Businesses operating with mobile workers are increasingly turning to mobile workforce management solutions as a way to better manage their employees in the field, increase their productivity and reduce operational costs.
Effectively managing delivery routes and schedules involves two distinct stages; the first stage is to create a plan to efficiently deploy vehicles and mobile workers in order to complete deliveries according to your customers’ requirements. The second stage is to fine-tune that plan to reflect business and customer needs, providing you with the ability to react to short-notice requests, urgent orders and unforeseen ‘real world’ circumstances.
With an effective mobile workforce and delivery management solution, managing routes and schedules in such a fluid environment becomes a powerful way to serve customers whilst also closely controlling the bottom line.
With numerous mobile workforce and route planning solutions on the market, ranging from basic ‘sign-on-glass’ proof of delivery systems to powerful mobile data solutions offering a complete end-to-end business management solution, it’s important that companies thoroughly review and evaluate all of the features available to them.
Here we provide an overview of some of the features to evaluate when the time comes for your delivery business to implement a mobile workforce management solution.
Intuitive and ergonomic user interface
The key to any new technology implementation is ease of use; this plays a vital role in its success, directly affecting how quickly the solution is adopted by staff members and therefore how quickly it starts to add value to your business. Any investment that a company makes in a new mobile workforce management solution can only deliver its intended benefits and ROI if it’s used, and embraced, across the whole organisation.
Dynamic route optimisation
The more dynamic the optimisation functionality, the more powerful this tool can be for your business operation. The optimisation logic needs to be able to consider the parameters that drive your business. Your chosen solution should produce routing results that reduce fuel, labour and vehicle costs, track and monitor on-road performance of mobile workers and vehicles, compare progress to schedule, and allow for changes and adjustments to be managed in real-time.
Universal access to business data
Both field and office workers should have instant, real-time access to the data they require to efficiently manage their workflows, including route, customer, job, order and credit information. Most solutions will also offer the option to create multiple user and/or group profiles specifying exactly who can and cannot access the different types of data.
Open and robust architecture
Any system being evaluated should include the ability to easily import and export data into other third-party systems such as accounting, ERP, WMS and TMS systems, as well as order processing software and any other business-critical applications. Many solutions can integrate with any application that supports import/export of data files, including home-grown and legacy systems.
It’s critical that reports can dig deep into a company’s data and deliver a powerful level of analysis to help managers and business owners analyse results, provide proof of service and successfully manage their businesses. Full visibility of commercial data and business performance reports can improve competitiveness, customer service and retention, whilst increasing profitability.
Flexibility and scalability
A mobile workforce solution should be able to adapt dynamically to all your business constraints through its inherent flexibility. The software should be adaptable dependant on your feature requirements, with the ability to increase functionality and incorporate additional modules and features as your business grows and diversifies.
Structured implementation programme
Effective deployment of mobile workforce solutions involves a structured implementation programme with dedicated project managers (both supplier and client side) with clearly defined milestones, goals, workflows, tasks and reports. A comprehensive training plan should also be included within the project scope, to ensure all users are able to effectively use the software from the day of go-live.
Continued customer support and training
Instant access to technical support after deployment is an essential requirement for busy delivery businesses. If something goes wrong, it is imperative to be able to resolve the problem before it impacts your business. Additional training courses should also be made available to you to ensure your teams’ knowledge is always up-to-date and to provide new staff with the training they require to successfully fulfil their roles.
If you are considering a mobile workforce management solution for your distribution business, before making a purchase, it’s important to first decide what is most important to you and your business. You may then decide to enhance your solution with additional modules and features as your business grows and your requirements change. With careful selection, your mobile workforce solution is sure to become an indispensable part of your business operation for many years to come.