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Why Multifunctional Teams Need Collaboration Tools, Not Just Messaging Apps

October 22, 2020

When multifunctional teams need to communicate, manual processes involving phone calls and paperwork don’t provide the urgency or flexibility they need. They can’t share the necessary amount of contextual information or collaborate around a single source of truth.

Field service teams often rectify this by adding more consumer messaging platforms. In one field service technology study, 40% of field technicians said they use applications like WhatsApp to share real-time information in the field. Technicians may be able to use these tools to keep conversations going, but the discussions remain unorganized and ungoverned.

As consumer apps, these tools are meant to make it easy to talk to each other, not to organize multifaceted field service operations and prioritize relevant documents, files, and photos to share. The limitations of texting and messaging apps often make field service teams less efficient, not more.

A Lack of Actionable Information in the Field

Rather than being overloaded with messages and information, multifunctional teams need collaboration tools that allow them to dictate what collaboration looks like. This means creating a space where all teams involved in a project can collaborate, communicate, and share vital information safely and efficiently.

For example, a cleaning company that’s used to cleaning small and midsize business buildings might accept a job cleaning a larger, multibuilding facility. The nature of the work is different from what the frontline workers are used to, and they may need to draw on the organization’s expertise.

How does the team convey what information they need, and how does the office educate them on proper procedures — without long, sprawling messages and notification fatigue? Where can the team access historical service data so they’re not starting from square zero when they arrive on-site?

If the company relies on phone calls and consumer messaging apps, then there may not be an answer. Leading multifunctional teams in the field requires a level of collaboration that goes beyond instant messaging. Collaboration tools need to make operational efficiency as easy to maintain as if the teams were working from the office.

The Type of Collaboration That Multifunctional Teams Need

The greatest communication challenge for field service teams using traditional channels is that they confuse communication with collaboration. Multifunctional teams need the ability to share more than messages; they need to convey their location, upload and access photos and files, view the work history of job sites, and share this information with other team members.

In a more comprehensive collaboration tool, like Coolfire, team members can connect to individuals or groups of users to instantly share photos and videos or ask for more information and direction while on the job. In the cleaning company example, this means frontline workers don’t have to learn about new projects from scratch. Before even arriving at the facility, the home office could bring the cleaning team up to speed about which buildings to prioritize and how to divide the team for optimal operational efficiency. The home office could provide the team with specific instructions for cleaning new surfaces and using new chemicals according to CDC guidelines.

 

 

In a Coolfire Session, this information can be stored and shared alongside all of the context the team needs to keep the workflow efficient. For example, high-definition photos of each building and its interiors, which the client can share directly after joining the Session, will help the team navigate the facility without wasting time.

Teams can also share workflow updates seamlessly on any laptop or smartphone with an Android or iOS system. All of the information within the Session is organized according to the job at hand, including past service requests at the same location. Managers, team members, and clients are all given role-based permissions for optimal efficiency.

When the team completes the job, the entire Session is automatically archived to be reviewed in its entirety for future reference and analysis. If a different team is dispatched to clean a similar facility, it can draw on the previous team’s experience to further enhance operational efficiency. It’s the kind of collaboration that all field service teams need but can only get from software that transcends mere messaging apps.