inService™ Podcast – E4 – Aly Mawani

Many of today’s businesses now use field-focused forms automation, or technology designed for the field rather than the office.

The development of these kinds of custom apps can help a company increase its business optimization and revenues in the long term, especially when they are deployed and implemented correctly.

Aly Mawani, VP of Operations at ProntoForms, spent 16 years in the analytics division at IBM. With Aly’s extensive background in data, analytics, and solutions design, he has acquired several interesting insights into point method and the after-market service using custom apps.

ProntoForms is a low code application platform. It is essentially designed for building custom application solutions for field service management. It is for people who are interested in collecting data in a documented workflow. Aly led the professional services division prior to leading the organization as the VP of Operations.

Shifts in the market today

Aly observed that in the market today, there are two different perspectives in terms of how to prepare field service technicians or engineers to return to a job site. First is the preparation for field safety and understanding the protocols and precautions in place. Second is the preparation of the job site to receive the technician. The site must be cleared of hazards that can impact both health and safety for the technician and everyone else involved.

There is no major change in the process to complete tasks in terms of duration or end customer expectations. It is more about understanding how to overlay processes together and creating separate new processes that ultimately interconnect later downstream.

It is an added layer of complexity, but it offers field service professionals a chance for increased creativity when it comes to developing processes. From a business point of view, it is an opportunity for optimization.

Soliciting input from people who work on the periphery is essential for developing best practices.

Not only will they appreciate an opportunity to speak up, but their perspective is critical in building solutions to enhance their overall experience of an application.

Co-creation and co-ideation in app development

There are only a few steps involved in empowering after-market service with custom apps. For Aly, these steps are a convergence of ProntoForm’s implementation methodology meshed with his experience in design thinking and analytics. He observed numerous implementations and found an opportunity to distill the process.

First is the planning phase, which is critical to any deployment implementation project. The partnership begins with the customer and ProntoForms discussing the problems they want to solve. They also consider the intended experience delivered by the app. Once the final output is defined, the rest is simply working backwards from that goal. That initial discussion paves the way for the rest of the process, making it easier because the final product is clearly defined.

Next is the review and creation of the actual design, called the implementation phase. Third is the connection phase, where the solution and underlying data are connected to other systems of record.

This creates a winning solution. Once completed, scaling it across the organization is the fourth step. The final step is project optimization where they consider the solution’s next iteration and focus on its areas of improvement.

The importance of the planning phase

Design thinking first begins to emerge in the planning stage. Aly thinks of two things in planning any endeavor: working with a customer (co-ideation) and building a solution (co-creation) where he works together with the client in a partnership.

This does not always involve a vendor and customer relationship. Two departments within the same company can do this, too. For instance, I.T. and a business department can work together and brainstorm ideas on how to solve a problem.

Aly and his team leveraged the notion of co-ideation heavily since the onset of the pandemic. It is an important consideration in understanding the intricacies around problem solving within a customer environment’s constraints. Investing that time upfront pays significant dividends in the long run.

The time spent on planning upfront can spare a team the headache that comes with working on a project together. In assessing the implementation pathways involved, the planning allows for identification of risks that may arise. These risks are addressed head-on with proactive countermeasures.

Proper accountability also goes a long way toward ensuring everyone on the team knows their responsibilities and goals for a project. All these factors together can help mitigate any long-term risks. This helps in avoiding pain points created by issues, such as additional costs and unmet deadlines.

The pushback of adopting new technology

Resistance emerges when a new method of working is introduced. In scaling solutions, Aly makes a point about engaging people early in the app’s testing phase. Over time, when people feel that they are key constituents in the adoption of the solution, it makes the transition to newer methods easier for them.

Aly believes that part of the pushback involved in going digital is the tendency to get entrenched in business processes. Sometimes, it can keep leaders from seeing opportunities for optimization.

Business transformation today comes from opportunities borne from adopting new technologies or processes. It is not only about change. It is about revolutionizing the way a company works. It is one of the most difficult elements to overcome when it comes to change management.

People tend to react to technology in two different ways. Either they fully embrace it, or they reject it. However, it is possible to facilitate easier adoption within a company. A good leader prepares to introduce a new process according to how it will be best received by employees.

Aly thinks that there is a strong correlation between the difficulty of change and the rigidity in how things are done in a company. Cultural transformation is a critical area to address. Unfortunately, it is also the one that largely gets swept under the rug where solution deployments are concerned.

He emphasizes that change management and culture are just as important as innovation. A leader builds a culture on the notion of what he calls “restless reinvention.” There is no such thing as resting on the laurels of a solution. Investing time, energy and resources is essential to stay ahead of the curve.

Business management comes with an element of spontaneity when it comes to day-to-day affairs. However, at the same time, long-term planning has to come with a level of anticipation. Preempting the changes that are coming evolves the organization to become more efficient. In the long run, it drives increased customer satisfaction and revenue into the business.

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