Worried about the economy? Tighten the business belt. But for a contractor that is easier said than done, while trying to remain competitive. Field contractors work at client sites most of the day, making it tough sometimes to collect and update job records. But here are three ideas for improving productivity and increase profits:
1. Automate timesheet collection – Most contractors know too little (or too late) what is happening in the field, because time sheet and job-status reports are turned in at the end of the day, week or pay period. Because information is delayed, contractor decisions about how to use the data also are slow to happen.
By using cell phones with ‘mobile workforce management’ applications, for example, will allow field staff to record time and activities data electronically. They can send information back to the office via web-based reports for instant time processing.
2. Use mobile worker location data to reduce fuel costs – With gasoline prices at an all-time high, contractors should take every opportunity to reduce fuel consumption. Knowing the location of mobile workers throughout the day and sending the nearest and most qualified to handle new assignments (and having them take specific driving routes), will keep costs down and improve customer service.
Location data also can be used to validate employee time sheets. Mobile workforce management applications using GPS chips in cell phones enable contractors to pay only for hours actually worked, rather than time sheets rounded to the nearest hour.
3. Combine field data with payroll and other systems – An average office staff spends four hours each pay period tracking down employee time sheets and inputting the information into payroll and other business systems. That valuable time and money could be used more productively if time sheet and activities data collected by field staff automatically went into back-end systems.
Many mobile workforce management applications work with tools such as ADP and QuickBooks, so office staff can focus on more productive activities. Not only will this make your office more efficient, but less data entry means fewer errors and omissions.
Automating business processes to improve productivity these days is important. The technology to accomplish this goal is available and the cost is negligible—advanced mobile workforce management solutions sell for as little as a dollar per worker per month. The contractors who will come out of the recession strongest are those who have the wisdom to invest in new technology today.
Editor’s note: Ananth Rani is co-founder and senior vice president of products and services for Xora, Inc., www.Xora.com