Field service technicians have a large and growing repertoire of tools on hand to keep them mobile. Laptops, smartphones, tablets, and the field service management solutions they run on them help technicians to be more efficient and effective on service calls – but there’s one part of the service equation that has mostly failed to keep up with this mobility: technical documentation.
Far too often technical content doesn’t follow technicians into the field in a way that empowers them to be truly mobile. The end result is that technicians lack autonomy, service costs go up due to unnecessary truck rolls and escalations to expert support, and it’s harder than ever to hit SLA targets – yet there’s still hope.
So how can technical documentation support technicians wherever they are? What does mobile product documentation bring to field services, and what does it take to get there?
The Documentation Portal
Getting technical documentation to the field and to the technicians who need it requires a documentation portal designed to be mobile. Accessible from the technician’s mobile device, such a portal provides secure access to all of the technical content that a technician needs on the go. More than just another repository of technical documents available remotely though, documentation portals enhanced for the field offer specific features that help drive productivity for service teams.
A single information hub. Most field technicians work on various products or product lines. But no matter how many, all the relevant technical content should be easily accessed by one portal. It means one login and password, one entry point to access a single reliable source of knowledge. The right documentation portal has to be able to federate all sources of product documentation within the company and has to be seamlessly integrated with these sources to make updates available in real-time.
Offline capabilities. Field technicians often find themselves in situations and locations without reliable network connectivity. A system that relies on an internet connection to provide tech docs to technicians can leave a technician stranded and without the information they need to complete their service call successfully. To serve field technicians properly, a documentation portal has to offer an offline mode with a sync capability whenever the network connection is reestablished.
Optimized for every device, every screen. Field Technicians rely on more than just descriptions and written processes to get the job done right. Graphs, 2D and 3D images, or even videos are useful resources for supporting them and it’s crucial that they are rendered properly in the field. A documentation portal for field services must come with a mobile application or – even better – be natively designed for a responsive mobile user experience. The application should be able to deliver and display all of your technical content no matter the format and no matter the screen the technician has at hand.
Unlocking Business Value with a Documentation Portal
Here are five ways that a documentation portal unlocks business value for field service teams.
- More First-Time Fixes. Getting up-to-date information about the exact configuration that product technicians are servicing significantly increases the quality and accuracy of service.
- No unnecessary Truck Rolls. Permanent access, online or offline, to all requested documentation eliminates the costly additional truck rolls caused by missing manuals.
- Faster Resolution. Faster time to information means faster resolution. Though documentation portals do differ in their search capabilities, the best solutions come equipped with semantic, self-learning search that provide product answers in seconds. Fluid Topics clients report cutting the time spent searching for information by as much as 75%, saving several hours per FTE per month.
- Greater Autonomy. Technicians with access to a mobile documentation portal are less likely to escalate issues to internal experts or support desks. At Fluid Topics our clients report that calls to internal support desks have dropped by more than 30% within days of a portal being opened to field service teams.
- Improved Safety. Less guessing and more sticking to procedure mean fewer work accidents. Easy access to the most reliable, up-to-date technical content strongly improves safety in the field.
How to get there fast? The quick wins of a Content Delivery Platform
A documentation portal is transformative for field technicians, a key driver for truly mobile field services, and one of the fastest ways to make measurable efficiency gains in the field. The technical content already exists so all that is needed is a technology that can deliver it to technicians.
A modern Content Delivery Platform (CDP) is the key technology that is required to connect technical documentation to mobile workers. CDPs gather all existing sources of technical documentation within a business and ensure that users have immediate access to up-to-date, relevant tech content that is instantly actionable. It’s the key to serving technical knowledge to the people who need it, when they need it, and no matter where they are.
Implementing a CDP is a quick win as it embeds all administration, security, and publishing features into a single platform. Typical implementation projects for the Fluid Topics CDP are measured in weeks, not months, and experience with clients in a wide variety of domains has proven that adoption is fast and usually requires little if any user training.
A truly mobile service team and measurable improvements in the field are only a few weeks away.
Want to learn more?
These ten points, and much more information on Dynamic Delivery, are detailed in a white paper Dynamic Delivery: What it is and Why it Matters.