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HVACR Business News Reviews our App – Top 5 mobility and cloud solutions for field service professionals

December 4, 2012

Read the full article here

Go Mobile: Get rid of paper with electronic, mobile forms.

Guy Clermont Jr. of Guy Clermont Heating & Plumbing estimated the cost of printing forms, duplicate data entry back at the office and wasted fuel for unnecessary trips back to the office for truck inventory was costing him around $2,000 a year per field technician, with five people in the field. He decided to try a paperless system and looked at ProntoForms, a mobile-based business management solution for HVAC contractors.

“I knew this was a tool that would help me meet my goal of eliminating paper from my field teams,” Clermont said. “Equally important to saving time and money was organization. Paper forms were driving me crazy — too many lost forms to duplicate and manually re-enter back at the office, and many of them with missing information.”

Clermont said he considered using individual mobile apps for the various business forms his teams used, but he wanted something that he could customize and adjust to his business process and export data back to Quickbooks.

“We have developed a business system unique to us — our work orders and check lists are different than other companies — this has evolved from decades of experience. We get all of our forms on a smart phone — not someone else’s forms. Checklists, work orders and even taking pictures of a completed job or capturing a customer signature. This system makes us work smarter.”

The cost of ProntoForms is $19.95 a month per field worker. Compared to all the savings generated, it’s now one of the most effective service tools in the company’s toolbox.

Read the full article here

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Texas Midland Reporter-Telegram – Our mobile app in action in Texas oilfields with BP, Shell and others

November 26, 2012

Smartphones or tablets can collect, upload oilfield data

Full story available here

Posted: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 5:45 pm

Paul Wiseman

As smart phones become smarter and tablet computers become more common, more and more oil patch companies are using these devices to speed the collection and transmittal of field data. With the right forms on board, these devices can be used to collect safety, inventory or other data, which can then be uploaded to a server.

ProntoForms, a system of mobile-based forms for a variety of industries including oil and gas, comes from Canadian firm TrueContext, which developed the idea about six years ago for use in Palm Pilots. Forms are now available for all mobile operating systems, according to Tim Moran, the company’s senior vice president of sales. Moran is based in Austin and the company has a number of clients in the Permian Basin.

TrueContext founder and president Alvaro Pombo had moved from Colombia to Ottawa to work in the oil industry many years ago. Having switched to working with Palm, Pombo in 2001 had the idea to create forms for use in that device, and left there to start TrueContext.

Originally, the company custom-designed Palm-based forms for large corporations and, said Moran, struggled for its first five to six years of existence. Then Pombo struck upon a way to mass-produce and market those forms to mid-size and smaller companies, which is when the idea took off. In the custom-design days, the company had approximately 100 very large clients. Today TrueContext boasts more than 2,000 clients in the U.S. and in various countries around the world, with communications giant AT&T as a reseller for the forms and a presence in India, Chile, Germany and elsewhere.

Today, the average oil and gas client company has 10-20 employees, but the big companies are still on board. Oxy, BP, Shell and others are on the client list.

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Full story available here

ZDNet takes a look at our mobile business app and highlights one customer’s productivity improvements

November 24, 2012

I’ve posted the summary of our product – to read the full article at ZDNet click here

5 options for creating mobile forms

Summary: Smartphones and tablets are rewriting the rules for mobile data collection and field service dispatch. Here are five solutions for getting organizes paperlessly.

TrueContext Mobile Solutions – The Canadian developer of ProntoForms has a strategic relationship with AT&T, which is distributing its software – used by more than 1,800 business customers. The application helps organizations like Link Associates in Des Moines, Iowa, coordinate delivery dispatches. “ProntoForms has saved us up to 40 hours in labor a month,” said Jim Wilkie, fleet and facilities director for Link. That’s a lot of hours for a small business. The app links with a service that starts at $19.95 per month, per user for AT&T subscribers.

 

Our app used to survey Lynn University students in advance of final Presidential Debate

October 20, 2012

The third and final Presidential debate will be held on Monday October 22nd at Lynn University in Florida. AT&T sponsored an initiative at Lynn University to survey students on how mobile access to social media impacted their views of politics and the candidates for the 2012 Presidential Election. Our App was used on Samsung Galaxy Tabs for the survey.

Our latest white paper for CIOs developed on the topic of Mobility Enterprise Application Platforms – Packaged versus custom built

Special thanks to the research and writing team Steve Woodward, Matthew Ross and to the Creative Brand talents of Antoine Jothy

Excerpt from the White Paper – read the full white here

Introduction – The Great Debate

At present, one of the biggest technology debates within enterprises is how to best deploy mobile solutions into the field. Should these solutions be built and maintained in-house, or are pre-built, packaged mobile solutions the way to go?

Mobile solution capabilities for business continue to develop at a feverish rate. Seemingly growing by the month, device makers and the brands behind the major operating systems are arming mobile workers with more and more tools and access for smartphones and tablets. This
has left enterprises scrambling with how best to maximize what their workforce can do in the field.

The challenge for every enterprise is clear – provide workers on the go with the very best and most efficient mobile tools possible. If not, almost certainly, for every enterprise thinking about deploying a mobile solution, there are competing firms contemplating the very same decisions.

However, it’s important to differentiate between the mobile solutions we’re considering. As mobility solutions continue their rap- id expansion across businesses, multiple unique requirements can be defined. While smaller businesses may require only one solution, sophisticated enterprises may require multiple unique, packaged and custom-built solutions, including mobile Apps for brand marketing and retention.

This white paper is focused on productivity solutions for businesses, and compares the buy versus build costs of a multi-platform, fully integrated mobile solution, for data shared and dispatched to enterprise field workers, and for data collected in the field and real-time shared with the office and other team members.

For CIOs and big business executives alike, the pros and cons of
buying versus building must be heavily weighed. Pressure on CIOs is
coming from below, with employees complaining of how much more
productive they can be with their own smart device, and from above
- boardroom expectations of a clear and deployed mobile strategy.
For a multitude of reasons, speed of deployment in today’s competitive business environment is paramount – 18 to 24-month development and deployment projects can frequently outlast many team members, strategies and even the CIO altogether.

What compounds the challenge of the mobile strategy, and the ongoing debate of buy versus build, is the importance of interconnecting office data to the field and field data to the office. The mobile App cannot work alone; it must be connected to the office to maximize business productivity.

Invariably, at the end of the day, it will always come down to projected ROI – how much time and money is an enterprise investing and what kind of results will it yield?

Enlisting the help of an independent ICT expert with 20 years in the industry, we examine how packaged, customizable applications such as mobile forms solution ProntoForms, fare against similarly in-house built applications.

Steven Woodward is a leading international expert in ICT estimation and cloud computing governance. He has over 20 years experience in software estimation, benchmarking, valuation and governance. A Certified Function Point Specialist since 1994, and a Certified Software Quality Analyst since 1995, Woodward was asked to independently analyze buy versus build scenarios, involving ProntoForms and general industry examples.

In 2010, Woodward was elected as Director of International Software Measurement Analysis conferences and education, in conjunction with the International Function Point Users Group, custodians of the ISO/ IEC 20926 functional sizing standards. This standard is used to consistently quantify and categorize software functionality to establish realistic commitments, monitor progress and clarify support costs of software solutions.

Woodward is also a published author on effective project measurement and cloud computing measurement.

Read the full white here

Mobilizing Enterprise Workflows – Buy versus Build

October 19, 2012

What CIOs Need To Understand About Apple’s Passbook Service

October 8, 2012

Introduction to my article published in Forbes – October 8, 2012. Read the full article here

Written by Mark Scott, CEO of Northern Pixels, a mobile app business consulting firm.

The CIOs of the world’s leading banks and credit card companies have to be getting a little anxious about the direction of their mobile strategy as the stakes grow ever higher. Gartner’s tracking of mobile payments is expected to surpass $171 Billion this year and exceed $600 billion within four years. Meanwhile, Apple’s recent Passbook feature, a simple way to manage gift cards, coupons and tickets, hints at a looming “iWallet” mobile payment feature that could have considerable impact on shifting consumer payments market share.

With billions of dollars at stake, the mobile payment market today is still muddled with multiple players but no clear,  undisputed leader. There are two approaches in play. One uses embedded hardware in the form of a near-field communications chip (NFC) within smartphones, which requires an NFC-enabled merchant device to handle the transaction. The other is an app-based cloud transaction approach. The recent release of the iPhone 5, without an NFC chip, and the launch of iOS 6 with the new Passbook feature are signaling Apple’s preference for the cloud approach.

Three specific things about Apple are fueling banker CIO anxiety: existing user base, integrated convenience and consumer influence. With a reported 400 million active iTunes account and 315+ million mobile devices, Apple has major home field advantage to position itself ahead of virtually any upcoming solutions. To provide context, the U.S. as a whole has an estimated 176 million credit cardholders. As banks and credit card companies struggle to develop an adoptable mobile solution, Apple continues to build a powerful user base day over day.

Ultimately Passbook is designed to enhance the ease of transactions – which all merchants and brands like – and it’s an obvious precursor to connecting mobile payments.  Apple controls the hardware and the mobile OS, and now with Passbook, it provides brand app developers the ability to link their products to a centralized and easy management of gift cards, coupons and tickets. It’s strategic multi-step approach, and connecting multiple brands to its loyalty management infrastructure will make it easier to move to the next step of connecting them to the transaction system.

Read the full article here

Our business app connects pilots to flight operations center to improve business efficiencies

September 15, 2012

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The following is the introduction of an AT&T case study on how our mobile business app improves productivity for one of America’s largest fractional corporate private aircraft companies – Avantair. Download the full case study here

For Avantair, efficiencies soar with mobile applications

About Avantair

Founded in 2003, Avantair is a fractional ownership air travel company headquartered in Clearwater, Florida. The company provides clients on-demand flights for both business and personal travel across North America, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean. Avantair exclusively flies the Piaggio P.180 Avanti aircraft; its speed and fuel-efficiency allow Avantair to offer better service at lower cost.

Situation

With its leading fuel economy, fly-when-you want scheduling and convenient monthly billing, Avantair makes travel extraordinarily efficient. Yet the company’s internal operations were slowed by paper-based business processes. Pilots sifted through pages of travel charts and checklists to plan and conduct flights. Communication from cockpit to operations center by fax and phone could be inconsistent, causing a lag in data transmission. Submitting flight data and paper expense receipts for invoicing was inconvenient and imprecise. To keep up with its own high standards of operation, Avantair sought to update its processes and improve communication between pilots and office staff.

Solution

Avantair introduced tablet computers equipped with ProntoForms from AT&T for on-board document access and data entry. The company has quickly created dozens of electronic forms for pilots to use when they’re on the ground within this one environment. Tablets connect to back-end systems, enabling near real-time two-way transmission of flight information and operating updates, while MobileIron VSP from AT&T, a mobile device management application, helps to provide a high level of security for the data. The solution cuts out wasted time and bulky paper piles, and it reduces security risks of paper-based processes while trimming invoicing time by weeks.

ProntoForms from AT&T improves Facility Management practices and reporting

September 13, 2012

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The International Facility Management Association (IFMA) looks at our mobile business App 

Read the full story at the IFMA home page here

One of the biggest challenges in facility management is keeping on top of reporting from the field and managing documentation. Manual paper reports are time consuming and often include errors or missing information. And, too frequently, customer problems are not dealt with in a timely manner due to delays in reporting.

ProntoForms from AT&T improves FM practices and reporting, helping to ensure a higher quality of management, improved performance, and increased customer satisfaction. ProntoForms takes your inspection, audit and other process forms and puts them onto your team’s smartphones or tablets. There’s no change to your work process – we eliminate wasted time.

The ProntoForms cloud based solution has three main components; a mobile app for the phone or tablet for capturing data from the field, an admin dashboard for easily creating an unlimited number of forms, dispatching jobs and monitoring your teams and export and connection services to easily generate reports, connect to cloud services, or integrate with your back office system.

Data Collection: Capture text, barcodes, images, signatures and even GPS locations of form submissions. Leverage ProntoForms’ skip logic to bypass fields based on input or look up tables to pre-populate common content. Use calculations to automate mathematical functions and ensure accuracy. Run ProntoForms over cellular or WiFi networks and ensure delivery with store and forward capability.

Management and Reporting: Easily build even complex forms with the intuitive interface. Customize teams’ access to specific forms, know where workers were when they submitted a form based on a Google Maps overlay. Dispatch single or multiple jobs via the web portal to eliminate unnecessary trips to the office to pick up paperwork. Free up IT support and resources with the cloud based software.

Export and Connection Services: Out of the box Sharepoint connectivity, cloud connectivity to most popular services such as Goole Docs, SkyDrive, Box.net, Evernote and Dropbox. Export to PDF, DOCx, CSV or XLS formats. Automate form submission notifications via email, facebook and twitter. Utilize REST APIs for custom integration with back office systems.

ProntoForms may be acquired from AT&T regardless of your wireless carrier. Sign up for a free 30 day trial and have ProntoForms build your first form for you for free! For more information or to sign up for your free trial visit www.prontoforms.com/att/IFMA 

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A white paper developed for Rogers on the topic of mobilizing field workers with smartphones and apps.

Read the full white here

About the white paper:

Any company with workers in the field has to be as agile and as real-time as possible when it comes to relaying data and information. Businesses in the Field Services industry must take advantage of the latest and greatest advances in mobile data capture and technology in order to stay ahead of the curve. This White Paper speaks to how applications like ProntoForms can seamlessly integrate into existing Field Services business workflows and really make a difference.

Rogers – Mobilizing Field Service Teams

September 11, 2012

AT&T Case Study – Advanced Digital Security Speeds Up Cash Flow with Real-Time Ticketing Solution

September 10, 2012

A business case study from AT&T on our mobile business app

— Read the full case study here
 

Industry Focus

Digital closed circuit monitoring systems for business enterprises

 

Size

12 employees

Networking Solution

ProntoFormsTM from AT&T running on smartphones for real-time field ticket collection and processing over the AT&T wireless network

Business Value

Faster invoicing; improved cash flow; faster accounts receivable turnover; greater productivity

About Our Customer

Advanced Digital Security (ADS) provides digital closed circuit monitoring (CCTV) systems for its commercial, industrial and retail customers − from large, national chains to smaller, local stores. Headquartered in Dayton, Ohio with another location in Roanoke, Virginia, the company’s technicians install and service CCTV systems that complement customers’ efforts to secure workplace environments such as offices, entry areas, parking lots and more.

Situation

ADS technicians completed paper tickets detailing work activities at the conclusion of customer installations and service calls. At the end of each week, they would submit all tickets to the office manager for invoicing. Since some tickets might be missing or delayed, this resulted in a slow invoicing process.

Solution

ADS has improved its invoicing process by taking its paper forms and making them mobile withProntoForms from AT&T running on smartphones and the AT&T wireless network. Technicians now complete and transmit electronic tickets back to headquarters immediately after finishing each installation or service call. ADS can invoice customers the same day as when the service is provided, resulting in improved cash flow and faster accounts receivable turnover by, on average, eight days. All tickets and information are captured easily and accurately when technicians use ProntoForms, thus, improving productivity and avoiding lost revenue.

Seeing Possibilities

So when his AT&T account manager introduced Disher to ProntoForms from AT&T, he was interested in learning more. A demonstration of the mobility application quickly showed how improvements could be made in the company’s installation and service processes – and, ultimately, in the productivity levels of technicians. “They demonstrated how we could design our own forms, and easily access any needed information from our field tickets,” said Disher. “I could immediately see the possibilities and benefits for our customers and technicians.”

Before using ProntoForms, a technician would complete a paper ticket at the conclusion of an installation or service call, providing work details for billing purposes. He kept his job tickets until the end of each week, and would then submit them all to the ADS office manager in Dayton for sorting, coding and invoicing. In the Virginia office, technicians would scan and fax tickets to the office manager. As back up for the faxed tickets, technicians mailed paper copies of all tickets at the end of each week.

“We process 40 to 50 tickets each week,” said Disher. “From our Virginia office, we were getting scans of most tickets, but some would be missing. We would have to take the additional step of comparing the hard copies with the scanned copies, which might be delayed since the hard copies would arrive about a week later. This obviously slowed our invoicing process. We were all spending too much time either scanning, mailing or reviewing tickets. It was a very onerous process, and I knew it would get worse as the company grew.”

Improving Cash Flow

Now ADS technicians use the ProntoForms mobile application on their smartphones to complete electronic tickets immediately after the work is completed. Transmitted over the AT&T wireless network, tickets are delivered to Disher and the office manager within minutes of each finished job. “With real-time mobile forms, we can now invoice our customers daily, which has significantly improved our cash flow and accounts receivable turnover by, on average, eight days,” said Disher.

Disher also finds that technicians more accurately report information about each job with ProntoForms. “Since the job’s details are ‘fresh’ in their minds, we now capture every ticket and every piece of information,” said Disher. “I’m more confident that we are not missing information for billing, which has certainly impacted our revenue.”

ADS technicians also appreciate the fact that they can complete their tickets immediately. “They can rest assured that all paperwork is in at the end of a long day or week,” said Disher. “While on the job, completing an electronic ticket takes about the same amount of time as completing a paper form. However, our technicians save time when they no longer need to do the back-end activities of scanning, mailing and filling in any information gaps for the office manager, when they occur.”

Empowering the Field

With training and help from AT&T and ProntoForms, Disher designed ADS forms to capture exactly what the company needed for invoicing and more. Processed tickets are now automatically archived in customer files on the ADS server for easy and quick access. “A technician can review past tickets for greater insight when servicing a customer. For example, he can examine how a customer’s system was installed and other details that may help him troubleshoot issues,” Disher explained.

And when one of its nationwide customers needed information for compliance with federal regulations, ADS could immediately respond by adding this required field to the customer’s form. Now ADS captures and reports this information to the customer. Disher added, “They were delighted that we could quickly accommodate their request. Using ProntoForms, we are able to provide the information they needed, thus enhancing our security solution for them.”

Since working with ProntoForms, ADS technicians now recommend new fields for ADS tickets that will capture information to help them on-the-job. “They call me from the field and say, ‘can we add this to the form?’” said Disher. “I bring up the ProntoForms application on my PC, add the field, tell him to refresh his device and it’s done within a couple of minutes.”

Disher believes most businesses with workers in the field can benefit from ProntoForms from AT&T. And for companies implementing the application, Disher has some specific ideas. “Using ProntoForms, companies have a powerful opportunity to benefit from automated processes and information. Sit down with your field workers and get their initial input about what information is needed when designing your forms. Then ask for their feedback as they use the forms to capture, transmit and mine the information. There is no substitute for getting feedback about the practical application of ProntoForms in the field. I consider all suggestions from my technicians since, 99 percent of the time, it’s great information to have and use for the benefit of our business and customers.”

Voice of the Customer

“With real-time mobile forms, we can now invoice our customers daily, which has significantly improved our cash flow and accounts receivable turnover by, on average, eight days.”

– David Disher, President, Advanced Digital Security