How Technology Can Impact Your Field Operations, Today and Into the Future

With data, operations managers are able to better plan future consumable, maintenance, personnel and other resource requirements. (iStock/Natee127)

We are no strangers to technology’s impact on both our personal, daily lives and in our day-to-day business operations. While there have been fundamental shifts in the field services industry with the adoption of tech, it’s crucial for operations leaders to continue to innovate — championing digital transformation efforts internally. 

From smartphones, GPS, RFID and on-demand/cloud computing, to barcodes, scanners and the latest-generation of tablet computers, technologies available today allow for the ultimate streamlining of operations. But what holds organizations back is knowing where to start and the sometimes-daunting task of getting buy in from executives to invest in and implement new technology. When facing change, many questions arise for operations management, such as:

  • Which tech investments yield the quickest and highest ROI?
  • Who is responsible for implementation?
  • How can different solutions (and the resulting data) be integrated into an operations workflow?
  • What does the data tell us that is actionable?
  • What can we do to ensure our teams actually use the software?

If you feel you have an organization open to change, it’s important to get up to speed on what new technology is available, specifically understanding the benefits you can see from the most advanced technologies in field operations:

“Paperless Ops”

While the benefits of going from paper records to electronic records may seem obvious, there is a disparate understanding of what this means across organizations. For some, this means scanning documents, and for others, it is the investment in a robust, mobile field operations solution. The most-advanced solutions offer unprecedented flexibility, accuracy and scalability, and include elements such as:

  • Error Reduction — The data estimates it costs an organization $10 every time a piece of paper documentation is generated by field operators and sent to the back office. Why? Namely, problems with legibility and errors made during re-entering the data into electronic systems. An application allowing for field-generated data to be entered digitally and synced to back-office systems fixes both issues and allows for faster, more-accurate delivery to customers.
  •  Data Validation — Pick lists and paper forms have no internal logic or error prevention. If you start with bad data and errors, it continues through the cycle, often undetected until there is a customer issue. An advanced field-operations solution can validate the data when it is entered, preventing invalid configurations and errors. Using artificial intelligence, these solutions even have configuration engines that guide users step-by-step through job setup, automatically configuring the job based on conditions and assigned equipment. 
  • Customization — Every job site is different, and you should have a solution with the same level of customization as each job demands. With new field-operations platforms, individual operations flow, organizational protocol and government/customer requirements can all be customized. From changing the format and appearance of screen elements to which type of data requires an attachment, the solution can be configured to meet individual needs, as well as those of the customer. 

Process & Resource Modeling 

First generation field-operations solutions took an important first step — electronically capturing individual elements of the process (field tickets, dispatch orders, etc.). While valuable, new technology allows for the data to tell a more comprehensive story — capturing the relationships between elements that allow for optimal planning and utilization. 

“Whether you are early in your digital transformation or have a forward-looking executive team pushing for more change through technology, field operations will continue to be disrupted — and improved — through tech innovation.”

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