Managing a workforce via the cloud has quickly become the norm, as businesses now have more tools than ever before from which to choose. According to RightScale, 93 percent of businesses use the cloud in some form or another. However, determining which technology tools to use — and how to make it all work for your team — is another animal altogether.
Of course, not all cloud-based tools are created equal or right for a specific field workforce. But adopting workforce management software and conjuring up new ways to streamline inventory updates can help improve employee morale and positively impact your bottom line.
Not sure where to start? Here are five surefire ways about how to manage your field workforce from the cloud.
1. Adopt Workforce Management Software
Keeping a company running in the cloud starts with the right workforce management software. Give your staff the software tools they need to succeed and keep them more engaged with self-service and mobility capabilities. Software providers like Aspect can also help manage your agents’ personal schedules and preferences to give them the flexibility they want and need.
For example, Aspect uses forecasting tools and looks at historical patterns to better determine the number of agents who should be working in your call center at any given time. In other words, the workforce management software allows you to staff your call center appropriately without much in the way of logistics.
2. Supercharge Your Project Management Tools
It can be difficult for your field workforce to juggle multiple projects at once. But a cloud-based project management tool like Slack can help your employees better manage their work by organizing tasks and communication in one centralized place. Help your virtual team manage projects, and make sure to add employees to project-specific channels to receive ongoing updates, notes and correspondence.
You can also assign specific team members to sensitive projects and drag and drop files to keep them posted about progress. And, instead of trying to arrange in-office meetings, you can launch video calls directly from Slack and add new graphics and PDFs to your projects in real time.
3. Leverage Real-Time Data Scraping
Web scraping is another powerful tool to collect insights from other websites, including your competitors’ social media followers. But the process also provides a means to update your inventory, so your field reps have the latest information on the road.
A service like Import.io provides information on pricing and the products your competition has added or removed from its virtual stockroom. Your employees can use this information to better target new customers and streamline sales as well as foster better relationships with customers and vendors, who expect reliable, up-to-date information on their purchases.
4. Manage Expense Reporting On-the-Go
Expense reporting is a necessary part of balancing your books, but it’s also a major pain point for employees. A recent survey conducted by Concur found that 10 percent of respondents would rather clean their office bathroom than complete another expense report.
Aside from the time and energy it takes to create one, employees are also prone to making routine mistakes. Instead of relying on manual expense reporting, adopt a cloud-based tool like Freshbooks to help keep expense reporting streamlined and easy. Employees can connect their company credit card to FreshBooks to skip over the pain of manual entry and see updated expenses that can easily be categorized.
5. Find the Right Hacks
All the apps in the world can only take your field workforce so far. But figuring out the right shortcuts and hacks to connect them all together is key to saving time and remaining productive. That’s why you may want to automate your field employees’ workflow with a tool like Zapier in order for the cloud-based tools you use to more efficiently share data and simplify work processes.
For example, Zapier can trigger when an email from a customer or vendor should go into a specific email account. From there, Zapier can then copy any attachments into Dropbox and alert your employees in Slack that a new file is available for review for your latest project.
The key to managing your field workforce in the cloud is using the tools that make the most impact on your day-to-day and big picture goals. Start with the tools that fine-tune the processes you use most — and then slowly add more resources as you master your workflow.