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An interesting discovery

We have a client who made an interesting discovery to other day. Actually 'shock' is probably a more accurate term because it was not a discovery like finding gold hidden under your bed. No, this was more like finding finding a savage dog that was hungry.

But let me start at the beginning.

This client had implemented Active Ink forms in their service division and had seen an almost 70% drop in administration overhead as a result. The service coordinator was happy because her workload had dropped substantially, and her boss was very happy because her time could be spent on more productive things. The field techs were happy because the information they were receiving was more accurate, more timely, and the form was easier to complete than the previous paper form. It also meant they did not need to drive to base every morning to collect their jobs for the day.

Everyone was happy!  ... until the operations manager noticed something on the returned job forms he had not seen before.

The job form had fields for the tech to enter the start and end times of the job, and these were being recorded properly (the form actually enforced this business rule and could not be sent back to base without all mandatory fields being completed). However, what the form also did, unknown to the workman, was to record the date and time the form had started to be completed, and the time the button was clicked to send the form back to base.

The operations manager expected that the form start time would be somewhere close to either the start of the actual work, or near the end of the actual work, depending on when the tech actually completed the form. What he found was the forms were often completed all at once in the afternoon
, presumably from memory, after the tech had supposedly finished work. 

Now, often this kind of thing is easily caught because there is a requirement to get a customer signature, or to grab the GPS coordinates of the asset being worked on. In this case however, neither of these common business requirements were needed.

Now, happily for the client, this turned out to have only a small negative connotation. The tech involved, because he was often out of mobile service coverage, decided he would simply do all his form completion work all at once when he had coverage from his home. A short training session on an alternative process allowed him to complete the forms in a more appropriate time and place. It could have been far worse with the workman performing unpaid work, moonlighting on his own jobs, or any number of other unsuitable reasons.

This got the operations manager thinking. He wondered what else was he taking for granted, assuming the data he was receiving was accurate. He wondered how accurate the odometer readings were in relation to the job location. So he asked us to provide another mandatory field that forced the tech to enter an odometer reading for each job location. Lo and behold! the manager discovered that another workman was driving to his favourite watering hole every lunch hour regardless of how many suitable diners he past on the way.The extra fuel cost was just absorbed by the service department's fuel budget because it was hidden.

Even more importantly, this discovery got the operations manager thinking about routing efficiencies. He spent some time with WORKman's mapping module and he was able to make changes to the service runs that reduced costs even further.

Paper forms can never compete with these sorts of efficiencies, so check out Active Ink today.

Posted by Mark Chimes
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