Manage Mobile Phone Features

Just because we've been using telephones in business much longer than we have computers doesn't mean that choosing the right cell phone and plan is any easier than choosing the right computer hardware and software. In fact, depending on your business needs, the two tasks may go hand in hand. Can I get a signal? While companies in metropolitan areas have their pick of technologies, features and ...

February 28, 2005

 

Sidebars:

Too Much Communication

Just because we've been using telephones in business much longer than we have computers doesn't mean that choosing the right cell phone and plan is any easier than choosing the right computer hardware and software. In fact, depending on your business needs, the two tasks may go hand in hand.

Can I get a signal?

While companies in metropolitan areas have their pick of technologies, features and plans, those in more remote areas need to start by making sure they can even get a signal. While most major carriers in the U.S. now use digital networks, analog technology is still more widely available. In the short run, choosing a phone and provider that runs analog networks will provide better access in rural areas. In the long run, the technology probably will be obsolete.

 

 

The Nokia 6810 mobile phone supports wireless connectivity, e-mail access and high-speed data transfers. It includes a full keyboard that folds out, speakerphone and conference calling capability.



LG’s new VX8000 model offers streaming media technology, a 1.3 megapixel camera, instant messaging, a calendar, address book and speakerphone.

You'll also have to choose between code division multiple access (CDMA) technology and global system for mobile communication (GSM) technology. The key distinction here is that CDMA is more common in the U.S. while GSM is the global standard. If your field managers need to make calls to international suppliers or overseas clients, this may be a factor in your decision.

One easy way to check out your options is to visit C/net, a Web site that specializes in reviewing technology products. Go to www.cnet.com and click on the "cell phones" link under the Reviews heading. Typing in your zip code allows the site to search for the providers and plans available in your area. If your company covers a multistate region, many of your customers live elsewhere part of the year, or key staff members often travel, check out the map showing the national coverage for each plan.

Factors to consider

These days mobile phones multitask more than a Swiss army knife. But while said knife is a very useful tool, there are times when you'd rather have specialized equipment. Some questions to ask yourself when choosing cell phones for company use:

Who really needs one? Should all salespeople have one? All field employees? Just managers? Is the mobile phone a perk or a business tool? Will the phones be used primarily for staff-to-staff calls, or will employees also need these to interact with suppliers, subcontractors and customers?

Should we get local or national coverage? If local seems adequate, when will we be likely to encounter roaming charges and how much does each plan charge?

How many monthly minutes will each user need? With a business phone, most of these calls will take place during peak weekday hours, so free evening and weekend minutes won't be as meaningful. How much are overtime charges if you underestimate?

Does the cell phone include a push-to-talk or walkie-talkie option?

Is the integrated camera option worth the cost? Having digital before and progress shots of a project help salespeople, designers and carpenters do their jobs better and can protect the company against potential litigation. But cell phones don't yet include cameras that can produce print-quality images.

Are field employees using handhelds, text messagers or pagers? You may want to consider instead a phone that can handle text messaging, e-mail and Internet browsing.

Can the phone hook up to a database, printer or other devices?

Do we like our office phone service provider and/or Internet provider? If so, they may offer a plan discount for using multiple services, a discount on the purchase of the phones themselves, or additional lines for a reduced rate.

Do I want GPS tracking tied to the phones, or would it be better to have it tied to company vehicles?

How durable is the phone's exterior, especially for field use?

Will having cell phones reduce construction productivity as more "office" work moves to the field?

For more information on this topic, including user reviews, visit the following Web sites: www.cnet.com, www.cell-phone-plans.net, www.phonescoop.com

 

 

Too Much Communication

Giving mobile phones to the field can create problems as well as answer them, says Monroe Porter, a partner in Proof Management Consultants in Midlothian, Va.

"If you give a cell phone to a control freak," he says, "what happens is that immediately everyone starts calling the boss with stupid questions."

To encourage employees to think for themselves and to keep the boss from micromanaging, Porter recommends setting some rules.

  1. Plan for a daily office-to-job site call at a specific time. This prevents interruptions and time wasted climbing down ladders to safely answer the phone, etc.
  2. Have an administrative person in the office be responsible for making the call. Have him or her use this short conference to cover any problems that might delay progress as well as any materials that need to be ordered or delivered to keep the project on track.
  3. Don't supply cell phones or handhelds to everyone, just to job managers — lead carpenters, foremen or project managers.

 

 

Too Much Communication

Giving mobile phones to the field can create problems as well as answer them, says Monroe Porter, a partner in Proof Management Consultants in Midlothian, Va.

"If you give a cell phone to a control freak," he says, "what happens is that immediately everyone starts calling the boss with stupid questions."

To encourage employees to think for themselves and to keep the boss from micromanaging, Porter recommends setting some rules.

  1. Plan for a daily office-to-job site call at a specific time. This prevents interruptions and time wasted climbing down ladders to safely answer the phone, etc.
  2. Have an administrative person in the office be responsible for making the call. Have him or her use this short conference to cover any problems that might delay progress as well as any materials that need to be ordered or delivered to keep the project on track.
  3. Don't supply cell phones or handhelds to everyone, just to job managers — lead carpenters, foremen or project managers.

 

 

Too Much Communication

Giving mobile phones to the field can create problems as well as answer them, says Monroe Porter, a partner in Proof Management Consultants in Midlothian, Va.

"If you give a cell phone to a control freak," he says, "what happens is that immediately everyone starts calling the boss with stupid questions."

To encourage employees to think for themselves and to keep the boss from micromanaging, Porter recommends setting some rules.

  1. Plan for a daily office-to-job site call at a specific time. This prevents interruptions and time wasted climbing down ladders to safely answer the phone, etc.
  2. Have an administrative person in the office be responsible for making the call. Have him or her use this short conference to cover any problems that might delay progress as well as any materials that need to be ordered or delivered to keep the project on track.
  3. Don't supply cell phones or handhelds to everyone, just to job managers — lead carpenters, foremen or project managers.

 

 

Too Much Communication

Giving mobile phones to the field can create problems as well as answer them, says Monroe Porter, a partner in Proof Management Consultants in Midlothian, Va.

"If you give a cell phone to a control freak," he says, "what happens is that immediately everyone starts calling the boss with stupid questions."

To encourage employees to think for themselves and to keep the boss from micromanaging, Porter recommends setting some rules.

  1. Plan for a daily office-to-job site call at a specific time. This prevents interruptions and time wasted climbing down ladders to safely answer the phone, etc.
  2. Have an administrative person in the office be responsible for making the call. Have him or her use this short conference to cover any problems that might delay progress as well as any materials that need to be ordered or delivered to keep the project on track.
  3. Don't supply cell phones or handhelds to everyone, just to job managers — lead carpenters, foremen or project managers.

 

 

Too Much Communication

Giving mobile phones to the field can create problems as well as answer them, says Monroe Porter, a partner in Proof Management Consultants in Midlothian, Va.

"If you give a cell phone to a control freak," he says, "what happens is that immediately everyone starts calling the boss with stupid questions."

To encourage employees to think for themselves and to keep the boss from micromanaging, Porter recommends setting some rules.

  1. Plan for a daily office-to-job site call at a specific time. This prevents interruptions and time wasted climbing down ladders to safely answer the phone, etc.
  2. Have an administrative person in the office be responsible for making the call. Have him or her use this short conference to cover any problems that might delay progress as well as any materials that need to be ordered or delivered to keep the project on track.
  3. Don't supply cell phones or handhelds to everyone, just to job managers — lead carpenters, foremen or project managers.

 

 

Too Much Communication

Giving mobile phones to the field can create problems as well as answer them, says Monroe Porter, a partner in Proof Management Consultants in Midlothian, Va.

"If you give a cell phone to a control freak," he says, "what happens is that immediately everyone starts calling the boss with stupid questions."

To encourage employees to think for themselves and to keep the boss from micromanaging, Porter recommends setting some rules.

  1. Plan for a daily office-to-job site call at a specific time. This prevents interruptions and time wasted climbing down ladders to safely answer the phone, etc.
  2. Have an administrative person in the office be responsible for making the call. Have him or her use this short conference to cover any problems that might delay progress as well as any materials that need to be ordered or delivered to keep the project on track.
  3. Don't supply cell phones or handhelds to everyone, just to job managers — lead carpenters, foremen or project managers.

 

 

Too Much Communication

Giving mobile phones to the field can create problems as well as answer them, says Monroe Porter, a partner in Proof Management Consultants in Midlothian, Va.

"If you give a cell phone to a control freak," he says, "what happens is that immediately everyone starts calling the boss with stupid questions."

To encourage employees to think for themselves and to keep the boss from micromanaging, Porter recommends setting some rules.

  1. Plan for a daily office-to-job site call at a specific time. This prevents interruptions and time wasted climbing down ladders to safely answer the phone, etc.
  2. Have an administrative person in the office be responsible for making the call. Have him or her use this short conference to cover any problems that might delay progress as well as any materials that need to be ordered or delivered to keep the project on track.
  3. Don't supply cell phones or handhelds to everyone, just to job managers — lead carpenters, foremen or project managers.

 

 

Too Much Communication

Giving mobile phones to the field can create problems as well as answer them, says Monroe Porter, a partner in Proof Management Consultants in Midlothian, Va.

"If you give a cell phone to a control freak," he says, "what happens is that immediately everyone starts calling the boss with stupid questions."

To encourage employees to think for themselves and to keep the boss from micromanaging, Porter recommends setting some rules.

  1. Plan for a daily office-to-job site call at a specific time. This prevents interruptions and time wasted climbing down ladders to safely answer the phone, etc.
  2. Have an administrative person in the office be responsible for making the call. Have him or her use this short conference to cover any problems that might delay progress as well as any materials that need to be ordered or delivered to keep the project on track.
  3. Don't supply cell phones or handhelds to everyone, just to job managers — lead carpenters, foremen or project managers.

 

 

Too Much Communication

Giving mobile phones to the field can create problems as well as answer them, says Monroe Porter, a partner in Proof Management Consultants in Midlothian, Va.

"If you give a cell phone to a control freak," he says, "what happens is that immediately everyone starts calling the boss with stupid questions."

To encourage employees to think for themselves and to keep the boss from micromanaging, Porter recommends setting some rules.

  1. Plan for a daily office-to-job site call at a specific time. This prevents interruptions and time wasted climbing down ladders to safely answer the phone, etc.
  2. Have an administrative person in the office be responsible for making the call. Have him or her use this short conference to cover any problems that might delay progress as well as any materials that need to be ordered or delivered to keep the project on track.
  3. Don't supply cell phones or handhelds to everyone, just to job managers — lead carpenters, foremen or project managers.

 

 

Too Much Communication

Giving mobile phones to the field can create problems as well as answer them, says Monroe Porter, a partner in Proof Management Consultants in Midlothian, Va.

"If you give a cell phone to a control freak," he says, "what happens is that immediately everyone starts calling the boss with stupid questions."

To encourage employees to think for themselves and to keep the boss from micromanaging, Porter recommends setting some rules.

  1. Plan for a daily office-to-job site call at a specific time. This prevents interruptions and time wasted climbing down ladders to safely answer the phone, etc.
  2. Have an administrative person in the office be responsible for making the call. Have him or her use this short conference to cover any problems that might delay progress as well as any materials that need to be ordered or delivered to keep the project on track.
  3. Don't supply cell phones or handhelds to everyone, just to job managers — lead carpenters, foremen or project managers.

 

 

Too Much Communication

Giving mobile phones to the field can create problems as well as answer them, says Monroe Porter, a partner in Proof Management Consultants in Midlothian, Va.

"If you give a cell phone to a control freak," he says, "what happens is that immediately everyone starts calling the boss with stupid questions."

To encourage employees to think for themselves and to keep the boss from micromanaging, Porter recommends setting some rules.

  1. Plan for a daily office-to-job site call at a specific time. This prevents interruptions and time wasted climbing down ladders to safely answer the phone, etc.
  2. Have an administrative person in the office be responsible for making the call. Have him or her use this short conference to cover any problems that might delay progress as well as any materials that need to be ordered or delivered to keep the project on track.
  3. Don't supply cell phones or handhelds to everyone, just to job managers — lead carpenters, foremen or project managers.

 

 

Too Much Communication

Giving mobile phones to the field can create problems as well as answer them, says Monroe Porter, a partner in Proof Management Consultants in Midlothian, Va.

"If you give a cell phone to a control freak," he says, "what happens is that immediately everyone starts calling the boss with stupid questions."

To encourage employees to think for themselves and to keep the boss from micromanaging, Porter recommends setting some rules.

  1. Plan for a daily office-to-job site call at a specific time. This prevents interruptions and time wasted climbing down ladders to safely answer the phone, etc.
  2. Have an administrative person in the office be responsible for making the call. Have him or her use this short conference to cover any problems that might delay progress as well as any materials that need to be ordered or delivered to keep the project on track.
  3. Don't supply cell phones or handhelds to everyone, just to job managers — lead carpenters, foremen or project managers.

 

 

Too Much Communication

Giving mobile phones to the field can create problems as well as answer them, says Monroe Porter, a partner in Proof Management Consultants in Midlothian, Va.

"If you give a cell phone to a control freak," he says, "what happens is that immediately everyone starts calling the boss with stupid questions."

To encourage employees to think for themselves and to keep the boss from micromanaging, Porter recommends setting some rules.

  1. Plan for a daily office-to-job site call at a specific time. This prevents interruptions and time wasted climbing down ladders to safely answer the phone, etc.
  2. Have an administrative person in the office be responsible for making the call. Have him or her use this short conference to cover any problems that might delay progress as well as any materials that need to be ordered or delivered to keep the project on track.
  3. Don't supply cell phones or handhelds to everyone, just to job managers — lead carpenters, foremen or project managers.

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