In today’s economy, it is crucial that businesses of all shapes and sizes do everything they can to keep employees productive and happy, as well as maintain a steady revenue stream. It’s no secret that the struggling stock market and rising oil prices are driving the economy into a whirlwind. Because of this, it is even more important that companies with mobile assets find ways to combat increasing fuel costs and other economic pressures.
MRM (Mobile Resource Management) is one technology enterprises can turn to in order to more effectively manage mobile assets and reduce overhead expenses. Corporations can take advantage of the technology’s features that can increase revenue, reduce churn and keep employees content.
What is MRM?
MRM is defined as products or services used to manage mobile field workers and assets, such as vehicles, delivery trucks or trailers. The productivity, customer service and cost benefits of MRM solutions are becoming increasingly clear, and forward-looking businesses are turning to MRM solutions to establish a competitive gain in their respective industries.
While the use of MRM services can often cause great debates about ethics, effectiveness and security, businesses need to truly grasp the rewards a service can provide before deciding whether or not to deploy it.
Where MRM is headed
The latest technology on the market connects navigation and tracking capabilities on mobile phones or smartphones in order to deliver a fully integrated MRM solution for organizations. This development eliminates the need for expensive and bulky stand-alone GPS devices or vehicle-mounted solutions. Since the technology is deployed on existing equipment, time to market is instantaneous and overhead costs remain minimal.
New developments in the field, such as GPS, have occurred over the last decade, adding an additional layer to MRM systems. Current products on the market help companies in fields such as construction and transportation boost employee productivity, control costs and manage risks. Many MRM solutions now provide comprehensive integration capabilities to help extend back-office systems to the mobile work force (such as CRM, financial software and Web services).
Two MRM Case Studies
Who is using MRM?
To help illustrate the possible benefits for a wide range of businesses, the following are two examples from mobile enterprises that are thriving, in large part due to their use of MRM solutions:
Case study No. 1: C. R. England Trucking Company
C. R. England Trucking Company is a trucking company that delivers goods for DHL and other large retailers throughout the United States and Mexico. Recently, the company evaluated the way it tracked its delivery fleet and managed loads. It discovered many inaccuracies and unacceptable delays in how delivery information was collected and transmitted to management. C. R. England also determined it needed a way to prove drivers’ compliance with federal driving regulations. After a review of MRM providers, the company chose to implement MRM technology on 80 of its smartphones.
Service is a key element of success in the transportation industry, and C. R. England saw immediate improvements. The MRM solution they chose allows management to monitor drivers’ locations and travel activity to provide accurate delivery information to customers. As a result, the quality of the company’s customer service has greatly improved.
Case study No. 2: Nobile Construction
Nobile Construction, a residential remodeling company, implemented an MRM service because it recognized the need for a solution that would allow the business to run more efficiently-especially when it came to collecting employee time cards. With its carpenters traveling between job sites, management gathered time sheets on a weekly basis. In order to submit their hours, mobile employees needed to regularly visit headquarters, creating unnecessary expenses in terms of drivers’ commute times, adding vehicle wear and tear, and increasing fuel costs.
Since implementing the service on its smartphones, Nobile Construction has improved employee time card accuracy, developed more efficient billing processes and saved on fuel. Nobile Construction was able to implement a more reliable and accurate time card system. In addition to eliminating employees’ unnecessary trips into the office each week to turn in time cards, the fully wireless (and paperless) system enables workers on the road to submit their times on a daily basis. This, in turn, improves the overall billing accuracy for each job. Additionally, the office is able to do job costing for each client on a daily basis, improving the company’s cash flow level.
How to choose the right MRM solution
Any organization, large or small, that has employees in the field should consider which features and benefits of a GPS-enabled tracking system are essential for their success.
The elements of an MRM solution all companies should insist upon are GPS navigation, and tracking and reporting capabilities. GPS navigation allows employees to receive turn-by-turn voice and on-screen directions to a chosen location. GPS tracking gives management a direct and immediate insight into the current location of all mobile employees and assets. This information allows organizations to track the status of jobs, assign new jobs based on worker location, and run reports detailing job stops, driver speeds and time sheets.
MRM Advantages and Employee Concerns
Other available features can allow a mobile work force to streamline processes and cut down on the administrative time spent on daily tasks. For example, wireless time sheets and forms can greatly improve customer service and employee satisfaction. It can also give mobile workers the tools they need to execute tasks efficiently. Wireless time sheets eliminate the need for workers to clock in and out at the office, saving time and fuel by having them report directly to the job site. Wireless forms help eliminate the massive amounts of paperwork typically used in organizations with mobile workers. Employees have the ability to instantly input and send job details, customer forms and inventory levels without the hassle of filling out paper forms.
Another feature that MRM solutions have is bar-code scanning technology. Bar-code scanning technology can be used to send instant updates and reports directly from wireless devices. This gives employees a more accurate and tamper-proof way to enter information, and eliminates the need for manual data entry entirely.
Finally, other MRM features-such as wireless job dispatching and mileage tracking-give managers in the office tools with which to work more efficiently and save money. By having the ability to locate and send the closest available field worker to respond to a certain job, management can cut down on miscommunication, improve customer response times and ensure that assets are used in the most appropriate manner. In addition, mileage-tracking features allow organizations to see the total mileage driven by mobile workers, including travel speeds. As gas prices continue to fluctuate, this not only helps with vehicle performance and fuel efficiency, but also with transportation regulations and reporting.
Address privacy concerns of workers
One of the most common issues managers will need to address when implementing a GPS tracking service is the privacy concerns of their mobile workers. The idea of being “watched” by their bosses can be intimidating, and many workers will not understand the personal and business benefits these services can offer.
By far the most important thing when handling these concerns is to address them directly at the outset of the deployment. Being honest about the reasons behind the service will show workers that managers are not trying to keep anything a secret. Also, it is important for business leaders to point out that the intention is not to “catch” workers doing something wrong but, instead, to be able to make improvements to overall business practices.
Another way to foster positive perceptions of MRM services by mobile workers is to highlight the personal perks. When implementing the solution on workers’ mobile devices, many organizations permit access to GPS navigation on personal time as well. Having this access to turn-by-turn directions on a daily basis might be the motivation some mobile workers need in order to fully embrace the technology.
Additionally, it is important for managers to note how MRM services can increase the personal safety of their mobile work force. The ability to instantly locate a worker can be essential in times of emergency-employees will be more open to the deployment if they understand how it can help keep them safe.
Sal completed coursework through Stanford University‘s IEEM program and holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Washington. He can be reached at [email protected].