Doug Junor, GO Productivity Executive in Residence
Ask your Business Units this: “If we had all the data from the field in an electronic format at the point of collection, how would we be able to use that data to improve the business?”
The average person uses about 10 mobile applications daily and about 30 monthly. If your remote employees do not have access to electronic mobile applications to help do their work. Are you are missing out on a great productivity opportunity?
Field-based electronic data collection is a great example of productivity improvement over commonly used paper-based data gathering approaches. Many of the paper-world constraints and complaints, do not exist with electronic-based technology applications.
A simple example is the concept of Collaboration. In the paper world, many versions of a single document likely exists across an organization. If document changes are made in one business unit, it is difficult to make sure everyone else is aware of the most recent changes in a timely and effective manner. When an electronic format is used, everyone can be immediately notified that changes have been made and users are more productive when they are confident that they are working from the most current version.
Ask your Business Units this: “If we had all our handwritten forms from the field in a spreadsheet, what would the benefits be?”
Start with K.I.S.S and keep the End User in mind. According to Forrester Research, 64% of employees rarely use enterprise mobile applications, because of poor user experience. Mobile application projects should start by focusing on what will benefit the End User. If an Application makes their job easier, the chance of a successful rollout goes up dramatically, and the implementation risk associated with these projects goes way down.
Focus initially on bite-sized incremental changes that take no more than 60 to 90 days to implement. If you change too many things all at once, it not only increases complexity, it also creates an environment that is much harder to adapt to, or troubleshoot, should something go wrong.
A good example of a starting point is a simple Timesheet Application that electronically captures and submits Individual timesheets as an Excel or .csv file. This can reduce the need for manual entry of often unreadable, error-ridden, and untimely data, often associated with hand-written forms. The timely receipt of clear, accurate and concise electronic versions can simply be imported into an existing system. This allows managers to determine if the application will also work to the benefit of End Users in the field, before any significant cost or effort is expended on greater integration into current systems.
Ask your Business Units this: “Is there any field data that would help you make better decisions, that is currently not easily accessible?”
Start collecting data in electronic format as soon as possible. We have all heard the terms “Big Data” and “Analytics”. Everyone agrees having more useful information can be a valuable asset for any business. The sooner we start collecting relevant data, the sooner we can use it. There is more value in 12 months of useable data from the field in spreadsheet format, than there is in waiting 12 months for a new “System” to be built, that may or may not work in the end. Even if we don’t know what we want to use the data for today, it is still a good idea to capture it electronically sooner than later.
Ask your Business Units this: “Are there any times when having field data immediately, would make a difference to your work flow?”
Eliminating paper in the field can lower your carbon footprint. By following the electronic field gathering approaches to data collection outlined above, a company significantly reduced total kilometers driven and the number of vehicles needed in the field.
Electronic information means there was no longer a need to physically drive and deliver field-based paper work to its central processing destination. Once an electronic-based timesheet has been completed it can be sent immediately via the Internet for processing. This not only reduces the need to physically drive paper forms to a central location, it can enable other workflows to begin faster, such as Invoicing.
In addition, this field-based data gathering reduced the need for printing version updates of manuals and forms. With all that paper eliminated, this company removed all the filing cabinets in the backseat space of crew-cab field trucks that were used to store all that paper-based data. The backseats were re-installed in the trucks and used by other workers resulting in fewer trucks needed to transport crews to and from job sites. That crew time spent together generated even more productivity performance improvements for workers.
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