Imagine that a field worker gave you a call to report a problem with the buildings she’s inspecting. A pretty typical call starts like this:
“Morning, Jen,” you say. “Where are you right now?”
“My third stop, Building 8,” Jen says. “Building 3 was fine, but building 6 took a long time, and now I have to fail this one. I figured you should be the first to know.”
Note the first things you discuss:
Where people are, what has already taken place, and what exceptional events are happening. With Fulcrum, that’s data that can be communicated to you before Jen ever picks up the phone.
First, you can pre-load her data. The building locations and any needed data items (e.g., previous inspection date) can be set up for her, with a status of “To be inspected.” When she performs the inspection, she can set the status to “Complete.” When you look at her information — on a map or in a list — you’ll know immediately where she’s going, which jobs are already done, and even which inspections have passed or failed.
Next, as soon as she’s done collecting information from Buildings 3 and 6, that information can be synced to the cloud and instantly appear on your desktop in Fulcrum. Because all of the data collected at both buildings is already available, you can even see what “issues” Jen meant.
In short, you have much better situational awareness just by letting her do her job.
As long as she’s doing her job with Fulcrum, of course.
All of the information above can be displayed on a map. You can see red dots where she hasn’t yet inspected and green dots where she has. You can see the distance between the buildings she needs to inspect. And if you click on one of those dots, you can see all of the data associated with it, immediately, without having to find the building name, address, or other identifying information.
The data you might find includes photos or video Jen took. It might include an audio recording of Jen’s commentary, or a recorded conversation between Jen and someone who was onsite.
You can imagine how much this can help you understand what’s going on. You see a red dot on a map, indicating a failure. You click it, and you can see the reason for the failure. And not only can you see the check box for the item that failed, you can see a picture of the failed item, or even a video of the item not working properly.
Without having to stand next to her, you have the opportunity to see what she sees and know what she knows. You can see what needs to be remediated before you hear from her — and you can share that information with a maintenance crew, so they know what to do before they travel out there.
It’s worth talking about the cloud and software as a service (SaaS) for a few moments. Once you understand the part they play, you realize that all of the benefits mentioned above depend on these two technological innovations.
When you use the cloud, the software you run and the data you store resides in a set of computers somewhere on the Internet. In most respects, the less you know about those computers, the better off you are. (There may be requirements to have those servers in your home country and things like that, so you may need to know something about them.)
For some people, that sounds crazy. Why would a company give up some of its most important stuff — applications and data — to someone else, somewhere else in the world?
It seems less crazy if you compare it to a bank. You probably don’t get your money as cash from your employer and put it into a coffee can. Most likely, you have it deposited directly into your bank account — and for good reason. The bank is more secure than your coffee can: They have more people on staff concerned about security than you do.
And the bank makes using your money much more convenient and flexible: You can go anywhere in the world and use your money by taking it out as cash at an ATM, using your debit card to buy groceries, paying a small business with PayPal, or even writing a paper check (if you can find your checkbook).
Forget all the hype and magic. The cloud is, above all else, practical.
It’s like a bank for your applications and data. It’s secure. It provides access to anyone who needs it. It picks up data in real time on your phone and can show it on a computer at the next moment. It enables someone in Tallahassee to touch a screen and start a workflow that sends data to a supervisor in Duluth.
SaaS is practical, too, and you’ve been using it for a long time. Whenever you access Facebook or LinkedIn on a web browser, balance your checkbook online, or use Salesforce to manage customer relationships, you’re using a SaaS application. It’s software that you don’t have to install, because it runs in the cloud and you access it through your browser.
And it’s at the heart of Fulcrum’s ability to increase productivity and speed up your reaction times to issues in the field.
Another benefit of Fulcrum’s use of the cloud is that you can use it without installing any software on your servers. Just go to our free trial page to get started instantly for 30 days.
In our next post, we’ll talk about how all of this great technology for data collection, workflows, and insights can help your organization become more data-driven. See you then!