iPad Save functionality

It would be very helpful if we were able to control at what point in a process (such as completing a Work Order) the Save function pushes records online.  In the current state, each step results in an insert/upsert to the server resulting in sync issues when too many sync processes are going on.  If we were able to limit the sync process to a specific point everything could be done within one sync process.

What is the underlying problem do you intend to solve with this idea?
-
How is the problem being addressed today, if at all?
-
Product Area?
Mobile Field Service Management
What version of ServiceMax are you on?
Summer 16
20 Comments
Roast Chef
Roast Chef

Replace "Quick Save" with "Save Locally" button

Would save data to the iPad and queue up the sync record to be sent during manual data sync and/or when the actual "Save" button is pushed

Also have a view on the Sync tab for "Sync Requests Waiting to be Sent" or something along those lines

Pastry Chef
Pastry Chef

A Sync on Demand function, available from the WO itself is something we have been after for quite sometime, its the drip drip sync that occurs each time any data is added to a WO, that causes us issues, particularly when our users are in a poor 3G area.

It would work as described above, where a local save would be done by the user, and when they are ready, they can get in to a better coverage area and initiate the sync.

Employee
Employee

Great comments!  Curious... would you rather have sync save and send to server each bit of data entered, edited, or deleted and possibly impact battery (which might not a big deal if techs are plugging in anyway), or would you rather have an entire WO debrief and all associated actions be offline until all data are entered and then a "final save" would sync all updates back to server?

I have also found "Quick Save" and "Save Locally" have been challenging for techs because it's not a normal application function.  The application, as it works today in Win 15, saves locally but then requires an explicit Save or Cancel to exit editing.  If this didn't happen, then we would need to save unfinished work in the application, and have a new UI to access unfinished work.  The new UI would add more complexity to the application interface and allow techs to work ad-hoc rather than with a more structured workflow.  Thoughts?

Thanks,
Colby

Pastry Chef
Pastry Chef

Hi Colby

The big issue we have is due to sync times, and each time any data is added or edited, it has to be synced back to the server, and these automatic syncs seem to take a lot longer than the initial sync to get the data on to the iPad in the first place. And as these syncs can take so long, i assume they accumulative, there can be any number of issues occurring (Red Ball of Death, Connection Time outs, the App hangs, failed syncs with unknown ID's, duplicates etc), it can also mean that we have the duplicate time error on the service reports (Case 00015050, Eng Tracking Number SMX015230).

Our teams have asked us if we can give then a Sync O Demand button on the WO, so they don't have to constantly wait for the sync to finish, before they can create the service report, and its especially riling if they see a mistake of have to update a line, before they can created the SR, they would rather get the WO totally correct, move to place with a good signal (or even WiFi) and then sync all the data just once.

As for the Ad-Hoc input, most definitely, as you know we use the site centric model, and its normal for our users to have to work on more than one Installed Product per visit (record so far 25 in one week), and in most cases it not simply starting on one and completing it, before moving on to the next one, its much more do something here, let it run to test, do a bit on another one, come back the first one, adjust, back to the next one, etc, and they would like to make notes etc, each time they do an activity on each IP. If we make it too structured, they would end up writing everything they do on a piece of paper, before updating the iPad at the end.

Through our SFM's they can work in this ad-hoc way already, though its not that easy, and as we have discussed there is no single place we can review all the data they have added before we create the service report.

It will be great to hear some other feedback.

Thanks

Russ

Employee
Employee

Colby,

I would prefer a 'final save' as that would seem to limit the amount of data being synced to the server. I am sure some customers would like the historical data but if you keep the process flow efficient offline one 'final save' would be sufficient. 

If a technician has all the data needed to complete the work order, or multiple work orders, no need to sync anything until needed. 

Stephen

Roast Chef
Roast Chef

My comment about quick save button was misleading, to clarify:

I really meant to "split" the current save button to a "Save Locally" and a "Save and Sync/Send" button.  (both would exit current screen)

Where "Save Locally" would save data to the IPAD records, but would not attempt to sync any data to the server. Would even give admins ability to only allow one or both options for each process.

Since it would be "Storing" sync requests to be sent at a later time, it would also require an easy-to-access page/window that shows all "waiting to be synced" requests.  This will give techs ability to check up on it and make it harder to "lose" syncs.

I understand that this will affect sync conflicts between iPad and Server (less syncs -> more conflicts) - but this could be combatted by scheduling data syncs every X minutes (to prevent build up of "Locally Saved Only" data on the ipad)

Would give Technicians more control on when their iPads are sending data.

We have given our techs more freedom on when data is received (not forcing data syncs as often - relying on manual data syncs for data retrieval) and have had positive responses and feedback.  Impacts on total sync times and server capacity changes unknown at this time

Roast Chef
Roast Chef

Hi guys - do you guys not have offline capabilities on the iPad?  For some of my field techs, I recommended they disconnect from wireless on their iPad, enter in all their work order data, connect when they are finished and then sync.  This of course has to be done after they have already sync'd in the morning prior to leaving their home/hotel, etc. - so they have their work order downloaded on their app and it shows up in their calendar, but I've been told this was helpful and avoided the waiting and latency between data entry and sync status.

Roast Chef
Roast Chef

Hey Dan,

We have had mixed experience with this tactic.

Our work order process is divided into 4 steps, that rely on them being completed (and synced) in order.

The issue with going in to "Airplane Mode" and then syncing all 4 steps at once is that the steps can come in out-of-order and don't always close correctly.  Especially with the Service Report PDF generation (probably because it takes much longer to sync up). Has also caused duplicate line items, but as of right now this happens pretty frequently so might not be a real "cause" if that makes sense.

Further, our work order process updates other records as well, such as the account record. So if multiple calls are closed "at once," it sets off record update errors on the Account because multiple processes are trying to update it at the same time.

Our goal is of course to be able to close out multiple calls completely offline, then have a data sync come through and close everything out correctly, but these are some of the hurdles we have to face.

Pastry Chef
Pastry Chef

Hi Dan

Because of the locations of many of our installed products on different customer sites, many with poor 3G connectivity, we have been advised to use airplane mode if there is any doubt about the connection speeds (most of the time), and as you have found doing one sync on demand is a lot quicker and less error prone than waiting for all the automatic aggressive syncs to finish.

To use this offline method, the engineer needs to do an initial sync, set the iPad to airplane mode, enter the data and finish the WO, find a location with good connectivity, switch off airplane mode, leave the WO go to the sync screen on the iPad and select data sync, and then go back to the WO; whilst this is not that laborious, it would be easier for the user if they just had a single Sync Now button available from the WO.

Roast Chef
Roast Chef

UPDATE:

We have released the "Airplane Mode" process workaround to all of our field team (200+ iPad users)

So far it has been better than it was before, but not without issue

Still having problems of calls closing out of order - specifically the Service Report PDFs not coming in until after a call is closed, which affects our "email to customer" apex code - having to manually push out about 60% of these emails on a daily basis

All in all has helped - but having this function built-in would be huge for us:

-Control which steps have "Save and Sync" versus "Save Locally/Offline" enabled

-Allow ipad to have other apps use internet in the background (i.e. Outlook & Mail apps)