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What You Need to Know About Dispatch & Field Services Optimization

In today’s on-demand economy, more organizations are adding field services to their product lineup. The widespread availability of communications networks and connected devices like smartphones and tablets are enabling and encouraging that. Whether your organization is new to the field services or even if you're an industry veteran, it pays for your company to optimize its dispatch and field service operations. Companies that lag to keep up with these digital innovations will suffer from cost overruns and shrinking margins. And they run the risk of losing rather than building loyalty and wallet share with customers. Mobile apps help organizations that do field work like inspections, installations, maintenance, and repair to better allocate their resources. The AppSheet platform empowers organizations to create their own apps without expertise in coding. On top of that, the apps that are created work across tablets, phones and desktops. Mobile apps provide dispatch and field reporting teams with: Smart technician dispatching and scheduling. Real-time service status tracking. Higher productivity and profitability. Smart Technician Dispatching & Scheduling Mobile apps allow for better resource management by keeping everybody on the same page, regardless of their location or situation. Dispatchers can use apps to create a list of jobs for the day, week, or month. And field workers can find their job assignments and related details of those tasks within the app. Companies can also allow their field personnel to access information like equipment manuals and site-specific requirements and restrictions from their mobile devices. And apps built on the AppSheet platform makes all that information available whether or not a connection is available at that point in time. Field workers face a variety of situations that call for agile and flexible solutions. The standard day for a field service works revolves around unpredictability. Heavy traffic or a flat tire may prevent a field worker from getting to a job. A customer may cancel a call or require emergency service. Specialty equipment may be needed for a job. Mobile apps can help dispatch and field operations more easily adapt to such situations by allowing dispatchers to quickly and easily update assignments and send alerts to workers that require new information. Mobile apps allow for more accountability, less miscommunication, and more efficient use of time and resources. so jobs can get done not only quicker and more safely, but also more securely. Real-Time Service Status Tracking Of course, the ultimate purpose of field service is to address customer needs. That could involve anything from fixing a leaky roof to inspecting a property to installing a new internet connection. When customers are waiting for such things, they like to know what’s going on. Mobile apps can provide field workers with a quick and easy way to log the status of their work. Dispatch and business managers then get real-time visibility into what’s happening in the field. That means account managers and customer service personnel can then more easily access service status and share that information when customers when appropriate. Using mobile apps keeps everyone connected across departments making work more seamless for everyone involved. Status tracking also provides a reliable, time-stamped record of who did what and when. That way businesses and their customers can revisit individual jobs if problems arise down the line. All of this contributes to better customer service. And good customer service and efficient operations adds up to more business and greater profitability. Higher Productivity So much time in a workday can be spent relaying information over phone calls and emails that can be easily displayed over an app. Not only are apps preferable to emails and phone calls, they provide a more secure, more powerful, and more flexible option than paper-based record keeping.  It's surprising how many business are still using paper spreadsheets and forms. Not only do workers have to spend extra time deciphering documents due to non-standardized recording methods, but ironically enough, it's easy for these paper trails to get lost. Mobile apps allow for the standardization and storage of forms and spreadsheets that allows your workers to worry less about understanding what is being asked for or recorded, and more time servicing and reporting out in the field. Mobile apps just generally streamline an organization’s workflow. And that lowers costs and makes businesses run more efficiently and profitably. This post was updated on November 20th, 2019.

Digitized Asset Tracking, Dispatch, and More: How Apps Are Changing the Utilities Industry

Digital transformation is now a top priority in the utilities industry, where companies are working to reinvent themselves as digital enterprises.  It’s not hard to see why utility companies are so interested in digital transformation. For example, according to a recent report by McKinsey, new technologies can reduce utility operating expenses by up to 25 percent while leading to performance gains of between 20 to 40 percent. Despite this potential, utilities have been struggling to achieve these returns. Companies are finding it difficult to move beyond pilot projects and spread new technologies across the enterprise. As a result, there remains significant potential for digitization at many utilities companies.  Many utility companies are, however, finding that there’s one technology that’s truly supporting their digital transformation efforts: apps. The emergence of no-code development in recent years has made it possible for companies to rapidly create and deploy apps that are cost-effective, reliable, and capable of streamlining a variety of tasks. Using apps, utility companies can fast-track digitization and produce tools that can generate immediate impact, with measurable returns. Let’s take a look at five areas of the utilities industry that can be significantly improved through on-the-job applications. 1. Asset tracking In the world of utilities, managing assets like bucket trucks, transformers, and other equipment is critical for success. For example, a downed pole or a blown transformer can lead to service outages, hazards, and upset customers. However, many companies still lack visibility into their assets, making it hard to track and maintain large numbers of endpoints.  This is one area where apps can be particularly helpful. In fact, apps are now being used to streamline asset tracking across utilities organizations. Companies are designing mobile solutions that provide field managers with interactive maps that detail the exact real-time locations of their assets and status updates.  With the right app in place, managers can quickly look at a geographical area, locate points that require maintenance, and assign team members to perform service checks, for example. Once a truck reaches a destination and performs service, they can use the app to communicate important status updates, repairs, photos, and other action items.  Apps help with asset tracking by: Providing visibility into field assets Making it easy to assign work orders Performing routine service checks Check our AppSheet's field survey app, which you can copy and customize to track your assets in the field: 2. Inventory management  Inventory management is a constant struggle for utility companies where mismanaged inventory can eat into margins and lead to project delays.  The digital approach to inventory management involves automating the process altogether via mobile apps. By using apps, employees can request parts, accessories, and other supplies in a way that is highly organized. It’s a much better approach than requesting items with paper and spreadsheets, or by word of mouth. Here’s how apps help with inventory management: Managing stock Predicting demand  Placing orders Check out our blog post, “How to Manage Stock: Three Free Inventory Management Excel Templates”. Then copy and customize the AppSheet inventory management app: 3. Dispatch  The utilities industry is becoming increasingly software-defined, as endpoints are  updated with IoT-enabled sensors that can transmit data in real-time. As a result, companies don’t have to dispatch as many trucks as they had in the past. Meters can be checked and recorded automatically, saving money and reducing the number of vehicles on the road.  Apps are increasingly used to interface with smart meters and other field equipment, alerting team members when service is required. Apps support dispatch workflows by:  Reducing vehicle wear and tear Saving fuel  Improving sustainability  Copy and customize our driver dispatch app: 4. Customer experience (CX) CX remains a major issue for companies in all industries, and utilities are no different. In fact, CX is quickly becoming a key competitive differentiator among brands. While other industries have made major strides in improving the customer experience, utility companies still have a long way to go in building customer trust and loyalty.  More and more utility companies are finding that they can use apps to improve CX. Apps are being used to share billing and service updates, provide a mechanism for feedback, and share alerts during storms and outages.  Equally as important, companies are using apps to streamline workflows — boosting productivity and reducing complaints along the way.  Here are some ways that apps are helping with CX: Sharing information with customers Expediting maintenance Streamlining support 5. Ongoing maintenance  Utility companies have to manage multiple concurrent projects, with complex systems, tight regulatory requirements, strict timelines, and demanding customers. Daily maintenance requires an amazing attention to detail and constant communication. A communication breakdown can lead to missed deadlines, hazards, and a host of other issues. Apps can be used to help busy and understaffed field managers triage maintenance and move projects along to completion at a brisker pace. For example, a manager can use an app to see a list of action items in a building — like fire alarm inspections — and assign a worker to oversee these tasks.  Apps can improve maintenance by:  Preventing missed service appointments Providing project status updates Assigning manage daily workflows  For some specific examples of how apps are transforming the utilities industry, check out the following stories: How Kentucky Power Sparked a Digital Transformation with Workflow, Inspection and Incident Management Apps Smart Lighting Contractor Builds Custom Apps for Project Management Want to build a maintenance app on your own? Copy and customize ours to get started: Build your own utilities app suite Clearly, apps are helping everyone involved in the utilities industry to change with the times. Mobile solutions are essential in utilities offices and in the field, and their importance will only increase. There are many options for how to meet utilities industry needs through technology — from buying out-of-the-box software to hiring developers to build custom apps. AppSheet provides an alternative to these options. Instead of building or purchasing individual apps, you can create your own unique apps with our platform. If you haven’t already started using mobile application technology on your utilities jobs, don’t worry. AppSheet lets you build a whole suite of applications all under one roof.

Free Apps and Excel Templates for Truck Drivers and Dispatch Managers

Truck and delivery drivers give 'on-the-go' a whole new meaning. In any 7-day period in the U.S., some drivers are on the road for up to 77 hours. Some drivers contract out work, some work for a company, and some own their own businesses. What's the one thing they all have in common, aside from their profession? They all work hard and deserve access to the tools available to help them succeed. According to McKinsey & Company, technology helps workers manage customer demand through remote dispatch monitoring, flexible workforce management, and improved performance management.  We agree and that's why we created several free spreadsheet templates and mobile apps for all those drivers on-the-go! Short on time? Jump to the template you're most interested in: Mileage and Cost Tracker Delivery Tracking Driver Dispatch and Scheduling Mileage and Cost Tracker This mileage tracker spreadsheet keeps track of destinations (End), estimated mileage (Distance (Est, Mile)), actual mileage (Distance (Actual, Mile)), and the cost (Total Cost) of the trip. The Photo column adds a personal element to the sheet. The estimated actual mileage column is green for zero (or less) extra miles, yellow for 0-10, and red for more than 10 miles. The Distance (Est, Mile) links to Google Maps so you can see exactly what the recommended route is too! Bonus: What better way to take advantage of these tools than to turn this mileage tracker into a mobile app? With an app you get a number of "bonus" benefits:  Speed. You can enter the data wherever you are—even offline—making for faster data entry. Fewer errors. No need for paper trails of information before you have time to update your spreadsheet resulting in less data entry errors—especially important when dealing with numbers that can determine cost and payment. Convenience. You don't need to carry your laptop with you—all you need is a mobile phone or tablet. Automation. The app automatically captures the date and time for you—so less time spent entering data! Delivery Tracking Delivery management is fast-paced and time-sensitive. Managing the process is much easier when the information is stored in such a way that the whole team can access it online. Happy customers, happy employees, and a less hectic delivery day. Everybody wins! With this spreadsheet, you can track: Delivery destination and time. Contact person name and phone number. A color-coated delivery status customizable to your preference. Comments on the delivery. Bonus: I love this spreadsheet but one vital component of the delivery experience is missing: signatures. The mobile app we created from this spreadsheet includes all the key components of the spreadsheet with the added signature feature. It's ideal for delivery workers and dispatch managers to update and track progress in real time and the signature denotes that the package was received—a great way to ensure that the delivery was successful. The mobile app version also includes a map, giving delivery managers the opportunity to visualize routes without needing to open another app to figure out exact destinations. Driver Dispatch and Scheduling This spreadsheet is personalized for dispatch managers to view employee hours and manage scheduling. It has sections for each employee and includes their schedule, deliveries, and hours. It also contains a personalizable pivot table for a dynamic and organized view of your data! This template tracks: Hours by day. Weekly hours. Hours per item delivered. Driver shifts. Bonus: Work smarter, not harder. Why not use the technology at your fingertips and turn this spreadsheet into a mobile app? Here are the added features that makes driver dispatch and scheduling so much easier: Calendar view. This calendar includes daily, weekly, and monthly viewing options—making it easier to visualize schedules. Location mapping. The app maps the destinations—making is easier to plan routes. Tracking. Each job number has its own data, delivery status, and customer—making it easier to track the progress of deliveries. By now, I'm pretty sure you've noticed a theme here: the app makes the whole process much easier so why not copy it and start using it today? Personal Note My favorite part about these spreadsheets is how easy it is to turn them into mobile apps. As someone with minimal technical experience, I never thought I could do this. But with AppSheet, I am an app maker! If you have any other favorite dispatch templates or apps, leave the links in the comments below—I am always looking for new spreadsheets or templates to appify! Related Stories: Annual Load Book: An App for Truck Owner-Operators or Fleet Owners How 1-800-GOT-JUNK? Streamlines Junk Removal With a Fleet Management App How to Manage Stock in Excel: Three Free Stock Templates