Field service management

Business applications - 6 essential features for technicians

Mobile business applications are designed to enhance the productivity of your field teams. However, they must really meet their needs! Here are the points you should be aware of when choosing an application for your mobile technicians.

Optimising the work of technicians in the field with mobile applications

When working on customer premises, technicians have to carry out a number of tasks which, although they are not strictly speaking part of their job, are crucial to the smooth running of operations, which determines the profitability of the company and the satisfaction of its customers. Mobile business applications today provide field workers with valuable assistance and productivity tools to better organise their work, optimise their time at the customer’s premises and minimise the time they spend on the preparatory and administrative tasks inherent in their work. If you want to equip your technicians with a mobile solution that really meets their expectations, here is our first recommendation:

>> Do not multiply applications!

Responding to each need/task type with a dedicated mobile application means that your technicians have to juggle between tools that do not necessarily communicate with each other and do not have the same intrinsic logic. This is likely to annoy your technicians, discourage them from using them or, worse, encourage them to install the free applications of their choice on their smartphones/tablets, which may offer the functionality they are looking for, but with no guarantee of long-term availability, business continuity and data protection.

Choosing an integrated and comprehensive business application is a better decision than multiplying monofunctional applications from different vendors, for two main reasons:

  • your technicians have only one tool to master and, most importantly, have access to everything they need to work efficiently in the field, all in a single interface;
  • you avoid the problems of data synchronisation between heterogeneous applications, as well as the problems of bidirectional data exchange with the various application components of the company’s central information system.

Before talking about the must-have features, the other point you should pay attention to is the level of customisation allowed by the mobile solution you choose. Your technicians do not all do exactly the same job and therefore do not all have exactly the same needs. For example, the quantity surveyor at a window company who takes measurements prior to manufacturing does not need the same tools and information as the technician who will install the windows. The ability to easily customise for each category of stakeholder, or even for each technician, the interface, the important information to be highlighted and the features available is a particularly important factor if you want rapid adoption and repeat use by stakeholders.

The 6 key features of a good business application

Whatever your sector of activity, your mobile technicians need to find two categories of functionality in their business application: those that relate to work organisation and provide visibility on the workload and the interventions to be carried out each day; those that facilitate the execution of tasks, both technical and administrative.

>> Dynamic agenda

The agenda is both the backbone and pillar of any mobile business application. To be truly useful on the ground, this agenda must be dynamic. This means that it must be able to take into account and pass on in real time all the changes and events that may occur during a working day. This is particularly true of last-minute cancellations, whether caused by the customer or because the technician has fallen behind schedule during the course of his or her rounds and has had to either reschedule the times announced to customers or postpone certain interventions.

Thanks to the permanent bi-directional link between the mobile application and the central appointment/scheduling software:

  • individual agendas are constantly updated and automatically recalculated to take into account cancellations and possible emergencies;
  • the technician can move and reschedule an appointment directly in his application, without going through the scheduling team or asking the customer to make a new appointment.

With Nomadia’s optimisation solutions and mobile business application, a technician who schedules an appointment while at the customer’s site is offered pre-optimised appointment slots that match his or her availability and take into account the customer’s geographic location. This ensures that the client is offered an appointment that he is sure he can keep and that will fit into his workload without jeopardising other appointments or disrupting an already established tour.

>> Optimised tours

The tour plan that technicians can access on their mobile application only makes sense if it is directly linked to the schedule and optimised to minimise the time spent on the road in favour of the number of interventions. The automatic recalculation of tours according to changes in the schedule ensures realistic working days for the technicians. This will be all the more true if the optimisation tool is set up to integrate the estimated duration of each intervention into the route calculations. The joint consideration of intervention times and journey times also makes it possible to communicate much more precise and reliable arrival times to customers and to automate the sending of messages (e-mails or SMS) to keep them informed in the event of delays in the planned schedule.

>> Detailed intervention sheets

For each stage of the tour, the technician must have reliable information on the location and type of work to be carried out. In an integrated mobile application, the intervention sheet contains the exact address of the customer, his contact data and, if necessary, accessibility information (access code, floor, parking place, opening hours, etc.) which saves the technician time.

Depending on the level of integration you wish to implement, the intervention sheet may also include, in addition to a description of the tasks to be performed, a list of the tools and spare parts required. Before starting his tour, the technician can load his vehicle with everything he will need to carry out each intervention and avoid situations where he is obliged to return with missing parts or tools.

There is nothing to prevent remarks on the context of the intervention being included in the intervention sheet. The technician will not approach the customer in exactly the same way if he knows that his company has already intervened twice in less than a month for the same problem. Access to the customer relationship history provided by the CRM will enable him to have the right attitude towards a customer potentially irritated by these repeated problems..

>> Integrated document base

The technician’s mobile application is the single point of entry to all the documentary resources he may need at the customer’s premises: the technical characteristics of the equipment installed or to be installed, the references of spare parts, the maintenance history, etc. Document databases are not limited to PDF documents. You can now integrate videos and tutorials that will facilitate interventions on installations that the technician is not familiar with or on new models of appliances.

>> Business procedures and task lists

Compliance with installation, maintenance and repair procedures protects the company, its customers and its technicians. By providing access to a precise step-by-step description of each procedure, the mobile application allows the company to ensure that the tasks are carried out in the right order, in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations and without breaching safety regulations. In Nomadia’s mobile applications, the tasks to be completed are presented in the form of a list that the technician ticks off as he goes along, with an automatic “to do” count that allows him to know where he stands and not to overlook any steps.

>> You can go further in supporting your technicians by using augmented reality. By scanning the QR code on the device to be repaired, the repairman or service technician can see on the screen of his smartphone what to do first and in what order. He also has access to detailed content (photos, assembly plan, videos) that helps him to carry out his mission from start to finish, without risking his health or damage to the client’s equipment or installation. This assistance is particularly valuable and reassuring for beginners or new recruits, as well as for companies that use temporary technicians or subcontractors and want to be sure of the quality of their work.

>> Personalised reports and signature

Being able to report on each intervention in a few seconds before moving on to the next one and without handling paperwork means that technicians do not have to deal with this part of their job at the end of the day or simply neglect it. By formalising, in the application, a report template containing only the headings corresponding to the type of work carried out by the technician and by presenting them in the form of a checkbox, you save him precious time and you can be sure of recovering all the data necessary for the follow-up of the customer. This pre-filled report with customer-specific information can then be presented to the customer for signature on the smartphone or tablet screen, before being automatically sent to the customer and the company in PDF format.

For your field technicians, these features are no longer “options”. These are expectations that your company must meet if it is to attract the most competent profiles and retain them. By equipping them with a mobile application that is truly adapted to their job, you give them the means to be more efficient, better organised and less stressed, all of which contribute to their job satisfaction and ultimately result in more satisfied customers.

>> Discover all the possibilities offered by Nomadia’s mobile applications