Mobile Workforce Management Software – the well-hidden secret behind many SMB successes.

work from home devices

Workforce management software is an app that matches employees with tasks – a process that managers can supervise in-person or in an automated way. Essentially it is a centralized tool that replaces Excel sheets, endless emails, and meetings with communications in a central task management app.

Well-implemented workforce management software increases productivity and efficiency, while also keeping a human-centric focus to meet the preferences of employees. Not all people are alike, so having a flexible system allows you to get constant results out of personal workstyles.

In a quickly transforming world, bringing extra workers on board can make the major difference between a struggling company and a successful business. Having a suitable software in place will let you easily accommodate multiple kinds of employees in the same platform – those who are committed to you 9-5 on a daily basis, and those who just pop in for a short period of time.

Support your full-time staff and communicate with the backup team without separate processes—you can even opt to create a hybrid team that brings freelancers closer to the employees and core team.

Management software for mobile employees

There is an endless amount of management apps for office employees, but not all are a great pick when your team is on the go. Mobile workforce management software is a category of its own, and the difference is that it’s built for people that move around and can only access their mobile devices.

The office apps are meant to be used on a large screen in an office environment – and the mobile apps are meant to be used everywhere else – in transit, on a worksite, while visiting a client.

Most commonly, mobile workforce management software is built to help field service managers. Instead of calling up their subcontractors one by one (with a chance of missing them altogether), they send tasks and jobs to a pool of their contacts, quickly receive their arrival time estimates, and then route them to the final client.

employees in a field

Everyone is a mobile worker after 2020

Even while COVID-19 has reduced or cancelled all travel, the work-anywhere mindset of digital nomads still remains. The transition to working from home has become to mean working from any remote location, essentially transforming all office workers into mobile workers.

When the core team cannot rely on the water-cooler talk to get business done anymore, we’re more able to accommodate the flexible outside talent, gig workers, and temporary collaborators on the go. All team meetings are now on Zoom anyway!

Go remote and save money

The best thing about having a mobile workforce management system running are the savings (and who doesn’t like that?). Running a traditional business, especially during a pandemic, gets expensive fast. Rent, services, and wages add up pretty quickly and can hinder growth.

With a well-oiled workforce management solution in place you could even replace the brick and mortar office with a digital hub, one that grows according to the current team size. Instead of physical check-ins at the office your employees will communicate with you digitally.

A survey by Altus Digital Services concludes: “Remote working can deliver an annualised £5,000 cost saving per employee.” Bree Caggiati’s research claims that the annual savings on the employee’s personal budgets could also be in the thousands when summing up costs on daily commute, childcare and clothing.

A good mobile workforce management app can make you faster than your competitors

In many industries, you can quickly earn a competitive edge over other companies who still work the old-fashioned way. With a digital app you can quickly dispatch a worker and send out task details, while your competitor takes their time to check tickets, send emails and fill in Excel forms to reach the same result.

“Email isn’t going to cut it when you are out on the field and have to solve a problem in the moment. Email works for people who sit in front of computers or can check it frequently to stay in-the-know, but field techs are too busy to constantly check for updates. In fact, most never check it at all!” writes Sarah Nicastro from Field Technologies

Keeping it safe and secure

Security and team privacy is something that should never be overlooked. While the transition to remote work has been relaxed in large corporate cybersecurity to accommodate connecting from private residences, it may be a new challenge for small businesses who used to rely on a grid notebook on the office table.

The well-known business firm Forrester elaborates: “In the current environment, many employees have been forced to use their personal devices to work from home. To protect company assets that are being accessed on personal devices, invest in app-based solutions such as app virtualization, app containers, and app security that enable security professionals to deemphasize device-centric endpoint protection,” explains the consultant group in a recent report.

In other words, if your employees work outside the office environment using mobile devices, your best bet to keep things secure is to implement a secure workforce management solution. This way you can make sure only employees will be able to safely check client addresses, access inventory, sign delivery slips and so forward.

woman working at home

Remote work forces us to build good management practices

Well-implemented workforce management software also promotes good management and a better use of time. Especially remote and mobile work require the work to be designed around tasks – a more formal process that demands more work upfront. This could be an unfamiliar and possibly uncomfortable approach for many managers – but also something that supportive software will help them overcome.

With good task-oriented processes the independent workers can do their own planning and optimise the tasks based on their routes and availability. And the internal team can (and should!) also start measuring their progress based on results and not hours spent at the office.

Many third-party solutions are available for self-implementation, and many software providers also offer custom branding and functionality. This is especially useful when you run a larger business and it’s important to have your own logo on the management app.

Zelos provides both options, supporting small businesses with a freemium self-service software available online, and a white label version for medium businesses who need more features and customization.

couple remote working

Gen Z workforce craves for modern solutions

Your employee demographic is a major influence on choosing working methods and communication channels. The younger generations are more likely to prefer flexible and remote work – and when the right environment is provided, will reward you with results.

Modern workforce management apps are shaped to suit the needs of the current generation of workers, according to business blogger Sandra Moncada: “It should really come as no surprise that individuals who do well in remote settings are far more independent than their office-bound counterparts. This is a gift, truly, because they take action instead of waiting for instructions,” she writes.

We can also learn innovative management processes from the leading digital industries. Common in IT projects, self-managed teams have extended to other industries. These processes known as agile methodology can produce great results also outside digital design and software development.

Consulting firm McKinsey and company reports that many companies are welcoming this work approach to compensate for organizational inefficiencies: “While the use of agile methods in capital projects is still uncommon, some early adopters have been able to reduce capital expenditures by a minimum of 10 percent and increase productivity and reduce completion times by 10 percent each,” they state.

Implementing mobile workforce management software

The hardest part, as always, is getting started.

Onboarding a mobile team to a new app can be more work than it would be with an uniform office team, states business consultant Jasmiina Galenius: “Employees working in operational functions usually have very different needs than those in the administrative tasks. The number of part-timers, lease workforce, amount of staff that need scheduling, industry-specific legal and local requirements are examples of the points to think through,” she advises.

Integrating your internal team with your people on-the-go is also possible with the right tools. Beyond productivity, what you will improve is your communication, states Franklin Morris from IBM: “On the technician-side, your work management software needs to be able to push work orders to technicians on their mobile devices in the field. Field service technicians, in turn, must be able to provide real-time status updates back to dispatchers and back-office employees,” he says.

Transitioning your mobile workforce to digital – where to start?

There are many solutions available, but the key is implementation— the perfect solution is what works for your team. The important questions you need to ask before making the choice are:

  • Will this solution make our life easier, not more complex?
  • Will the team be able to use it on their devices?
  • How complicated is it to learn? Do we have the skills and resources to provide enough support and education to team members?

There is a good choice out there for anyone: for teams upgrading from a grid notebook, for employees who hate doing data entry in spreadsheets (so much that anything is an upgrade!), or for administrators who are tired of using intimidating database tools (because everyone loves simplicity over function).

You just need to find the one that’s working out for your business. Here’s our favorite list of apps that are good for workforce management, see if you can spot your favorite: https://getzelos.com/on-demand-staffing-apps/