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Whitepaper Mobile Workforce Management Strategies The Future of Strategic Mobile Workforce & Expense Management It’s not science fiction or a futuristic technology plan. Organizations need to manage a rapid transition to work environments that support a global, mobile and remote workforce, making the best of their skills and maintaining their identification with the organization, its culture and goals. Mobile Workforce & Expense Management Strategies It’s no surprise that workforce mobility has increased dramatically over the past several years. It touches each of us directly or indirectly. You or someone you know probably works as a mobile, remote or at-home worker with little time spent The by-product in a corporate office. The by-product of a changing economy, increasingly mobile of a changing and remote workforces are fueled by the proliferation of high-speed networks, economy, Wi-Fi® (wireless fidelity) technology and mobile convergence evidenced by increasingly mobile devices including BlackBerry® smartphones, the Apple® iPhone® and iPad®, the and remote Droid™ and others. Worker demands for a better work/life balance add to the workforces are rising number of at-home workers seeking flexible work arrangements. fueled by the proliferation of According to industry predictions, nearly a quarter of the world’s working high-speed population will not have a corporate supplied workplace or home base. Leading networks. IT market research and advisory firm IDC issued a report suggesting that 75% of the US workforce will be mobile by the end of 2011 and this trend will continue to escalate. IDC estimates that the increase from year to year of mobile workers spending 20% or more away from their desk will grow more than 15% annually.1 This trend confirms that organizations need to manage a rapid transition to work environments that support a global, mobile and remote workforce, making the best use of their skills and maintaining their identification with the organization, its culture and goals. With frequent business travelers taking to the skies, rails and roads in increasing numbers, field workers, telecommuters, remote branch office and multi-site workers need mobile enterprise applications to support existing business processes, increase productivity, reduce costs and enable them to rapidly respond to business needs that help them remain competitive - anytime, anywhere. In addition, the rise of the service economy has made face time between people in one physical location more crucial than ever and a differentiating component to business success. Mobile technology supports both managers and the organization by equipping remote and mobile workers with the right tools needed to comply with corporate business practices, policy regulations and workflow requirements. It allows themwww.sumtotalsystems.com 1
Mobile Workforce Management Strategies to accomplish this during times that might otherwise represent lost productivity (i.e. while waiting to board an airplane, in between customer meetings, while they are in a taxi), turning downtime into uptime. As a result, they capture what would have previously been considered lost time to accomplish administrative tasks that free up people to focus on core activities and drive revenue, productivity and company performance. While the trend toward a more mobile workforce offers significant business opportunities, it also presents challenges as managers struggle to keep track of their employees. Human Resources, Accounts Payable and Corporate Travel departments must keep mobile employees synchronized with corporate policies and practices while providing ‘always on’ connectivity that enable employees to take critical business applications with them. Mobile workers have the same obligations as onsite employees to comply with existing corporate polices, approvals and business processes. Whether it is a day trip for the sales professional or an extended engagement at a customer’s site, business travel has long been recognized as a critical enabler to advancing customer relationships, including creating new initiatives and maintaining existing relationships. Mobile Workforce ROI The increased pace of business in the digital world has no mercy and waits for no one. IDC’s Mobile Enterprise Software Survey2 of 309 enterprise mobility decision makers in the United States and the United Kingdom reveals the strategic importance of mobile enterprise solutions in North America and Western Europe. Key findings from the survey include the following expected benefits to The increased pace be gained from mobile solutions deployments: of business in the digital world has ■ 31.1% improved/enhanced worker productivity no mercy and waits ■ 14.2% increased sales/revenue for no one. ■ 12.3% improved competitive advantage/market share ■ 5.8% improved field service response time Research indicates there are three key areas in which a business can expect a return on investment (ROI) in a mobile workforce: increased revenue, decreased costs and improved services.3 The right mobile workforce strategy can deliver a strong return on investment. With the correct mobile devices, management support, appropriate applications and a mobile workforce that accepts the charge that business takes place around the clock, fostering a mobile workforce environment can result in tremendous productivity gains. With a mobile workforce management solution, including mobile travel and expense reporting solutions, employees can leverage realtime information and software to make smart decisions and process requests faster. This ability translates to improvements in productivity as employees can use the extra time to create more business opportunities. In addition, improvements in mobile technology have been shown to decrease costs by reducing workflow volumes and streamlining business processes.www.sumtotalsystems.com 2
Mobile Workforce Management Strategies Customers have also come to expect immediate service responses and access to information that mobile solutions offer. Customers rely on the ability to track the status of their order, or even have an online dialogue with the provider representatives – at any time. Providing this ability enhances the customer experience and reinforces loyalty, making repeat business more likely. Effective Mobile Applications: Workforce Management and Expense Management Companies that deploy integrated mobile business applications for workforce and expense management can improve productivity, create efficiencies and deliverer better resource accessibility to their mobile workforce. For business travelers An effective and mobile employees, travel and expense reporting and time and attendance mobile expense workforce management related functions are two of the most commonly required management applications. This includes alerts to management related to scheduling, absences, solution allows trip alerts and other workforce issues that require quick responses. business travelers to work either With mobile workforce and expense management applications, managers on on or off-line using the road are able to approve, authorize and makes changes in real-time to a familiar attendance, scheduling, expenses and related transactions. Data can be entered smartphone into their smartphone, via their web browser, telephone through Interactive Voice interface. Responses (IVR) and Point of Sale (POS) systems, through time clocks, kiosks and, if the employee is forced to work offline for some time, the data can be stored locally and later uploaded the next time a connection is established with their server. Effective mobile workforce management solutions enable employees and managers to: ■ Capture time, attendance and labor distribution information for individuals or groups ■ Submit and approve absence requests to be routed to the appropriate supervisor(s) ■ View individual employee schedule information in real-time ■ View employee accrual information in real-time for each user ■ Approve time sheets remotely with access to key information ■ Review employee information through key, real-time reports Using a mobile expense management application, expense reports can be submitted and approved while out of the office and reimbursements can be paid more quickly. An effective mobile expense management solution allows business travelers to work either on or off-line to create expense reports using a familiar smartphone interface. With this technology, employees can also review details of corporate charge card transactions – including Level III and Hotel Folio data – add out-of-pocket transactions such as entertainment and mileage to their expense reports and submit their completed reports to the system for compliance and policy review.www.sumtotalsystems.com 3
Mobile Workforce Management Strategies Expense reports can even be reviewed, approved and rejected from the manager’s own mobile device. Because employees can enter expenses as they incur them, the process can be completed more quickly and more accurately. Develop a Mobile Workforce Strategy When initiating and developing a mobile workforce strategy, there are typically three phases that should occur to ensure the best results. No two mobile workforces are alike; every organization planning to implement a mobile strategy must first assess the data requirement needs of their workforce and determine the company’s readiness to support that type of environment. Once the organization understands their requirements and is ready, they can then evaluate possible mobile integration points and move forward with implementation. Phase I. Assessing Data Requirements To plan for the support of a mobile workforce, an organization must first consider what the mobile workforce needs to best serve the company. The development team should ask critical questions of the organization and those employees who will be affected to determine both employee needs and the technology required to support those specific functions. For example, would a sales executive be more effective if they could access a client’s purchasing records and credit information before an onsite sales meeting? Additional questions an organization may consider are shown below. Questions to Consider When Assessing Data Requirements ■ Where is a remote or mobile employee’s work typically performed? ■ Is Wi-Fi access or an alternative access method readily available when needed? ■ Would it be helpful to access the Internet to be prepared to answer any questions that might arise? ■ Would access to customer service records help field employees better diagnose customer problems? ■ Does your workforce travel by air or rail regularly and need to make travel arrangements quickly? ■ Does your remote or mobile workforce fully understand corporate travel and communication policies? ■ When finalizing a deal or amending a scope of work with a client, would the process run more smoothly if your employees had an automated, electronic workflow process to secure approvals? ■ When working at remote sites, will workers need to access or print documents, emails or notes? ■ Will mobile employees need to securely access sensitive company documents to perform their job? ■ Does your workforce require access to shared calendar, Intranet, voicemail or other office functions?www.sumtotalsystems.com 4
Mobile Workforce Management Strategies Phase II. Determine the Company’s Readiness to Support a Mobile Workforce Although more companies support mobile and remote workforces, it is important to understand how the process affects the bottom line. As you explore your company’s readiness for a mobile workforce, you’ll need to evaluate more than just which employees will become mobile. You’ll also need to understand such components as how comfortable employees are with mobile devices and applications. Considerations should be made around executive attitudes and support and if implementation strategies will need to include training elements. Many areas of the company are impacted by a mobile workforce implementation. It is a good idea to assemble all the affected departments in your organization with the objective of creating a mobile workforce support team. This will help ensure consistency across the company when addressing mobile needs, as well as alleviate any organizational concerns with the concept. Companies should also realize that traditional employees who will remain in the Evaluate more office will also be impacted. HR, payroll, benefits and accounting departments than just which must understand the needs of the new mobile workforce and be willing and able employees will become mobile. to support them. Be sure to plan for adequate training for those professionals as well. IT staff will need to understand new responsibilities expected of them, such as what to do if a mobile device is lost or stolen. Next steps involve determining what technology products and services best suit your company’s workforce requirements. A company’s IT staff holds a deeper understanding of how those products will integrate with the company’s current systems and software and should be involved in this step of planning. They may also be able to help determine if standardizing products and devices across the board is best and most cost effective. Once readiness is assessed, the company should be sure the strategy aligns with their budget expectations, if already set. Phase III. Evaluate Your Organization’s Mobile Integration Points “Data-oriented” organizations and industries tend to emphasize productivity and efficiency and, as a result, are more likely to promote autonomous working, brief communications and the use of technology, which has a close fit with mobile working styles. When planning to support a mobile and/or remote workforce, companies must evaluate and assess their current application architecture. This architecture review will determine your organization’s current mobile integration points and whether or not they require revision. For example, if a company already uses Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 (SP2) or 2007, it likely already has mobile integration points available to support a wide variety of mobile products such as smartphones, PDAs, iPads and notebook PCs, as well as voice and email. Examine the data requirements you’ve developed and determine how those requirements should be efficiently and effectively delivered to your mobile workers using the mobile integration points your company has in place and what you will need going forward to fully support the mobile initiative.www.sumtotalsystems.com 5
Mobile Workforce Management Strategies Manage the Work At the present time, many deployed workforce management applications do not natively support mobility initiatives and only recently have organizations started to invest in technology and hardware to provide a stable and secure platform to the mobile population. Since the majority of critical business applications are only available thru a PC connected to the corporate LAN or intranet, many mobile employees remain detached from the information and applications they need to drive business success while they are out of the office. This information gap requires mobile workers to return to the office or use personal hours to complete work. Mobile employees not only lose productivity because they can’t access necessary applications remotely, but they also lose productivity when they are in the office and spend time trying to catch up on administrative tasks such as completing time sheets or expense reports rather than driving the business. In addition to being an inefficient use of the employee’s time, employees that are required to give up personal time for work activities or take time away from core business requirements may be left dissatisfied with their jobs. Because current work environments foster greater acceptance and understanding of the blending of work and personal time, it’s critical that companies empower their employees to be able to execute their job at any time. If a sale can be made at 8:00 p.m. instead of during the course of a typical workday, it should. Manage the Workers When employees are given the freedom to work remotely or more flexibly through mobile arrangements, it’s understandable that managers are sometimes skeptical of their productivity. Will employees really do the work they are expected to do? While there is no Will they be responsive to customers, colleagues and management? While there such thing as a is no such thing as a typical mobile worker -- mobile workforce needs vary from typical mobile industry to industry and job to job – there are a few practices businesses can worker there are employ to ensure their employees stay motivated while mobile. a few practices Organizations must ensure that the right tools and resources are made available to businesses can mobile workers, giving them the same connectivity as office-based workers. The employ to ensure lack of regular communication can lead to increased levels of stress and feelings their employees stay motivated of isolation; alternatively, trying to micromanage remote workers can undermine trust. while mobile. To avoid isolation and demotivation, managers should promote visibility of mobile workers and provide forums for social interaction between colleagues. For example, instant messaging and other “presence tools” are a good way of building a mobile worker’s sense of inclusion, while video facilities can reduce feelings of separation by giving them visibility and access to team workers who are working remotely. A company’s management style plays a critical role in supporting successful mobile workforce initiatives. Mobile workforce mismanagement in particular can have serious implications on the success of a mobile worker, with both too much and too little communication damaging employee productivity, performance, morale and well-being. Plus, not all employees are comfortable, equipped or capable of working in a mobile environment either by the nature of their workwww.sumtotalsystems.com 6
Mobile Workforce Management Strategies or their personal skills. Those who flourish and succeed within mobile roles are typically self-motivated, resilient, extroverted and independent. So when recruiting, organizations must rigorously test for these attributes. If a company recruits inappropriate employees, establishes poor management and fails to provide adequate communications resources, they can offset the potential benefits of having a mobile workforce. The New Office – Anywhere, Anytime! A mobile workforce is not a part of a futuristic technology plan; companies are untethering their employees today. Mobility can improve productivity and operations profitability by helping to manage the business processes anytime, anywhere, from any mobile device. Mobile business applications have become more affordable, convenient, secure, productive and reliable. New technologies, such as broadband technology, can combine with Bluetooth technology and wireless air card usage in standard Wi-Fi hotspots in many locations, enabling employees to stay connected from almost anywhere regardless of where they need to work. These mobile technologies, combined with an increasing desire for a greater work/life balance have redefined what it means to be “in the office” and have financial and environmental impact for the business implementing mobile workforce solutions. Employees who are mobile and enabled with ready access to critical business applications can optimize their productivity by taking care of business whenever and wherever business takes them. Endnotes 1 IDC Research Market Analysis; Worldwide Mobile Worker Population 2009– 2013 Forecast; Dec 2009. 2 IDC, The State of Mobile Enterprise Software in 2009: An IDC Survey of Applications and Platforms -- Decisions and Deployments; Doc #219600; August 2009. 3 Improve ROI by investing in a mobile workforce - understand it, 2011 ewlett- Packard Development Company, L.P.www.sumtotalsystems.com 7