How to make life easy for your techs iOS and Android apps
Written by Simon Neale
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The Oracle eBusiness Suite Service modules were launched a long time ago. Oracle Financials was launched back in 1987, and we've been working with the eBusiness Suite CRM Sales and CRM Service components since 1998 (they were launched earlier). Our first experiences with the Service suite was designing and enhancing Oracle processes during a pan-European roll-out for a major consumer and business electronics business. We were receiving work from a shared service call centre and autonomously scheduling that work where required to two thousand eight hundred Service Technicians across thirteen countries.
What's clear now is that, despite Oracle owning:
- RightNow - a pure-cloud based Service offering,
- Oracle Siebel CRM - also available in the cloud, and;
- Oracle eBusiness Suite TeleService, Scripting, Depot Repair, Autonomous Scheduler, Mobile Field Service (also available in the cloud)
- Oracle Utilities Customer Care and Billing (and Service add-ons)
All the different softwares are continuing to be enhanced at a rapid pace. In this blog post I will concentrate on the eBusiness Suite.
I am surprised and pleased at the pace of improvement of the software, but what I'm not surprised about is the lack of understanding of the software by clients. It's a real shame to see a client move away from an Oracle software suite that is improving so quickly - when an upgrade would give them all the new functionality that they require, without the disruption of moving away to a different software. Because once clients have bought the licence for the modules for the eBusiness suite - the new versions are free. Yes, that's right - FREE.
We at Vaquita don't think enough business users understand this - and far too quickly go looking for new beautiful software that's built in HTML5 and CSS3, when they have something FREE available to them right under their noses that they already own, and delivered via web-browsers, and available on iPads, iPhones, Android devices and more. Here's a shot of Oracle Field Service Wireless on my iPhone 5:
Let's show a few examples.
Oracle Field Service Pocket PC to Field Service Wireless evolution
Only 10 years ago, in 2004, we implemented Oracle Field Service, release 11.5.9, and the choices we seriously considered were 'Field Service Pocket PC', using forms, and Field Service Laptop. Field Service Laptop was implemented, and it was begrudgingly adopted by a field service team who didn't really have an option - what I mean is that their bosses had spent millions on getting the software in, and they would have to use it, despite the fact that there were many usability issues, and other key issues with synchronisation, getting a network connection and conflicts between the host and the mobile device. Patching was a real pain as every time we rolled out patches, we had to schedule technicians to come back to the office to do a full sync - it was impossible to do over their 1XRTT small data allowances because the patching process wiped out the old version and re-installed the new one. On the flip-side, the bonus of doing this was that we had a lot of feedback from the service technicians who told us exactly what they thought of the software, and this was useful for building a business case for an upgrade.
After Pocket PC and Field Service/Laptop (standalone) had been out for a couple of years, there was clearly demand for a online/web version for technicians and supervisors. Oracle Field Service Technician Portal was developed and was immediately adopted by a number of Oracle clients. A great improvement from Field Service/Laptop, it allowed technicians and supervisors to log in via a browser with an internet connection.
Oracle Field Service Portal
It coincided with the advent of 3G, and was much more user friendly. Really sophisticated functionality was available in this incarnation of the software allowing users to:
- Create Spare Parts Orders and link them to tasks
- Create Return to Fit tasks, which could then be automatically picked up by the autonomous scheduler
- Create Off-line tasks - alerting the dispatcher to periods of unavailability
- Barcode scan parts into a debrief line, and use barcoding for returned parts too
- Performing sophisticated spare parts planning and replenishment with Spares Management
- Receive stock into a van (or auto-receiving, dependent upon requested automation/responsibility)
- Change estimated completion date and time of a task - so that the autonomous scheduler won't commit the technicians next task to them
- Get driving directions and view those directions in Google Maps
- and much more.....
Here's some example screen-shots:
I'm really pleased with this incarnation, as it:
a) removes the need for technicians to synchronise back to base, and as such removes synchronisation issues
b) has a much simpler interface that is much more intuitive
c) works fast
Now, since Mobile Field Service Wireless came out, the developers at Oracle have also been working on a new 'app' that has just been released. Our first impressions of the app are that it works well, and clearly development are keen for customers to adopt and bug fix this software. Oracle have been very responsive with the app, and have released a number of versions of it.
Our first efforts to use the app have been good - the only hiccup that we've had has been when a patch has been released for the app, there's often a server side patch that goes along with it - so the risk here is that technicians will automatically take an upgrade, that subsequently needs a patch to be applied to the server.
Having said that, props to Oracle, because this is a very strong push into a market that isn't doing this particularly well - and the functionality in the app looks good so far.
Here's a couple of screenshots of this app:
As you can see from the screenshots - techs/Engineers can:
- See a list of tasks, and filter which tasks to look at
- Accept and debrief tasks
- Synchronise with the back end software (Oracle Field Service)
- Set preferences
- Get messages (within Oracle)
- Look at and order van stock
- Get help, and log out
This is very promising, and we strongly suggest getting the technicians themselves involved in the testing of the different choices of interfact that they now have. There are many factors when making this decision, not least:
- Do the technicians work away from their vehicle? - in which case they may need to update from a phone as well as a tablet/laptop
- Is offline access really needed? Is there really no internet connection available in the places where repairs take place - and really question this strongly - because techs may not update tasks until they get back to the van.
Anyway, this was just a quick blog post on the latest in Oracle Field Service - and shows how far that this area has come - I'm sure looking forward to more updates in future. As usual - please get in touch with us if you need any specific questions answered, and feel free to share this post via Twitter/Facebook or Linked in.
All the best and happy testing!
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