In 2018, 66% of individuals in 52 of the world’s leading countries will own a smartphone, up from 63% in 2017 and 58% in 2016, according to Zenith’s Mobile Advertising Forecasts 2017. In the U.S., Europe and Australia, mobile penetration is even higher than average. These are just the latest statistics illustrating the ubiquity and permanence of mobile devices in our lives.
Smart companies are working hard to keep up with the mobile work movement sparked by smartphones by investing heavily in mobile-friendly, cloud-based workforce management solutions. But with so many options on the market, how do you choose the right one for your mobile employees?
Feature Checklist for Workforce Management Tools
At face value, two mobile workforce management tools may look very similar. But as you dig deeper, you will see meaningful differences between solutions in terms of data collection, intelligent functions, mobile compatibility, and more.
A successful mobile workforce management system:
- Is mobile-first, and works seamlessly with all your devices.
To keep up with the pace of change, you need a solution that fits seamlessly with how your mobile employees conduct business. Look for a mobile workforce solution that is purpose-built for mobile work, not retroactively adapted to the changing environment. A solution that works with any mobile device–not a specific brand or operating system–is better positioned to meet your needs right now and in the future.
- Can match the right worker to the right job.
For the first iteration of mobile workforce management tools, finding and sending an available technician to a customer was a game-changer. These days, not so much.
When every solution can do the basics, you need a more dynamic way to match mobile workers to customers. The best mobile workforce management tools can assign jobs based on the worker’s skills, certifications, and location, as well as customer preferences.
- Can notify mobile workers of new jobs and appointments.
A mobile workforce management tool only works if the information reaches the people who need it. Sending updated schedules via email or making calls to switch shifts may work for a short time, but it isn’t sustainable as you scale up.
Your mobile workforce management solution should automatically notify mobile employees of new jobs, cancelled appointments, or schedule changes without the information getting lost in a missed email or phone call. As you evaluate tools, make this a point of emphasis so you can avoid the hassle of manual scheduling.
- Offers various notification options.
The mobile workforce management software you choose should complement your workforce. Make sure the tool offers multiple notification options, including push notifications, email, and SMS text notifications, depending on how your employees like to receive updates. Think about how your workforce operates (and how that may evolve in the future), and pick a solution with notification options that will work over time.
- Gives mobile workers access to important information.
The better prepared your mobile workers are, the the more value they can deliver to your customers. If your workforce management system is disconnected from your customer database, you will be missing out on important opportunities to increase customer satisfaction.
As you look at workforce management solutions, prioritize the ones that put customer data and job logistics front and center for your workforce. Information about job logistics helps your mobile workers arrive to the jobsite better prepared or even make adjustments to personalize their service. Seeing customer history will help workers understand the situations customers are in and reduce the need to repeat information.
- Has real-time tracking capabilities.
Real-time tracking is a feature that separates the best workforce tools from the rest.Look for workforce management tools that allow you to see when workers accept, travel to, check-in, start, and finish each job. This real-time visibility helps managers understand how and where everyone is working, and it gives the back office tools to provide status updates when needed.
- Helps mobile workers capture data from the field.
In the past, a remote worker would come back to the office at the end of the day to drop off a huge pile of paperwork for the back office to sort through. As the field service industry gets more crowded, customers want faster service and issue resolution. This requires streamlined, mobile-first data collection, not manual pen-and-paper processes.
The ideal mobile workforce solution gives employees the power to collect signatures, photographs, surveys, and other important data from the field. This information should be synced to your database, where the back office can see completed forms and new data in real-time.
- Can set precise appointment times based on location and availability.
When most people think of field service or the mobile workforce, they too often think of sitting around and waiting for the cable guy for hours at a time. Technology has moved far beyond the four-hour “estimated service window”—so why rely on a workforce management system that can’t be more precise?
As you review workforce management options, look for a system that can set precise appointment times. You’ll find that exact appointment times make your customers happy (and happier customers means better days for your employees!)
- Integrates with other tools for extra functionality
Your workforce management software should make it easier to perform other business functions—not more complicated. One tool may not be able to do it all, but it should be able to talk to other systems to build on its functionality.
Look for a system that integrates easily with other tools and platforms. If you need connectivity with HR and payroll, make sure it is compatible with those tools. If you have a custom app that employees use in the field, check if the workforce management system has APIs to let you build functionality into your own app in addition to using its proprietary app.
- Integrates with CRM platforms like Salesforce and ServiceNow.
Platforms like Salesforce and ServiceNow house valuable customer information that helps your mobile workforce perform at a high level.If you rely on a CRM for business insights and opportunities, be certain that your workforce management tool integrates seamlessly with these platforms. The best workforce management tools offer native integration with CRM platforms that gives you a single source of truth for your workforce and customer data.