Automating repetitive tasks to save time and money has been the norm ever since we invented machines. From the wheel onwards, humans have been taking the hard work out of hard work.

Henry Ford’s production line was automation. Today, robots build vehicles. The click of a mouse simplifies calculations that previously fried the brains of learned mathematicians.

And does anyone still change channels by hand? Not since the arrival of the TV remote, they don’t.

We’ve all been on the receiving end of what used to be called ‘labor-saving gadgets’ and are now taken for granted.

So why not apply the same thinking to your business?

Whatever you can do to make things faster, more convenient and better for your people in the field has to be good news, right? And, if they’re more productive, you won’t be complaining – nor will your boss.

Well, you’re right about the productivity. But there’s another much more important benefit to be considered here.

The lives you really need to make easier are those of your customers.

A streamlined mobile workforce, equipped with the right tools, forms and processes, will not only ramp productivity. It will also enhance customer satisfaction.

And, in the long run, turn those customers into loyal, repeat-business advocates for your product or service.

So let’s set out our list of five. It’s by no means exhaustive – you’ll certainly be able to add some of your own – but it’s a start.

  1. Devices

This is about communications. Make sure your people have exactly what they need to do the best job possible, whether that’s a smartphone, laptop, tablet or a specialized mobile device. You can even turn their smartphone into a walkie-talkie with a push-to-talk app.

The faster they can access company data, query inventory, order parts or close the sale, the faster they can wrap up the task at hand and move on to the next job.

Moreover, a key to reducing overtime costs is accurate time keeping. When your people can do that with the latest devices, it makes their jobs a whole lot easier and your customers a whole lot happier.

  1. Workforce management

Do you know where your people are? When you can track your field workforce in real time, you can manage their day-to-day activities more effectively, send directions, reroute them and re-assign tasks – almost instantly and far more efficiently.

So you get faster pickups, greater productivity, and happier customers. You can generate detailed reports to improve the way you do business. And with more efficient trips, you can reduce your fuel costs. It’s mobile workforce management, and it works.

  1. Mobile forms

When your people don’t have to use paper, a lot of great things become possible. Mobile forms eliminate the paper trail by letting your people send, receive and electronically

sign forms from their mobile device. From punch-lists to safety checks to invoices and receipts, almost every paper form can now be a mobile form, remotely collecting and transmitting data more efficiently.

No more lost pieces of paper. No more “Is that a three or a five?” Your data’s more secure, compliance simplified and your systems updated. And with fewer forms to re-key, you can reduce back-office costs and data entry errors.

  1. Mobile Point of Sale

Take the point of sale to the customer. Mobile point of sale not only takes your payments, it can roll inventory, marketing and loyalty programs into one system that goes wherever your people go (see above, ‘Devices’).

Even better, collecting payments at the point of sale means your cash flow isn’t restricted to billing cycles. And, we can all agree that freeing up cash flow is a very good thing.

You can even track sales and inventory centrally. It’s an incredibly efficient way to make your customers lives – and your own – a lot easier.

  1. Custom Mobile Applications

Off-the-shelf mobile apps are a great way to start automating your mobile workforce. But one size doesn’t fit all.

The good news is you don’t have to live with generic apps. The even better news is you don’t need in-house expertise to develop your own custom applications.

With Custom Mobile Applications, you can automate your processes with applications customized for your business. So you can create a specific feature set, User Interface (UI) and workflow. And you can integrate your new stuff with existing applications and legacy systems.

Your journey to an effective, mobilized workforce may look challenging now – but it doesn’t have to be difficult.

You just have to get started.