 78% of the enterprises are instituting BYOD programs, with 60% including smartphones, while 47% include tablets and laptops. 70% said that improved worker productivity is the key reason for BYOD”.  Motorola, Secure Access Partner Brief.  With the growing number of BYOD participants questions related to the corporation’s access of personal information continue to be asked.  Questions like:

  • Is my employer tracking my movements during work hours or after?
  • If my employer “wipes” my device what happens to my personal information (pictures, music, address book, etc.)?
  • Can my employer view my browsing history?
  • Can my employer seize my device to discover or preserve evidence related to a legal action?

The key to answering many of these questions is directly related to the capabilities of your MDM tool and the policies that are created to support your company’s BYOD program.  In order to gain the greatest benefits from a BYOD program it is advised to thoroughly examine the purpose of the program and define a set of policies that ensure the business objectives while preserving each participant’s personal information.  This discussion is too broad to cover in a blog posting; however, the good news is that MDM (mobile device management) tools are rapidly releasing new features to address these types of concerns.  As a final thought, once you have defined your BYOD policies it is recommended that you publish a Mobility Users Policy Guide and make this available to all program participants.  Think of this guide in the same manner as your Human Resource (HR) Manual in that it is the first document that an employee will reference for information related to the company’s implementation and support of mobile devices.