How to Collect Data Through Field Force Automation Solution?

September 13, 2022

In today's fast-paced business world, field operations management is becoming increasingly complex. Business managers unanimously agree on the importance of capturing and analyzing data to improve efficiency and execution quality. As a result, technology solutions are being deployed to manage field teams for capturing execution data and ensuring process discipline. However, despite multiple interventions to follow a data-driven approach, managers frequently find themselves in a position where it is inconvenient for them to get into the right data for better decision making. They are left with ad-hoc reports generated by IT/analytics teams. This leads to what we call the "CCTV" approach, where the analysis of data is focused on understanding what went wrong, shifting the focus away from how it could have been prevented from going wrong in the first place so that the same mistake is not repeated in the future.

At Assistive, we have not only pioneered the use of field force automation technology, but we have also worked proactively towards moving beyond the "CCTV approach" when it comes to business reporting. Our key learnings have been listed below.

Don’t compromise on real-time information access

Many times, in order to improve the quality and scalability of reporting, IT teams/solution providers insist on models of data warehousing which add a delay in the reporting system. Information which should be available in real-time is then seen with a lag of 12-24 hours, impacting its actionability. With real-time information, managers can take quick corrective action and prevent any delay in execution. Real-time information access is critical, and it should not be compromised.

Use frequently accessed modes of communication

The self-service paradigm in business intelligence aims to make it extremely easy for users to explore the data. However, in cases where immediate action is desired, instead of providing a separate website/application to view/download the reports, it is better to rely on frequently accessed tools like SMS and emails. For example, if a crucial product is "out-of-stock" in an important retail store, it might be more useful if the concerned manager immediately gets an alert through SMS/email with the required details, rather than finding it out from a report.

Leverage the power of new visualization tools

While visualization tools that are far richer and more interactive than earlier tools are available, managers still rely on older ways to look at the data. One very crucial example is the use of GPS. While most mobile-based reporting solutions are capable of capturing geo-location, most managers and their teams do not use the richness of this information in visualization and analysis. Leveraging new visualization tools can help managers gain better insights into the data and make better decisions.

Involve business for continuous feedback

Without involving business teams in designing business intelligence and reporting solutions, you not only miss out on the important insights which the final user of the system could have provided them, but it also negatively affects the ownership that the business teams feel toward such solutions. Moreover, as the business requirements keep evolving, it is extremely critical for the long-term success of any business intelligence/reporting project to establish a process of continuous feedback from business teams and the users of the solution. Involving business teams in the process can help in designing better solutions and making better decisions.

Reduce the dependence on reports

Finally, it is important to understand that the reporting and analysis paradigm has a built-in delay where teams wait for data to come in before they analyze it. Far more collaborative applications like "asana" reduce the need for viewing reports as complete action on projects is clearly visible to every user in a nice and simple manner. Managers can then view the progress in real-time and provide live feedback on the project. Users can also take action on the feedback and comments provided, and the updates are also triggered as email alerts to concerned managers. Reducing the dependence on reports can help managers make better decisions in real-time.

In conclusion, the importance of moving beyond the "CCTV approach" in business reporting cannot be overstated. By following the above ideas, you can improve your business intelligence and reporting approach, and see a world of difference in your last-mile execution. Real-time information access, frequently accessed modes of communication, leveraging new visualization tools, involving business for continuous feedback, and reducing the dependence on reports are all critical factors that can help you make better decisions and improve your business operations.