Mobile Field Service Apps Guide

The Comprehensive Guide to Mobile Field Service Apps

 

Knowledge You Need to Empower Your Field Techs and Drive More Revenue


 

Planning & Research | Best Practices | Tools & Tech

Your field service engineers and technicians are on the front lines of your business, driving revenue, fixing problems, interacting with customers and generally being rock stars. Fully enabling them with mobile field service apps improves their productivity, reduces their administrative burden, and makes them happier. Mobile field service apps can also bring many improvements to the organization including higher service profitability, accurate and timely billing, and improved customer satisfaction and retention.
 
Developing and supporting field service apps, however, can be costly and time-consuming. Research shows that organizations are spending between $100K and $500K per enterprise mobile app. There are valid points on both sides of the buy versus build argument, so which path is right for your field service organization? Should you hire a team of developers or buy a mobile field service software to build and support your own apps?
 
No matter which route you choose, there are pitfalls to avoid along the way. We’ve created this guide to help field service leaders enable their field techs with apps that make strategic improvements and deliver competitive advantage.

 

Planning & Research

When getting started with mobile apps for field service management, it pays to spend time doing initial planning and, if going the buy route, researching vendors. From a business perspective, knowing which KPIs your field organization needs to track and improve is crucial. Our blog post, The Five Most Important KPIs for Field Service Organizations, is a great place to start. Using mobile apps to drive business value is a great strategy.
 
Our white paper, How Mobile Field Force Enablement Drives Business Value, examines various strategic mobility use cases and critical capabilities that will make the difference between success and failure.
 
In the initial stages of a development process, it is imperative that you find out what field technicians want. Spend a few days on job sites shadowing them. Pay close attention to the tasks that require information to be captured, processed and exchanged.
 
Be sure to take into consideration environmental factors like available light, temperature, and other conditions. Is the climate usually foggy or wet, as it is out on an ocean drilling rig, or very dry, as it is up on a cell tower in the desert? Factor in how the environment can change over the course of the day and the year. For example, are conditions drastically different in summer months than in winter?
 
Field service organizations can leverage valuable use cases for mobile apps, including work order management, time and expense management, and equipment and asset management.
 
Choosing mobile devices for your field techs should be a part of this initial stage of mobile app development. For highly specialized jobs, ruggedized tablets might be most appropriate. For more routine tasks, a field tech’s personal smartphone will suffice. Only after understanding what your field techs face on a daily basis should you choose the devices on which you will standardize. Check out this infographic on field workforce mobile device usage for more insight.
 
It will also pay big dividends to understand the subtle nuances between field technicians and field engineers and their unique needs early in the process. Our blog post, The Field Technician vs. The Field Engineer, is one of our most popular and provides insights into core skills and industry-specific context.
 
 

Best Practices

Mobile first thinking is a great way for field service organizations to increase competitive advantage. However, it can also help field service organizations to move from mobile first to process first. Field service apps should be process driven and improve field service management with real-time data.
 
There are common failure points for field service organizations. Using field service apps to prevent these from occurring in your organization is a good start to gaining a competitive advantage over your competition. Operational intelligence in field service management is important and easy to strengthen with by deploying process-driven mobile apps.
 
The keys to developing highly usable mobile field service apps are often practical and straightforward considerations. These may include making buttons bigger, using bright colors, and using readable typefaces and point sizes. For example, don’t try to fit too many fields on one screen, as it makes it hard for field techs to capture data quickly and accurately. Be sure your mobile field service apps meet these three critical usability criteria. With the proper planning, it’s easy to ensure field service apps work everywhere and for everyone.
 
If your field technicians need to perform complex inspections, testing and analysis, and preventative maintenance, be sure to follow our five keys to user-friendly mobile inspection apps.
 
For field service technicians, the ability to do their work anywhere is a necessity. The business value that offline mobile apps bring to a field service organization is undeniable. Therefore, the mobile apps you to deploy have to be able to work both online AND offline. This article will help you decide whether your mobile app work online, offline, or both. To ensure that your field techs adopt the mobile apps that you deploy, be sure to follow these four key steps.
 
If your organization delivers field services in highly regulated industries like oil and gas, you can view this webinar (or read the transcript) to learn more about using mobile apps to improve field service delivery and compliance.

 

Tools & Tech

There are many different types of technologies designed to make field service management and delivery more efficient. In order to clear up the confusion, we created the field service technology glossary to help field service leaders understand key terms concepts and to make more informed decisions. Here’s an article published on Field Technologies Online that delves into which enterprise systems are best for field service management: ERP, CRM or service platform.
 
Cutting-edge technologies are coming to the forefront in field service management including artificial intelligence. machine learning, and the Internet of Things (IoT). However, as field service is ultimately a human endeavor, the human element remains critical to IoT.
 
To make deploying field service apps easier and more cost-effective, you may want to evaluate a mobile field service solution. They are not all created equally, however. Check out our Mobile Field Service Solution Buyer’s Guide to rank vendors on key capabilities and features to find the solution that best suits your organization.
 
Here are four field service software and applications vendors with different technologies that were named innovators in a recent IDC report.
 
Learn more about process-driven mobile field service apps on the Mobile Reach website. If you are ready to get started developing apps for your field team, click below to schedule a demo.