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Highways paperwork: 5 excuses why it's sticking around

In this article Graham Whistance, Director at MyMobileWorkers discusses the 5 main reasons many businesses in the highways industry have chosen not to implement a mobile workforce management solution despite the instant cost savings that it can offer.

Mobile workforce management companies would have you believe that it is a no-brainer. ROI calculations show cost savings, case studies show vast reductions in admin time and paperwork.

So why, despite mounting evidence have so many highways companies chosen not to implement a digital management solution?

Ultimately this usually breaks down to one or more of 5 reasons excuses and in my humble opinion none of them are good enough!

1) What we have works

While this may be the case, is the process really as good as it can get? Whether it is paper, email, spreadsheets or SMS, there are things that you just can’t do as well as with a mobile application.

Can you:

  • Provide real time proof of attendance?
  • Prove you have completed RAMS properly?
  • Guarantee Chapter 8 compliance?
  • Guarantee the correct process has been followed?
  • Provide photographic or signature evidence guaranteed to have been completed where it should have been?

The answer to these questions (unless you are using a mobile app) is ‘no’ and as this level of information becomes a necessity from your customers, you will ultimately have no choice but to use technology.

So, whilst what you have may work, a mobile workforce management solution will work better - FACT.

2) The guys won’t use it

We hear this time and time again. Whether it is the “big brother” argument or the fact that your guys have fatter fingers than everyone else on the planet, we have heard it all.

There are two schools of thought to how to work this.

Either/both options are completely viable. Change is scary and it is a natural human instinct to say you don’t like it. Whether this is the new design of Facebook, that awful new BBC ident (where are my dancing Hippos?) or the fact your car comes back from a new clutch and you don’t like the new bite point, change happens.

And after an initial period of resentment you typically get over it. Facebook has pretty colours, BBC ident is loveable and that new clutch bite point is actually more comfortable.

The key is getting over the initial period of resentment… Which leads us onto number 3.

3) Haven’t got time to implement a new system

Everyone has a horror story of an IT implementation that has gone wrong. Even implementing a system that goes well is a challenge and this is typically our number one reason for people not going ahead OR for people going ahead and it not going brilliantly (yes it does happen).

The key here is good leadership and good communication.

The bottom line is that we know our software works. We know that our implementation team are great and our support team are fantastic. We will be there for you, BUT, we can’t make people use it and we can’t get people over their initial period of resentment mentioned above. All we can do is promise that it gets easier, and quickly.

Typically we recommend people have an expectation of a difficult 4 week transition period. More often than not this is significantly less but we prefer to under promise and over deliver.

Once people are over the change and resigned to the fact it isn’t going back, they accept and move on. If there is any inkling that reverting back to paperwork is an option, the transition period increases and people can try to find reasons it won’t work.

So, expect a busy time and importantly make sure that there is someone internal whose job it is to make sure the project works. Here's our tips for moving to digital management software successfully.

4) It will cost money and I don’t believe the ROI figures!

Let's face it. We all have businesses to run. So yes: mobile workforce management solutions will cost something. However, we don’t make up the ROI calculations; they are from companies like you, companies who had the same questions/fears.

While every company is different, there are some areas that are consistent across highways which we can guarantee will be affected.

Paperwork and administration are both going to be significantly cut with the implementation of a mobile workforce management solution.

Figures we have seen range from a reduction of between 50% - 100% of paperwork in the delivery process of a highways solution. All risk assessments / method statements can be electronic, all drawings / job attachments can be electronic, all job sheets electronic.

How far you take this is up to you, however, taking paper and printing costs alone add up very quickly. In many examples mobile workforce management solutions can pay for themselves purely in the reduced costs of paper!

Administration is a more abstract cost saving because you may or may not choose to take it as a cost saving.

Calculate how much time each week is spent getting information from your paper job sheets from the field, chasing people up, interpreting the information and gathering data / creating timesheets etc.

That is the POTENTIAL cost saving implementing a mobile workforce management solution would give you. It is up to you whether you choose to take a cost saving or just take it as freeing up resource for doing other things.

Ultimately, you don’t have to believe our Return on Investment figures - our customers speak for us.

5) I can develop my own for that!

We come across this one all the time. Of course, the answer is that yes, you can. We could also become a highways company!

Everyone has specialities, ours is in the development, deployment and management of highways solutions, we are good at it, very good at it.

We take away not just the development of the solution, but we also manage it for you and provide support for your system which last year achieved a 98% satisfaction rating amongst our customers.

You could spend months and thousands of pounds developing your own bespoke system. However, this takes a huge amount of trust in the developers and would take significant development to keep up to date.

An off the shelf, software as a service (SaaS) product takes away the large upfront costs and gives you a working solution designed specifically for the highways industry, available to use straight away, which you can tweak to fit the way your business works.

So large, up front costs with risks of going out of date quickly or an off the shelf product that’s constantly being developed on. It seems like a no brainer for me.

Stop the excuses

We’ve worked with a multitude of people in the highways industry so we know what you need from a mobile workforce management system and how to implement it successfully. Book a demonstration of the software or speak to a member of the team and stop putting off the inevitability of the future of workforce management.

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Image source: FreeImages fcl1971

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