Mobile Workforce Productivity: Learnings from Defra’s Field Activity Programme

By Laraine Geddes

How can the public sector do more with less? Defra have implemented mobile workforce management technology to achieve the goals of their Field Activity Programme.

The public sector is facing unprecedented budget pressures. Departments are being asked to make ever-greater efficiency savings, at the same time as boosting their productivity and improving public services.


As such, the public sector needs to make the most of its workforce. The public sector has a real opportunity to make significant cost savings and noticeable improvements in productivity – not to mention improved workforce morale – with mobile workforce systems available to manage staff outside the office. Using such technologies will help mobile workers make the best use of their often-limited resources and, most importantly, provide the best possible service to citizens.

Successful implementation of mobile workforce management systems is already benefiting some public sector organisations. One such organisation is the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). They are one of Defra’s delivery bodies and are responsible for safeguarding animal and plant health for the benefit of people, the environment and the economy. Part of the work of the APHA involves inspecting premises and sites around the country and maintaining inspection data. Defra has implemented Kirona’s mobile workforce management systems as part of its Field Activity Programme with the aim of saving money, reducing the number of visits by Defra staff to farmers, delivering a better service for customers, and cutting down on red tape. As part of that work, they have started with the egg marketing inspectors in APHA.

The Kirona software allows the team to develop complex, customised web forms, and the result is mobile software that inspectors can use on a smartphone or tablet. The same software matches up available inspectors with the inspections to be done that month, plus any backlog. It will calculate which inspector is geographically closest to which job, and allocate jobs accordingly. (In the past, each inspector was responsible for a fixed geographical patch.)

On their smartphones, the inspectors are able to declare when they’re traveling, when they arrive, and when they start or finish each inspection. They also record and report all the inspection data. Thanks to the customised web forms created using Kirona, the inspectors can do pretty much everything without touching a piece of paper. At the end of the inspection, the software automatically formats the data and sends it to a team in the Defra office.

The work that APHA does is vital for keeping the country healthy and safe from disease. Making that work easier for the people who do it, and more productive is achievable with the implementation of mobile workforce management technology.

Applying the same technology across departments and organisations is key to addressing the challenges facing the public sector today.