Mobility “Coming Soon” to an EAM Program Near You!

Publication date: 
August 11, 2017

In the Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Facilities Management (FM) Update in June, we received a number of questions on mobility and the value it brings to the organization. We want to re-cap some of the benefits of using mobile devices and answer some of your questions. The use of mobile devices will increase at the University of Minnesota, across FM, as a result of the Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) project, which is scheduled to roll out in first quarter of 2019.

Mobility brings many new efficiencies to our FM program with the ability to access and enter information while being out in the field. Chances are you are even reading this article from your smartphone or tablet. Over the past five years, we have seen a cultural shift in our social environment; systems that were once only accessed from a desktop computer are now accessed via a mobile device (phone or tablet), which allows us to take our work “on the go”.

Technician with Tablet

Let’s take a look at some of the trends and advantages to mobility.

      • Mobility is everywhere. With more than five billion mobile subscribers in the world today, mobility has transformed the concept of connectivity. In everyday life, mobility has placed powerful applications, information and tools in everyone’s hands. Today our students are able to find classrooms, schedule classes, do their banking, and find real-time updates for campus bus arrival times. When was the last time you looked at a paper map while driving in your car?
      • Increased workforce efficiency. With a mobile device, traditional jobs that once required a clipboard and manual data entry are quickly evolving. By allowing employees to access systems through a mobile device, they have greater connectivity to the important information they need. Whether that is a parts list, a schematic diagram, current parts inventory, or emergency work message notifications, mobility is improving our ability to reach new levels of efficiency. 

Some examples include:

  • Use of voice dictation - In the future, you will be able to record all of your notes on a work task simply by speaking into your mobile device. Think of the time savings in doing this as soon as you are done with a task, while it is fresh in your mind, versus trying to read hand-written scribble and decipher it later at the computer. 
  • Real time access to data - Mobility provides near real time access to information and allows others within the organization to stay informed. Supervisors can be more efficient with the ability to assign work tasks to their technicians while in the field depending upon their location, availability and the repair criticality.
  • Ease of Use. Often, mobile applications are a slimmed down version of a larger computer application. Application designers can ensure that only the areas that are most important to end users appear on screen, providing a more efficient experience. As part of functional design, we are working with our cross-functional group to remove the non-essential fields and reduce clicks to make it as simple as possible. Simplicity and usability will result in higher levels of user adoption and maximize product satisfaction.
  • Saves time and effort. Mobility brings about increased efficiency. Users will have the freedom to devote more time to their actual tasks instead of getting bogged down trying to find an open computer and needing to remember all the information to be entered. This reduction in paperwork can save valuable time and allow workers to spend time on more useful activities.

mobile tablet on the job

Faster access to data is always a good thing.

Q & A about Mobile:

Who will have access to the mobile devices and EAM platform?
We are currently doing a needs analysis to determine what roles should have a mobile device.

What type of training will be available to learn how to use the mobile device?
We have a training lead on the EAM Project Team who is working on developing training for using the phones and the mobile platform.

Why is FM moving to mobile devices?
Using mobile devices will simplify data entry and create more efficient processes for FM crews. Ultimately, it will save us time and give your team greater access to critical information. Some facilities management organizations have seen a 10-12% time savings leveraging mobile practices.

When will we get the mobile devices?
Our plan is to train on the mobile platform sometime in late 2018.

We will continue to provide updates on mobile capabilities as additional information is available.