Operations crews thrive when they have access to accurate, up-to-date information regardless of where they are. Yet many organizations rely on paper forms and legacy work management systems that create service backlogs and reporting headaches. Other organizations have tried to implement a mobile solution, only for their field crews to resist the change. 

It doesn’t have to be that way. These five tips can help you implement a successful mobile solution your field crews will love.

1. Choose the Hardware

When it comes to mobile devices, one size does not fit all. Your IT team may already have a specific set of mobile devices they support. If so, great! If not, find out what works best for your end users. Would they prefer smartphones that they can keep on their tool belts, like the Trimble TDC 600, or would the larger screen of a tablet provide a better user experience? 

2. Choose the Software

Cityworks offers two mobile solutions: the Respond web-based application and the mobile native app for iOS and Android devices. Respond combines the robust work management functionality of Cityworks Office with an interface designed for tablets and other mobile devices. The mobile native app, on the other hand, offers simplified workflows for users in the field. While Respond requires a constant network connection, the mobile app stores data locally on the device so field crews can work even when disconnected from the network

3. Test and Refine the Workflows

It’s important to spend time with your end users to really understand their processes. Before the Town of Apex, NC, implemented a new asset management system, the project team shadowed field crews while they worked in the field. This helped the project team understand how the tool might be used in real life and also allowed the field crews to participate in the planning process. 

Once your mobile solution is in place, don’t be afraid to make tweaks. Putting the system to work will often reveal more opportunities for improvement.

4. Explain “Why”

Your data is only as good as what the end user provides, so it’s important to help your employees understand why each step in the mobile solution supports your data collection process. For example, when Sandy City, UT, expanded Cityworks across their entire organization, field staff were initially hesitant about tracking their time in the mobile app. 

“We explained to them that this data isn’t being gathered to get employees in trouble,” said Jake Woodhave, Sandy City’s software project manager. “It helps us quantify the work each department is doing so we can justify our budgets and ask for more resources.”

5. Demonstrate “How”

Technology adoption goes smoothly when you don’t take familiarity for granted. When the City of Augusta, GA, implemented a mobile solution for their traffic engineering department, GIS analyst Evelyn Chanti went on a ride-along to show the crews how to use the tablets while they completed work orders in the field. Long after their adoption of a mobile field solution, the City of Garland, TX, continues to offer ongoing training opportunities for their teams to help shorten the learning curve for new employees and provide the latest tips for long-time users. 

The best mobile field solution is the one that works for your organization. If you’re interested in learning more about how GIS-centric tools can help support your enterprise asset management, schedule a demo. We’d be happy to give you some tips and help you learn more about Cityworks and ArcGIS.

By Brent Wilson, Cityworks executive vice president of sales


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