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Increase Customer Loyalty with Field Service Management Software

One sure way to turn off customers is to give them a disappointing experience. It cuts across the board- from plumbing jobs, electrical installation and maintenance projects, window cleaning or repair, tenants in the property you’re managing, to package delivery firms. If your customers keep witnessing delays, cancelled appointments, to oversights like double booking which end up messing their individual schedules, they are likely to stop hiring your services and seek out a competitor. 

Field service jobs are particularly prone to such blunders, especially with the traditional manual way of doing things. While smartphones and computers have been infused into the day-to-day running of businesses, it is still common to find companies relying on manual processes to schedule their appointments, track the employees providing the services, monitor the progress of the jobs and ask for status updates, to managing inventory and invoices for completed tasks. This creates a major bottleneck in operations. The Small & Medium Business Trends Report, that took responses from nearly 500 SMB owners and leaders, showed that they spend an average of 23% of each workday manually inputting data. This is time that would have otherwise been spent tending to the customers’ needs. It creates a backlog of tasks, forcing the customers to wait for longer to get their issues handled. 

The inefficiencies witnessed in these traditional methods led to the advent of field service business management software. These systems come in to optimise operations and enhance your service delivery. As a business, automating your scheduling, job tracking, routing procedures and handling the invoicing, all through a single platform, greatly reduces your workload. Managing inventory, communicating with your employees out in the field through handy apps on their phone, giving them access to a database of reports and notes on the various jobs they have been tasked with – these all aid in smoothing out the sorting of tasks, and gets rid of the mounds of paperwork that would have been required. 

From Your Customer’s Perspective

When you’re facing a plumbing leak at home, electrical faults that result in power outages in the office building, damaged gas boilers that are hampering operations in the industrial plants- you want them to be addressed. Homeowners, business owners and facility managers in these situations are anxious about getting the issue resolved- yet the firm they are relying on to handle it is caught up in a logistical nightmare, boggled down by paperwork that prevents them from sending their technicians to the location. You really don’t want to hear a series of excuses about why your problem could not be addressed in time. While delays can be a nuisance, cancelled appointments are altogether exasperating. See, the customer is left in a difficult position, since the problem is not resolved, and they have to contend with having to make a subsequent appointment- of which they will not be sure if they can bank on the hired firm to deliver on its mandate. With an FSM, you get to prevent such incidents from occurring.

How Your Customers Benefit From Field Service Job Management Software

Reliable services

Firstly, the customer wants services that they can count on. When an issue arises and an appointment scheduled, they want it to be honoured. With the FSM, you get to accurately schedule the tasks, from the timing involved to assigning it to the appropriate technician, who is skilled in the task. With the automated scheduling and dispatching, the technician downtime that was previously witnessed is reduced- which has the welcome benefit of cutting down your operational costs. 

Speaking of which, the confusion that was previously seen when perusing through documents and simply calling up the first employee whose skill is similar to the job description, is avoided. Here, the field service management platform enables you to determine the most appropriate member of your workforce to handle the task. This makes them more motivated at their job, resulting in higher quality results- whether it’s an installation task, repair and maintenance project, or cleaning service for companies providing them in residential and commercial buildings. 

Get it done right the first time around

The field service scheduling software enables the technician to have all the information pertaining to the job accessible in real-time. This is availed via app– that the technicians will have on their phones. It is through this very app that they will make updates of the tasks being handled, sending in notes, photos and reports to the system. These will, in turn, be monitored at the head office all through the progress of the job, being managed through the interactive FSM dashboard. 

With the customer’s history being accessed by the technician, information that includes the specs and hazards about the particular job being handled, notes from the previous technicians who had been tasked to the building- such as the installation crew and previous repairs that had been done, will enable the personnel on the ground make well-informed decisions throughout the course of the task. Any issues that arise will also be taken note of, equipment and parts ordered through the app as well, ensuring that things proceed seamlessly. That way, the percentage of situations getting fully resolved during the first appointment increases- which translates to fewer cases of complaints being made. 

Instant invoicing

Immediately the job is done, the customer inputs their e-signature through the app, and the technician marks the task as completed, the very same FSM is used to process the invoice and send out an emailed copy to the customer. This will be an accurate invoice, without any data loss, and the customer can then proceed to make the payment through their preferred mode- from credit card payments to cash, without having to wait for hours for paperwork to be processed. All this information is securely stored on the cloud-based platform.

Creating a great first impression

Your image is a core part of your operations. Certainly, you don’t want to come off as disorganised- and your customers will be quick to note this with issues like missing records, outdated reports, lateness, and improper assigning of tasks. On the other hand, having a modern digital solution integrated into your field service operations will enable you to make a great first impression, showing the level of professionalism with which you offer your services.

Customer access

FSM platforms like FieldElite also give the customers themselves access to the system, through their own dashboard. This is particularly handy given that there are cases where the customer will have multiple jobs to be carried out- like property managers who keep on having cases of plumbing accidents, electrical faults, and cleaning service needs in the different buildings that they are in charge of. 

Through the customer portal, they will be able to make appointments, track the history of repair and maintenance jobs carried out on the property, and follow up on queries. What’s more, together with the IoT where FieldElite links to ecoVaro, one can have an interactive energy management system in place to keep accurate tabs on the energy consumption, efficiency, point out areas where repairs are needed, and have technicians come over- with the bookings being made through the FSM.

Enhance Customer Experience And Score New Business Opportunities

Customer service is a key aspect of your operations. When your customers are well tended to, with their needs being met in a timely and proficient manner, it wins you their loyalty, and they’ll be more open to sending referrals your way- growing your market share. Feedback- from testimonials on your site to the reviews on your social media handles, also aids in this- and you want to have satisfied clients who will put out a good word about your brand. By investing in field software for service businesses, you will increase your employees’ productivity, monitor trends, improve communication between your head office and the technicians on the ground, all of which come together to increase customer satisfaction.

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Why Predictive Maintenance is More Profitable than Reactive Maintenance

Regular maintenance is needed to keep the equipment in your facility operating normally. All machinery has a design lifespan, and your goal is to extend this as long as possible, while maintaining optimal production levels. How you go about the maintenance matters, from routine checks to repairing the damaged component parts—all before the whole unit needs to be tossed away and a new one purchased and installed. Here, we will break down the different approaches used, and show you why more industries and businesses are turning to proactive maintenance modes as opposed to the traditional reactive approaches for their field service operations

Reactive Maintenance: A wait and see game

Here, you basically wait for a problem to occur, then fix it. It’s also commonly referred to as a “Run-to-Failure” approach, where you operate the machines and systems until they break. Repairs are then carried out, restoring it to operational condition. 

At face value, it appears cost-effective, but the reality on the ground is far much different. Sure, when the equipment is new, you can expect minimal cases of maintenance. During this time, there’ll be money saved. However, as time progresses there’ll be increased wear, making reliance on a reactive maintenance approach a costly endeavour. The breakdowns are more frequent, and inconsistent as well. Unplanned expenses increase operational costs, and there will be lost productivity during the periods in which the affected machinery won’t be in operation. 

While reactive maintenance makes sense when you’re changing a faulty light bulb at home, things are more complicated when it comes to dealing with machinery in industries, or for those managing multiple residential and commercial properties. For the light bulb, it’s easier to replace it, and failure doesn’t have a ripple effect on the rest of the structures in the household. For industries, each time there is equipment failure, you end up with downtime, production can grind to a halt, and there will be increased environmental risks during equipment start-up and shutdown. If spare parts are not readily available, there will be logistical hurdles as you rush the shipping to get the component parts to the facility. Add this to overworked clients in a bit to complete the repair and to make up for lost hours and delayed customer orders.

For field service companies, more time ends up being spent. After all, there’s the need of knowing which parts needed to be attended to, where they are, and when the servicing is required. Even when you have a planned-out schedule, emergency repairs that are required will force you to immediately make changes. These ramps up the cots, affecting your operations and leading to higher bills for your client. These inconveniences have contributed to the increased reliance on field service management platforms that leverage on data analytics and IoT to reduce the repair costs, optimise maintenance schedules, and reduce unnecessary downtimes for the clients.

Waiting for the machinery to break down actually shortens the lifespan of the unit, leading to more replacements being required. Since the machinery is expected to get damaged much sooner, you also need to have a large inventory of spare parts. What’s more, the damages that result will be likely to necessitate more extensive repairs that would have been needed if the machinery had not been run to failure. 

Pros of reactive maintenance

  1. Less staff required.
  2. Less time is spent on preparation.

Cons of reactive maintenance

  1. Increased downtime during machine failure.
  2. More overtime is taken up when conducting repairs.
  3. Increased expenses for purchasing and storing spare parts. 
  4. Frequent equipment replacement, driving up costs. 

This “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach leads to hefty repair and replacement bills. A different maintenance strategy is required to minimise costs. Proactive models come into focus. Before we delve into predictive maintenance, let’s look at the preventive approach. 

Preventive Maintenance: Sticking to a timetable

Here, maintenance tasks are carried out on a planned routine—like how you change your vehicle’s engine oil after hitting a specific number of kilometres. These tasks are planned in intervals, based on specific triggers—like a period of time, or when certain thresholds are recorded by the meters. Lubrication, carrying out filter changes, and the like will result in the equipment operating more efficiently for a longer duration of time. While it doesn’t completely stop catastrophic failures from occurring, it does reduce the number of failures that occur. This translates to capital savings.  

The Middle Ground— Merits And Demerits Of Preventive Maintenance

This periodic checking is a step above the reactive maintenance, given that it increases the lifespan of the asset, and makes it more reliable. It also leads to a reduced downtime, thus positively affecting your company’s productivity. Usually, an 80/20 approach is adopted, drawing from Pareto’s Principle. This means that by spending 80% of time and effort on planned and preventive maintenance, then reactive maintenance for those unexpected failures that pop up will only occur 20% of the time. Sure, it doesn’t always come to an exact 80/20 ratio, but it does help in directing the maintenance efforts of a company, and reducing the expenses that go into it. 

Note that there will need to be a significant investment—especially of time, in order to plan a preventive maintenance strategy, plus the preparation and delegation of tasks. However, the efforts are more cost effective than waiting for your systems and machinery to fail in order to conduct repairs. In fact, according to the US Dept. of Energy, a company can save between 12-18 % when using a preventive maintenance approach compared to reactive maintenance.

While it is better than the purely reactive approach, there are still drawbacks to this process. For instance, asset failure will still be likely to occur, and there will be the aspect of time and resource wastage when performing unneeded maintenance, especially when technicians have to travel to different sites out in the field. There is also the risk of incidental damage to machine components when the unneeded checks and repairs are being carried out, leading to extra costs being incurred.

We can now up the ante with predictive maintenance. Let’s look at what it has to offer:

Predictive Maintenance: See it before it happens

This builds on preventive maintenance, using data analytics to smooth the process, reduce wastage, and make it more cost effective. Here, the maintenance is conducted by relying on trends observed using data collected from the equipment in question, such as through vibration analysis, energy consumption, oil analysis and thermal imaging. This data is then taken through predictive algorithms that show trends and point out when the equipment will need maintenance. You get to see unhealthy trends like excessive vibration of the equipment, decreasing fuel efficiency, lubrication degradation, and their impact on your production capacities. Before the conditions breach the predetermined parameters of the equipment’s normal operating standards, the affected equipment is repaired or the damaged components replaced.  

Basically, maintenance is scheduled before operational or mechanical conditions demand it. Damage to equipment can be prevented by attending to the affected parts after observing a decrease in performance at the onset—instead of waiting for the damage to be extensive—which would have resulted in system failure. Using data-driven field service job management software will help you to automate your work and optimise schedules, informing you about possible future failures.

Sensors used record the condition of the equipment in real time. This information is then analysed, showing the current and future operational capabilities of the equipment. System degradation is detected quickly, and steps can be taken to rectify it before further deterioration occurs. This approach optimises operational efficiency. Firstly, it drastically reduces total equipment failure—coming close to eliminating it, extending the lifespan of the machinery and slashing replacement costs. You can have an orderly timetable for your maintenance sessions, and buy the equipment needed for the repairs. Speaking of which, this approach minimises inventory especially with regards to the spare parts, as you will be able to note the specific units needed beforehand and plan for them, instead of casting a wide net and stockpiling spare parts for repairs that may or may not be required. Repair tasks can be more accurately scheduled, minimising time wasted on unneeded maintenance.  

Preventive vs Predictive Maintenance 

How is predictive different from preventive maintenance? For starters, it bases the need for maintenance on the actual condition of the equipment, instead of a predetermined schedule. Take the oil-change on cars for instance. With the preventive model, the oil may be changed after every 5000—7500 km. Here, this change is necessitated because of the runtime. One doesn’t look at the performance capability and actual condition of the oil. It is simply changed because “it is now time to change it“. However, with the predictive maintenance approach, the car owner would ideally analyse the condition of the oil at regular intervals- looking at aspects like its lubrication properties. They would then determine if they can continue using the same oil, and extend the duration required before the next oil change, like by another 3000 kilometres. Perhaps due to the conditions in which the car had been driven, or environmental concerns, the oil may be required to be changed much sooner in order to protect the component parts with fresh new lubricant. In the long run, the car owner will make savings. The US Dept. of Energy report also shows that you get 8-12% more cost savings with the predictive approach compared to relying on preventive maintenance programs. Certainly, it is already far much more effective compared to the reactive model. 

Pros of Predictive Maintenance

  1. Increases the asset lifespan.
  2. Decreases equipment downtime.
  3. Decreases costs on spare parts and labour.
  4. Improves worker safety, which has the welcome benefit of increasing employee morale.
  5. Optimising the operation of the equipment used leads to energy savings.
  6. Increased plant reliability.

Cons of Predictive Maintenance

  1. Initial capital costs included in acquiring and setting up diagnostic equipment.
  2. Investment required in training the employees to effectively use the predictive maintenance technology adopted by the company.

The pros of this approach outweigh the cons. Independent surveys on industrial average savings after implementing a predictive maintenance program showed that firms eliminated asset breakdown by 70-75%, boosted production by 20-25%, and reduced maintenance costs by 25-30%. Its ROI was an average of 10 times, making it a worthy investment.

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5 Ways To Grow Your Business | How Field Service Management Software Helps

Building up any business is already hard, more so when it involves providing field services.

A field service business owner has to manage the usual tasks, like scheduling jobs efficiently or inventory checks, and you have to do it while your employees are scattered about on various locations.

It’s the reason FieldElite was created, to provide companies with a much better way to manage and monitor their field workers.

Aside from effective management for your workforce on the move, field service management software can also help your business grow.

5 Ways Using Field Service Management Software Grows Your Business

1. Management Integration

You replace manual field service processes. If your business also uses other management apps, like CRM, payroll, industry-specific software, etc., make sure to integrate them with your chosen field service management software. 

Make those software work side-by-side with your field service management app to achieve streamlined business management.

Integration also removes the possibility of duplicate input on the regular system used and your field service management software, maximising your efficiency and business growth.

2. Improved Tracking

Utilising a field service management software gives you better tracking of every aspect of your field service business.

  • Track your inventory numbers in real-time — know exactly how much stock is on hand for parts, and when it’s time to order more
  • Constant updates on Key Performance Indicators — ensure your business is running smoothly
  • First-time fix rates tracking — avoid wrong rate application
  • Monitor your technician’s performance — ensuring quality work, in turn, profit.

Grow your business by having improved tracking on meaningful data and analytics produced from your field service management software.

3. Cost Cutting

Cutting costs can improve your bottom line and a lot of businesses turn to laying off technicians to cut costs. With a field service management software, there’s no need to go this route.

You cut costs through no manual processes needing to be completed. No need to hire back-office staff to field service calls or produce paperwork orders.

Your field service software should have all your automated needs met for efficient field job management.

An example of cost-cutting using field service app:

Track how much your technicians drive and find alternate routes for them to take.

  • Reduce gas expenses
  • Reduce repair bills for the truck
  • Finding better alternate routes can give more time to get to more jobs
  • Increased efficiency for the field technician

4.  Mobile Adaptability

Field service companies are focusing on mobility to grow their business. With a field service management software, technicians have on hand the tools and information needed to complete their job.

Field technicians can utilise the following field service software features:

  • Limit how much time they spend completing administrative work with the automated work-order management
  • Complete checklists on their mobile device and follow step-by-step instructions
  • Check service history
  • Close job orders/calls, collect signatures and start the invoice process

With a mobile app, technicians can complete a call faster, increasing the number of job order scheduled each day, giving additional revenue and that helps to grow your business.

5. Automation

What good is a field service management software without automated features? 

Automation, in any industry, is an important factor in managing and growing your business.

Here are some examples of automation features and tools that your software needs in field service:

  • Create and convert quotations into work orders
  • Schedule/Reschedule jobs
  • Accept jobs in the field
  • Convert jobs into invoices
  • Preventative maintenance service
  • Customer updates
  • Automated job reports

Business Growth with your Field Service Management Software

Field service management software is growing businesses through automation, tracking and workflow management.

Your operation can run smarter and more efficiently, all while empowering your field technicians to do their job smoothly.

If you haven’t turned to a field service management software yet, you’re missing out on chances to grow your business.

Check out FieldElite to help grow your field service business today!

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Top 10 Benefits of Using Field Service Automation Software

Just how much wastage is witnessed in your operations? Each morning your technicians report to work, they receive the day’s schedule, go through the inventory for the parts and tools that will be required, collect and fill the paperwork, before finally hitting the road- translating to hours of manual organisation. What of the information they need when they are at the site? Are they carrying around bulky files on each individual customer? Your field technicians are also responsible for lots of the equipment being handled- and you want to keep a tab on it all- knowing what is being worked on, when it is happening, how long it takes, and the materials that have been used. Dealing with all this on your end through loads of Excel sheets, calculating and updating time logs, and ticking off the inventory- it can be a strain. Field Service Automation Software comes in to handle it all- from the scheduling and tracking, to inventory control and invoicing- all on the same platform.

Eliminating the Paperwork and Optimising Your Operations

There has been a surge in demand for all-in-one Field Service Management (FSM) solutions. They leverage the power of mobile technology, cloud computing and social collaboration to boost the efficiency of field services. In fact, the FSM market is growing at rates never seen before, if the recent statistics are anything to go by. According to the latest estimates, it is worth $3.5 billion and is expected to hit $5.9 billion by 2024.

It’s understandable why this is happening. Technology is advancing, and we all know it’s every entrepreneur’s dream to optimise the use of the available resources while guaranteeing customer satisfaction. If technology can deliver this through automation, why not? Every business now wants to automate things, and the focus is to maximise resource output. You should, therefore, not be surprised to see the FSM software industry booming. If you just considered the field service industry, you’ll realise that there are so many software applications to help with service automation, whether full or partial.

A good example is FieldElite, which helps with the management of field workers. From your desktop or the palm of your hands, on a tablet or smartphone, you can take full control of your field workers, manage scheduled jobs, and use maps to manage work assignments for the already dispatched field workers. Not only does FieldElite help you handle tasks in an accountable manner but also provides options for accounting and reports, all managed in an easy to use dashboard.

10 Benefits Field Service Automation Software Brings On Board

Why would organisations need to invest in a Workforce management app? Below are some of the key benefits of using a Field Service Management software:

1. Cut down the down-time and make every minute count

From scheduling your operations, mapping out preferred routes, dispatching the service team, to staying connected with them throughout the tasks, you get to improve worker efficiency with field service software like FieldElite. 

Most FSM software programs allow the administrator to send tasks directly to the field worker’s mobile. More often than not, the FSM software provides vital information, including service history, optimal route to the site, the tools required, and contact numbers, among other details.

This improves efficiency by ensuring that the client’s needs are taken care of promptly. Where it’s about machine maintenance, the downtime would be as short as possible.

2. Enhance professionalism and boost your brand image

FSM software programs are known for ensuring professionalism in the manner in which business activities are conducted. Of course, professionalism is attained through several factors, including working with a team of professionals. Such a team, using FSM software, results in enhanced efficiency and excellence.

A field service software like FieldElite helps you to consolidate all your business information into a single central database. With different access levels, your employees will access only as much information as is relevant to their respective duties.

An FSM software is ideal because the stored information can be accessed from any location, meaning field workers can pick new tasks while in the field, provided they’ve got the requisite tools. Instead of having to come back to the office, the employee would access all the information and execute the necessary task.

3. Resource Optimisation with Real-time Field Service Automation Software

Resource optimisation is one of the key determinants of a company’s profitability. While businesses vary in size and purpose, they all share one thing in common – the desire to increase productivity while ensuring the optimal usage of resources.

Besides productivity, field service software also allows for efficient utilisation of the available resources to cut down on costs.

4. Stay connected with all your crew- and coordinate them better

FSM software facilitates improved coordination with the workforce. The software streamlines the management of the entire field service life cycle, ranging from labour to work orders, returns, contracts, warranties, and equipment.

The idea is to bring all the company’s field-related operations to a central point. And now, with easy data accessibility from a central platform, improved coordination is easily achievable.

5. Get accurate data and make well-informed decisions every step of the way

Adopting the field service management software is more than just a way to improve efficiency. It goes a long way towards improving a company’s accuracy. When a field service management software is used to trace a company’s activities, all the tasks are tracked on the mobile device, keeping the managers informed of every step.

Besides, the technicians also have a free reign to record the diagnostics, quality information, test results, and the parts consumed. All the information can be captured using text, audio, videos, and still photos. This guarantees minimal to no instances of data manipulation.

6. Improve Customer Satisfaction: Win Their Loyalty

Field service management software improves customer satisfaction. How does that happen? Well, using a field service software like FieldElite allows for quick response to customer queries. If there’s one thing that quickly turns your customers off, it’s delayed response to their requests. With the field service management software, however, you can respond to such requests quickly and effortlessly.

Moreover, your customers can also track the service engineer to ensure they’re well informed of any anticipated delays. With quick response time, customer machines have more reliable up-time, which is the desire of every client.

7. Flexibility – because no one likes being tied down

If there’s one thing that customers like when dealing with a company, it’s flexibility. Instinctively, customers will always want different options to choose from when using a service without appearing to be confined to one provision. Having limited options would also appear boring.

To this extent, it would be wiser to adopt advanced FSM software. Advanced FSM software is compatible with mobile phones, meaning users can easily manage their tasks from isolated locations. FSM software can either be device-agnostic or device-specific. The device-specific type supports Android, Windows, and Apple iOS. This guarantees mobile-friendly tasks where users can easily manage the assignments via mobile application.

8. Store client history in secure cloud-based FSM software

Software like FieldElite stores client history precisely. All the past data, including order history, are stored separately and accurately. In so doing, the field technician gets easy access to the tools, specifications, and technician instructions that aid them in their operations. The result is increased productivity and on-time service delivery.

9. Asset Management and Inventory Control

Naturally, companies offering different repair services have plenty of assets to store. Accordingly, retrieving a specific part out of the large collection would be daunting.

With a field service application like FieldElite, the staff members can track down all the products effortlessly using the GPS. Furthermore, the FSM software ensures excellent maintenance of assets.

10. Improve oversight of field workers – and keep them in the loop

The FSM software comes with many useful tools, including a built-in GPS tracker. The GPS tracker oversees the operations of the on-field workers, providing precise details about their geographical location, actual arrival time, and most importantly, the distance from the job site.

While this might not be useful at all times, it comes in handy when you need to assign an urgent task to the nearby technician. Call it a classic example of dynamic scheduling.

Final Thoughts

With so much at stake, it’s increasingly compelling to include the Field Service Management Software in your business. With every industry moving towards automation, your business cannot afford to lag.

Quick and efficient service delivery through FSM software may be the difference between you and your competitors.

The FSM software is no longer the cherry on the cake but a must-have tool for your survival in the highly competitive market.

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Fine-tuning your Operations and keeping our staff Happy with FieldElite

They are the engine that drives your operations, but are you really giving you value for your money? How much time is spent by your personnel on lengthy paperwork and record-keeping, as opposed to actually providing the service to your customers? Manual tasks create bottlenecks and slow your operations, which in turn affects service delivery and customer satisfaction. You want to reach more clients and boost your brand image, growing your market share and generating more revenue. Field Service Management (FSM) software comes in optimise the operations of your mobile workforce, cut down resource wastage, and enhance your productivity as a firm, by actually enabling your field staff to get more done, thus achieving their individual goals. In fact, according to a report published by Fortune Business Insights™, the global FSM market- which stood at $2.29 billion as recently as 2018, will have expanded to $7.27 billion by 2026. What does this mean for your employees, and how do they benefit from FieldElite?

 

  • Skipping the paperwork with end-to-end automation

Filing reports, keeping track of equipment used, working on the Excel sheets for multiple jobs on a daily basis, all through to the routing and billing- it can be a logistical nightmare. It’s not just about the hours spent poring through documents and typing away at calculators. Manual work exposes you to the risks of human error. Missing records, inaccurate assessments of the situation on the ground due to the overwhelming data streaming in, putting the head office staff under strain- it all hampers the productivity of the company. 

Take scheduling for instance. You have different employees, and various jobs that need their attention, at different locations. It can be a plumbing company whose clients have water filters that need to be repaired, gas boilers inspected, leaking pipes fixed, and others who need new installations to be set up. Assigning your personnel to the different situations will need to take into account the type of job, and the amount of time that it will require, aspects such as the location and the crew that is closest to it. At the head office you will want to keep tabs on the jobs that are in progress, pending, complete, those on hold, and even those that have been cancelled. Running all these through traditional manual processes is enough to drive you to the edge. What’s more, tasks that slip through your fingers amidst the confusion will result in negative feedback from your customers- which you don’t want hitting your brand.

With a field service job management software like FieldELite, you get to handle it all from one dashboard. Optimise your service delivery using the accurate scheduler, that allows you to account for the location of your employees, the status of the job- from the urgent ones like emergency tasks, to the normal duties such as routine maintenance, and low-priority tasks. The field service scheduling software comes with a real-time location feature that allows you to determine the employees closest to the client’s premises who will be appropriate for the job, map out the service areas and give you a birds-eye view of all the operations on the ground, while being updated with the progress of each specific task. Less time is spent travelling to- and from the central office, and more on actually tending to your client’s needs. You can even have situations where you can assign end-of-day tasks to employees who will be passing on that route on their way home.

 

  • Enhanced resource utilisation that promotes personal and professional development

Skill is key across the industries- from electrical services, solar panel installation, landscaping, home remodelling, pest control, plumbing, HVAC system maintenance, to construction and property management. For the job to be done appropriately and make your clients happy, you want to assign the task to an employee who is particularly proficient at it. This tends to be glimpsed over during manual scheduling since the personnel at the head office will be swamped with so many files, and will pick the first one that comes close to fitting the job description, leading to overlapping of roles. Sure, they may get it done, having seen their colleagues do it and even helping them out when they worked together before on similar projects- but will it be up to the required standard? On the other hand, the FSM allows you to ensure that you get the right technician for the task- who will be more motivated, boosting their performance.

What about accidents? Your employees want to feel safe as they go about their mandate. Many of the field service jobs are hazardous- such as electrical repair jobs, window cleaning tasks at high rise buildings, to elevator repair jobs where a slight glitch can lead to severe ramifications. Field service management software also comes in handy here, where the head office can be notified of any emergency the moment it occurs, and arrange for the necessary action to be taken immediately. That way, your employees will not feel neglected while they are out in the field, showing them that their safety is a priority to your business- which in turn increases their morale. 

 

  • Readily available knowledgebase and feedback system

When the employees have been assigned a specific job, they will require certain information about it. This includes the scope of the task, history of previous repairs or maintenance that was carried out, accompanying images if needed, risk assessment, any hazards or contaminants that they will need to prepare for, to notes left by technicians who had handled it. Having to keep checking their email, or picking up documents at the office for the day’s job and walking around with them all day as they tend to one customer after another, will slow things down, and not to mention frustrate them. However, the FSM system is directly accessible by the employees via app on their phones. The information needed for each specific task will thus be at their fingertips, speeding up the process and ensuring that they will be ready for each project being handled. 

While carrying out the job itself, the employees will use the very same app to update the system on how it is progressing, chat with the staff at the head office, update the inventory and even place orders for extra parts if necessary. Since mobile service management software apps like FieldElite also work in offline mode, the photos, reports and other entries that are made are collected by the app and saved on the device. Once a network connection is established, they are then updated to the central database- thus ensuring that the job can proceed regardless of the location. 

Once the job is completed, the customer input is also taken, registered in the system through their e-signature. A signoff comment included gives the customer the opportunity to indicate their experience with the job, and the feedback that they would like to provide. In case the job has not been completed, then the scheduling software kicks in, putting it in queue for another appointment to take care of the task, or resolve the issue that had caused it not to be completed the first time. The completed tasks head right to invoicing, which is also handled within the field service management platform, making it a seamless task for the head office staff.

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Workforce management or WFM - software products from Denizon

How FieldElite helps Plumbers

While most people think that running a plumbing business is a very easy job, things are a bit different on the ground. The job goes beyond the dropping by a client’s home and fixing a few pipes. In addition to the actual plumbing work, a plumbing business also involves managing quotes, invoicing customers, dispatching field service workers, and accounting, among others. Undertaking all these operations manually is extremely demanding. Besides the tedious work that it is, you’re likely to end up with a ton of errors. 

However, you can overcome these challenges by employing technology. The use of field service management software allows you to automate tasks. Consequently, you no longer have to deal with paperwork, delayed responses to customer requests, or double assignment of tasks.

If you’re wondering which field service management software to use, FieldElite is your best bet. FieldElite is feature-rich, and it gives you way more than the simple automation of the daily operations of your plumbing business.  

Below are some of the top benefits you’ll reap by using FieldElite to run your plumbing venture.  

Convenient Scheduling

Scheduling is an important aspect of the plumbing industry. Just like other field techs, plumbers would require tasks to be dispatched on time, which is only made possible by proper scheduling. With FieldElite, managers can easily schedule single and recurring tasks for the right plumber in a matter of seconds. 

On the other hand, plumbers can also view the available jobs and job information in the FieldElite easy to use App that’s available for Android, and confirm scheduled jobs. They can also accept these jobs using their smartphones and respond to service requests instantly.

Apart from getting the scheduled tasks, the FieldElite scheduling and dispatch feature is integrated with GPS functionality so that plumbers can get information on where to go next, and the optimal route to take from their mobile phones. 

The scheduling and dispatch feature also gives plumbers the information on the specific tools required for the job to allow them to get the tools in between appointments and schedules. 

Central Data Storage

Just like other field service industries, plumbing also involves big data. Handling data manually would mean more errors for your plumbing business, which will only impact negatively on your business. To eliminate such errors, go paperless with FieldElite. 

You can view everything from one place with FieldElite’s dashboard feature, including information about your plumbers and the scheduled tasks. On the other hand, your plumbers can access job details and the pending tasks from a central place. 

Plumbers can also get service requests from customers on the FieldElite mobile app from wherever they are. All the requests are stored in a central place, making the response to customer requests easier. The end result is satisfied customers, opening doors for return orders. 

In case of an update, all plumbers receive notifications at the same time and, where necessary, respond promptly to the requests. They can update the office instantly with job status changes from a central place. 

Convenient Reporting

Reporting is part of the tasks that plumbers have to do after completing the assigned job. As a manager, you expect your plumbers to keep you updated on the status of each assignment. Reporting on paper is time-consuming, and that’s why you need the services of FieldElite. 

With FieldElite reporting feature, sending over completed job reports is only a few clicks away. Plumbers can generate reports on the mobile app and keep the office staff updated on the status of the job. Using FieldElite, you can capture customer signatures and add attachments to the job status and send them instantly using the mobile app available on Android. 

Since they can do instant reporting via the mobile app, the plumbers can proceed to attend to new service requests as soon as they’re done without having to first come back to the office to submit their reports. 

Effective Communication

Timely communication is very essential if you’re working with field technicians. Since you’ll not always be with them in the field, it’s always important to establish a proper communication channel to ensure information reaches your plumbers in time. Here, you can get much more with FieldElite, including communication automation to remind customers of appointments.

With FieldElite field service management software, plumbers receive notifications through the mobile app. The notifications can be for anything from new task requests, requests for alterations, emergencies, and more. On the other hand, office-based staff gets to access the reports once the plumber completes their given task. 

That means the plumbers in the field and the office-based team gets communication instantly, enabling them to see and manage their workloads. For this reason, plumbers can complete multiple tasks within a short time, thus improving their overall productivity.

Scalability

The biggest question for most entrepreneurs when they want to buy management software is scalability. Businesses grow and incorporate new activities that would also require to be managed from a centralised system. Where that’s not possible, the business would have to move all their information from one system to a more robust one. 

With FieldElite, however, you’re safe. It works perfectly well for startups as well as large-sized plumbing businesses. It allows you to focus on the areas that your organisation covers now, but also lets you add new areas as you introduce them into your business. Moreover, FieldElite is also receiving regular updates to that bring it up-to-speed with new technologies and new ways of doing things, meaning that your business will be in a position to take advantage of the latest and more productive features. 

From the benefits mentioned above, it’s quite clear that your plumbing industry greatly needs the services of a field service management software. Your plumbers too need easier time working on their assigned tasks, adding to the reasons why you need to integrate FieldElite in your plumbing business.

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How FieldElite helps Electricians

The need to hire an electrician arises more often than we expect. It’s quite common to come across problems with structure-wiring, whether at home or in your business premises. It’s, therefore, not surprising to come across a home or a business owner in search of electrical services.

Whether a startup or a fully-fledged business that offers electrical services, there are challenges that come with running the venture. Where you have field service electricians, the challenges are even compounded, more so on matters of assigning tasks, receiving complaints from customers, and receiving field service reports.

As we all know, an electrical business isn’t just limited to the management of field service electricians. You’ll have to manage all the processes, a responsibility that can be quite daunting.

It doesn’t have to be difficult, though. You can take advantage of a field service management software program to make the entire management process effortless.

FieldElite is one such software. With FieldElite, you can assign tasks, communicate, and receive reports from your electricians on the go. Incorporating field service management in your electrical business enables you to run your business operations smoothly. 

Below are some of the benefits of using FieldElite field service management software. 

Increased Efficiency

Improved efficiency is the number one benefit electricians can get from field service management software. With FieldElite, electricians can accept jobs while in the field and add attachments together with client signatures using their smartphones or tablets. From the field management software, they can get information on the optimal route to the site, the tools required for the job, the service history of the customer, and contractual commitments.

Managing and scheduling tasks on FieldElite are just a few clicks away for office-based operators. That means reduced travel times and delays that often cripple workforce management.

Improved Professionalism

FieldElite field management software gives you a professional edge over your competitors. With this field management software, you can store all your business-related information in a central place. Therefore, each of your electricians can access the data from anywhere using their smartphone or tablet installed with the FieldElite mobile application. As such, there’s no breach in communication, and that means the electricians will get the scheduled tasks on time. Building such relationships with your team in the field encourages teamwork and motivates each team member to play their part. Again, since you can monitor what’s going on in the field, you can address the issues raised by your electricians or customers as soon as possible. 

Effective Communication

Timely communication is very essential if you’re working with field technicians. Since you’ll not always be with them in the field, it’s always important to establish a proper communication channel to ensure information reaches them in time. With FieldElite field service management software, electricians receive notifications and details about tasks assigned to them via the FieldElite mobile app.

On the other hand, office-based staff can access the report with the details of the job once the electrician completes the given task. This implies that both the electricians and the office-based operators can get communication instantly, enabling them to see and manage their workloads. Individual electricians can close jobs on-site and proceed to the next task without having to do paperwork reporting. For this reason, electricians can complete multiple tasks within a short time, which improves their overall productivity.

High Accuracy

With FieldElite field service management software, missing data or incomplete information is a thing of the past. Electricians no longer have to deal with paperwork, which can be daunting and time-consuming, yet with a million and one errors. With FieldElite advanced mobile features, all field service processes and operations are automated. The electricians are left with quite little to do, and that minimises data entry errors.

Because the managers get real-time updates from the field techs, they can accurately maintain and track the field processes. With FieldElite mobile features, managers can get information regarding the job status, the actual time of arrival, and the time taken to complete the task. With such updates, the electricians are better placed to do the job well without wasting much time, thus improving their overall productivity. 

Improved Co-ordination With The Team 

Apart from improving the productivity of the electricians, FieldElite improves coordination with the entire management team. For instance, an electrician can be assigned new tasks within the same area where they’re currently assigned instead of sending another to complete a task in that same place. FieldElite makes this possible by always capturing the current location and job status.

Whenever a new request is made in an area, FieldElite first checks the database to confirm if there is an electrician already assigned in that area. If the status of the ongoing assignment is complete or almost complete and the new task request can wait for the remaining time, the electrician in the field would be assigned the new task. By doing so, the business saves on cost and time and minimises movements. 

Improved Customer Satisfaction

As an electrician, you’ll only be satisfied if the service you offer makes the customer happy. Apart from fixing their wiring problems, they’d be happy if you responded quickly to their request. This is only made possible with field service management software. With FieldElite, managers can notify the electricians on the service requests in their respective areas, allowing them to respond to the call within a very short time. Not only does this give you some level of satisfaction as the business owner but it’s also a win for the company. 

Make your field work-flow better with FieldElite, and improve the productivity of your electricians. With FieldElite releasing regular and timely updates, users aren’t left behind whenever there are changes in the field service industry. The updates introduce new features and capture new standards to ensure that you get the best experience with the software at all times.

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Field Service Management or FSM - software products from Denizon

The Types of Industries That Can Benefit from Field Service Software

Initially, field service software was designed with field techs and their managers in mind. However, in the recent past, other industries have taken this path to better the performance of their businesses. Any industry that deploys skilled laborers and assets to off-site locations benefits from field service software. It’s all about resource allocation and data centralization for efficient management and running of the business’ activities. With field service software, you got all your business’ functions logged in one place.

So, who needs field service management software? Professionals like electricians, plumbers, IT technicians, construction workers, and carpenters all find it useful. Moreover, there’s a wide range of application in many different types of industries.

Here are some industries that benefit from field service management software.

  • Fire and Life Safety

In a fire and life safety industry, equipment and safety systems should be kept running at peak efficiency. Therefore, it’s necessary to provide appropriate services that will ensure the smooth running of processes. On top of complying with government codes, fire and security systems installed should offer reliable services. Since service is at the core of this industry’s operation, most people in fire and security industries are turning to field service software to automate operations of their service delivery. With the field service software tools, the industry can easily monitor security technologies, quickly respond to customers, and manage compliance, inspections, and procedures effectively.

  • Medical Device Enterprises

For medical device companies seeking to improve their services, sales, and compliance, field service software becomes very essential for the smooth running and operations of their functions. The medical device enterprises that greatly benefit from this software include those offering installations, repair, and maintenance of medical equipment. With the comprehensive field service tools, service delivery and performance is greatly improved.

Moreover, with the field service software, these industries find better ways of tracking critical records needed for regulatory compliance since the medical industry is one of the most regulated industries in the globe. For the companies doing the manufacturing of medical equipment, they can integrate field service software in their accounting systems to streamline their invoice processes and shorten their billing cycles.

  • IT and Communications Services Companies

With the remarkable technological advancements in the recent past, Internet service providers, cable companies, and communications organizations are looking for better ways of service delivery to keep up with the pace of the growing technology. Connections are becoming more complex day by day propelled by an explosion in new data sources, and the use of the devices. To keep up with the increased demand for instant services by customers, the IT and communication service companies, are turning to field service software to make their service delivery more effective.

A combination of the robust, advanced scheduling system and rich functionality makes this software very useful to the communication service companies. They can use the software to design and install complex internet infrastructure. Moreover, field service software can be used by these companies to set up recurring maintenance plans to maintain the installed internet systems.

  • Oil and Gas Enterprises

Most oil and gas industries are faced by complexities which need special handling for better business performance. Since the running of projects is at the cornerstone of their businesses, they’re always looking for better ways to ensure a smooth running of their project activities. For this reason, most of the oil and gas enterprises that have discovered the benefits of field service software are integrating the main activities of their projects in this software.

With the project-based software tools, there’s an efficient flow of information and transparency throughout the enterprise ensuring excellent project management. With the checklist feature included in most field service software, inspections, compliance, site surveys, and maintenance of procedures is made easier in oil and gas companies.

  • Facilities Management Industry

Given that this is a service industry, high-level of efficiency is paramount. To meet customer expectations and battle against cost, most facility management industries are turning to field service software. With the comprehensive tools included in the field service software, supervisors can assign tasks to their reports, monitor their progress, and receive alerts on critical issues while in a remote place or at the comfort of their office.

Maintenance and emergency repairs in the facility management industry are greatly supported by this software ensuring increased productivity and efficiency. Additionally, with field service software the industries benefit from a streamlined workflow and improved communication that greatly reduces administration time and cost.

  • Industrial Equipment Enterprises

Industrial equipment companies aim at maximizing their overall productivity and preventing equipment downtime. There’s a wide range of activities that take place in industrial equipment companies which require field service software for higher levels of efficiency.

From load testing, installation projects, and load testing to emergency repairs, this software, enables the managers to design work orders, and get them ready for scheduling, and distribute them in a moment. With the equipment and asset tracking software, the supervisors can gain instant visibility into the equipment and assets in the field to ensure their regular maintenance. The scheduling and resourcing tools ensure the supervisors are in full control over the dispatching of their workforce, their schedules, and the route taken by each for maximum work output. Additionally, with the field service software, industrial equipment companies can meet their customer expectations.

  • Construction Industry

Since construction work involve both site work and office work, building industries find field service software very useful in integrating their field and office activities. Field service software is designed to establish effective communication between the office staff and the field operators. With inclusive software tools, the supervisors can easily manage daily inspections and receive feedback from the field workers without leaving the office. Moreover, documentation is simplified, and everything is documented in a central place so that it’s easier to retrieve important information at any time. With field service software, building industries can manage their construction efficiently while minimizing cost, and saving on time.

Filed service software is gaining popularity in the industrial world as most enterprises seek to improve their business’ performance, and keep up with the competition. Moreover, more companies are expected to come on board as the field service software companies work extra hard to add more tools to suit a wide range of functions.

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A Small External Enterprise Development Team is Cheaper than Your Own

Time is money in the application development business. We have to get to market sooner so someone else does not gazump us, and pip us at the post. We increase the likelihood of this with every delay. Moreover, the longer your in-house team takes to get you through the swamp, the higher the project cost to you.

Of course, in theory this should not be the case. Why bring in a team from outside, and pay more to support their corporate structure? Even going for a contract micro team ought not to make financial sense, because we have to fund their mark-up and their profit taking. Our common sense tells us that this is crazy. But, hold that thought for a minute. What would you say if a small external enterprise development team was actually cheaper? To achieve that, they would have to work faster too.

The costs of an Enterprise Internal Development Team

Even if you were able to keep your own team fully occupied – which is unlikely in the long term – having your own digital talent pool works out expensive when you factor in the total cost. Your difficulties begin with the hiring process, especially if you do not fully understand the project topic, and have to subcontract the hiring task.

If you decide to attempt this yourself, your learning curve could push out the project completion date. Whichever way you decide to go, you are up for paying advertising, orientation training, technical upskilling, travel expenses, and salaries all of which are going to rob your time. Moreover, a wrong recruitment decision would cost three times the new employee’s annual salary, and there is no sign of that changing.

But that is not all, not all by far. If want your in-house team to keep their work files in the office, then you are going to have to buy them laptops, plus extra screens so they can keep track of what they are doing. Those laptops are going to need desks, and those employees, chairs to sit in. Plus, you are going to need expensive workspace with good security for your team’s base.

If we really wanted to lay it on, we would add software / cloud costs, telephony, internet access, and ongoing technical training to the growing pile. We did a quick scan on PayScale. The median salary of a computer programmer in Ireland is €38,000 per year and that is just the beginning. If you need a program manager for your computer software, their salary will be almost double that at €65,000 annually.

Advantages of R&D outsourcing

The case for a small externally sourced enterprise development team revolves around the opportunity cost – or loss to put in bluntly – of hiring your own specialist staff for projects. If you own a smaller business with up to 100 people, you are going to have to find work for idle digital fingers, after you roll out your in-house enterprise project. If you do not, you head down the road towards owning a dysfunctional team lacking a core, shared objective to drive them forward.

Compared to this potential extravagance, hiring a small external enterprise development team on an as-needed basis makes far more sense. Using a good service provider as a ‘convenience store’ drives enterprise development costs down through the floor, relative to having your own permanent team. Moreover, the major savings that arise are in your hands and free to deploy as opportunities arise. A successful business is quick and nimble, with cash flow on tap for R & D.

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Finding the Best Structure for Your Enterprise Development Team

An enterprise development team is a small group of dedicated specialists. They may focus on a new business project such as an IoT solution. Members of microteams cooperate with ideas while functioning semi-independently. These self-managing specialists are scarce in the job market. Thus, they are a relatively expensive resource and we must optimise their role.

Organisation Size and Enterprise Development Team Structure

Organisation structure depends on the size of the business and the industry in which it functions. An enterprise development team for a micro business may be a few freelancers burning candles at both ends. While a large corporate may have a herd of full-timers with their own building. Most IoT solutions are born out of the efforts of microteams.

In this regard, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg blazed the trail with Microsoft and Facebook. They were both college students at the time, and both abandoned their business studies to follow their dreams. There is a strong case for liberating developers from top-down structures, and keeping management and initiative at arm’s length.

The Case for Separating Microteams from the Organisation

Microsoft Corporation went on to become a massive corporate, with 114,000 employees, and its founder Bill Gates arguably one of the richest people in the world. Yet even it admits there are limitations to size. In Chapter 2 of its Visual Studio 6.0 program it says,

“Today’s component-based enterprise applications are different from traditional business applications in many ways. To build them successfully, you need not only new programming tools and architectures, but also new development and project management strategies.”

Microsoft goes on to confirm that traditional, top-down structures are inappropriate for component-based systems such as IoT solutions. We have moved on from “monolithic, self-contained, standalone systems,” it says, “where these worked relatively well.”

Microsoft’s model for enterprise development teams envisages individual members dedicated to one or more specific roles as follows:

  • Product Manager – owns the vision statement and communicates progress
  • Program Manager – owns the application specification and coordinates
  • Developer – delivers a functional, fully-complying solution to specification
  • Quality Assurer – verifies that the design complies with the specification
  • User Educator – develops and publishes online and printed documentation
  • Logistics Planner – ensures smooth rollout and deployment of the solution

Three Broad Structures for Microteams working on IoT Solutions

The organisation structure of an enterprise development team should also mirror the size of the business, and the industry in which it functions. While a large one may manage small microteams of employee specialists successfully, it will have to ring-fence them to preserve them from bureaucratic influence. A medium-size organisation may call in a ‘big six’ consultancy on a project basis. However, an independently sourced micro-team is the solution for a small business with say up to 100 employees.

The Case for Freelancing Individuals versus Functional Microteams

While it may be doable to source a virtual enterprise development team on a contracting portal, a fair amount of management input may be necessary before they weld into a well-oiled team. Remember, members of a micro-team must cooperate with ideas while functioning semi-independently. The spirit of cooperation takes time to incubate, and then grow.

This is the argument, briefly, for outsourcing your IoT project, and bringing in a professional, fully integrated micro-team to do the job quickly, and effectively. We can lay on whatever combination you require of project managers, program managers, developers, quality assurers, user educators, and logistic planners. We will manage the micro-team, the process, and the success of the project on your behalf while you get on running your business, which is what you do best.

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