Does Size Matter?

Yes, yes. I know. It’s one of the most asked, and least-definitively answered, questions of all time. But because this question doesn’t apply only to the usual topic, but instead can be relevant in a variety of settings, I thought I’d apply it to what I know best: family and work

First, an RV story

I recently made the decision – albeit in hindsight maybe it wasn’t a wise one – to rent an RV and take my family of four on a two-week trip to different national parks in the United States. We went to Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Zion, and Arches in Utah. Since our trip started in California, a fair amount of driving was done in that rented RV.

The RV that we rented was a 29-foot Thor Four Winds. As I drove down highway after highway, I saw many different types and sizes of RVs. I saw large diesel pusher Class A models and smaller Class B vans. I also saw many that were similar in size to our rented Class C RV. Seeing all of these different sizes and types of RVs made me realize that one size definitely doesn’t fit all, and each RV, regardless of size and type, had its purpose and its proper usage for the people driving it. Some people needed the larger, more-expensive Class A RVs because they had larger families and maybe had more money to spend, and some people needed the smaller Class B models because that’s what fit their needs.

Different sizes for different needs

As I observed the various models, I realized that the same principles can be applied to mobile workforce solutions. Not all organizations have 2,000 or more field users with multi-million dollar budgets. Some organizations may not even classify themselves as organizations at all because of their size; they may consider themselves a mom-and-pop company and have five workers on their payroll. Budgets aren’t measured in millions for them, but instead are measured in thousands.

Regardless of whether an organization considers itself a true organization or a mom-and-pop shop, when the decision is made to increase the productivity and effectiveness of its field operations, there’s an important factor to consider from the very beginning: What vendor will provide the right solution? On one hand, they can choose a well-established vendor that has tens of thousands of installations. This type of vendor may charge $1,000 or more per license, and installation may cost upwards of $100k. This type of vendor typically focuses its attention on large organizations with 5,000 or more field users, unlimited budgets, and multiple department to handle projects and implementations on their own, without support from their vendors.

On the other end of the spectrum are solutions for mom-and-pop shops. These small mom-and-pop businesses typically need a significant amount of support from their vendors and want to keep a close eye on budgets. They can’t wait months to receive updates from their vendors. Their margins are so thin, and their own customers are so demanding, that response times, updates, and costs are all tightly managed.

The vast majority of companies are in the middle of the spectrum

Somewhere in between the very large and the very small companies are the vast majority of businesses. They may have budgets for technology solutions, but they’re typically limited. They may have their own IT staff, but they’re typically busy performing their own internal duties. And regardless of the number of users and field staff, they need a well-supported mobile workforce solution that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

So where do all these middle-of-the-spectrum companies go when they need a solution provider? Do they go to that large vendor that has it all and does it all, but has costs that rival the GDP of some small foreign countries? Or do they go to a smaller vendor that has a solid solution but that may be less recognizable? (Merely because a vendor doesn’t have large enough marketing budgets to put their names at the top of every conceivable Google search – and to buy glitzy tradeshow booths the size of a city block – doesn’t mean it’s not worthy of consideration!)

There’s always a good fit

The point is, there’s no right answer. Just like there are hundreds of different types and models of RVs to suit almost every possible need, there are also many choices in the mobile workforce domain. The right choice is the one that meets the specific needs of the company that’s looking to implement a solution, not one that promises it’s the best solution for every company. Field service organizations shopping for a productivity-boosting solution should do their homework, shop around, and check references. Flashy bells and whistles never outweigh substance and a good old phone call to the vendor’s current clients that asks, “How was your experience with this company and their software?”

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