To field service management organisations, the productivity of field service engineers is vital. But are field service organisations themselves putting up barriers to improving that productivity, by forcing field service engineers to work with difficult-to-use mobile computer equipment?
Precisely that kind of suspicion lay behind the move to ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) computing—a more relaxed attitude to IT provisioning, which permitted employees such as field service engineers to use their own personal laptops and mobile devices if they wished.
It’s a policy that has certainly found favour, with both employees and employers. Because, no longer forced to wrestle with a Windows computer if they’re used to Apple or Android, employees can use the operating system of their choice, with the employer simply providing remote login connectivity to back office capabilities such as ERP systems.
And at a stroke, employees are more productive. What’s not to like?
BYOD isn’t for every field service business.
But while BYOD might work for office workers, or in the context of relatively low-cost devices such mobile phones and computer tablets, the reality is that it isn’t always a practical proposition for field service engineers.
The devices in question might need to be medium-specification laptops, for instance—which are rather more expensive than a computer tablet or mobile phone. Not every field service engineer will feel comfortable carrying their own—moderately expensive—personal property around from job to job.
And then, of course, there are important security and communications considerations to take into account. Because, from an IT director’s point of view, there are obvious concerns about the nature of a BYOD end-user landscape.
Will anti-virus and anti-malware software be kept up to date—or even be installed? Will the end-user’s choice of e-mail program and office productivity suite work seamlessly with the corporate e-mail and office productivity platforms of choice?
And, frankly, is the end-user’s computer equipment even up to the job? For while BYOD holds out the promise of enhanced productivity, with end-users working with their operating system interface of choice, that productivity will in turn plummet if the system keeps crashing, or simply breaks down.
Choose Your Own Device (CYOD) – the informed choice.
Hence, in applications such as field service management, there’s a growing enthusiasm for what’s being called ‘Choose Your Own Device’ (CYOD), instead.
At a stroke, this cleverly combines the best of both worlds—user productivity, and reliability and security. So here’s how it might work for you, in a field service management context.
The starting point is to select a range of mobile computing devices that meet your functional requirements. The goal here is to cater for a wide range of preferences, so don’t simply restrict the choice to Windows laptops from one manufacturer.
Poll your field service engineers as to the operating systems, device formats and platforms that they prefer, and take those preferences into account. Once you’ve a shortlist, then get end users—your field service engineers—to test them, if possible.
Next, decide on the security and productivity applications that you want to place on those machines, and the security policies that are to be enforced on them. Because that’s the beauty of it—unlike BYOD, where the employees own the device, and controls the applications and security policies, with CYOD, you’re in the driving seat.
Finally, let your field service engineers choose their device of choice.
CYOD: the best of both worlds.
It’s not difficult to see why, in an environment such as field service management, there are distinct grounds for believing that a policy of CYOD is going to work better than a basic BYOD policy.
On the one hand, barriers to technology adoption and usage are either completely eliminated or significantly eased: field service engineers are using devices that they themselves have selected, and are comfortable with using.
And on the other hand, the field service organisation has the assurance that the computing platforms that its field service engineers are using will meet or exceed minimum specifications, and have appropriate security software installed, and security polices enforced.
The result: more productive field service engineers—and a more productive, yet secure, field service organisation.
Once again, what’s not to like?