by Purushottam Darshankar
Economic downturn is a reality and there is no escape from reality of economic crisis, as we see businesses across the world facing a recession. It calls for an action and innovation to successfully navigate through economic downturn. While economic downturn creates formidable obstacles to businesses that are trying to survive and grow, an economic downturn can open up opportunities. The key is to focus on your core competencies, reduce operating expenses and manage more proactively, rather than reactively. In order to reduce operational expenses, one needs to improve the productivity through increased efficiency. How can businesses provide more services per person at lower administrative costs and reduce expenses while at the same time providing quality work and good customer services?
A broad economic downturn forces companies to seek new sources of improving productivity while leveraging existing investment in IT. Proper Enterprise mobility initiative that is consistent with the overall stated corporate objectives can bring in required transformation for businesses. They can use enterprise mobility to develop more productive business process while maintaining budget discipline. The significant impact of enterprise mobility could be felt in field service automation. Some of the following business initiatives would be of significant importance for businesses during economic downturn.
To be more productive and effective, make available all the required backend enterprise data (work order information, product information etc.), user manuals, trouble shooting manuals to remote service technician at jobsite to minimize on communication cost, wasting time and excess fuel driving back and forth to the office.
The poor scheduling and routing is another area that can be looked upon. Location intelligence of service people could enable businesses to improvise on their decision support, operation and planning. Planning and scheduling of work could be done based upon the location, parts and expertise needed. Sending service technicians to a distant location, when another service technician is closer and ready to take up a task leads to wastage of time and fuel. Can you use GPS tracking on the vans to better know the location of all service technicians so you can dispatch the closest and best service technician for the job? Use of Location aware field force automation solution would dispatch the right work orders to field technicians on their handhelds that can improvise your productivity, operational efficiency and better customer satisfaction.
Tight control over inventory is another important area. Improvise on visibility of parts needed, the location of inventory and parts used in each of the service ticket. GIS integration with inventory management system can help improvise the utilization of spares stored and managed from across the different locations.
Poor Cash collection and management at jobsite can be further improved using POS based handheld devices. You can collect money, swipe credit cards and print receipts from handheld device. You can reduce wastage of time, paper and avoid postage expenses and sending out invoices weeks after the work was completed.
The administrative costs can be brought down by automating work order scheduling and dispatching using enterprise mobility solution that reduces cost of data entry and administrative staff. The management visibility into the work done in the field is essential to ensure quality of services and customer satisfaction.
Slow economic time motives each of us to be smarter and more efficient. There is growing demand of enterprise mobility solution as a service ( SaaS model)- “on Demand” service. The entire functionality bundles could be delivered as services hosted by independent service provider. Business users of these plug-and-play offerings would pay a monthly fee and in turn be able to demand quality of service. For business, not only the TCO (Total cost of ownership) is low but the ROI (return on the investment) is also quickly realized and quantifiable.