By Jeffrey Smith
From the August 2021 Issue
The world of enterprise asset management (EAM) is now more than 40 years old with mobile work management apps already into their second decade. If your facilities organization has yet to go mobile, now may be the best opportunity to make the move, because recent advances in mobile tech have made it so easy. Here’s how:
1. Devices Are Better. Current generation smartphones and tablets are incredibly powerful tools with a standard feature set that was almost unimaginable just a decade ago. The most effective mobile work management software leverages all of that native functionality, including the camera, microphone, barcode, and QR scanning. More importantly, the software is generally device agnostic with responsive user interfaces that adjust to any form factor. That means your organization no longer needs to worry about being hamstrung by commitments to devices that might prove to be limiting later on after adoption.
2. Mobile Data Coverage Is Better. Mobile data coverage has never been as good, and with 5G rolling out rapidly, it will get even better. During the past 10 years, mobile coverage has improved dramatically across the country and around the world; and the average transmission speeds have increased by 250% in the past five years. Ongoing public and private investments in the expansion of high-speed data access mean this acceleration will continue.
3. Your Workforce Is Already Digital. Ten years ago, the challenges of introducing mobile to a paper-based workforce were much different than they are now. Today, your workforce is already using smartphones and other devices every day for personal use, and a growing majority of your employees have lived most of their lives in the digital age.
4. Mobile Software Is Much Better. The mobile tool set has never been more powerful, more user friendly, and most importantly, more integrated. Gone are the days when creating a digital work order and attaching a photo was a significant task. Today, organizations are running their entire physical plant operations from a single fully integrated mobile platform. That includes not only all asset and work performance activities, but customer requests for services, technician requests for materials, time card creation and approval flows, management of staff rosters as well as sick and vacation requests, safety compliance with LOTO and Confined Space Entry, inspections of all types, operator rounds, integrated BAS and life safety system controls, and even management of field service vendors. And it’s all happening in real-time or with automated synchronization whenever off-line operations are required.
How To Get Started
If you’re ready to start exploring mobile work management options, here are a few steps to take:
Explore the Market. Look for products and companies with a track record for successful implementations. Proven results, continuous innovation and ongoing development of the product set, and experience of the implementation and support teams are all crucial. Is the software product the latest corporate acquisition, or was it developed and evolved by the team you will be working with? How fully featured are the mobile solutions? What has been the product development and release cycle history? What complementary products and tools are also available from the same company?
Leverage the Experience of Others. Like most things in life, experience accrues great benefits. All mobile deployments produce lessons learned and opportunities for improvement and innovation. Find a solution provider with deep implementation experience and ask questions about how they have incorporated lessons learned into their products and deployment methodologies. What are the demonstrated system integration skills of the implementation team? You already know you are not going to change other critical systems in order to go mobile with your work management activities. Many mobile deployments include seamless integrations to financial, HR, mapping, and document management systems. These are critical investments in your organization’s future; selecting the right partner with the right experience can make all the difference.
Examine Your Own Industry. See which organizations are using mobile to support their physical plant and extended field operations. Learn when they went mobile, and what the results have been. Ask about the ROI from both the financial and cultural perspectives. You may be surprised how widely deployed this technology is in your own industry, or by how much opportunity exists for providing your workforce access to integrated data and automated workflow functionality.
Speak with Your Own Workforce. Often the opportunity for dramatic upgrade is restricted by “management only” thinking. Talk to your own workers about what processes work well, which don’t, or what might help. The conversations can be illuminating. Speaking directly with field-level supervisors, technicians, and administrative staff about their daily work routines and challenges can help generate ideas and build enthusiasm for improved mobile work processes.
The world of mobile work management is filled with opportunities to optimize your existing investments in people and technology. Assess your facilities organization against the current mobile landscape and you will most likely find that the time has never been better to make the move to mobile work management for your team and your organization overall.
Smith is senior director, business process solutions for InterPro Solutions, a firm that offers a suite of mobile Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) solutions designed exclusively for IBM Maximo®. He joined the company after nearly four decades at Harvard University, where he served in the role of Executive Director of Facilities Services for over 20 years. His professional background and experience leading large-scale facilities operations helps InterPro clients develop high value strategies for overcoming the challenges of organizational change.
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