Many contractors share the same view on construction and field work — if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. It’s an easy enough motto and one that has served many well. However, this approach is wrong when it comes to business technology.
Modernizing the technology of your field service operation may seem unnecessary. If your existing system is working for you, why should you change it? The problem isn’t that your system isn’t working — it’s that your system doesn’t work enough.
While manual methods are familiar, they waste valuable time for your business. Instead of handling piles of paperwork, you could be helping a customer or scheduling a visit. Even one or two missed connections because of an inefficient system can cost your business thousands. Instead of thinking about technology as an expense, think of it as an investment.
Even a simple change to mobile phones for your employees can improve your business’s efficiency and increase your bottom line. One of the best ways to modernize your field service management system is a mobile field service management software.
If you’re wondering how to modernize your field service management system and whether a switch to a modernized field service solution can benefit you, we’re here to help. Learn more about how modernized systems can help businesses thrive, especially field service management software.
Here, we’ve detailed key features of a quality field service management software and the benefits of a
modern field service management system to a field service company like Dataforma.
Modernization Through Technology
Hundreds of technological tools are available today, many of which are useful to businesses.From a single smartphone or tablet to a full cloud database, even a simple piece of technology can offer you enormous business benefits. A list of some of these gadgets is below, along with the benefits they provide. These include:
1. Mobile devices.
Mobile devices have taken the world by storm over the past few decades. Though often seen in the private sector, cell phones are just as beloved in the business community for their utility and practicality. Today, more business transactions are happening on mobile devices than ever before. Much of this increase has to do with the flexibility of these mobile devices.
The power of a computer tucked in your back pocket is a privilege we often forget. For field technicians, this privilege has been a huge benefit — smartphones substantially improve field technician productivity, giving them an easy way to connect to their offices and customers. With the advance of touchscreen technology, modernized field service technicians can take digital signatures, notes, pictures and payments using a smartphone or tablet.
2. Cloud systems.
The cloud provides several benefits, from improved connectivity to extensive memory resources. From small to medium businesses to corporations, companies are leveraging the cloud for better business processes.
With an online database like Dataforma, small to midsize field service businesses can reap the benefits of a dedicated database without the problems of upfront costs. They can store customer data, business information and other key data points on a secured cloud database and access it anytime, anywhere.
3. Social media and online channels.
An online presence is a cheap and easy way to advertise your business. It also happens to be an excellent way to collaborate and connect with your customers. Even a simple Facebook page or a business website with a chat section can be enough to open lines of communication between you and your customers. Such communication not only builds trust, but it can promote innovation and brand loyalty among your employees and clients.
While using all these tools can boost your business in a big way, using one or two also helps. Some businesses combine these resources together for you in an integrated software system designed for the ease of you and your employees. That’s where field service management software comes in.
Modernization Through Field Service Management Software
Modernizing your field service operations can be extensive. Or, if you like, it can be a small step toward progress. Taking even a single step toward a modernized field service operation can mean massive benefits for your business. One of the best first steps you can take is adopting a quality field service management software.
Field service management software works specifically for contractors and field workers. A few of the key features a quality field service management software can offer include:
1. Instant notifications.
Did a customer call to request a new work order or change an existing one? Did a technician have to go home sick or take an early lunch? Get instant notifications from your technicians and issue them instant notifications, in turn, to streamline your schedule and get to as many jobs as possible accomplished in the time you have available.
2. Customizable dashboards.
Improve the efficiency of your staff. Customized dashboards allow your office staff to optimize their screen in a way that suits them so that they can go through their daily tasks more quickly.
3. Integrated maps.
Don’t lose valuable work time to wrong directions and hideaway locations again. Automatically look up or drag and drop your scheduled appointments to their appropriate destinations with an integrated Google Maps module.
4. Digital data.
Technicians can enter everything about the job, including work descriptions, labor time, used materials, images and a customer signature before leaving their job-site. This data automatically transfers to your office, so you don’t have to worry about paper trails and lost logs.
Field service management software allows contractors and field service managers to create, schedule, dispatch and track service calls in minutes. In addition to scheduling, the software features information access, bringing customer, inventory and employee data to you and your employees’ fingertips.
5. Improved processes and efficient systems.
With all the information readily available, you and your staff can instantly access the information you need to get your technicians out and operating in the field. They can work more quickly and more efficiently knowing everything they need to about the customer and their history. Just press a few buttons, and your technicians will be on their way with the information they need to get the job done right the first time.
Give yourself, your office staff and your field technicians the ability to work together in the most efficient way possible. While you and your office staff use customizable dashboards on computer screens to see the status of crewmembers, your field technicians can use the same software from their mobile devices to check on inventory for their next project or double-check their schedules.
With a field service management software, you don’t have to juggle endless piles of paper tickets, photographs and scribbled notes about tens or hundreds of jobs. With room for technicians to input work descriptions, labor time, materials used, photos and customer signatures, all the information from a job can be stored digitally and sent to your office.
It will be available on the software for easy access, sorted according to the day, job or technician so you can get invoices out the door as quickly as possible.
The Benefits of Modernized Field Service Operations
The benefits of modernized field service operations are extensive and noticeable. In a survey of nearly 150 new FSM users, participants noticed vast improvements in their operations. The three most significant improvements were in customer satisfaction, revenue and profitability. These are likely the result of the direct benefits of field service management software systems, including the following:
1. Faster job scheduling.
Efficient job scheduling is one of the most significant benefits of field service management software and is the big reason why most field service companies make the switch. With a mobile option, you can schedule technicians more appropriately and immediately.
With the job information, the technician gets the name, address and contact details of the client, along with access to their job request and history so they can adequately prepare for whatever problem may arise. Access to such extensive, constantly changing information for field service professionals is a big step up from the old systems where technicians had a set schedule at the beginning of the day and received calls they had to jot down.
The appropriateness of a scheduled job can also improve with a field service management system. Often, an overseer using manual systems might assign a technician to a job well outside their skill range, only because the supervisor forgot or didn’t have the right person available. These job mismatches can be dangerous for both the technician and the company. Technicians may take longer to finish the job and are more likely to get injured.
With field service software, you can label your employees with notes about their skill set, education and training. Then, when scheduling a job, you or one of your office staff members can double check the technician’s skill set matches the requirements of the job.
2. Better customer satisfaction.
You’ll often hear it’s five times pricier to attract new customers than to keep current ones, and it’s true. Between advertising and networking, drumming up a new client or two takes time and energy. When you’re already running a busy field service operation, this is time and energy you don’t have to spare. Keeping customers happy can be just as much of a challenge, especially when your analog paper system doesn’t carefully keep track of them.
With a modernized system, understanding and keeping track of your customers is easier than ever. A quality field service management software system combines the customer-tracking benefits of a CRM with the improved operations that come with a system that can respond immediately to new customer requests.
Not only can your technicians access this information to see the history of the client with your business, but their connectivity means they’re at the customer’s door more quickly and more prepared than they would be otherwise.
This simple modernization can have a massive effect on your efficiency.
A qualified and appropriately prepared technician can arrive at a client’s door more quickly and finish their job in a shorter amount of time, setting a quicker pace for the rest of their day. Not only does this improved preparation improve the success of the technician’s initial visit, but it helps him or her finish more jobs over the course of the day. As jobs get done more quickly and with better quality, it only makes sense your customers will be happy, too.
3. Improved inventory visibility.
Maintaining a sense of your stock, especially with field technicians pulling and using supplies regularly, can be a frustrating task when you’re running a field service operation. While it’s important to get inventory out the door to keep cash flowing, the cost of the equipment and the labor involved in tracking it is substantial.
Manual inventory tracking systems make it harder to predict when you need to order more of a single item, resulting in more shortages and surpluses and tying up more cash in your equipment. A manual system is more prone to errors due to misreporting or miscalculation, and your workforce has no way of knowing what’s in stock until they call into your central location. In short, it means more frustration for you, your technicians and your customers.
A modern field service management system provides a clear picture of your inventory while improving equipment visibility for your mobile workforce. A digital system tracks your gear usage and spots trends, helping you order only what you need to keep business flowing.
A field service management software system lets your employees know within seconds exactly how much of an item is available so they can give customers accurate time estimates for repairs. This way, you spend less time on inventory worries and more time keeping customers happy.
4. Shorter time to invoice.
Invoicing can be the most frustrating part of a field service organization. Between assessing the work done, collecting proof of work, calculating labor and inventory and all the other steps involved in invoicing, it can take weeks for a field service organization to get together an invoice using a manual system. Even ten years ago, it wasn’t unheard of for people to receive their invoices eight weeks after the completion of a job. This delay is not only frustrating to the customer, it also puts a strain on your business’s cash flow since you have to wait for the invoice to get to the client and then for the customer to respond.
With a modern field service management system, invoicing doesn’t have to be a hassle. The system collects information about a job as the technician is out in the field, tracking the amount of time the employee is at the location, confirming the location with GPS and letting the technician monitor inventory usage and special services as they go.
Some mobile systems can capture customers’ digital signatures as proof of the employee’s work. With everything stored on the mobile system, all you need to do to invoice is click a few buttons, confirm the information and send the invoice on its way. You can even send digital invoices using this modernized system and get your payments back faster than before.
5. Reduced business costs.
Keeping track of business costs is essential to today’s small to medium business owners. With field service companies, tracking those costs can be more difficult, especially when you’re operating on a manual system. Most manual employee tracking depends on an honor system, and when an employee forgets to log their inventory usage or collect a signature on a form, you could be out hundreds of dollars.
Keep track of all your costs and ensure you’re getting what you deserve with transparent cost tracking tools. Field service management software tools feature several modules for tracking your incoming and outgoing cash, as well as profit and loss patterns.
Additionally, the software keeps all your paperwork — from invoices and job requests to confirmation forms and inventory — all in the same spot, so you don’t risk losing out on money because of a misplaced chart or sheet. Faster and more accurate invoices mean you get the money you deserve more quickly.
Benefits by the Numbers
Even with all these incredible benefits of modernizing your mobile field service operations, you may still be wondering if it’s worth the hassle and expense. While these benefits are nice, where’s the proof?
Numerous surveys of field service businesses have revealed that field service management software does work for the vast majority of businesses that use it. Businesses who upgraded from a manual system to a centralized field service software saw all these benefits and more, watching as all their negative trends reversed and their businesses grew. The 100 companies surveyed in this study reported the following results:
- 90% increased the number of customers converted from quotes
- 86% saw their technicians’ fuel costs decrease
- 83% saw their invoices paid more quickly
- 82% experienced an increased number of first-time fixes
- 79% achieved more customer visits per day
These concrete results prove modernizing your field service management with quality software benefits businesses. Firms that aren’t using field service management software and other modern management tools miss out on the advantages of integration and connectivity, working harder for fewer customers and less money.
Don’t Miss Out on an Opportunity
When asked about businesses reluctant to adopt software solutions, ServiceMax CEO Dave Yarnold had this to say:
“If you’re not getting ahead of the trend, you need to be. We’ll stand here 15 years from today and we’ll be much further ahead than in the equivalent time before. I urge you to push forward.”
Yarnold’s admonishment to push forward is something all businesses should be paying attention to. Modernized field service solutions offer real world benefits for field service operations around the world. Faster response times and more organized business records mean they don’t have to wade through papers or keep clients waiting all day for their arrival.
With so many field service operations making the switch, it’s only a matter of time before the non-users are the outliers, left behind in the dust of their competitors. Don’t get left behind in the trend toward field service management. Get ahead of the curve and earn yourself the competitive edge to win more clients and more jobs.
If you’re looking for quality field service management software, Dataforma is the best in the business. Based out of York, Pennsylvania, Dataforma is the largest provider of web-based management tools in the construction industry, no matter where you’re located. We offer innovative software tools for a unique web-based experience for small to large sized building and field businesses, helping contractors manage everything in their business, from project data and customer correspondence records to emailing and scheduling.
With all the incredible benefits of adopting a field service management software system, you’ll lose more by not giving it a try! Take a closer look at what a quality field service management program should be, and contact us today to start partnering with Dataforma.