How do you rate the importance of productivity of your sales, delivery or logistical teams for business success? Most organizations are convinced that improved productivity in the field will result in tangible business benefits & growth. The challenge, however, is to figure out how to improve this productivity.
One of the most successful ways of improving productivity is to simply give employees a technology-based tool to automate their most repetitive tasks, saving time and effort to engage in more value-added work. In fact, one of the greatest benefits of automation is, it changes the nature of the work that employees are currently executing. (Source – McKinsey: Four success factors for workforce automation, May 2019).
The McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), the business and economics research arm of McKinsey, published a report which estimates that ‘around 50 percent of current workforce activities could be automated with proven technologies.’ (Source – McKinsey: Jobs lost, jobs gained: What the future of work will mean for jobs, skills, and wages, November 2017).
Given this scenario, if we consider the typical tasks and daily activities that employees in the field are engaged in, and compare this to their target deliverables, there is typically a redundancy of tasks and often repetitive tasks where an employee spends time.
There are simple, powerful and flexible ways to harness technology to make significant gains in field workforce productivity. We, at CCR Technologies, have been working to bring you a centralized system for Field Workforce Management (FWM) of sales and service resources in industries such as food distribution, pharma, telecom, manufacturing and facilities management.
Using our Field Force web and mobile app, businesses can now redefine processes to significantly improve the productivity and efficiency of their field workforce.
Let’s drill down to the typical field force tasks that are most amenable to automation:
Ask any field personnel and they will tell you that accounting for expenses incurred while in the field is one of the most painful & tedious tasks they need to do! However, simple and efficient automated workflows accessible through mobile apps are all that it takes to make reimbursements quick and easy for your employees when they are out in the field. It saves time since personnel can now fill in expenses in a mobile app at the same time as they are incurred, and there is no pile-up of paperwork for them to do after getting back to the office. Also, since they can simply scan receipts and upload them, there is less time spent by accounting teams on verifying actual expenses in order to negate any fraudulent claims.
A study by McKinsey found that field workers may be spending up to 40% of their time on activities that are not adding significant value – like filling timesheets. (Source – McKinsey: How lean is your field force—really?, July 2019) By using our Field Force mobile app, field personnel can actually fill up their day’s activities and updates on their mobile devices even without returning to their desks. Managers can view the summary of activities by the end of each day – no excuses! This is a piece of software that truly enables a mobile workforce as it keeps the field force in sync and completely connected with desk managers as well as with back-office support teams.
Many times, there is sheer wastage of time in commuting to different locations. If field personnel could be assisted in planning their commute to appointments in different locations in such a way as to club different visits together in nearby locations, this could save considerable time and energy. Another benefit of tools using location tracking or geo-sensing capabilities is that if a manager finds out that one of his team members is unable to make it to an appointment, he can quickly locate another nearby representative on a map on the Field Force mobile app and reassign it to the nearest rep. In fact, these tools can also maintain a track of meetings completed, the distance traveled by each individual rep, and even the exact locations of each rep’s meetings.
Sometimes, expert opinions are not available in the field where problems occur – for example, during repairs to pipelines or supply lines in remote locations, field personnel available to attend may not have the highest degree of expertise. In such cases, the mobile app can be used to upload rich information like photographs, graphs and technical charts or even videos of the problem areas in the field. The information can be sent instantly to back-office support teams or to experts available at any other location. The experts can then provide remote guidance to the personnel to tackle the problem on the ground.
Real-time communication and alerts
The Field Force mobile app can be used effectively to maintain real-time contact with not only managers back at the office, but also with customers regarding delays in arriving at appointments, availability of spare parts, etc. Staff can also get instant customer feedback, reminders about their next appointments or real-time reassignments of tasks from desk managers.
When integrated with other systems like CRM, the Field Force app becomes even more powerful – powered with the capability to pull up a customer’s complete service history, enabling your sales and service staff to upsell or cross-sell and deliver customer satisfaction.
As you can see, rapid advancements in technology are making it possible for organizations to use automation to prioritize workforce management in order to achieve improved productivity & efficiency. What is needed is to make automation an enterprise-wide priority and implement automated workflows to improve the productivity of your field force.