Companies across industries are recognizing the value in leveraging mobile technology so employees can effectively operate outside of a traditional office and maximize their time in the field. While many businesses prioritize building state-of-the-art customer applications, there are also compelling benefits to investing in the mobile solution for employees who work on the front lines of your organization, including:
- Improved efficiency and employee experience
- Increased accessibility to resources in the field
- Enhanced operational chains of custody and real-time data accuracy
While the advantages are clear, designing an application that enhances complex operational processes is easier said than done. How can you ensure this new application improves the field experience instead of complicating it? Discover the mobility strategies that Sendero leverages when designing and implementing field centric mobile applications below.
Mobility Strategies to Design an Application with the Field – for the Field
- Align new technology with your organization’s digital strategy. Your organization should have a digital strategy that outlines how all your applications are designed, created, managed, and controlled. Have you considered where this new field app fits into that framework? Which unique problems will this new app solve? Start by developing a long-term roadmap that outlines the major functionality that will be incorporated in each application. This way, you will have a documented mission and purpose that you can use as a framework for evaluating feedback.
- Hear a wide variety of field perspectives. While leadership may have ideas on how to simplify processes, you should lean on subject matter experts with current field experience when gathering requirements and testing.
- Understand field processes from all angles: Speak with all positions involved in a process flow to account for every role. For example, take a utility company that plans to digitize a material request form. This form is submitted by a field technician and received by a storekeeper who manages inventory. A technician’s priorities are the simplicity and speed of a mobile submission form, but the storekeeper may suggest adding new form fields that would help them process the information more quickly. Do not skip gathering input from all involved to determine the best solution.
- Learn an employees’ history: As you meet with field employees, take time to understand what their experience with technology has been. This may not be the first time your organization has tried to implement new field technology. It’s important to learn the pain points from previous efforts. Additionally, it’s worthwhile to consider the scale of change this new app will bring and react accordingly. If employees have been using manual paper processes for years, they will likely need (and appreciate) more hands-on support while transitioning to a mobile platform. This step is critical to create a change management strategy well-suited for your audience.
- Account for all paths – not just the happy ones. Field work is highly variable. Factors such as weather, time of year, damaged materials, and so forth can alter a straightforward process. For example, say an app allows employees to scan a barcode to retrieve details about an asset they are using. If the barcode is destroyed due to weather damage, are users able to manually type in the asset number? If their work is interrupted, can they save their in-progress submissions? When meeting with employees to gather application requirements, it’s important to ask the right questions to account for all edge cases.
- Tailor the user interface and user experience to field work. Take full advantage of the freedom that custom solutions offer with personalized interface and experience touches for your workforce. Ensure compatibility with field devices such as tablets, scanners, and styluses. If safety is the highest priority for your organization, offer features such as confirmation pop-ups that prompt employees to review their work before submitting. Enabling push notifications that remind employees to update their status in a workflow may be another useful feature to consider.
- Offer a personalized experience. As is the case with any app, users do not want to see functionality that is not relevant to them. Consider segmenting app features by key user profiles and configuring security permissions based on employee roles. This way, a variety of employees can utilize this app while receiving access to personalized features.
You might think the design phase is the hardest part of a custom app implementation; however, this app won’t do your organization much good if no one uses it.