FOR FIELD PERSONNEL, here are a couple new cell-phone accessible software solutions from ECONZ Wireless, a developer of wireless solutions for small-to mediumsized field service contractors and other small business workforces that regularly receive and log project details while in the field. The first solution addresses dispatching data and the second-handles timesheet data. Both programs run on selected Verizon Wireless cell phones, turning them into handy business tools that go quite a distance beyond voice communications.
EService (www.eservice.econz.com, 866/408-3475) is a cell-phone based infield job dispatch and work-order management solution for service companies that enables real-time transfer of job data to and from the field. Developed by ECONZ Wireless, a mobile software provider, to be accessible on QUALCOMM's Brew wireless software operating system, it is available as a monthly subscription on Verizon Wireless cell phones. (Brew is a phone operating system and development environment that allows applications to be downloaded over the air and billed via a carrier's billing system.)
Aimed at dispatch-oriented field service companies, EService handles job creation, allocation, dispatch and management via job status or workflow. It consists of a Web-based job dispatch interface that connects to a related application on a "Get it Now" enabled Verizon Wireless cellular phone. The application facilitates near time transmission of updated job information between field service personnel and service management staff. Jobs entered via the interface are dispatched to the closest or most suitable technician's cell phone, minimizing downtime, improving response time boosting productivity in the field.
The technician acknowledges and updates job status as well as inventory and any notes as the job progresses, with that data transmitted to the EService servers, immediately visible to dispatch/service management. All the is available for immediate download and incorporation into any spreadsheet or other software application, minimizing data entry and enabling real-time job tracking.
Many contractors back up their data only periodically or not at all.
Other features of EService include parts and labor tracking, which can improve cash flow because of more timely and efficient job invoicing.
The solution does not require any additional hardware, only an Internet connected PC and a Get it Now enabled Verizon Wireless cellular phone, so outfitting everyone in the field with a suitable cell phone is less expensive than supplying each with a Palm or other PDA. And the unit is less likely to fall prey to the hazards of possibly rigorous field conditions.
EService downloads to each user's cell phone and is then accessed through a PC for a setup wizard-assisted installation process. After that, the field worker can navigate totally on the phone. The $19.99 per user/per month cost bills through the customer's monthly wireless plan statement.
Timecard (www.timecard.econz.com) is ECONZ's mobile timesheet software solution that enables employees to log time, attendance and job information remotely via their Verizon Wireless cell phones ($9.49 per user/month for access). The solution allows mobile workers to log clocking in, break, job category and clocking out information. Web-based software supports "live timesheet" viewing of the field worker's past and present status. An interface permits timecard data to be transferred to QuickBooks or other accounting applications.
In both solutions, all information is time stamped as it happens, creating an accurate, auditable trail, which could be useful to satisfy customer querying after the work is done.
Data should be backed up. Many contractors back up their data only periodically or not at all, mostly because they don't have time, they forget or don't have the technical skills to implement a comprehensive backup system. Here's a solution that institutes automatic backup of all data all the time. It relieves everyone in the office of worrying about the risk of data loss from crashed hard drives, corruption of a file, a virus infection, accidental overwriting of a file or any other mishap that can destroy data and your day.
Lasso CDP, for continuous data protection (www.lassologic.com, 800/ MYLASSO), is a tapeless, disk-to-disk enterprise-level data protection solution providing automatic real-time backup of all data stored on a company's PCs, laptops, servers and network.
Developed for businesses and remote offices with less than 100 employees, the solution captures all versions of files and databases in real time, not just those versions that existed during a backup cycle. Lasso CDP provides both local protection (for instant recovery) and offsite backup (to protect against disasters such as theft or fire) in one turnkey product.
Authorized users access any data on the network via personalized, secure log-in from any Internet-enabled device, allowing businesses to share data (including every saved version of a file) with remote salespeople and field personnel and to give clients access to only specific folders and files. Lasso CDP starts at $1,449 for the appliance and the office data backup is an optional monthly subscription.
William and Patti Feldman provide Web content for companies and write for magazines, trade associations, building product manufacturers and other companies on a broad range of topics.