A mobile-first SaaS platform for the field service industry. Azure Cloud back-office administration and native apps on iOS and Android.

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Project:Mobile Field Service Platform Design and Development Date Completed:

ServiceBridge Mobile Field Service Platform

ServiceBridge is a SaaS technology startup that was founded on the idea that an individual with a ServiceBridge mobile app could operate a company with fifty field technicians while drinking a margarita on the beach. Simple to say, complex to design. All field service technicians need to capture job photos, collect payment, issue invoices and so on. Digitizing the whole process would allow ServiceBridge clients faster turnaround times on jobs, better customer service, and simplified dispatch operations for folks back in the office.

We partnered with ServiceBridge to build out a dedicated Product Team that has been working on the product for the last couple of years.

We defined the strategy and facilitated the design, development, and marketing efforts for a product platform that spans from mobile applications to web portals and employs a RESTfull service-based architecture on Microsoft Azure cloud.

Optimize Field Service Management

ServiceBridge is passionate about building products that surpass all existing industry mobile offerings in the area of field service management. As part of our partnership, we adopted ServiceBridge's vision: to extend the capabilities of field service management into the field, improving the efficiency and customer service of each technician. We wanted to make the technician self-sufficient, the transactions transparent and the level of customer care unparalleled.

Improve coordination and productivity, reduce paperwork

Based on the things we learned about ServiceBridge and their clients, we focused on attacking some of the most prevalent problems that field service managers run into on a regular basis. We wanted to provide features that would allow for a higher level of coordination and productivity, eliminate paperwork and make scheduling easy. We also saw a need for flexibility, considering the dynamic nature of field service work. For example, break time for field workers almost always varies, and every job is different. Unexpected issues arise, and we knew our solution would need to be conducive to effective communication between field and office. Ultimately, we analyzed the competition and came to the conclusion that current offerings had the following flaws:

  • Applications did not have the needed feature set to be truly paperless
  • Outdated technology and User Interface resulted in poor user experience
  • Existing providers were slow to implement features, address customer needs
  • Missing native implementations for Android and iOS platforms

A mobilized field service team

We created an integrated Software as a Service (SaaS) solution that encompasses every aspect of field service management, all the way from database to communication layer and back-office systems. As part of our comprehensive solution, we provided technology strategy consulting in the form of a dedicated product team for the development of ServiceBridge’s new website and mobile solution. We also leveraged our outstanding technical acumen to provide high quality analysis as part of our research and discovery process, getting to know every nuance of ServiceBridge as a company and the field service industry as a target industry.

After our initial research and discovery phase, we moved on to the design and development of the mobile SaaS solution that would address the problems we outlined; what would eventually become the ServiceBridge product.

The ServiceBridge Mobile App

It was clear that the capabilities that come with a native iOS and Android app would benefit the field service technician and manager in myriad ways, so it was a bit of a surprise to have learned that no such solutions with any validity existed in the industry prior to our work with ServiceBridge. For example, a native application allows for offline operation that would later synchronize changes upon entry to area with a data signal. Since there was such a gaping hole in the market for native mobile implementation, we wanted to get create an app and get to market fast so ServiceBridge would be the first providers of such a solution. This was achieved through our Agile approach to development and design and our team’s ability to integrate with ServiceBridge’s team and immediately leverage our technical expertise.

To address User Experience issues, the app needed to be simple to use but still have an extended array of features. As such, we implemented a clean and simple UI, which leads to quick and easy adoption by field technicians who use the app many times daily. We designed the application to focus on the core needs of these field technicians with as little clutter as possible, simplifying operation and making things go cleanly and smoothly.

To enhance coordination, we challenged the limited native API and created a completely new and more efficient messaging and logging layer. A more efficient messaging layer between the mobile app, the portal and back office system means that requests for information execute faster, with less delays, and allow for an uninterrupted workflow. As a result, communication is made easy, and everyone is kept up-to-date, and issues are addressed in real time.

Speaking of communication, the mobile app also allows field technicians to view digital forms and reports on their handheld smart devices. This includes easily-generated PDF files, which can then be emailed to customers and the back-office directly from the field. Technicians can file these reports faster using checkmark, text and pre-configured drop-down input fields, further optimizing the process.

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The inherent GPS capabilities of smartphones make it possible for field service managers to quickly locate, track and route their service and sales teams, a feature known as geo-tracking. This opens up a new view of information between the technician and the back office, including precise job and team locations, and easily-spotted job statuses and routes.

All of these features have worked to open up a new channel of communication and visibility between technician and office. However, this is dependent upon connectivity, and technicians find themselves in areas with limited mobile connectivity quite often. In response, we decided that it would be important for the mobile app to work offline. To make this possible, we created a queuing service that reconciles all activity as soon as the device comes online. This allows the app to effectively work offline without a loss of data, and all dependent information to be updated immediately and accurately.

Lastly, as part of our ongoing partnership with ServiceBridge, we continue to canvass the industry on the lookout for emerging customer needs. We regularly seek to implement new features that will address these needs, releasing updated versions of the app each month.

The ServiceBridge Web Portal

The next crucial aspect of the ServiceBridge offering is an intuitive web application we designed and developed parallel to the development of the mobile app. The web portal would be integrated to allow for managers to take advantage of the new open communication channel created by the mobile app, effectively extending all of the aspects of the underlying platform. Forms submitted by technicians are readily available as PDFs for download through the portal. The portal also provides the ability for field service managers to perform device setup, subscription management and user tracking.

The ServiceBridge solution also allows for storage all pictures, signatures and generated digital forms from mobile devices to be stored on the Microsoft Azure cloud, and these resources are at any point accessible through the web portal. With the cloud, the ServiceBridge web portal completes the paperless aspect of the service, eliminating paperwork altogether.

Sales and Marketing

Upon completion of the mobile app and web portal, we then identified a wealth of marketing opportunities. For instance, the web portal actually acts as a viable sales tool on top of its management benefits. To take advantage of this, we implemented promotional content and subscription forms, allowing ServiceBridge's clients to stay in touch with their customers and potential new leads.

To complement these marketing offerings, we’ve also designed promotional newsletters that ServiceBridge sends to customers through MailChimp, a popular email service. In addition, we’ve integrated Twitter and consult ServiceBridge on their social media strategy, all part of our ongoing partnership.

Conclusion

Through our partnership with ServiceBridge, we’ve created a cloud-deployed SaaS platform that turns a large, daunting task in to a seamless, fully digitized process. For field technicians and field service managers alike, the ServiceBridge mobile app and web portal optimizes processes and improves coordination and communication, making life easy. By working with Devbridge, ServiceBridge was able to tap in to our wealth of technical know-how as well as our development and design expertise, making paperless, efficient, and transparent field service management possible.

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