The Importance of Offline Mobile Apps for Field Service Management
Despite the availability of cloud-based service platforms and smart appliances and equipment, moving away from manual, paper-based processes in the field is still a challenge for many service-based companies. Field technicians are highly mobile and their needs change from job to job. Often, it seems easier for field techs to keep using paper-based forms and then manually enter data when they return to their desks. However, this process is mired in inefficiencies and prevents the field service organization — and the field tech — from delivering the best possible service to customers.
For organizations who are ready to take the necessary step of automating their field processes, the best path is to deploy mobile apps that help field technicians do their jobs better. Ideally, these mobile apps would provide a direct integration into the FSO’s enterprise service platform, ERP or CRM as well as enable value-added features like barcode scanning, RFID, and geo-location.
However, many FSOs fail to consider the big picture when gathering requirements for field service mobile apps. They scope broad apps that are capable of many tasks. Yet, FSOs often fail to consider the working environment and conditions in which their field techs must operate. Locations such as cell towers, offshore oil rigs, mines, basements, parking garages, hospitals, construction sites, and even in the middle of downtown surrounded by skyscrapers can all have limited or no network connectivity.
Having mobile applications that operate offline is critical for field techs to be able to continue to work and deliver exceptional customer service. Even without connectivity, they need to record tasks, document notes, access knowledge bases, and make updates to assets. All of this data can be available to the field tech via advanced caching technologies that allow you to store large amounts of data locally.
Consider the following scenario. You are a field engineer and you need to make major repairs to equipment at a customer site. Your employer has outfitted with you with a ruggedized tablet and a mobile app that provides a direct connection to your service management platform.
When you arrive at the customer site, however, you discover that the equipment is below ground. You realize that connectivity is not available, so you use your mobile app to access and download the data that you need from the back-end service platform. You then cache this data to your device and then you head down to make your repairs.
Because the data is available locally, you have everything you need right in your hand. You can access data locally to get the job done. Advantages of offline mobile applications for field service organizations include:
- Continuous operation, even without network connectivity
- Consistent application performance and seamless user experience
- Faster load times for large data sets
- Improved app performance
- Improved battery life on the mobile device
Once a field service organization has deployed offline mobile apps that offer robust functionality and offline capabilities, the business often sees more productive field techs, improved customer service, and improved cash flow due to more timely invoicing and reduced days sales outstanding. In short, offline apps help FSOs realize their full potential and achieve world-class service delivery.