• July 1, 2007
  • By Coreen Bailor, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

On-the-Go WFM Efficiency: A New Blueprint

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Most of the case studies penned by the editors of CRM magazine have a heavy focus on customer-facing applications and how they're helping companies do a better job of marketing to, selling to, and servicing consumers. But every now and again we like to remind our readers that CRM isn't just about relationships with customers. Making it easier for employees to do their jobs is also a core building block of business success. D&R Framing Contractors, an affiliate of Universal Forest Products (a manufacturer and distributor of wood and wood-alternative products), is a prime example of this. The turnkey framing company services residential and commercial customers between Wyoming and New Mexico, and as a result, most of D&R's employees spend a lot of their time in the field. The company's field staff, which typically varies between 55 and 75 depending on the season, is often at far-flung job sites for several weeks, but the company's manual workforce management process posed challenges for quickly and accurately receiving and recording hours worked and jobs performed, and for calculating job costs. Timesheets were usually handwritten--which meant having to decipher the staff's handwriting--and faxed from the field. "Getting the timesheets into the office was sometimes a challenge, because there would be some projects where the people in the field wouldn't have a fax machine, so they'd have to leave the job site to find a location to fax us our timesheets," says Gloria Baltz, payroll administrator. The company wasn't in the market for a mobile workforce management (WFM) solution, but learned about location-based mobile WFM solutions provider Xora and its Xora GPS TimeTrack software from Sprint Nextel (then just Nextel). The app is not sold directly by Xora but through Sprint Nextel (in the United States, and internationally through other carriers). After discussions with both companies D&R decided to implement the application and run it on GPS-enabled cell phones used by field staff and BlackBerry devices carried by project managers. D&R went live with its TimeTrack deployment in December 2005. The application has enabled D&R to realize significant gains in efficiency by automating its approach to capturing timesheet and job-status data. Drop-down menus let workers clock in and out, and record the area and type of work performed, according to Xora. "Supervisors and management alike are in the dark in many cases as to exactly what's going on out there [in the field], and that's exacerbated by growth and larger field workforces," says Michael Berger, Xora's director of marketing. "What happens with Xora is that you're able to see exactly where people are, what they're doing, and when they did it, all in real time. Because it's all being captured on a phone in electronic format, the data can be e-transferred to a payroll or an accounting system, which will ensure that you are able to pay your workers accurately and bill your customers accurately." The deployment also arms the company with a much more accurate approach to determining job costs. D&R estimates that it saves $50,000 per year having automated timesheet capture and payroll calculation, which is about three times what it pays annually to use the TimeTrack app. "It used to take us about two days to get through payroll and it used to take about three people working on it; now it's about two people for about four hours," Baltz says. "It's not so much servicing our customers as it is taking care of our employees. The accuracy of it is a great benefit to them." The Payoff
By running Xora GPS TimeTrack, D&R Framing Contractors:
  • is saving $50,000 a year, about three times what it pays annually to use the app;
  • has a more efficient and accurate way for capturing timesheet data and calculating payroll; and
  • can more accurately determine job costs.
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