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Top Tips from the Pros for Digitizing the Field Workforce

Digital transformation has made great inroads through great swaths of the world economy, including in healthcare, banking, insurance and many other industries. But many major segments have been left behind, notably those that rely on large field workforces.

McKinsey report summarizes tips from enterprises on how to optimize digital field operations. So concludes the McKinsey article, “Digital-experience design for the field workforce,” which offers great tips for companies with field workforces looking to digitally transform their operations. In this blog post, I’ll clue you in on some of the article’s top pieces of advice.

The article starts by noting that “companies with complex physical assets and high-risk operations that depend on a field force to keep things humming day after day,” including “utilities, oil and gas majors, telecommunications companies, and the like” have yet to reap the benefits of digital transformation. It then offers a series of recommendations to help those companies get the most out of digital transformation.

It warns all that “Designers and developers can talk to process owners and lean experts all they like, but unless they spend real time with employees as well, everything they think happens in the field will be an educated guess.” So it recommends “Get them to ride along with a service representative for the day, spend time with a supervisor in the office, and then map out how the two interact. There is no substitute for first-hand knowledge, contextual insights, or relationships built during a day on the front line.”

It also recommends that companies should “avoid digitizing the status quo.” Instead, it says, “Reimagining the entire process of data generation, capture, and validation from a user’s point of view is the only way to unlock real value and real improvement.”

It’s also important that businesses “use mobile solutions for the right work,” the article says. Many processes and workflows don’t need to be made mobile. So companies need to think hard about which ones are most suited for mobility.

Particularly important, the article concludes, is to “Treat the field force as the end user.” So companies should “Involve field workers, inspectors, engineers, and plant supervisors in every stage of product development. Invite them in for design reviews. Put rough-and-ready prototypes into their hands to get insight into possible refinements. Replace big-bang product rollouts and elaborate change-management campaigns with iterative releases that allow plenty of time for solutions improvement. Build impact metrics that consider end-user satisfaction as a critical measure of success.”

How to Best Digitize Field Service Operations

Alpha TransForm is ideal software for digitizing the field service workforce. Alpha TransForm helps non-professional developers craft online or offline mobile apps in minutes that utilize the latest mobile features (camera, GPS, etc.) for fast, accurate data capture (think inspection forms, healthcare forms, etc.). Learn more about Alpha TransForm and try it free for 30 days. As part of the trial, you'll also have access to a number of complimentary pre-built field service apps to make your own.

Further Reading:

Giving Field Workers Offline Mobile Access to Large Manuals or Repair Videos - How Alpha anywhere Makes It Possible
4 Mobile App Development Gotchas You Should Avoid

About Author

Amy Groden-Morrison
Amy Groden-Morrison

Amy Groden-Morrison has served more than 15 years in marketing communications leadership roles at companies such as TIBCO Software, RSA Security and Ziff-Davis. Most recently she was responsible for developing marketing programs that helped achieve 30%+ annual growth rate for analytics products at a $1Bil, NASDAQ-listed business integration Software Company. Her past accomplishments include establishing the first co-branded technology program with CNN, launching an events company on the NYSE, rebranding a NASDAQ-listed company amid a crisis, and positioning and marketing a Boston-area startup for successful acquisition. Amy currently serves as a Healthbox Accelerator Program Mentor, Marketing Committee Lead for the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge Launch Smart Clinics, and on the organizing team for Boston TechJam. She holds an MBA from Northeastern University.

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