The days when people went to the same office to work, day in and day out, are over. Business has become mobile and, as any business administration degree program can tell you, that makes management difficult. Forget such basics as access to resources and communications.
The real difficulty is getting the most effective use of the human resources that are on the move, whether field service technicians, consultants, or salespeople. Efficiency includes getting employees to destinations as quickly as possible and in such a way as to solve customers’ problems.
It’s a type of problem that can offer a challenge to mathematicians. And, luckily, one of the top strategies for managing mobile workers is the smart use of technology. And geographic information systems (GIS) make a perfect match of technology to need. Here are just some of the ways that GIS can help executives gain control over their mobile workforces:
- Routing — Routing is critical in controlling any field operations. Not only do you want to move people efficiently, but the data you can obtain can give money-saving insight. For example, after extensive analysis, UPS realized that it could use GIS-type technology to save millions of dollars and tens of millions of driving miles annually by minimizing the number of left turns that drivers took.
- Resource Deployment — Efficiency isn’t just driving in an expeditious manner. It’s also getting the right people with the right experience and tools to the right places. To do that becomes increasingly more difficult as the number of customers and personnel expand. Use data about what people need and how you can deliver it and you can reduce the cost of operations, improve levels of service, or perhaps do a little of both.
- Service Improvement — Another result of analyzing geographic data could be to see which personnel were able to best handle particular types of problems. The company could see what approaches or techniques they used and then introduce the practices to other personnel.
- Product Development — It might seem obvious how associating resources and performance with locations can help with operations. But product development? Absolutely. A company could analyze reports of problems and correlate them to location to see if they were associated with batches of products or particular stores. Perhaps there are environmental factors that affect the product.
- Customer Relationship — Just as geographic-based information on a mobile workforce can help with product development, it can also provide insight into customer relationships. For example, the company could undertake customer satisfaction surveys and then analyze the impact that workforce deployment has on the metric.
Combining a geographic view with virtually any information provides insight that management can use to improve the business. When employees are mobile, knowledge of how to use GIS provides an important competitive advantage