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Tips & advice to consider before investing in Mobile Data Solutions

Investing in mobile data solutions can be a complex affair, with many different factors effecting what system you buy and how you gain maximum cost benefit  and return on investment. Click here to open the “Mobilising the Margin: Business Cases for Mobile Data” .PDF file.

Technology can be confusing, so the perhaps the best way is not to start with the technology, but to begin with focusing on the aims and objectives of using a mobile data solution.

Firstly, identify how the use of mobile and wireless solutions could accelerate the flow of time-critical information within your organisation’s processes. Start with a clear idea of the problem to solve, then outline the solution. The solution should include the operational aspects as well as the technical solution.

Some examples of scenarios where a mobile data solution could be implemented are;

  • I want my staff to be able to promptly respond to customers’ E-mails while they are away from the office.
  • I want my my field sales team to be able to return appointment feedback information in between meetings; making better use of the work day and reducing the time carrying out administration in the evenings.
  • I want to improve our response time to callouts from our customers. I want my customer service desk to be able to send job information, quickly and efficiently to my field service engineers.
  • It is important that we get invoices out to the customer as soon as the work has been carried out.  I want our field service engineers to be able to return signed electronic job sheets from site, as soon as they have been completed.
  • I want our field service engineers to send me details of the stock they used as soon as the job has been completed.
  • l want to send address information to my courier drivers.

Second, quantify the impact that improvements in the flow of information would have on productivity using tangible metrics, and identify and measure additional performance benefits.  Begin by calculating the current cost of the tasks that you plan to automate. Then, estimate the cost of the tasks under the proposed system. This is at the centre of cost justification, so get this part right. The bad news is that quantifying savings can be challenging. Sometimes the benefits of the system are "soft". How do you quantify better information? Some examples of how to quantify improvements are as follows

  • By speeding up the flow of accurate information, I can increase the number of jobs my field service team complete each week.
  • Quicker response times and more completed jobs during the working day, has led to a reduction in overtime claims.
  • We are sending out invoices a lot quicker and our cash flow situation has improved.

 

Productivity gains from the introduction of mobile data solutions generally fit into two categories: "Hard" savings, or easily quantifiable savings, and "soft" or less tangible benefits

Hard Expense Savings

  • Labour
  • Materials
  • Operating Expenses
  • Inventory/
  • Fixed Asset Reductions

Soft Benefits

  • Improved sales due to better management information, reduced out-of-stock situations and up-to-date product availability information
  • General Efficiency
  • Improved Employee Morale by automating boring tasks such as data entry, creating more enriching job opportunities for workers.
  • More Satisfied Customers due to higher quality, faster response and improved accuracy

Third, calculate and estimate the pay back period. The time that, taking into account the productivity increases and cost savings you have estimated, it would take to deliver a return on investment.

Finally it is also worth thinking about the impact introducing a mobile data solution would have on your workforce.

Now you have worked out what you want to achieve and what the cost benefits are likely to be, it’s time to find a solution and a supplier.


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