Can an enterprise mobile solution help companies comply with health and safety?

10 February 2011

Chris Smith

Chris Smith

Former Head of Digital Transformation

Or does a mobile solution only help companies improve productivity, efficiency and the bottom line?

Mobile lone workers can face particular problems such as...

  • Can the all potential risks and hazards of the job be adequately controlled by one person?
  • Is the lone worker medically fit and suitable to work alone?
  • What supervision will be provided to the lone worker?
  • How will communication be managed?
  • Are there automatic warning devices, which operate if specific signals are not received periodically?
  • Are devices or procedures in place designed to raise the alarm in the event of an emergency and which are operated manually or automatically by the absence of activity?
  • What happens if a lone worker becomes ill, has an accident or there is an emergency?

It’s important to obtain answers to the above questions as part of the risk assessment process. Once management has a clear view of the level of tracking required to enable a safe working environment for lone workers they can then also consider solutions that will also benefit the business.

A comprehensive enterprise mobility solution with integrated, lone worker tracking can have an impact on more than those in the field; the benefits can be seen across the enterprise, from the customer through field service, finance and customer service.

Enterprise mobility solutions are fully integrated software applications that run on handheld mobile computers. Information is captured in the field by workers; this information is then sent wirelessly to the back office where it is immediately available for the call centre and online to the customer. This enables the organisation to gain real-time visibility of their operations and ensure their mobile workers are fully equipped and enabled in the field.

Empower lone workers

The integrated solution provides information on the location of the job, including the environment and any hazards that may impact the safety of the worker. If an employee believes they are entering a hazardous situation, they can ‘alert’ the call centre, which is then able to confirm the employee’s exact location and continue to track event movements.

Lone worker solutions should also ensure that supervisors can keep track of their remote workers. As new jobs are conducted these can be processed through the supervisor who can choose to re-allocate jobs, if necessary, obtain status reports on any work, monitor driver status and availability of stock. The ability to know the schedule of a lone worker ensures that any unusual movements can be tracked and followed up to guarantee the safety of the worker.

Service quality

In a service environment, there is nowhere more critical than the point of service delivery. The service engineer is the ideal person to solve a problem or attend a customer, yet they are often ill-equipped to do so. Empowering front line lone workers to be responsive and prepared reduces the need to return to the office or base to resolve problems. Equipped with the right information, mobile workers can efficiently attend jobs, minimise travel time, stay on schedule, enhance job satisfaction and present a high level of service quality to the customer. In a recent Aberdeen study, workforce productivity increased on average by 23 per cent with the implementation of an enterprise mobility solution.

Mobile workers’ job satisfaction also benefits from these solutions. They enjoy the convenience and wide access to the information needed to perform their jobs, as well as providing them with a level of comfort and security throughout their day.

Data into knowledge

When supplied with accurate, timely data throughout the day, managers are equipped to make informed and proactive decisions such as resource management, work allocation, stock control and timely customer communications.

The ability to measure and analyse effectiveness enables managers to focus on the key performance metrics. For example, knowing how effective the business is at meeting agreed timescales, servicing in full and invoicing without error, and importantly knowing where delays are arising, enables management time or training budget to be focused where improvements are most needed.

A mobile data solution that delivers job management on the handheld also helps to eliminate errors and reduce the paperwork required to complete a job. When the TV Licensing organisation implemented a mobile solution they saved 1 tonne of paper per week, although this wasn’t initially the key business driver for the solution.

Mobile lone workers can now be as prepared as possible, to resolve problems and meet customer expectations. Imagine a situation where a customer calls, immediately you are aware of the customer location, where your closest engineers are, which engineers have the parts and the skills to attend the job, and what is required to meet your Service Level Agreement (SLA). People like the AA and RAC have been doing this for years.

This information allows an organisation to ensure that the right engineer, with the right skills, with the right parts, arrives at the right time. If there are any issues onsite the engineer has the ability to advise customers when a part will be available, reschedule a time with the customer and if necessary invoice and receive payment, all without having to call or return to the office.

Customers are able to view information online as to the status of their job, knowing when a service engineer will arrive down to the minute. Organisations using mobility have experienced on average an 11 per cent increase in first-time fix rates, and a 29 per cent improvement in SLA compliance.

Switch to mobility

When implementing a mobile solution ensure you have clear objectives. Do you want to achieve health and safety compliance, first time fix rates, SLA compliance, cost reduction, service improvements, or to maximise revenue? But most of all involve your mobile workers. They will have valuable insight into how the solution will work in the field, and by gaining their support not only in the development of the solution, but in the training tools, you will minimise issues when rolling out the solution to the field.

The value of integrated mobility is not in the solution itself, but in the potential, which it unlocks in your business. An enterprise mobility solution with integrated lone worker tracking can provide considerable benefits to the health and safety of your workers and the productivity of your entire operation.

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