When we think about field service professionals, they are everywhere. They work in utilities (such as power generation), communications (including cable and satellite TV, internet, or mobile operators), construction, and a host of other industries. Field service teams are a key part of the business, responsible for the creation, maintenance and/or activation of your products and services. To a large degree, these professionals work at the mercy of paper-laden (pen, paper, clipboards, forms, etc.) and time-consuming processes to perform their duties – from delivery drop-offs to installation and on-boarding. Data quality problems are commonplace and processes take too long, impacting productivity, billing and budgets, bottom-line revenue, and compliance reporting. According to Motorola Solutions, field service teams lose up to 70 percent of potential daily revenue from poor record keeping and management.
The challenge lies in that processes built in ERP, FSM, and CRM systems are not accessible to workers in the field which therefore, incurs higher call center costs, admin time for data entry, and often, excess inventory spend due to lack of visibility. Today, most everyone has a smart- phone in their pocket. The opportunity lies in mobile-enabling key workflows that are quick, easy to use, and run securely on a mobile device. “We’re trying to capture PO approvals and confirmation of receivables of goods in the field. The administrators in the company are used to PeopleSoft. It’s not quick, or easy, and field workers won’t use it,” says Kent Lyon, VP of Finance for RPC, a leading oil and gas services company. “We need to make it as simple to use for field workers as shopping online.” While field teams are not the typical users of business applications, in today’s mobile era, companies have figured out how to extend the reach of their existing back office applications to those in the field in a cost-effective, expedient way to reap financial benefits. Few companies have already started to accelerate time to cash, save hard dollars, and enable accurate, real-time compliance reporting by mobile-enabling process- es for field teams.
When field personnel are relied upon for installing and configuring products and services in order to activate customers, such as with the communications and home energy industries, mobile-enabling processes can minimize the time spent at a customer’s home or business, enhance the customer experience, and even save hard dollars.
DirecTV, the market leader of direct broadcast satellite service providers and broadcasters with over 37 million customers is a great example. DirecTV relies on partner-provided field service technicians to activate services by installing the hardware at their premises. Since the technicians have no access to backend systems, they would make a phone call to a call center during each activation, and read out the serial number on the hardware for the agent to carry out the activation by accessing the backend system. The process took 45 minutes per customer, and over 50% of that time was just idle time on the phone. DirecTV saw an opportunity to steamline the process by giving field service technicians a mobile app that could work across all devices, be quick to use, and cost-effective to create. The mobile app uses the native camera functionality of a smartphone to scan the barcode serial number of the set top box which is then automatically inputted into the activation system in real-time without a phone call to the call center. Now, the entire process is mobile-enabled, performed entirely by the technician and with a very tangible ROI: They cut 24 minutes off the 25 minute activation process and saved $50 per activation on call center charges. When you’re doing 34,000 of these activations in a month, it all adds up - that’s $1.7 million in cost savings, and over 13,000 hours of productivity saved. Each month.
Titan Machinery is one of the largest dealers of agricultural and construction equipment. Titan sells new and used equipment at its retail stores, and has a services division for fixing and maintaining the heavy machinery. Like many companies trying to keep up with the competi- tive pace of business today, Titan is going through a digital transformation effort to help the business run more efficiently and effectively. Mobility is a key focus for the company’s trans- formation efforts to enable speed and access to corporate information anywhere. For techni- cian field teams who are responsible for repairing and maintaining equipment purchased by customers, it came down to two specific areas of inefficiencies: time tracking of technicians and locating the needed parts for service.
Accurate tracking of technicians’ time impacts revenue. The old time capture process was paper-based and technicians did not submit their timecard until a project was completed. The result cost the company money as the delay in time tracking often meant that not all of the technicians’ hours were accounted for. Titan mobilized the tech time capture process in Oracle JD Edwards so that each technician has a micro app that lets them enter time for a project in real-time with ease. This eliminates the need for admins to enter the data into JD Edwards, ensuring more accurate invoicing for service work. In addition to the time-tracking app, Titan has also mobilized parts inventory so that field technicians working at customer locations can see if a part is available in one of their stores and then be able to order the part from the field.
For the construction industry, the opportunity for higher efficiencies and profits lies in con- necting back office systems to those in the field and digitizing paper-based processes. “The value of mobility in the construction industry is driven by having real-time access to critical project related tasks in the field, such as submitting and approving purchase orders or visibility into on-hand materials and the ability to take them out of stock,” says Srini Sathyamurthy, Ex- ecutive Vice President, Solutions at Element 5 Solutions, a leading technology services com- pany serving the construction industry. “These tasks impact project timelines and budgets.” According to McKinsey, large construction projects typically take 20% longer to finish than scheduled and are up to 80% over budget.
For The Colas Group, a leading construction company specializing in road and rail track infrastructure, urban development and recreational facilities, 10,000 employees work in the field at job sites every week. To ensure timely delivery of resources to keep projects moving on time, the project managers would have to leave job sites and drive to the office to process requests on a desktop computer. By mobilizing approvals, the project managers are now able to approve plans in the field and take advantage of push notifications to expedite purchase approvals straight from their mobile devices. The end result saves managers time and ensures projects are completed on time and at budget.
Another great example is RPC, a leading oil and gas services company that provides oil well services and equipment to independent and major oil field companies. In any given week, RPC can have employees working at hundreds of sites fixing and maintaining oil wells. They can be ordering and receiving a million pounds of sand and other materials. These purchas- es and deliveries need to be recorded for SOX compliance. These field workers don’t have access to corporate systems - nor do they actually want to use them - as they typically order materials by phone. “That leaves finance out of the loop until the job is done and memory doesn’t always serve,” according to Lyon. “Logistics is a big part of our business. For an oil well, you have to deliver two million pounds of sand,” notes Lyon. By creating mobile apps for POs and receivables, RPC is leveraging the field employee’s smartphone as a workstation that is with the employee all the time, cutting down on the amount of time they spend doing tasks. “It’s laser focused on just the key things they need to see, and it’s easy for them to do with very little training,” says Lyon.
Whether it’s placing or approving material orders, looking up inventory, tracking time, or eliminating contact center calls, mobile-enabling field teams directly impacts the bottom line. DirecTV, Titan Machinery, RPC, and The Colas Group have all mobile-enabled field teams with key workflows and business processes from their existing systems using Capriza’s enterprise mobility platform.
“Capriza provides Titan Machinery the flexibility to cost-effectively mobilize a variety of es- sential business applications, enabling our workforce to be more efficient with many different daily tasks,” says Rick Keller, Director of Business Applications for Titan Machinery. Capriza offers a unique cloud-based solution that simplifies and mobilizes the most critical workflows. Capriza enables you to extend the reach of your packaged and custom-built enterprise appli- cations - ERP, FSM, CRM - to field employees with simple, one-minute mobile apps that can be deployed in days and with no disruption to your business.