Mobile Workforce Management (MWM) solutions are very powerful and they can be engineered to solve a multitude of problems that a company may face. Over 2/3rds of North American companies have mobile staff members, such as frontline salespeople, security guards, field technicians, etc., and yet many have still not taken advantage of a simple and powerful mobile solution to build efficiency and reduce paper costs.
This article is intended to serve as a guide for enterprises that are thinking about “Going Mobile” and wondering where to begin.
1) Identify the Problem and/or Opportunity
The solution development process is greatly benefitted by an accurate and detailed understanding of the problem, or opportunity, your company faces. A brainstorming session with company stakeholders is a great way to get it all out on the table and generate support for your initiative. A good problem identification process starts with a roundtable of issues, challenges, and barriers that are hindering your process. Additionally, you can discuss opportunities that are not yet realized or are benefiting your competition. Once it is all out there, you can begin to organize and cluster problems together.
Some problem statement examples include:
- “Our inspection process is inefficient because field reports are inaccurate and take too long to be processed due to faxing, scanning and e-mailing delays from the field.”
- “We are losing money because too many of our assets are lost or damaged due to inappropriate use.”
- “Once we collect the data we do not have a good dashboard to visualize it in a meaningful way to help us make critical business decisions”
- “Our customer service experience is underwhelming because our current process is involved, multi-staged and inefficient.”
- “We have trouble capturing signatures and photos…”
2) Choosing a Development Partner
Mobile Solutions can be developed by many different types of partners including custom mobile development firms, mobile platform developers or enterprise platform companies.
Custom mobile development firms create apps on spec to meet customer requirements. They work with their customers to listen to their needs and develop one-off, custom mobile applications intended to solve the issue.
The advantage of working with mobile development firms is that you get exactly what you want because they are building the product/app to meet your precise specifications. The downside is that, because they are building much of your app from the ground up, they can be more expensive and have longer lead times.
Mobile Platform Developers are companies that have created SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) cloud-based products that service Mobile Workforce Management requirements. These platforms can be subscription services or frameworks that include pre-developed and tested features, which are assembled to meet customer specifications.
Advantages of working with Mobile Platform developers include lower upfront costs and speed to market. Mobile Platform Developers are generally delivered by larger companies that have the resources to offer better, more available technical support. The downside can be that you may need to adapt to their existing system and process instead of the other way around. Mobile SaaS Platforms account for the great majority of the marketplace because most customers view the advantages of the SaaS approach greatly outweigh any potential drawbacks.
Large Enterprise Platforms contain mobile solution functionality as part of their suite of products. As a result, if your company is already a customer, you may want to discuss your project with your sales representative. Large Enterprise Platforms are generally an ineffective solution for a company looking for a mobile app – they are expensive and mobile is not their primary focus.
3) The Benefits of the Phased Approach
For larger MWM solutions, we recommend a phased approach. We work with clients to prioritize high impact workflows that will achieve the highest impact with the minimal effort. We then phase the project so that clients can realize the benefits of an MWM solution quickly and cost-effectively.
Benefits of the phased approach can include:
- Decreased Upfront Costs – Development costs can be staggered over time, allowing upfront costs to be incurred in different accounting periods
- Internal Support and Alignment – Faster lead times can help to gather internal support and alignment
- Learn, Test, Apply – Phases can be used to test certain functionality that can be streamlined in later iterations
- Return on Investment Measurement – Measure process performance for each element of solution before and after deployment to get a better sense of ROI