Why Field Mobility Solution Consulting is Fun
My customers like what I do.
They LOVE my Question List Designer.
Okay, first a little context
I’m working as a consultant implementing Field Mobility Solutions, supporting businesses with their digital transformation and, more specifically, with the digital transformation of field processes. This is all about that technician who comes to install your internet connection or to repair your HVAC when it breaks down (or, a better scenario, fixes it before it breaks down!). It’s also about the inspector from the insurance company or the road worker assessing the damage after an accident.
They all have a couple of characteristics in common: They all drink strong coffee early in the morning to travel to the first site, they work almost always on their own or with just one other colleague, and, most important, they deliver the ultimate service to the customer. While doing so, they also collect information about the work done, and my job is to make that task as easy as possible.
Subtle differences require broad thinking
Here comes the fun part of my life: I like noticing subtle differences in the way organizations work. While they collect similar information from a high-level perspective (e.g., the internet cable provider wants to register the length of the cable in feet or meters, and the road worker wants to report the length of the damaged guardrail in feet or meters), in the business context, the consumption of this information is completely different.
Additionally, the way the information is used during the execution of the service request is fundamentally different. The cable guy requires a customer signature if 30 feet (10 meters) or more of cable is used in the process. The road worker, on the other hand, is required to take photos for remote-design purposes when the length of impacted guardrail is over 30 feet (10 meters).
Ten years ago. my IT-brain would have guided me to the conclusion that we would need a dedicated, specialized app for the cable guy and a separate dedicated, specialized app for the road worker. Shame on me! I have been promoting those solutions for years, and even then, I should have known that future solutions would be available to differentiate between various scenarios without requiring separate, dedicated apps.
Today’s amazing solutions
Honestly, I fell in love with my Question List Designer when I first used it. It’s a tool allowing me to design dynamic information-gathering forms in a mobile/digital context. It provides so much flexibility – without any software programming and software testing – that it allows me in just a few steps and in less than an hour to change the cable-guy process into the road-worker process. Yes, that’s right: we can switch from “signature required for over 30 feet” to “photos required for over 30 feet of guardrail damage.” And this, of course, is just a simple example to get us thinking about the more-complicated, more-dynamic forms.
Before we go into that deeper aspect, now that I have your attention, I’ll say what we all know – digital field mobility solutions are not new. They’ve been out there for years already, right? But why is it that in your business, you most likely still have some type of paper-based forms as part of your field process? If you can raise your hand and say, “No, we’ve got it all digitized,” then well done! (And I hope you’re not working with Excel, Word or PDF documents. Or are you?)
In my practice, I see this all the time
Many customers do have some sort of a mobile app taking care of work orders so they can share details such as an address so they know where to go. Some have time and material registration embedded. But yet this “ISO Certification form” comes in on paper. Or how about those “leakage test reports” we perform out there in the field after installation of the cooling pump? They’re not yet digitalized.
Every organization has a reason why those forms are still being used. Sometimes it’s because the digital transformation has yet to be announced. But other times, organizations still use paper because the forms are changing all the time and there are too many different forms, so it seems impossible to automate at a reasonable cost. Just last week, a global organization performing inspections started the conversation with me about their 400 different forms. Four hundred! That’s a hell of job for a programmer.
This is where my customer starts to embrace the idea of my Question List Designer. It’s a tool integrated into the work order process that allows us to configure a database using business logic; it calls for different functions on my mobile device (photo, barcode scan, etc.); and it allows me to build any particular form and combine it into a set of maybe 40 forms, each with 10 dynamic parts that appear only when certain values are reached or a specific asset is subject to an inspection or a specific customer requirement needs to be met.
From a form to a platform
With my Question List Designer, I can build it all. And now we have an even better option! We can share one form across multiple types of field worker. So now the road worker assessing the impact of the guard rail fills out the form and checks boxes to indicate that there is impact on the electronics of the fiber system. So now that portion of the form goes to the specialist with expertise to complete that part of the work. Where we started with a form, we now have a platform to collaborate between experts in the field.
Another important benefit of my lovely QLD is that all data is made available in a database – not only in form fields – which allows me to analyze the data and learn bigly!
Want to see and learn how it works – specifically for your organization?
Click here to discuss options – or send me your form set and let me build a real-time example. I told you it’s easy! Let us build a customized demo for you – without any upfront costs.
Looking forward to hearing from you.