FairNetz GmbH implemented a SAP-based, decentralised workforce management system in 2010. Currently, the workforce management system coordinates 100 sales staff and 16 trainees. Until recently, the Reutlingen-based company used MAM/MAU based on SAP MI (Mobile Infrastructure) for mobile service. But when support ran out at the end of 2017, the network operators decided to replace the existing system.
The most important criterion for the new mobile solution was that the technology needed as far as possible to work to SAP standards and be based on the state-of-the-art. The plan was also to outsource the administration and maintenance of the new system to a service-provider.
Single source provider: development, implementation and support
As a long-standing SAP partner, implementation and support specialist, we at Axians NEO Solutions & Technology GmbH are able to cover this requirement in full. “NEO had already handled the introduction of our workforce management system,” explains Markus Digel, Head of Coordination and Order Management at FairNetz GmbH. “We had always been very much satisfied with the support and were happy to continue on this basis.” As well as improved synchronisation times and integrated support, the project also specified user-friendliness in the new mobile solution. “We have employees who did not grow up in the smartphone generation. So it is important for us that as much information as possible is pre-selected when the technician on-site is entering the data.”
NEO Mobile Suite takes over established functions
Because of the requirements described above, we decided to introduce our NEO Mobile Suite which was developed in-house. It is considered the leading mobile solution for job and message management, materials and business partner management and the management of technical items. Based on the question as to which functions they wished to keep from the old MAM/MAC client, we produced a prototype for the Reutlingen company. This was based on agile project management methods. “The scrum method proved very efficient for us. We had a twice-weekly phone call with our contacts at NEO, which meant any change requests could be integrated immediately. This meant successful results really quickly,” adds Digel with a smile. There was another advantage of the project approach for FairNetz GmbH: The tickets maintained by the NEO developers in the internal Wiki could be used as documentation by the network operators. “This meant we did not have to record the stages of the project separately.”
Cloud scepticism proves unfounded Unlike the old system, we have opted for the cloud-based NEO Mobile Suite. “Previously, a cloud solution was inconceivable for security reasons. But we can now be confident that our data is very secure,” explains Dirk Ulbricht, Head of Information Technology. For FairNetz GmbH, this makes using its own servers obsolete. “The whole infrastructure is no longer an issue for us. We have a perfectly stable, high-availability system for the technicians on site.”
Simple data recording, immediate synchronisation
For FairNetz GmbH, the switch to NEO Mobile Suite means a massive reduction in synchronisation times. Data transfer now takes just 20 to 40 seconds. Using a smartphone or tablet, technicians can access the data required for the maintenance call directly and record job and feedback data online and offline which is fed directly back to SAP, eliminating errors in the system. Previously, technicians could only record their own data, but every device now has a multi-use mode. This means service managers can transfer the times for the whole team. The intuitive user interface makes data entry much more user-friendly.
And there is one more function to make everyday work easier for the technicians. With the NEO Mobile Suite, they can now “search stock online” in order to save stock reservations. No more actual trips to the warehouse, which again saves time and money on every call.
“The NEO Mobile Suite makes my everyday work much easier. From the customer site, I can view our stock levels and reserve or reorder spare parts at the touch of a button – this is a function I never want to have to do without again.”
Benedikt Dezulian, Electrical Engineer, FairNetz GmbH
Summary and outlook
“The simple, quick operation, the use of modern devices and the simplified materials management have all contributed to a massive increase in acceptance of a mobile solution among our employees,” explains Digel, pointing out the benefits of the solution. The dramatic reduction in service times saves costs, and the service levels agreed with the municipal services companies are now being exceeded. And what happens next? New functions are being added to the NEO Mobile Suite on an ongoing basis. One example is a checklist function to make on-site data entry even more intuitive and efficient.
About FairNetz GmbH
FairNetz GmbH, based in Reutlingen, has around 350 employees and operates power, natural gas and drinking water supply networks in the region.