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What is mobile workflow management?

Mobile workflow management is a system that helps companies streamline and enhance their daily operations using mobile devices. It empowers users to oversee, modify, and execute predefined sequences of actions, ensuring efficiency even among dispersed teams.

With mobile workflow solutions, field workers can submit forms, complete tasks, monitor progress, and make decisions regardless of location, fostering agility and productivity across your organization.

First up: How do companies use mobile workflow management?

Mobile workflow management tools provide real-time insights into project status, progress, and issues directly on mobile devices. These solutions improve efficiency across various industries by tracking progress remotely, accessing customer data on the go, and encouraging adherence to timeframes and processes.

Industries that rely on mobile workflow management include those with workers on the go or in the field. These industries include:

  • Construction
  • Logistics
  • Warehouse management
  • Transportation
  • Delivery
  • Healthcare
  • Sales
  • Property management
  • Trade contractors

Mobile workflow management vs. traditional workflows

Historically, managing fieldwork has involved manual processes, face-to-face communication, and lots of paperwork. The traditional workflow might go like this:

  1. A dispatcher or manager manually assigns work orders based on their field service technician or mobile worker’s availability and skill sets.
  2. The employee heads to the office or warehouse to pick up a piece of paper with the work order, service request, or job sheet. Assignment in hand, they travel to the remote site.
  3. Once there, the mobile worker communicates with the company via phone or two-way radio if they have any questions or encounter problems, hoping for a prompt response or resolution.
  4. At the end of the job, the employee manual documents information like work performed, outcomes, and any additional notes on paper forms or job sheets. They also complete additional documentation to track and manage inventory, like materials or parts.
  5. Then, the worker returns to the central office or warehouse to turn in all forms and documentation, which another person must enter manually into the system.

While businesses have used this type of workflow for decades, it’s cumbersome, causes miscommunication and frustration, and invites oversight and errors.

Mobile workflow management, on the other hand, solves most of the challenges of traditional workflows, creating a streamlined process that saves the organization time and money.

The mobile workflow might look like:

  1. Employees receive their assignments remotely via phone or messages on the company’s messaging platform.
    They access information about the job by clicking on a link to a ticket on their client relationship management (CRM) platform, and then they drive to the job site.
  2. A mobile app guides them through steps to complete in a customized workflow, like filling out a form, collecting a signature, or sending an invoice. When the worker completes one task, the workflow automatically advances to the next one.
  3. They can access data on the spot to guide decisions about parts or pricing.
  4. When the worker finishes the job, there’s no need to worry about hanging onto documentation or driving back to the office to file it. If they had an internet connection, it’s already been uploaded—or it’s saved and will automatically upload once their connection returns.

Mobile workflow management in action

Canadian firm BGC Engineering wanted to upgrade from manual processes to a mobile workflow management solution to reduce their need for repeated site visits and redundant data gathering. The company turned to Nintex to achieve dynamic workflows, mobile data capture, and the ability to create, access, and edit forms on the fly. The result? They saved $30,000 in reporting costs, redeployed $45,000 in data entry costs, and decreased time to results by three weeks.

Benefits of mobile workflow management

Mobile workflows streamline processes for managers and field workers alike. They provide benefits like:

Increased efficiency and productivity
Mobile workflow management automates manual tasks to accelerate workflows. By spending less time on administrative tasks, your employees can focus on core responsibilities and revenue-generating activities.

Improved customer service
Mobile workflow management software helps organizations respond to customer inquiries and requests promptly. This attention to service often leads to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Not only do users have the flexibility of accessing workflows from any location, but they also can interact with them from their preferred device. Plus, they can customize workflows and forms, tailoring them to fit their unique processes and even their branding.

Greater visibility
With software and apps, managers can gain accurate, real-time insights into workflow performance. This visibility helps them monitor process performance and improve their decision-making.

Cost savings
Organizations save money with mobile workflow management tools, which increase operational efficiency and reduce time spent on data entry, document management, and decision-making.

Employee support
Mobile workflow management software provides employees access to up-to-date data, forms, and documents. Instead of checking in with project managers, they feel empowered to make informed decisions wherever they are.

Choosing the right mobile workflow management solution

Organizations with field workers face unique management challenges. They have to find ways to communicate with and support their mobile employees—while capturing the data they input while on the road.

Choosing the right mobile workflow management tool makes things easier. When evaluating mobile workflow management platforms, look for the following features and functionalities:

  1. Intuitive workflow designer: Low-code or no-code tools democratize workflow management—anyone can create mobile workflows. Look for one that lets you design complex processes with an easy-to-use drag-and-drop design feature.
  2. Forms: The ability to generate and complete forms is a big part of mobile workflows. Depending on your industry, workers may need to create and fill out field surveys, safety checks, property inspections, health inspections, marketing questionnaires, and more. Look for a platform that lets you create forms that look good across a variety of devices, from desktop to mobile.
  3. Geolocation tags: By clicking a button, field workers can tag their location on a map and automatically add their longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates. This makes it easy to note the specific spot of an issue or enable a colleague to return there later.
  4. Image and video attachments: Look for a mobile workflow management tool that lets workers easily upload media to document a problem or show proof of a job well done.
  5. Integrations: The platform you choose should let you connect to other software and mobile apps, ensuring a smooth flow of documents, reports, and other business data between systems. These integrations might be built-in or third-party.
  6. Offline capabilities: Mobile workers may travel to rural or underground locations where they might not have a phone or internet connection. Choose a platform that lets you temporarily store forms and data on devices until users are back online. That means employees can continue to work without process interruptions.

Best practices for implementing mobile workflow management

Shifting from traditional methods to modern mobile workflows requires some effort. Following these tips makes it easier:

  • Define clear objectives: Start the planning process by gathering input from organizational stakeholders like users, managers, and executives about their current workflows, concerns, and opportunities. Then, analyze this data to identify specific processes to switch to mobile and identify your desired outcomes.
  • Ensure security and compliance: Use strong security measures to protect confidential data and ensure compliance with your industry’s regulations, like HIPAA, which protects customers’ healthcare information, and GDPR, which governs personal data in Europe. Encrypt data, use multifactor authentication (MFA), and choose a mobile workflow management platform that’s independently verified to meet ISO 27001:2022 standards for cloud security.
  • Provide training and support: Team members who have spent years using manual processes may hesitate to accept a new way of working. Provide comprehensive training and ongoing support to help them understand how to use new mobile workflows. It also helps to emphasize the why behind the switch—the benefits of the new platform—to help encourage buy-in.
  • Audit and adjust: Monitor your mobile management system to collect data on how its effectiveness and find opportunities for improvement. Compare your data against your initial goals to gauge growth in efficiency and productivity.

Future trends in mobile workflow management

The demand for mobile workforce management software and services has grown dramatically over the past few years. According to Statista, the market value for these solutions grew from $3.4 billion in 2017 to $7.15 billion in 2023.

As the sector grows, so do expectations about what mobile workflow management solutions can do for users. Trends causing a buzz of excitement include the incorporation of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and robotic process automation (RPA).

  • Artificial intelligence: AI-powered tools and algorithms analyze data, make predictions, and generate content or make decisions based on past patterns. In workflow management platforms, AI capabilities let you create forms and workflows with a click.
  • Machine learning: Systems with ML algorithms can learn from data and improve over time. In mobile workflow management tools, ML will continue to predict outcomes, optimize processes, and personalize user experiences based on past data and user behavior.
  • Robotic process automation: RPA uses a fleet of software robots to automate repetitive, rule-based tasks. This technology will continue to enhance tedious tasks like data extraction and data entry in mobile apps, reducing costs and giving humans more time to focus on more important tasks.

These capabilities come together in intelligent automation (IA), which uses a combination of workflow automation, AI, and RPA to improve processes. Because they offer enhanced efficiency, mobile workflow solutions that feature IA will likely become even more popular across industries in the future.

Looking to implement this approach? Create and manage mobile workflows with Nintex.