29.01
2020

The Basics of GPS Tracking at Actsoft

At Actsoft, the base of many applications used to improve the efficiency of partner businesses is GPS tracking. Many Actsoft customers and other people in the general public know of GPS, but don’t quite understand what it is or how it works.

GPS tracking began in 1994 after more than 20 years of planning by the U.S. Department of Defense. Although it began as a military project during the Cold War, GPS is now used by civilians for daily use. The history of GPS is extensive and the technology is constantly changing, but it’s pretty simple to understand.

Tracking is done through an established connection between a GPS tracking device and a system of satellites in orbit. To create a connection between the device and satellites, the user must be outside and usually in fair weather, so a transmission from the device can be sent to a satellite and the satellite can send information back to the device. GPS satellites can tell longitude and latitude, elevation, and even velocity. For the average person, this information is available on their smartphone, tablet, and computer.

Actsoft and its customers use this information to run their companies more smoothly. We take the information sent by GPS satellites and compile the acquired data of several employees to create a report on the whereabouts and activity of everyone throughout the day. For a business that needs its employees to travel, it’s essential to track their actions.

Companies can also customize settings to create unique locations that can be set as a landmark area, where an employee should be at during set times (e.g. a job site). These geofences can be set to any configuration that will cover a certain area set by employers. Businesses can set email alerts for if employees aren’t in the proper zone or if they’re in a certain area for too long.

Actsoft uses GPS to track devices and allow companies to keep tabs on personnel. In addition, GPS is used to ensure that the business is running smoothly and efficiently. GPS is used for more than just getting a person from “point A” to “point B”; it’s an innovation that allows companies to maximize revenue through a technological achievement.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

Call (888) 732-6638 or Receive a Live Webinar

28.01
2020

Encore’s Web Forms: A Key Tool for Streamlining Data Collection

In a previous enhancement to Encore, we released Form Workflows, a feature that allows one of your mobile employees in the field to begin filling out a digital document and then send it in a chain of command to other staff members for completion. Now, we’ve improved this functionality even further with Web Forms.

Available exclusively to users of Encore’s Ultimate tier, Web Forms provides the administrators at your company’s home office with the ability to start completing an electronic form on a desktop computer. They can then easily transfer it to your mobile workers in the field, saving time and making data collection far easier for your team. Employees away from the office can also start a document and send it back to the office for finalization on a desktop.

Benefits of Web Forms:

  • Implement command chains for forms in order to improve team collaboration.
  • Decrease paperwork costs and the time it takes to pass and collect information even further.
  • Improve productivity, accountability, and versatility with efficient, customer-friendly documentation that can be processed multiple different ways.
  • Set payment authorization workflows that automatically redirect certain expense limits to decision-makers.

A good example of Web Forms in action would be in the case of an HVAC company sending out mobile technicians to customer homes to fix broken air conditioning units. Rather than having the field employee begin a digital maintenance form from scratch and unnecessarily waste time inputting information, they can begin making their repairs earlier, with office personnel filling in any preliminary data while the tech drives to the job site.

For other types of businesses where purchase orders are more common, an employee can use Web Forms to begin filling out a purchase request document at company headquarters that will automatically redirect to a designated manager’s mobile device for review, even if that manager is currently away from the office. By helping to bring the dispersed parts of your workforce closer together, use Encore and its new Web Forms feature to improve cohesiveness and cost efficiency across your entire operation.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

Call (888) 732-6638 or Receive a Live Webinar

 

24.01
2020

Recap: Actsoft at Geotab Connect 2020

As you may know, last week we had the opportunity to be a part of this year’s Geotab Connect event. Hosted in San Diego, the event brought together fleet industry experts and leaders to share their knowledge, demonstrate their services, and give insight into the future of fleet. For us at Actsoft, in addition to being a major platform to showcase our solution, it also gave us myriad opportunities to learn even more about, and connect with, our newest partner, Geotab. I took some time to sit down with some members of the team that attended the event to learn more about their takeaway.

The event, which kicked off last Tuesday, included a three-person fireside chat. One of the panelists was our very own CEO, Tom Mitchell. During the discussion, Mitchell, along with Geotab’s Neil Cawse and Lytx’s Brandon Nixon, discussed a variety of topics, including the future of AI in fleet telematics, integration between multiple telematics solutions, the yet-to-be-seen impact of 5G, and electric vehicles’ role in the future of fleet.

The most exciting avenue for Mitchell, however, was one that explored further potential mutual benefits between Geotab and Actsoft’s partnership, especially in light of some news that Geotab revealed during the conference. “Geotab is monstrous,” Mitchell said. “They just surpassed two million subscribers. They have their hands in a ton of different things.”

Geotab already dominates the fleet-tracking space. With their massive customer base and the technology packed into their GO devices, they’re able to deliver all the information fleet operators need to know about how their vehicles are functioning and how they’re being treated. But as Mitchell pointed out, when companies that excel in their individual fields join forces, it results in a better, all-encompassing package. “You can’t go out there and find a single-source solution.”

Andrew Velker, Executive Vice President of Sales at Actsoft, seconded this notion. “There are very few companies that tell the full story like Geotab,” he told me. “We take it outside the vehicle.” This further demonstrates the importance of combining efforts. Rather than one company attempting to do everything, multiple can work together and excel in their areas of expertise, offering customers a much more robust solutions package.

And if the crowds at our booth were any indication, fleet operators agree. “I couldn’t believe the number of people swarming at our booth,” Mitchell said.

Connect 2020 not only gave us an opportunity to further strengthen our partnership with Geotab, but also to begin a dialogue with other companies we might work with. “[The event] was about strengthening our relationship with Geotab and creating different partnerships, all centered around Geotab,” said Kevin Thigpen, Chief Operating Officer at Actsoft. “It was focused on domestic and international partnership potential. I met a lot of different groups at one event, making it a cost-effective and efficient solution.”

Getting so much face time with various representatives from Geotab — there were at least 300 employees in attendance — was another huge win, in particular for Trent Cherin, Vice President of Global Strategic Alliances at Actsoft. Having that in-person interaction was a great opportunity to discuss the future of Actsoft and Geotab’s partnership, such as the integration of the platforms. “We want to provide different functionality from within the Geotab platform,” Cherin explained, “to give existing Geotab customers the same look and feel they’re used to, but with new information.”

The event also gave us the opportunity to seek out new potential resellers for our Encore solution. Rod Shaddeau, Actsoft’s Indirect Reseller Channel Manager, said of the event: “We met with more than 20 Geotab resellers. I have a ton of follow-up with these 20-plus [individuals].” (Note: Visit our Resellers page if you’d like more information on how you can become an Encore reseller.)

One common takeaway that everyone in attendance was in agreement about was: Big data is the next big thing. “Geotab is huge into big data and AI,” Mitchell said. “I see us doing more with the data we are collecting.”

Thigpen agreed, saying, “I see us further integrating our platform and data with Geotab and leveraging new APIs to integrate with big data. We’ll change the conversation we have with our customers. We’ll be able to pull data from multiple sources to help customers better understand their businesses through trends and predictive analysis. [Through this,] you change the paradigm of your relationship.”

“How does a company differentiate itself?” Velker posed. “More data and better technology. They’ll rise above other companies not doing that because they’re stuck in the past.” He echoed Thigpen’s sentiments, saying we’ll be able to use all of this data to help make companies smarter and paint a clearer picture so they’re better equipped to make decisions on the fly.

Suffice it to say, Geotab Connect 2020 was an exciting event for us, one rife with ample opportunities to grow and collaborate with Geotab and its ever-growing family of resellers and customers. We’re excited about what the future holds and how this partnership will continue to flourish and help us provide our own customers with even more enhanced solutions.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

Call (888) 732-6638 or Receive a Live Webinar

22.01
2020

Encore’s Dispatching Scheduler: The Solution to Work Order Inefficiencies

In one of last week’s blog posts, we discussed some of the difficulties a field service company faced without having a tool to plan out their mobile employees’ work orders in advance. In addition to productivity and brand reputation suffering due to confusions in scheduling, the company was also spending too much money on paper documents to instruct staff that were handwritten and, at times, illegible.

Our flagship workforce management software Encore now enables businesses to manage workloads ahead of time with its Dispatching Scheduler feature. Available exclusively to users of the solution’s Ultimate tier, the Dispatching Scheduler provides an easy, yet intuitive way for your team to plan out customer visits and increase its efficiency.

Features of Encore’s Dispatching Scheduler:

  • A color-coded dashboard that provides easy identification for work order progress.
  • The ability to create service delivery windows for employees dispatched to new customer locations.
  • A feature for reassigning pending orders to new workers on the fly.
  • Calendar and Schedule rows that display availabilities, last known employee locations, and current assignments.
  • The ability to see lists of unassigned orders and drag and drop them onto user schedules.


Encore’s Dispatching Scheduler dashboard.

Benefits of Encore’s Dispatching Scheduler:

  • Distribute workloads more evenly.
  • Optimize employee schedules for higher efficiency.
  • Save time and money with intuitive scheduling that helps to keep employees informed.
  • Provide customers with more accurate service delivery times.
  • Graphics-based scheduling allows your staff to work faster and more interactively.

When applied to the field service use case, it’s easy to see how this powerful new capability could instantly improve the company’s processes. Encore’s Dispatching Scheduler allowed the business’s mobile employees to have easy access to their daily schedules, eliminating unnecessary back-and-forth communication from the office to the field and giving them a much more accurate timeframe for service deliveries. Due to both an increase in productivity and efficiency with the Dispatching Scheduler, their business was able to save significant revenue and also increase its opportunities from a strengthened reputation amongst its customer base.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

Call (888) 732-6638 or Receive a Live Webinar

 

21.01
2020

Communication is Key!

Actsoft aids in utility company response times.

As much as we would like to avoid it, accidents happen. Trees and power lines fall on roads, water pipes burst, and traffic lights go out. There isn’t much we can do about it except hope that the utility companies that handle the messes are well prepared. Responding quickly to emergencies, as well as communicating information efficiently, are two extremely important factors that make up a successful utility company. They’re both essential to help assure a timely response, and guarantees they have all the information needed to correct the problem.

Communication is key! Our solutions help utility companies by bridging the gap between the accident and the solution.

Actsoft combines GPS and wireless technology to maximize productivity.

  • Reduce response times in critical situations.
  • Date, time, and GPS location–stamped reports give indisputable proof of service.
  • Collect timely and accurate field data.
  • Provide factual data for regulatory and compliance reporting.
  • Send and receive accurate, up-to-the-minute updates and changes.
  • Reduce unproductive trips to the office.
  • Panic button notifies the office immediately in case of an emergency or dangerous situation.

Sometimes when we see the utility trucks on the side of the road with employees fast at work, we assume they just magically appear there. Not true. It takes a coordinated effort between the dispatchers and drivers to get each truck where they need to be. And that effort is made much easier with our software.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

Call (888) 732-6638 or Receive a Live Webinar

17.01
2020

How to Establish a Team of Safe Fleet Drivers

We’ve talked about ways to help keep your drivers safe on the road when perilous winter conditions introduce hazardous obstacles. But what measures can you take to make sure your drivers know how to stay safe in general? After all, these are people you’re entrusting with your costly vehicles, and who are ostensibly serving as representatives of your company to anyone they drive past. Not to mention, there are lives at stake whenever they’re behind the wheel. There are a few steps you can take, before ever handing the keys of your vehicles over, to help make sure your drivers know what they’re doing.

Run a background check.
It goes without saying that you should always check to make sure a new driver has a valid license. But have you also looked into their past? Running a driving history check can give you further insight into their abilities. If a candidate’s past is checkered with a series of violations, it’s probably a good idea to reconsider bringing them on board.

Test them.
When considering onboarding a new driver, do you simply trust them based on their resumes? While a storied history in the trucking industry is a good indicator that they have the chops to drive for your company, it never hurts to present them with a written test to measure their actual knowledge of the rules of the road.

Buddy up!
Once you’ve decided to bring someone onto the team, consider pairing them with one of your more seasoned drivers, at least during a probationary period. This person will be able to help the newbie acclimate to a new vehicle, give them tips based on experience, and assure that they’re following best practices that both keep everyone safe and represent your company properly.

Create a driver safety policy.
Most businesses have some sort of employee handbook that lays out the rules of the workplace. In running a fleet-based operation, this handbook should include a driver safety policy. Present stipulations that reinforce the idea that all employees must adhere to the parameters of the law as a condition of employment, with no exceptions. Highlight the dangers of distracted driving, to include cell phone use, driving while fatigued, and even eating while on the move. Be sure to regularly revisit the policy, as incidents that arise over time may give you reasons to modify it.

Invest in GPS monitoring.
With Encore, our flagship mobile workforce managing software, administrators have the ability to monitor their employees from anywhere. You can receive alerts that give you insight into drivers’ safety practices, including speeding and hard accelerating/braking, actions that indicate unsafe practices are taking place. With these notifications, you’re able to make more informed decisions about your drivers, giving you the option to address situations before they get out of hand and someone is hurt.

Safe driving is one of the most important facets of any fleet. Without it, your reputation, your vehicles, and people’s lives are at risk. It’s your job to do everything you can to recruit the best drivers available. It’s ours to help make sure they continue to follow the rules.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

Call (888) 732-6638 or Receive a Live Webinar

15.01
2020

Field Service Scheduling: Dispatchers Hold The Keys To Success

In order for a business to be successful, employees need to work together as a unit. For field service companies, the dispatcher plays a vital role, fulfilling customer expectations while monitoring operations and workflow. Dispatchers must respond to critical situations, ensuring that every job site has an available worker and that all units are functioning at maximum efficiency and all services are performed in a timely manner.

One way dispatchers can stay organized is to incorporate a field service planning or scheduling technology. Automating the scheduling process enables dispatchers to support more workers and deliver a better overall experience for the customer.

Field Technologies Online explains how the role of automation and its three associated technologies can be summed up:

“Three technologies are required to provide first-class service and allow a single dispatcher to support up to 100 service techs. First, there must be an enterprise software system in place that contains critical data, including work order information, customer and contract details — including SLAs — and information about the technicians themselves. Second, service technicians whose routes may change during the day need a mobile device (smartphone, pad, or specialized device). Finally, there must be a scheduling optimization engine that is as responsive to schedule changes as your business needs it to be. If routes change dynamically or in instances where you have very demanding SLAs, then a scheduling optimization engine that cannot respond in near real-time or plans the route in batch, is simply inadequate.”

The work of a dispatcher is multi-faceted. Routes and schedules are ever changing, resulting in the need for an automated process. The use of a scheduling tool significantly decreases the amount of time it would take even the most experienced dispatcher to deploy a work crew. This increase in efficiency markedly improves customer service and provides critical support to technicians in the field.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

Call (888) 732-6638 or Receive a Live Webinar

14.01
2020

How Workforce Productivity Can Suffer Without a Solution for Scheduling

For companies with a mobile workforce, coordination and efficient dispatching are key. However, a business’s productivity and finances can both suffer if work orders aren’t scheduled in advance.

For example, a field service company experienced multiple issues with their dispatching process, as they didn’t have a way to effectively plan out customer visits by their mobile employees. Their team relied on a workforce management application that allowed them to make changes to staff assignments on the fly, but the software lacked a solution for scheduling jobs in advance. This led to a reduction in productivity, as time was being unnecessarily wasted during constant back-and-forth communication from the office to the field. Customers of the business were also becoming increasingly frustrated due to service delivery windows that were either inaccurate or too vague.

The field service company was also spending too much revenue on paper costs and manually printed schedules that were difficult to read and only available to be seen at the office. Once out and driving to customer locations, their staff were required to make calls back to a single dispatcher at company headquarters to receive further instructions, as they had no way to view their schedules from a mobile device. All of these inefficiencies combined to present their workforce with a barrier to optimized productivity and savings.

Stay tuned for the solution to this problem in next week’s blog post.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

Call (888) 732-6638 or Receive a Live Webinar

 

10.01
2020

How to Create Company Culture With a Remote Team

Company culture. Historically, it has always been a major component of any place of business. But as the concept of remote, or dispersed, workforces continues to gain in popularity, it begs the question: How does one cultivate that culture when so many members of their team are rarely in the same room at the same time?

When it comes to managing a remote team, it’s important that you keep those scattered team members front of mind so they don’t begin to feel neglected or as though they aren’t truly a part of the group. Even though they may not always be physically present, there are a few steps you can take to help maintain a healthy company culture and keep everyone involved.

Create a Culture Code
When everybody works in the same office, it doesn’t take long for newcomers to pick up on what behaviors are and aren’t acceptable. But the same can’t be said for remote workers. Particularly if these are people interacting with customers or clients, it’s important to create an official guide that highlights the company’s values, along with how they’re expected to behave when engaging in official company business.

Write it Down, Send it Out
It can be easy to forget that, while information spreads around the average office quickly by word of mouth, remote employees don’t have that same luxury. Distributing regular written communications that keep everyone in the know is a simple way to rectify this. As new, important developments arise, include this information in a weekly email (or internal message board … whatever works best for you), so everyone is as up to date as possible.

Check in Regularly
In the office, you’re bound to routinely run into your team, so it’s easy to have a quick catch-up and get updated on things. But with remote employees, those chance encounters don’t happen. Instead, book periodic check-ins; this keeps you in the loop with what they’re up to, and it keeps them feeling like a part of the team. You can even take a step further and arrange for monthly video conferences that bring the whole workforce together for a group update.

Keep Everyone Connected
Besides email and phone, how are your employees able to regularly stay in touch? Giving them access to a digital chat tool, where they can shoot off messages in real time and get responses from anyone who happens to be listening/reading, can help everyone feel more a part of the team. Services like Slack, which is particularly beneficial for its chat room–style feature, can serve as a virtual watercooler of sorts.

Schedule Face-to-Face Time
At the end of the day, nothing beats good old fashioned in-person interaction. Depending on the size of your company and your budget, the frequency of these encounters can be monthly, quarterly, or even annually. The point is: Bringing everyone together in the same room helps remote employees connect with their colleagues on a level that emails and even video chat doesn’t allow.

With just a few extra steps taken, even the most widely dispersed team of mobile workers can still develop and maintain a company culture that works for everyone involved and leaves no one feeling excluded.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

Call (888) 732-6638 or Receive a Live Webinar

08.01
2020

Mobile Technology: All Hands On Deck

These days, technology is constantly and quickly changing. Just when you think you have the coolest device ever, an update comes out. Keeping up with current trends can be a challenge, so choosing the best mobile resource management (MRM) solution geared toward your needs can be a daunting task.

Just as you want the latest technology for personal use, you also want the best solution for your business. While providing the latest and greatest technology to your employees is essential, you also want to select a device or solution that is user-friendly and easy to operate.

Sharing Information Is Key
When selecting a mobile solution for employees, it is important to choose one that allows you to share information and transmit it from the office to the field. There are so many variables to take into consideration when researching and choosing the right application: product training, ease of integration with existing systems, and excellent customer service to support your application.

Sarah Howland, editor-in-chief of Field Technologies magazine, explained this in a real-life example:

“A friend of mine got into a fender bender and after a frustrating time spent with the other party involved and the police officer onsite filling out the accident report, she asked for a copy of it. Having noted during the conversation that the officer’s car was equipped with a rugged laptop computer and mobile printer, she assumed her request was a simple one. However, the officer replied by saying, ‘I can give you my handwritten notes and the incident number, but I don’t know how to work that thing.’”

Want Not, Waste Not
In order to get the most out of your technology, you must explore all of its capabilities and use it on a regular basis. Purchasing an effective technology is only the first step. When you deploy it, you must do so in a way that every user receives effective and adequate training. With workers in the field, logistics can prove to be a challenge. Training on devices can be best achieved via:

  • In-house methods and modules
  • Video tutorials
  • Step-by-step learning manuals

Get the most out of your mobile technology. Research the best technology for your business needs. Train yourself on how to properly use the device. Share information about the product’s capabilities with your team members. Use the product as often as you can. Your MRM solution should not only increase efficiency for your business, but should also be one in which your employees feel comfortable using.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

Call (888) 732-6638 or Receive a Live Webinar