The mobile workforce wave is peaking, and by 2020, more than 105 million Americans will use mobile devices for work. Since most employees already have a smartphone, organizations are wise to allow workers to use the tools they’re most comfortable and productive with.
- More tasks completed per worker
- Increased revenue contribution per worker
- Fewer visits per service request
- Reduced logistics costs
This guide will help field service organizations learn how mobile apps can streamline their operations. We’ll cover:
What Is a Field Service Mobile App?
A mobile field service app offers the functionality of a desktop-based system anywhere. It gives managers and technicians real-time information to make smarter decisions from the field.
Map view on the HouseCall Pro mobile app
Field service workers can retrieve, edit and close out work orders as they arrive, eliminating the time needed to drive between an office and a job site.
The benefits are also passed on to customers, as mobile apps can remind technicians to arrive within the appointment window, instead of leaving customers waiting. In addition, managers can view the location of each worker, then assign new work orders to the technician closest to the jobsite.
Benefits of Field Service Apps
A mobile app eliminates the need for paperwork and streamlines work order management. Below are some key mobile app benefits and how they help:
- Native app capabilities. Native apps take advantage of a device's camera and GPS capabilities, so workers can snap photos or location data while at the worksite and add it to a customer’s or asset’s profile. GPS data also gives managers the ability to track workers as they move through daily tasks.
- Real-time data. Web-enabled mobile devices allow users to quickly access important information they need when performing jobs, reducing time taken to search for paper documents.
- Offline access. Most mobile apps continue to function offline, even if internet connectivity is spotty or nonexistent. Workers never have to worry about losing access to critical data while in the field.
- Collaboration tools. When work orders are modified, or when managers need to relay important information to technicians quickly, they can send messages through the mobile app instantly.
Important Features to Consider
Field service systems offer a variety of features, some of which help organizations take full advantage of mobile capabilities. Below are some key applications companies should evaluate before making a software investment:
Field Service Mobile Application Features
|Job timers||Getting the job done within the appropriate time frame is important, and having data on exactly how long common tasks take is critical. Many field service systems with mobile functionality also include the ability to time each task by activating a timer when starting. Over time, managers can gather data about common jobs to avoid bottlenecks.|
|Inventory management||For industries that use an inventory of parts to repair machines or other materials, such as contractors, computer repair personnel, painters or cleaners, having inventory counts on hand makes management simpler. Many systems can display materials needed directly on work orders; technicians can change inventory numbers in the app, so counts are updated in real-time.|
|Mobile checkout or invoicing||Get paid immediately after the task is done. Most apps include an invoicing feature users can edit on the fly then email directly to the customer. Some systems offer the ability to accept signatures or payment on the spot.|
|Reporting||As workers travel from job to job, mobile apps can collect information about routes, labor hours, parts used and more. Managers can generate reports on data such as revenue, which employees are taking too long to complete common tasks or which parts are used most often. The more data you collect and analyze, the more easily you can identify areas for improvement.|
|Integrations with accounting systems||You may not want to completely switch how you track costs and revenues, so some systems offer integrations with popular accounting platforms such as Sage or QuickBooks. Most systems at least allow you to import accounting information to keep all important data in one place.|
Field Service BuyerView Report
Software Advice regularly interacts with field service software buyers looking to automate their processes. We’ve analyzed these interactions to find out which features buyers are seeking, and we’ve found that about a quarter of buyers require mobile access.
Furthermore, the top reason field service professionals are looking for new software is to increase organization and efficiency; a work order app deployed to all field workers can deliver time savings and increase the number of completed tasks.
To learn more about software buyer preferences, read the full report.
Market Trends to Understand
The field service industry, like many others, is changing rapidly with new technology. Here are some trends worth keeping in mind when searching for field service solutions:
The internet of things impacts field service. The internet of things (IoT)—the evolving connectivity of everyday objects to the network to send and receive data—has wide-reaching implications for nearly every industry. For field service, this approach is likely to become an industry best practice. The first step is implementing mobile strategies for technicians, so they can relay information back to the office in real time.
Rugged devices grow in demand. With this increased focus on mobility in field service, rugged mobile devices are in higher demand. Field service managers may only need “business-rugged” devices that are designed for frequent travel. But organizations may need semi- or fully-rugged devices to protect smartphones and tablets from mud, rain, corrosion or falls that may occur in more hazardous working conditions.