Successful Engineer Communication With FieldElite

Technological innovations have been on the rise in the recent past. Our news media are awash with new technologies that are being released in almost every industry. From smart buildings to sophisticated gadgets, every industry has a technological invention to flaunt. 

One area in which technology has blossomed is the field service. In the field service management, things have moved a notch higher. Right from communication, document management, monitoring and evaluation, to information storage, nothing remains where it was a couple of years ago. You no longer have to carry clipboards around to do your inspections or pile files in the office. You no longer have to wait for your field service employees to return to the office before you can receive reports. By using a field service management software like FieldElite, you have it all done at a click. 

With FieldElite, you’ve got everything under control right from the comfort of your office. Provided you’re doing what you need to do and posting updates using the app, the rest will fall into place. Your employees will receive updates from you and vice versa. If there is a client who needs attention, they can easily issue a request through the app and the next available field service officer who?s within proximity will pick it up and attend to the customer?s needs. 

Everything is just a click away. Sounds great, right?

FieldElite is a robust field service management software that’s packed with a wide array of tools meant to simplify communication between the office and the field service employees. With FieldElite, you can reach all your engineers at one go. 

Below are a few of the communication features that make FieldElite the software of choice when it comes to field service management.

Simplified Communication

It’s very important to stay in touch with your engineers in the field to monitor the ongoing activities. For this reason, you need to choose a platform that doesn’t complicate the process. You don’t want important information to reach your team late. That would drag your activities.

Fast and effective communication is, therefore, very key in field service. FieldElite has consequently been made to simplify communication in the field service. Its simplicity can be compared to the usual consumer messaging apps. On the back-end, however, there are very many complex procedures executed through refined algorithms meant to process information and generate instant reports for engineers, supervisors, and the rest of the company team members.  

With the FieldElite app, communication is as easy as dropping a message in the team members? inbox. Again, the app?s communication system is centralised and, thus, every communication trail is easily retrievable. You don’t need different apps for messaging, audio and video calling, and document sharing. You have it all in FieldElite. Simply put, FieldElite is an all-in-one field service management tool that ropes in all essential digital modes of communication. 

But what’s the benefit of having all work-related communication in one place? 

With an all-in-one communication platform like FieldElite, you’ll cut down on wasted time and field tech frustration. Again, any urgent information will reach your engineers on time, and none of them will be left out. What’s more? With effective communication, expect the performance of your team to shoot up. 

Consistent Communication

Field technicians, in this case engineers, need to be kept on toes to get the job done. You can only achieve this by communicating with them more often. Therefore, you need a field service management platform that can offer you that. Most field service management software facilitates constant communication with team members in the field. Even so, not all are as good as you expect. So, you’ve got to be a bit more critical when choosing a field service management software for your business. 

A good field service management software is one that enables you to regularly check in with field techs to make sure that they have everything they need. With FieldElite, you can achieve more than this. FieldElite app allows you to communicate with your engineers from time to time through messages, calls, or shared documents. Again, the team gets information at the same time. 

So, how important is regular communication with your business? 

Keeping in touch with your team members in the field helps you build strong relationships with them. Additionally, you can easily spot areas that need improvement that otherwise could have been hidden from your viewpoint. What’s more? Employees feel valued when you check on them from time to time. As a result, this will boost their overall productivity, which contributes positively to the well-being of your business.

So, take your business to another level by making use of FieldElite communication tools to reach out to your engineers at any time.

Two-Way Communication

Communication in field service can only be successful if you can get feedback from your field techs. As such, the field management software should make it easier for your engineers to notify you of anything that needs urgent attention. With the FieldElite app?s communication features, your engineers can give you real-time updates from any device. The app is compatible with any android device, and, therefore, the field techs can use their smart handsets to communicate important information. 

The messaging and calling features are easy to manipulate, and with a little training, anyone can use them easily. Again, FieldElite allows you to make group calls or send many messages at the same time. Therefore, in case you?d like to talk to the entire team, you can choose to make a group call or send out bulk messages. 

Real-Time Updates

With FieldElite, you don’t need to wait until you meet your team to communicate any changes. You can notify your team on any work-related changes anytime, and as many times as is necessary. The good thing about FieldElite is that the information reaches all your engineers instantly and at the same time. Provided there?s strong network coverage, you’ll not have to deal with delayed communication. Again, your field techs can always get back to you in case they need clarifications on some matters.

Timely updates are very necessary for field service management. Field techs that get real-time updates tend to be more productive than those who get information late. At least they can make necessary changes on time to avoid wasting time on tasks that aren’t urgent. Therefore, make use of FieldElite communication features to keep your engineers updated.

Would you like to take your business to another level? Well, it’s time to improve communication with your field techs. Get the FieldElite android app for successful communication with your engineers.

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How Energy Management Software Benefits Your Business

We’re in an era of price volatility in gas and electricity prices, coupled with greater scrutiny on the environmental impact of businesses in their day-to-day operations. According to the Department of Energy & Climate Change, the average SME can slash its energy bill by 18-25% simply by installing energy efficiency solutions in their facility. 

Are you looking to improve energy use in your business? Prevent wastage, track consumption, identify opportunities to save on energy and reduce your carbon footprint while at it? It can be a daunting process to do it all manually. Taking those meter readings, preparing spreadsheets and combing through quotes and energy bills to validate them – this is not something you should be enduring in this day and age. Not when there are dedicated systems built for the task. That’s where Energy Management Software (EMS) comes in. 

Importance Of Energy Management Software

Wasted energy = Wasted money

Failing to improve energy efficiency is costing SMEs loads of funds, with it coming to between £5,801 and £12,109 of missed annual savings for individual businesses. These are 18% – 24% of their energy costs. Where do you stand?

Take timers and thermostats for instance. When not properly set and controlled, or even simply forgetting to turn them down when not in the room, it can easily lead to unnecessary costs. How often do your staff forget to turn off the air conditioning when they leave the meeting rooms? Do you account for weekends or bank holidays when setting the controls of the AC? Mistakes like turning the temperature high on the thermostat to “quickly warm the room” are common, yet heating costs go up by about 8% with every 1°C rise.

There are installations that you can make to minimize wastage. For example, the Chinese Contemporary Arts Centre in Manchester is able to save £4,363 annually just by having a £100 timer installed to its heating system. 

Some energy saving measures won’t even cost you a penny. For instance, did you know that you can save up to 30% of your heating costs simply by preventing cold air from entering the building? This means not keeping the doors just open for convenience. So how can you find points of weakness and areas of improvements in your facility? Install an EMS. 

While businesses vary from one industry to the next, energy management basically boils down to:

  • Metering systems where the consumption is recorded
  • Determining how much energy can be saved by identifying opportunities for this
  • Implementing policies and changing existing systems to take advantage of these opportunities
  • Tracking progress after the improvements have been made

 

Benefits Of EMS For Your Business

Data Acquisition – Where accuracy and reliability matters

Energy data comes from different angles and formats. From the building automation systems and IoT devices that have been set up, bills sent in by the utility company to the spreadsheets needed to analyse them – what if you had it all from one point of reference? The EMS gives you a “bird’s eye view” of all your energy data from one interface. It collects the data from any system – and being cloud-based, is accessible from anywhere in the world. 

The ecoVaro data loggers can be connected with the Wi-Fi network of the facility or function independently, depending on your specific requirements. They monitor readings 24/7, retaining the data even when they have been powered off. The end-to-end encryption assures you of the security of the information that is being obtained. 

Integrating the EMS into the existing systems will simplify the data collection process, and even for the cases where there isn’t a direct method transferring the data into the system, the setup wizards that come with the EMS allow you to prepare the required data and import it. 

Data Analysis: From consumption, energy leaks to areas of improvement

The first step is accurately collecting the data. The next step is making sense of it. The analysis modules with the EMS allow you to monitor the energy consumption of the facility in real-time. 

The energy data is displayed in engaging graphics that are easy to understand at a glance. The dashboard setup, with its customised layout, enables you to monitor the performance of the specific information you want, toggling through usage and savings data, to the meters and sites that are being tracked. With the ecoVaro Energy Management Software, you get Consumption Charts, Regression Charts, Cusum Charts and Heatmaps right to the submeter level. This information can be broken down into 15-minute durations, with the daily, weekly and monthly consumption reports. 

Getting everyone on board

Making changes to company-wide energy policies needs to have the different parties on board – from the energy manager in charge of crunching the numbers and presenting the information, the CFO of the business, the staff running day-to-day operations, all through to plant operators for those in industries. An easy mode of communication is needed, that will be understood and availed in reports that can be shared with the relevant parties in the organization. The graphical displays that come with the EMS enable actionable information to be displayed in a simplified manner – that way all members of the business or organization will be able to comprehend it. 

Meet your Energy Goals

The baseline that is created in the EMS is used as a standard when assessing the impact of future changes to the energy consumption. Using the information that has been obtained, the management can set up energy saving policies and implement changes, and track KPIs (key performance indicators) along the way. For instance, the market research company DJS Research installed a timer switch that turns off their two water coolers when they aren’t in use. This action saves them £144 annually, and had already paid for itself within 35 days.   

You will be in a position to assess the actions that provide your business with the best ROI over time, monitoring the progress and verifying the savings from one central dashboard. Cutting costs here will enable you to divert the funds to other areas of your business, including promotions, marketing, and product development.

For businesses in the energy sector- including electric, oil and gas plants, they specifically need carbon emission reports, to pinpoint areas where the building’s energy efficiency can be improved. ecoVaro EMS allows you to set alarms and KPIs in the facility for issues to be identified and resolved immediately they crop up. 

Turn to ecoVaro

EMS systems are used across the board – from optimising energy use in hotel rooms and hospitals, mapping out usage patterns for those in the agriculture and supply chain niches, running facilities for utility providers, all through to increasing the efficiency of equipment operation for business in the food and beverage sector. Want to learn how you can cut down your energy bills and make your business more eco-friendly? EcoVaro’s team is ready to get you started.

8 Best Practices To Reduce Technical Debt

When past actions in software development return to haunt you…

Is your business being bogged down by technical debt? Let’s look at measures that you can take to reduce it and scale your operations without the weight pulling you back. 

 

Work with a flexible architecture.

Right from the word go, you want to use architecture whose design is malleable, especially with the rapid rate of software evolution witnessed today. Going with an architecture that keeps calling for too much refactoring, or whose design won’t accommodate future changes will leave you with costly technical debt. Use scalable architecture that allows you to modify or add new features in future releases. While on this, complex features required in the final product should be discussed at the planning stage, that way simplified solutions that will be easier to implement can be identified, as this will lead to less technical debt in the long run. 

 

The Deal with Refactoring 

This is basically cleaning up the code structure without changing its behaviour. With the updates, patches, and new functionalities that are added to the systems and applications, each change comes with the threat of more technical debt. Additionally, organisations are increasingly moving their IT infrastructure from on-premises facilities to colocation data centres and deploying them on the cloud. In such scenarios, some workarounds are often needed to enable the systems to function in the new environments, which they hadn’t been initially developed to accommodate. Here, you will need to take some time to refactor the existing system regularly, streamlining the code and optimizing its performance – and this will be key to pay down the tech debt. When working with a flexible architecture from the start, the amount of work that goes into this will be reduced, meaning there’ll be less tech debt involved. 

 

Run discovery tests

Discovery testing essentially takes place even before a line of code is written for the system or application. This takes place at the product definition stage, where human insight software is used to understand the needs of the customer and is particularly helpful in setting priorities for the development work that will be carried out. It gives your business the opportunity to minimize the technical debt by allowing customers to give you a roadmap of the most pertinent features desired from the product. 

 

Routine code review

Getting a fresh look at the product or application from different sets of eyes in the development team will improve the quality of the code, thus reducing technical debt. There’s a catch though – this should be planned in a convenient way that doesn’t end up becoming a burden for the developers. Here are suggestions:

Break down pull requests

Instead of having complex pull requests where numerous changes in the code are introduced at a go, have this broken down into smaller manageable pull requests, each with a brief title and description about it. This will be easier for the code reviewer to analyse. 

● Define preferred coding practices

Documenting the preferred coding style will result in cleaner code, meaning the developers will focus their effort on reviewing the code itself, not losing time on code format debates.

 

Test automation

Relying only on scheduled manual testing opens you up to the risk of technical debt accruing rapidly, and not having sufficient resources to deal with the accumulated problems when they are identified. Automated testing on the other hand enables issues to be uncovered quicker, and with more precision. For instance, you can have automated unit tests that look at the functioning of the individual components of a system, or regression testing where the focus is on whether the code changes that have been implemented have affected related components of the system. However, establishing and maintaining automated testing will require quite some effort – making it more feasible for the long-term projects.

 

Keep a repository that tracks changes made

Do you have a record of changes made in the software? Keeping one in a repository that is accessible by the development team will make it easy to pin-point problems at their source. For instance, when software is being migrated to a new environment, or legacy software is in the process of being modernised, you will want to have an accurate record of changes that are being introduced, that way if there is an undesired impact on the system this it will be easier to zero-down on the cause.

 

Bring non-technical stakeholders on board

Does this conversation sound familiar?

Development Team: “We need to refactor the messy code quickly”

Product Team: “We have no idea what you are saying”

On one hand, you have the management or product team defining the product requirements, creating a project roadmap, and setting its milestones. On the other hand, there’s the software development/engineering that’s primarily focused on the product functionality, technical operations and clearing the backlog in code fixes. Poor communication between the two teams is actually a leading cause of technical debt.

For you to take concrete steps in managing your technical debt, the decision-makers in the organisation should understand its significance, and the necessity of reducing it. Explain to them how the debt occurred and why steps need to be taken to pay it down – but you can’t just bombard them with tech phrases and expect them to follow your thought process. 

So how do you go about it? Reframe the issues involved with the technical debt and explain the business value or impact of the code changes. Basically, the development team should approach it from a business point of view, and educate the management or production team about the cost of the technical debt. This can include aspects such as expenses in changing the code, salaries for the software engineers especially when the development team will need to be increased due to the workload piling up, as well as the revenue that is lost when the technical debt is allowed to spiral. 

The goal here is to show the management or production team how issues like failing to properly define the product requirements will slow down future software development, or how rushing the code will affect the next releases. That way, there will be better collaboration between the teams involved in the project. 

 

Allocate time and resources specifically for reducing technical debt

With management understanding that working with low-quality code is just like incurring financial debt and it will slow down product development, insist on setting time to deal with the debt. 

For instance, when it comes to the timing of application releases, meetings can be conducted to review short- and longer-term priorities. These meetings – where the development team and product team or management are brought together, the developers point out the software issues that should be resolved as a priority as they may create more technical debt. Management then ensures that budgets and plans are put in place to explicitly deal with those ongoing maintenance costs.

 

Retire old platforms

While most of the resources are going into developing new applications and improving the systems being used, the organisation should also focus on retiring the old applications, libraries, platforms, and the code modules. It’s recommended that you factor this into the application release plans, complete with the dates, processes and costs for the systems involved. 

 

Total overhaul

When the cost and effort of dealing with the technical debt far outweighs the benefits, then you may have to replace the entire system. At this tipping point, you’re not getting value from the technical debt, and it has become a painful issue that’s causing your organisation lots of difficulties. For instance, you may be dealing with legacy software where fixing it to support future developments has simply become too complicated. The patches available may only resolve specific issues with the system, and still leave you with lots of technical debt. Here, the best way out is to replace the system in its entirety. 

 

Final thoughts

Every software company has some level of tech debt. Just like financial debt, it is useful when properly managed, and a problem when ignored or allowed to spiral out of control. It’s a tradeoff between design/development actions and business goals. By taking measures to pay down your organization’s debt and address its interest as it accrues, you will avoid situations where short term solutions undermine your long-term goals. This is also key to enable your business to transition to using complex IT solutions easier, and even make the migration between data centres much smoother. These 8 measures will enable you to manage your technical debt better to prevent it from being the bottleneck that stifles your growth.

What Kanban can do for Call Centre Response Times

When a Toyota industrial engineer named Taiichi Ohno was investigating ways to optimise production material stocks in 1953, it struck him that supermarkets already had the key. Their customers purchased food and groceries on a just-in-time basis, because they trusted continuity of supply. This enabled stores to predict demand, and ensure their suppliers kept the shelves full.

The Kanban system that Taiichi Ohno implemented included a labelling system. His Kanban tickets recorded details of the factory order, the delivery destination, and the process intended for the materials. Since then, Ohno?s system has helped in many other applications, especially where customer demand may be unpredictable.

Optimising Workflow in Call Centres
Optimising workflow in call centres involves aiming to have an agent pick up an incoming call within a few rings and deal with it effectively. Were this to be the case we would truly have a just-in-time business, in which operators arrived and left their stations according to customer demand. For this to be possible, we would need to standardise performance across the call centre team. Moving optimistically in that direction we would should do these three things:

  • Make our call centre operation nimble
  • Reduce the average time to handle calls
  • Decide an average time to answer callers

When we have done that, we are in a position to apply these norms to fluctuating call frequencies, and introduce ?kanbanned? call centre operators.

Making Call Centre Operations Nimble
The best place to start is to ask the operators and support staff what they think. Back in the 1960?s Robert Townsend of Avis Cars famously said, ?ask the people ? they know where the wheels are squeaking? and that is as true as ever.

  1. Begin by asking technical support about downtime frequencies, duration, and causes. Given the cost of labour and frustrated callers, we should have the fastest and most reliable telecoms and computer equipment we can find.
  1. Then invest in training and retraining operators, and making sure the pop-up screens are valuable, valid, and useful. They cannot do their job without this information, and it must be at least as tech-savvy as their average callers are.
  1. Finally, spruce up the call centre with more than a lick of paint to awaken a sense of enthusiasm and pride. Find time for occasional team builds and fun during breaks. Tele-operators have a difficult job. Make theirs fun!

Reducing Average Time to Handle Calls
Average length of contact is probably our most important metric. We should beware of shortening this at the cost of quality of interaction. To calculate it, use this formula:

Total Work Time + Total Hold Time + Total Post Call Time

Divided By

Total Calls Handled in that Period

Share recordings of great calls that highlight how your best operators work. Encourage role-play during training sessions so people learn by doing. Publish your average call-handling time statistics. Encourage individual operators to track how they are doing against these numbers. Make sure your customer information is up to date. While they must confirm core data, limit this so your operators can get down to their job sooner.

Decide a Target Time to Answer Calls
You should know what is possible in a matter of a few weeks. Do not attempt to go too tight on this one. It is better to build in say 10% slack that you can always trim in future. Once you have decided this, you can implement your Kanban system.

Introducing Kanban in Your Call Centre Operation
Monitor your rate of incoming calls through your contact centre, and adjust your operator-demand metric on an ongoing basis. Use this to calculate your over / under demand factor. Every operator should know the value on this Kanban ticket. It will tell them whether to speed up a little, or slow down a bit so they deliver the effort the call rate demands. It will also advise the supervisor when to call up reserves.

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