The advent of technology comes with a lot of benefits to consumers and companies alike. The shift to mobile has tremendously changed the way of life of people, as do business operations. Consumer-facing and Field Service industries, in particular, require constant focus on sales monitoring and management, process improvements, employee efficiency, among others. Many companies have experienced that in the field, a lot are uncontrolled and unmonitored – from products to process to people, all of which are in an environment that is not always within their control. This is where technology as a solution comes in.
The use of mobile solutions have been crucial to the success of companies with field workforce, such as those in the Pharmaceutical, Logistics, and Consumer Goods industries. Employees in the field just key-in report data via their mobile device. Management can then immediately come up with decisions once they receive the information from the field.. With previous manual reporting systems, field operations data would take days or even weeks to reach the office. This therefore incurs costs as turnaround time for decisions increases, even for critical issues. This is the beauty of shifting from manual to digital. Below are 3 ways a mobile field reporting app can reduce cost in your company:
1. ACCURATE FIELD REPORTS AND ELIMINATED DATA ENTRY ERRORS
Manual or paper reporting system requires a significant amount of hand processing and re-encoding. Each time a person has to process a report form, potential for errors are increased and the speed of information is slowed. Information is often entered two or three times, from the original data from the field, to the encoding and consolidation in the office, and uploading to other systems such as ERPs or HR/Accounting software. Take for example a simple Inventory report. A mobile app with a barcode scanner and product information pre-loaded into the system already eliminates incorrect entries right at the first step and allows the field workforce to complete the report form much faster.
A rule of thumb is there is one error per 300 keystrokes. One transaction may take 30 keystrokes. Therefore, one out of every ten transactions has an error. If it costs an average of $75 to correct each error, a company with 10,000 transactions per year could expect to save $75,000 per year from re-keying errors alone. (postdata.com. “5 Ways Mobile Field Solutions Can Rapidly Reduce Costs”)
Manually inputted data are especially vulnerable to errors in the field and can have a larger than expected cost to correct. Aside from wrong information written on paper, the high probability that it might get lost or get destroyed is very high, and therefore is very costly to go back to the field or to redo the reports. Often these are never reconciled and just written off. Adding manpower to quality-check or validate reports will also add cost to operations.
The accuracy of each task is very important in the field specially for manufacturing industries or FMCG companies. Inventory has to be very accurate because a single mistake will lead to additional cost.
2. CORRECT TIME LOGS/ MAXIMIZING USE OF PERSONNEL
Companies with field workforce often receive Field Service Reports with inaccurate time logs. Employees are able to key-in time logs that are suitable to them, or do not correspond to actual hours spent on each work order. It is easy to add 15 minutes onto a manual time sheet and it is very difficult to verify. Why do employees key in time logs that are “suitable” to them? One of the biggest reasons is the possibility of overtime pay. This may result in high expenses but low productivity. Companies are not able to fully maximize their potential assets that are working in the field.
Deploying a field app will significantly reduce cost in your operations. Because of digital check in and check out, management would know the actual hours worked. Labor cost is very expensive so a solution like this is very important.
In addition to accurate time reporting, management would also know whether employees in the field have been fully maximized. They are able to identify if the field visits originally planned were actually visited. More field visits could easily be added should there be a need. Management can also track how long how long each field employee stays in one account, and how efficient they are in one area. This is very important in operations of a company.
3. ROUTE OPTIMIZATION
When a field employee plans his/her itinerary for the week, the management can have the foresight on what to expect from that plan. This means not only can the employee be optimized, but other assets as well such as transportation, materials, and labor.
By providing the best route, a field employee can also become more efficient by focusing on his/her preparation on the field visits. This helps reduce costs in going to the same area back and forth. This increases productivity as it avoids waste of time and strain on the employee.
With all these great benefits, it may be time to start looking into field workforce management and field reporting solutions for more efficiency and higher productivity in your company.