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By now your users are fluently collecting business-critical data on their mobile devices. However, the routing and scheduling of every job detail to the mobile devices remains somewhat manual and cumbersome. Managers spend too much of their day figuring out optimized scheduling, and end users are required to fill in information that’s redundant since it’s readily accessible in other systems (CRM, ERP, QuickBooks, etc.).

Questions start to arise:

  • Why do I have to fill in the customer information and job number every time?
  • Can I use the device’s native GPS to navigate to the customer’s site?
  • Can we make this process more efficient by providing all of the job detail on my device?
  • Do we have one central location where I can see all the queued jobs so I can easily assign jobs to users?
  • How can we automate the handling of vacation and time off, and integrate this into a single application where I assign jobs?
  • How can I handle resources and assets with regard to the assignment and scheduling of jobs?

The answer is a Scheduling and Dispatch Application, or SDA. SDAs can be a stand-alone application running on a desktop or website, or they can be built into another system the users are already accustomed to, like a CRM platform. In order to be useful, an SDA needs these critical features:

  1. Ability to pull in current customer, employee, and contractor information
  2. One application to handle job create / edit / delete, form routing, and any needed data analysis (utilization, overtime, resource certifications, form reassignment, etc.)
  3. Scheduling flexibility and optimization allotting for employee vacation / time off and resource / asset management
  4. Bi-directional integration with your mobile eForm solution and other core systems (CRM, ERP, QuickBooks, etc.)

Customer, Employee, and Contractor Information
Forcing dispatchers to duplicate data entry or replicate data stored in other systems is expensive and unnecessary. Most small and some midsize companies use QuickBooks as their system of record, while many midsize and most large customers have a data warehouse, CRM, or ERP solution storing data. Using these as the system of record will allow the data to flow correctly and save time and money.

Central Application
Providing dispatchers with a “hub” where they can do all of the tasks required of their jobs will have a significant, positive impact on making your business processes more efficient. Jobs can come in from disparate systems, directly from a website, or can be manually created in the application — but providing a central application for dispatchers to create, edit, delete, and route jobs makes their work easier. Layer on an in-app robust reporting solution to create a one-stop-shop for all scheduling and dispatch requirements.

Scheduling has custom needs based on your vertical and business processes. Customer service industries with high-frequency routing per day to each device may want to consider a solution that includes route guidance optimization available to the dispatcher, so they can plan a daily route for each driver.

Other industries with employees across the country may want to know which certified user is closest to a customer whose job demands certain certifications or skill sets. No matter what scheduling features are included, having employee time off built in is a critical requirement. The last thing you want is to schedule an employee to work at a site when they’re not available at that time.

Systems Integration
A dispatch application could be standalone without an eForm component, but that entails unnecessary duplicate data entry by either the end user or an admin. The end user would need to manually fill out paperwork onsite, and then scan or fax the form back in for an admin to enter the details. Conversely, an eForm solution without integration requires the end user to fill out a blank eForm.

When selecting an eForm software vendor, be sure they have an SDA or add-in. This will allow seamless, bi-directional systems integrations between the eForm software, SDA, and core systems. It will also eliminate duplicate data entry, reduce data errors, and improve data quality across all systems.

An eForm is only one part of a full end-to-end solution for your mobile strategy. The project roadmap should include a plan for pulling information from your core systems and prefilling eForms to the end users. When this type of end-to-end solution is realized, the return on investment begins to reach critical mass, and user adoption will accelerate.

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