In the opening part of this series, we explained what we mean by Peak Performance for service delivery organisations and the challenge of reaching that peak consistently – every single day. Achieving that will definitely deliver better customer outcomes and business success. We identified 3 steps on the road to that success:
1) Mobilise core processes to connect the office with the mobile workers more effectively;
2) Implement a performance management framework and tool set that uses the data flowing through the processes to guide decisions on improvements;
3) Centralise and automate repetitive tasks and release capacity for higher-value tasks.
Today, we are going to address the first step – mobility. It is one of those topics everyone is talking about these days, and no surprise. With the number of mobile/smart phones sold now greater than the total population of the country, it is fair to say this is a ubiquitous technology. But, that does not mean it is easy to implement, maintain and support in the mission-critical context of mobile workers delivering on-site services. Because it is not.
Often, technicians/engineers/delivery drivers have to work in harsh – sometimes hazardous – conditions and all are required to operate out of doors, whatever the weather. That can impose considerable constraints of the technology that will work for them. But, even so, there is no shortage of infrastructure options to consider. Consumer-grade or ruggedized? Which operating system? Which manufacturer? Which applications software – buy or build? Which network operator? On premise or in the cloud? Up-front licencing or SaaS? All contribute to the lifetime cost of ownership and are a big factor in calculating the Return On Investment.
Then there are concerns to be addressed around data security and privacy, reliability and speed of delivery across the network to support real-time exchanges. Plus, the thorny topic of ‘offline’ working. Can your mobile staff continue to work normally when there is no network coverage, or when radio broadcasting is not allowed, e.g. for safety reasons. In virtually all situations, offline working is necessary to achieve consistent results and promote acceptance of the mobile application.
More important than all those considerations, is to understand and define what it is you want to achieve with your mobile deployment. What do you want the mobile workers to actually do? What is the process that you want them to follow? How should that business process complement, and connect to, the processes your office-based staff use to initiate and manage the flow of work to be done? How might those processes change as a result of new applications software or capabilities emergent in the field, like knowledge management or location-aware services? How will it help you achieve your own objectives and KPIs?
Plus, the delivered system – which should now be underpinning the entire end-to-end process, and all steps in between – must be understandable and usable by the workers themselves. If they cannot, or do not want to, use the deployed application then be sure you will have a failure on your hands. The performance management and reward frameworks may need to be updated too, in order to recognise a changed role for the mobile staff.
The answers to some of these questions will, in turn, influence the technology choices.
Does this all sounds overwhelming? Well, the good news is that some companies have been delivering this kind of system for many years, and there are well-proven and low risk routes to success. Which is not to say it is easy, but there are plenty of people able to guide and support you.
In the case of Cognito, we have been providing mobile systems for more than 20 years, always in the front line of innovation both for the infrastructure and the apps that bring user functionality to match their specific business needs.
We combine hundreds of man years of knowledge, experience and success into our intelligent mobile workforce management products. With our latest platform – Fieldforce iQ – we have redesigned and re-implemented from the ground up using the best modern technologies to provide a fresh, context-aware approach to the capture of data from the field. We call it activity-based workflow and it underpins SmartWorker.
This constant, real-time flow of rich data delivers new insights into worker behaviour, performance and outcomes. We’ll talk more about how that level of visibility helps to work smarter and drive continuous improvement in the next post in this series. Together, we are on the road to Sustainable Peak Performance.
There, I got to the end of a piece about mobility without mentioning ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) once...