What is Mobile Workforce Management?

What is Mobile Workforce Management?

What is “mobile workforce management” and why does it matter? Understanding and harnessing the power of mobile workforce management is the key to more productive, higher performing business.

Overview of Mobile Workforce Management

The term “mobile workforce” refers to a group of employees providing service in the field, often on-site with a customer.  

“Mobile workforce management” refers to the suite of tools—including processes, software, applications, networks, and related services—used to schedule, monitor, track, and analyze the performance of mobile teams as they deliver services and support your customers.

Mobile workforce management (MWM) solutions are designed to help company leaders more effectively manage employees in the field while they interface with customers. While functionality can vary by industry, most MWM solutions include tools to:

  •   Create schedules for mobile employees
  •   Dispatch mobile employees to new jobs
  •   Communicate with mobile employees in real-time
  •   Perform capacity planning for high-volume or low-volume periods
  •   Track employees en route to different jobs
  •   Log job start, completion and travel time
  •   Track average length of service engagements
  •   Track employee performance against services promised
  •   Connect with a CRM or other system of record

Download our eBook to learn more about choosing the right mobile workforce management solution for your company.

Mobile Workforce Management and Field Service Management

Field service management is often discussed in the context of mobile workforce management. However, understanding the difference between the two helps maximize the value of a mobile workforce.

The key difference between mobile workforce management and field service management is this: MWM optimizes processes around human assets, while field service management optimizes process around physical assets. If your goal is to optimize the customer journey, scheduling process, or execution of your mobile teams’ daily work, then a mobile workforce management system is ideal. If your goal is to optimize the installation, maintenance, and repair of physical products you own or have sold, a field service management tool is the best fit for your business.

Check out our Mastering the Field Services Evolution eBook to learn more about the changing landscape of field service.

Trends and Challenges Shaping Mobile Workforce Management

Modern workforce trends are putting new pressure on companies—and their mobile employees—to deliver exceptional service at a moment’s notice. Here are the top trends and challenges shaping mobile workforce management today and in the future.

1. Data-Based Decision Making

Big data is here to stay. Data collection is faster and more pervasive than ever before, with 90% of all the world’s data being generated in the past two years. Collecting data on customer history, interactions, preferences, behavior, and so much more brings valuable insight for businesses—but only if you know what to do with it.

“From using sensors to track machine performance, to optimizing delivery routes, to better tracking employee performance and even recruiting top talent, big data has the potential to improve internal efficiency and operations for almost any type of business and in many different departments.”

~ Four Ways Big Data Will Change Every Business – Forbes

Data collection and data-based decision making is a crucial part of managing a mobile workforce. By analyzing data points around customers and workers–like travel time, appointment length, and survey results–managers can make important decisions about the mobile workforce as a whole.

2. High Customer Expectations

Customer expectations are higher than ever, and companies that put the customer experience front and center are seeing the most success. Forrester has deemed our current era “The Age of the Customer”—and for good reason.

“Customer-obsessed companies have the highest median three-year growth in sales. But only 13% of firms have achieved this level of customer obsession. Why? Because it’s hard. It requires remaking your company, systematically, to reorient each element toward the customer.”

~ Top Five Imperatives To Win In The Age Of The Customer, Forrester

These high expectations present unique challenges for a mobile workforce. How can you best accommodate your customers’ schedules? Can your scheduling and dispatching tools keep up with customer demand? How can your field employees better deliver on your brand promise when they are interfacing with customers?

Mobile workforce management platforms are designed to navigate these challenges.

3. Mobile-First Management

In the past, mobile employees struggled to stay connected to the main office. An employee would arrive at the beginning of the day, get a schedule of jobs, and head out to complete them. If they ran into issues along the way, they had to call in to the main office or wait until they return at the end of the day to get it resolved.

With modern mobile workforce management tools, employees in the office and out can be more agile and collaborative. Information can be imported into the CRM straight from the field in real-time, and employees can access customer data on the go to ensure they are prepared for the job.

The modern mobile workforce is much better equipped to handle the unpredictability of the workday, and everyone benefits as a result:

  •   Mobile workers can stay connected throughout the day, giving them real-time access to job locations, customer information, and schedule updates, and they can alert others if they run into a problem.
  •   Scheduler and managers can see team performance in real-time, communicate about schedule changes, and analyze productivity.
  •   Customers get more accurate arrival times and employees who are better prepared to provide the service they need.

4. Diversification of the Workforce

Things were simpler for businesses when the majority of employees worked full-time and delivered customer service from nine to five on weekdays. However, the homogenous workforce may be a thing of the past.

“Workers want a greater ability to care for their families. Employers want greater flexibility to compete in the global market. One result is that the traditional work arrangement—a full-time, year-round job where an employer usually provides a worker with benefits, training, and/or a pension upon retirement—is often giving way to something fundamentally different. The age of “just in time” production has given rise to “just in time” workers—employees whom a business can hire on a moment’s notice to fill a moment’s need.”

~ Futurework – Trends and Challenges for Work in the 21st Century, U.S. Department of Labor

These days, it’s common for an organization to have a mix of full-time employees, part-time employees, and 1099 contractors performing work in the field. That’s why a mobile workforce management system needs to be equipped to handle the needs of businesses that rely on contractors, while providing full functionality for full-time employees.

The Future of Mobile Workforce Management

As the workforce and technologies evolve, so will mobile workforce management. Customers will increasingly choose to do business exclusively with those who give them a consistently high-quality experience, and managers will need to be thoughtful and innovative to relentlessly deliver against their brand promise.

In the future, we will see mobile workforce management become a tool that makes workers smarter and more efficient by using predictive logic and advanced data capture methods to anticipate the next best move and provide the most relevant information to facilitating that move.

For those back at the office, mobile workforce management will provide greater control and understanding into what their customers are actually experiencing, going a step beyond building processes around a conceptually optimal journey.

Regardless of how the future unfolds, mobile employees already are today the “front line” of customer service for many businesses and must be empowered to provide outstanding service. For managers, this means understanding the needs of mobile employees, getting them the tools they need, and making the most of your data to analyze performance.