Since the widespread emergence of mobile computing technology in the 1990s, an entire industry has erupted with the mission to enable field service with better tools. The result has been a shift from the historical paper-based reporting process that is costly and time consuming to mobile inspection solutions and Web-based “always available” digital reporting. Field service management tools may also provide better visibility to field employees and enable more fluid operational oversight.

As more dealers and integrators adopt these services and technologies, there will likely be an increase in demand from facility operations professionals and code enforcement officials. In fact, NFPA recognized this trend years ago when it updated all of the major codes to allow for electronic reporting.

Service companies pursuing solutions to better support recurring revenue streams and attract larger, more profitable clients need to carefully evaluate which tools and services are right for their business. In some cases, this can be an expensive endeavor given the training, upfront hardware costs and time and effort to implement. That’s why it’s also important to establish a go-to-market plan with clear, actionable goals and realistic forecasts.

There are several mobile inspection solutions on the market that utilize a point-and-scan barcoding process using a mobile device. Other solutions provide interactive digital forms for technicians to record data and test results via a mobile phone or tablet. These devices can be equipped with ruggedized kits that include 1-D, 2-D and 3-D barcode scanners and extra battery power for Android, iOS or specialized device platforms.

As the market continues to demand tools that increase efficiency while reducing cost and liability, regulatory bodies and code enforcement officials will also adapt to the changing landscape of compliance reporting. Companies in the process of evaluating these solutions should begin by having a conversation with their local authority having jurisdiction to gain their perspective. — By David Spence, marketing manager, BuildingReports