Prescription for a Healthy Field Service Pandemic Recovery

There’s homemade chicken soup and decongestant medicines for a speedy recovery from the common cold. But what about our companies? What steps can we take for a healthy recovery from a pandemic that’s still in progress? This is more than just a question about financial and operational health, it’s also about building a strong competitive footing for the future.

Pandemic recovery according to experts

Global research and advisory firms including McKinsey & Company and Gartner are tabling reports to help companies translate COVID-19’s impact on the business world and predict what might lie ahead.

Enterprises will go through three phases of pandemic recovery. They will go into the Respond phase that is triggered by lockdowns, recurring multiple times. They will switch to the Recover phase once their industry and region reopen. Only when the environment stabilizes more can they move into the Renew phase. At any point, virus mutations (or outbreaks of new pandemics) might force societies to revert back into lockdowns and to restart the journey.”

Gartner, Framework for Post-Pandemic Business Planning

The implications of this Gartner projection are that businesses of all sizes must be prepared to respond to this constant state of flux with agility, flexibility, and a willingness to adopt new ways of thinking.

McKinsey & Company’s view zeros in on the proliferation of automation technologies including digitization and “AI-driven software that can perform processing workflows.… These trends reflect automation’s ability to facilitate contactless interactions at a time of social distancing and heightened awareness of hygiene, as well as cost pressures that may arise from the economic slowdown.”

How low-code apps can help your pandemic recovery plan

ProntoForms empowers field service operations to become more agile and forecast and quickly address the uncertainties that have become synonymous with the pandemic. We set you up to connect and scale your service workflows enterprise-wide for a clear big-picture handle on past, real-time, and future trends.

It’s an approach that starts with bulking up your data muscle with automated solutions, streamlining, and finetuning processes, much like you would by adopting a personal fitness routine. It’s proactive towards organizational health — not reactive. Next, it’s important to build data collection workflow protocols on an easy-to-update platform that allows you to stay flexible as situations and regulations change. And then continuously reviewing, adjusting, and reinventing strategies because change is the constant.  

Digital transformation is the new normal

“One silver lining from the pandemic” that surfaced in McKinsey & Company’s June 2020 survey of 800 executives worldwide, “is that companies have found they can adopt new technologies much faster than they previously thought.

  • 85% of respondents said their businesses have somewhat or greatly accelerated the implementation of technologies that digitally enable employee interaction and collaboration.
  • Roughly half of those surveyed reported increasing digitization of customer channels, for example, via mobile apps.”

Gartner agrees, noting how: “COVID-19 is driving digital transformation and deepening differences across people and across firms at an incredible rate. In a period of days, almost any process that could be rapidly digitized has been virtualized” and points to video conferencing and telemedicine as examples.

Doing things the way they’ve always been done is simply not an option, deciding to move deeper into digitization, is. That’s why it’s important to work with a solutions partner with COVID-ready tools and insights that make it easier on your field service operations and business-at-large to prepared for the future.

How to respond to the pandemic in 5 steps

Based on the digital transformation experiences of the field service experts ProntoForms works with, the following five guiding principles are recommended for a healthy recovery:

  1. Introduce new technician protocols to keep your field forces and customers safe. We’ve all seen how COVID-19 has drawn intense attention to issues of sanitation and workplace safety. In the McKinsey survey, 83% of respondents expect to hire more people for health and safety roles. Where is your company on this health and safety spectrum?
  2. Invest in technologies that optimize your operations’ agility and speed. As an example, McKinsey predicts that as workspaces are redesigned, companies will likely need more help with facility management. Field service teams that specialize in HVAC and elevator operations may find themselves busier than ever. Are your teams properly automated to handle this kind of influx — quickly and dependably?
  3. Plan and deploy solutions that can be scaled up or down across the enterprise, by division or geographic location in response to growing, shrinking, and newly emerging needs from within and externally. Gartner’s report suggests that the “fluctuating recovery phase will be almost as chaotic as lockdown…the need to scale back up to meet pent-up demand may overwhelm the supply chain and customer-facing operations.” Another significant implication for field services is that by 2023 roughly 70% of the executives involved in the McKinsey survey expect to be using more temporary and contracted workers than they did before COVID-19. Making labor a variable cost (think contracted asset installation, maintenance, and repair in the field) may be fueled by the pressure companies are facing to lower costs, and the need to expand and contract through economic up and downturns as the uncertainty of the pandemic plays out.
  4. Develop capabilities to quickly and easily track and share information. Scale solutions across different business operations and use cases. Integrate data collected in the field with other operational data and your company’s existing tech stack; easily share work order completion and compliance confirmation with customers and regulatory bodies.
  5. Leverage high-quality data analytics to gain insights, power informed decision-making, and focus precious resources where they’re needed most. Continuously review, refine, and reinvent.

Resources for field service pandemic recovery

To help you create and launch pandemic-resilient apps rapidly and reliably, ProntoForms has released a series of how-to resources to support your technology transformation.

COVID solution blueprints: Are you inspecting and repairing HVAC systems for hospitals at a pace and volume higher than ever? Building complex health and safety workflows? Retooling parts of your manufacturing operations to produce PPE for frontline workers? Rather than starting from square one, these asset and sector-specific reference materials detail what you should be thinking about and doing to build and deploy transformative business applications — fast — and feature workflow tree diagrams based on distinctive industry and equipment best practices.

Ready-made COVID response apps: Rapidly deploy CDC-compliant forms with just a few clicks, or make your own just as easily. Includes COVID-19 Site Readiness Safety Form and COVID-19 Employee Self Assessment Form.

If you’re interested in learning more about what the pandemic has meant for field services so far and where it’s headed, check out the “Fueling Post-Pandemic Recovery with Digital” session presented at the October Field Service Mastermind Series organized by WBR.

And for a closer look at ProntoForms’ simple to deploy and manage, low-code solution, sign up for a demo. We’re always happy to show you around the platform.