What Role Does Software Play In The Field Service Industry? Part 9: Reporting

This is the last article (don’t be sad!) in a nine part series about the role that software plays in the field service industry. It’s focus is on reporting and how software can help you run a better service business by improving your reporting and business intelligence operations. We’re passionate about software and the service industry, and we want to help you find the right software for your business, whether it’s our product or a competitor’s.You’ll receive the next white paper in the series next week, but if you can’t wait we encourage you to use the links at the bottom of the page to read the rest of the series now.


 

How Can Software Improve Reporting Processes For The Service Industry?

What Reporting Capabilities Are Needed For Service Businesses?

The ability to track and record data for your service business is of little use if you have no

A good dashboard-style sales report

way to visualize and communicate the data that you work so hard to keep. Reporting tools are what turn your raw data into important business intelligence, useful work order forms, detailed invoices and big picture overviews of your business. Without good reporting software it can be nearly impossible to collect the data you need and format it in a meaningful way. Some meaningful reporting capabilities are listed below:

  • Combined and partial invoices
  • Project-scale work order tracking
  • Inventory summaries
  • Warehouse picking tickets
  • Proposals
  • Work Orders
  • Customer Reports

These are just broad areas that reporting comes in handy. In reality any service management software you use should come loaded with hundreds of standard reports. In general it’s also important that your reports are…

  • Easy to use
    • You should be able to generate any report with a single mouse click
  • Themed Appropriately
    • You should be able to upload your company logo and other details to the standard report templates and pick fonts and themes easily
A list of standard reports you should expect to get with any good service management software

A list of standard reports you should expect to get with any good service management software (click to enlarge)


Customizing Reports

Sometimes you may find that the standard reports you work with aren’t quite detailed enough for your business processes. That’s why it’s important to find service management software that:

  1. Enables you to customize your own reports
  2. Performs custom report building for their customers

Customize Your Own Reports

Lots of software out there will allow you to build your own reports, though tying those reports into your service management software might be less than ideal. Make sure you’re using compatible systems or that your report builder is directly integrated into your service management software as its own module. It’s also helpful if the standard reports that come with it are similar to what you want to customize and you can use them as a template to save yourself a lot of work.

Get Custom Reports From Your Software Provider

Good software providers will accept requests to build custom reports that supplement the standard reports their software comes with. This is a great option to have if you don’t want to devote resources to maintaining a report building team, especially since the results will be professional and native to your software, so they’ll always integrate seamlessly.  Plus, when you’re making your report request you’ll be speaking in the terms that your report builders understand, since they designed the software you use.

 


In Summary…

SMEHomeScreenshot1

The Whole Package

We hope our software fits your reporting needs since we’ve been designing software specifically for the service industry for over 25 years, but we’re quick to acknowledge when the fit isn’t right and we’d be glad to point you to one of our competitors who might suit your needs better. If you have any questions about reporting systems and how they relate to your specific business processes please feel free to give us a call at 360-293-3000.

This article is the last in a nine part series of white papers designed to inform you about the role that software plays in the field service industry. You’ll receive the next article in the series next week, but if you can’t wait until then we encourage you to check out the entire series using the links below. Thanks for reading!

The Team at High 5 Software


Read The Whole Series
SMEVideoOverviewScreenshot1

Watch a video overview of Service Management Enterprise (SME) from High 5 Software

Part 1: Overview
Part 2: Customer Relationship Management
Part 3: Work Order Management
Part 4: Sales, Leads and Proposals
Part 5: Dispatching and Scheduling
Part 6: Inventory Management
Part 7: Double Entry
Part 8: Automated Email
Part 9: Reporting

 

 


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What Role Does Software Play In The Field Service Industry? Part 8: Automated Email

This is the eighth article in a nine part series about the role that software plays in the field service industry. It’s focus is on automated email and how software can help you run a better service business by improving your emailing operations. We’re passionate about software and the service industry, and we want to help you find the right software for your business, whether it’s our product or a competitor’s.You’ll receive the next white paper in the series next week, but if you can’t wait we encourage you to use the links at the bottom of the page to read the rest of the series now.


 

How Can Software Improve Automated Emailing Processes For The Service Industry?

How Does Automated Email Affect Service Businesses?

Automated email can and should be much more useful than an “Out Of The Office” auto reply email without being any more complicated to set up and implement. A good service management software solution will include functionality for a variety of automated email features that can do the following:

  • Incoming emails are converted into open work orders
  • Work order status changes trigger an email notification
  • Work order assignments trigger an email and schedule a Google Calendar or Outlook event
  • Orders that are closed send a notification to the customer
  • Orders that are opened send a notification to the customer
  • Email correspondence regarding an open order is automatically copied into the “Services Requested” notes for the order

The way that these features are configured should be customized for your specific processes. Some examples of how typical service businesses use the above functionality are seen in the next section.


Automated Email Specifics

Incoming emails are converted into open work orders

Incoming emails can be automatically converted into work orders with pre-filled info

Incoming emails can be automatically converted into work orders with pre-filled info

  • If you use a dedicated email line for receiving work order requests then it’s probably convenient to automatically convert those emails into open work orders
  • Work orders are opened and automatically tied to the customer who emailed you. The content of the email is logged in the “Services Requested” notes for the order. All that remains to be done is to assign the order to a technician.

Work order assignments trigger an email and schedule a Google Calendar or Outlook event

  • When a technician is assigned to an order they can receive an email letting them know, plus you can configure your software to automatically generate a Google Calendar or Outlook event for that task

Orders that are closed send a notification to the customer

  • When an order is closed your customer is notified. If they have more requests for your service they’ll know that they should contact you again to communicate their needs. This is a great way to stay on the same page with your customers, since in some industries the customer doesn’t always know right away when an order is completed.

Orders that are opened send a notification to the customer

  • When you open an order for a customer that customer should receive an email letting them know that the job is being worked on. It’s a good way to keep them in the loop and make your customers feel like they’re being taken care of quickly.

Email correspondence regarding an open order is automatically copied into the “Services Requested” notes for the order

  • Email correspondence with your customers often contains important information but can be unwieldy or time consuming to log into your CRM system or sales notes records. Automated email tools that automatically enter email correspondence into the corresponding work order record for that customer save you time and improve the quality of your records tremendously.

Work order status changes trigger an email notification

Order status changes can send an email to a highly customizable list of recipients

  • When a technician updates an order status you can configure your automated email tool to email that update to the relevant parties
    • Example: Technician arrives at the work site and discovers he needs different tools so he changes the order status to “Postponed 1 Hour – Obtaining Necessary Tools”
  • The people who receive order status emails can be configured independently for each order status, or customized each time you want to send an email.
    • Example: If an order status is relevant to your accounting department you can include your accounting personnel and no one else. If the order status is applicable to your customer and your service manager then you can configure emails to be sent only to them when the order status is relevant to them.
  • Order status emails are a great way to maintain customer contact without spending more time contacting them manually

In Summary…

SMEHomeScreenshot1

The Whole Package

We hope our software fits your emailing needs since we’ve been designing software specifically for the service industry for over 25 years, but we’re quick to acknowledge when the fit isn’t right and we’d be glad to point you to one of our competitors who might suit your needs better. If you have any questions about emailing systems and how they relate to your specific business processes please feel free to give us a call at 360-293-3000.

This article is the eighth in a nine part series of white papers designed to inform you about the role that software plays in the field service industry. You’ll receive the next article in the series next week, but if you can’t wait until then we encourage you to check out the entire series using the links below. Thanks for reading!

The Team at High 5 Software


Read The Whole Series
SMEVideoOverviewScreenshot1

Watch a video overview of Service Management Enterprise (SME) from High 5 Software

Part 1: Overview
Part 2: Customer Relationship Management
Part 3: Work Order Management
Part 4: Sales, Leads and Proposals
Part 5: Dispatching and Scheduling
Part 6: Inventory Management
Part 7: Double Entry
Part 8: Automated Email
Part 9: Reporting

 

 


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What Role Does Software Play In The Field Service Industry? Part 7: Double Entry

This is the seventh article in a nine part series about the role that software plays in the field service industry. It’s focus is on double entry and how software can help you run a better service business by eliminating double entry and automating your business processes in general. We’re passionate about software and the service industry, and we want to help you find the right software for your business, whether it’s our product or a competitor’s.You’ll receive the next white paper in the series next week, but if you can’t wait we encourage you to use the links at the bottom of the page to read the rest of the series now.


 

How Can Software Eliminate Double Entry and Automate Business Processes For The Service Industry?

Where Does Double Entry Occur The Most?

Double entry can plague many different areas of your business. The list below names some of the most common areas that suffer from double entry in the absence of good service management software:

  • Pushing work orders to your accounting software for invoicing
  • Converting leads into customers
  • Opening new work orders for a customer
  • Recurring work orders not being saved or automated
  • Distributing work order information and scheduling information to all relevant parties
  • Printing hard copies
  • Status changes on work orders or invoices
  • Converting a proposal into a work order
  • Converting a purchase order into received inventory items
  • Adding new contacts or locations to a customer account
  • Time tracking and payroll processes
  • Any handwritten notes, work orders, etc that must be re-entered into an electronic database

How Can These Areas Be Automated?

Pushing work orders to your accounting software for invoicing

Video demo of how software can help automate the invoicing process by syncing with QuickBooks

Video demo of how software can help automate the invoicing process by syncing with QuickBooks

  • Good service management software will either come equipped with an accounting module that works seamlessly with your work order management module or it will integrate with your accounting software, whether it’s QuickBooks, Sage or something else.
  • One-click accounting integration saves you time and prevents transcription errors that come about due to double entry and re-keying information

Converting leads into customers

  • Good service management software will allow you to track leads and customers separately to stay organized but can convert a lead to a customer with the click of a button. All of the lead information is automatically pushed to the corresponding customer record, so you don’t have to re-enter any info.

Opening new work orders for a customer

Good automated email tools make this possible - watch the video to see how easy it can be

Video of the workflow around opening an order, assigning items and printing a work order ticket

  • To open a new work order you should be able to select a customer to tie the order to and then have the customer contact info, site address and more automatically pre-filled on the work order. Changing the contact or other info should be as simple as selecting your choice from a drop down menu that is tied to your CRM system.

Recurring work orders not being saved or automated

  • Software will allow you to design recurring order templates and save them to be used again on an automated basis at set intervals or with the click of your mouse whenever you need them.

Distributing work order information and scheduling information to all relevant parties

  • A good enterprise software system will automatically update information for all users in real time. Technicians in the field can access the same information using mobile apps on their smart phones or tablets. That way there is no need to print, email or write down information more than once. It’s always available to everyone and it’s constantly updated.

Printing hard copies

  • While not technically being classified as double entry, printing documents can be a tremendous waste of time and resources. Good software will offer you the option to email professional work orders, invoices, schedules, and other reports with standard templates specially designed with service businesses in mind. All of those reports can be automatically generated with the click of a mouse, whether it’s a single work order or a  yearly snapshot of a customer account.

Status changes on work orders and invoices

Video of the automated workflow for changing order statuses, invoicing and printing.

Video of the automated workflow for changing order statuses, invoicing and printing.

  • Rather than relying on phones, email or word of mouth you should use software to keep all relevant personnel abreast of status changes that way all order statuses are immediately updated and available. No need for office personnel to manually change the status of an order when the technician in charge can change it from the field.

Converting a proposal into a work order

  • If you’ve sent a proposal to a lead or a customer and they accept it, software should allow you to automatically convert that to a work order that pulls in all of the proposal details, material and services requested. Then you can simply assign a technician, schedule it and get started on the order.

 Converting a purchase order into received inventory items

  • When you receive items you should be able to automatically mark them as received in your inventory module and close the purchase order. Item quantities and warehouse records should be automatically updated when a purchase order is received. Bar coding capabilities that integrate with your software make this especially effective.

 Adding new contacts and locations to a customer record

  • When you get in touch with a new contact at a company you do business with you should add them to your rolodex. Good CRM software will auto-fill the address of that contact with the company’s main address, and the same is true for the phone number. Likewise, if a customer branches out to a new location it should be easy to add that to their record. The same is true for parent-child relationships in your customer database. All CRM processes should be automated, use pre-filled info when possible and streamline the task of updating data.

Time tracking and payroll processes

Video demo of how software can help automate the invoicing process by syncing with QuickBooks

Technicians using a mobile app to track their time spent on the job

  • Paper time sheets are a huge source of double entry inefficiencies in a service business. Businesses that utilize paper time sheets probably waste a significant amount of time re-entering paper time sheet data into their electronic accounting system or employee records. This not only wastes time but it can also cause significant re-keying errors. Plus it can be difficult to track down employees who forget to hand in their time sheets. Doing payroll electronically saves time and prevents errors.

 Any handwritten notes, work orders, etc that must be re-entered into an electronic database

  • Sales notes, technician site notes, services requested and performed, paper work orders and more are all examples of things that some businesses keep track of on paper that may need to be re-entered into their electronic records. It can be a significant source of double entry inefficiencies that can be alleviated using software that stores all of that info electronically from the start.

In Summary…

SMEHomeScreenshot1

The Whole Package

We hope our software helps eliminate your inefficiencies caused by double entry since we’ve been designing software specifically for the service industry for over 25 years, but we’re quick to acknowledge when the fit isn’t right and we’d be glad to point you to one of our competitors who might suit your needs better. If you have any questions about double entry or automation and how they relate to your specific business processes please feel free to give us a call at 360-293-3000.

This article is the seventh in a nine part series of white papers designed to inform you about the role that software plays in the field service industry. You’ll receive the next article in the series next week, but if you can’t wait until then we encourage you to check out the entire series using the links below. Thanks for reading!

The Team at High 5 Software


Read The Whole Series
SMEVideoOverviewScreenshot1

Watch a video overview of Service Management Enterprise (SME) from High 5 Software

Part 1: Overview
Part 2: Customer Relationship Management
Part 3: Work Order Management
Part 4: Sales, Leads and Proposals
Part 5: Dispatching and Scheduling
Part 6: Inventory Management
Part 7: Double Entry
Part 8: Automated Email
Part 9: Reporting

 

 


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What Role Does Software Play In The Field Service Industry? Part 6: Inventory Management

This is the sixth article in a nine part series about the role that software plays in the field service industry. It’s focus is on inventory management and how software can help you run a better service business by managing your inventory operations. We’re passionate about software and the service industry, and we want to help you find the right software for your business, whether it’s our product or a competitor’s.You’ll receive the next white paper in the series next week, but if you can’t wait we encourage you to use the links at the bottom of the page to read the rest of the series now.


 

How Can Software Improve Inventory Processes For The Service Industry?

Basic Inventory Requirements

Inventory management can be one of the most complicated and detailed aspects of running a good service business. Inventory processes vary wildly from business to business but the list below outlines some of the basic requirements you might look for in an inventory system:

Detailed info for an inventory item

  • Rolodex of all inventory items
  • Store and track vendor info
  • Track purchase orders
  • Available and reserved stock quantities
  • Warehouse location management

It might be possible to handle these details using spreadsheets or some standalone inventory software. But when your needs get more complex and you need to integrate your inventory into your purchase orders, tie your purchase orders into work orders and give detailed equipment requirements to your technicians for their work orders it can get overwhelming quickly.


Advanced Inventory Processes

As your business becomes more complex and starts integrating purchase orders, inventory and work orders your inventory processes need to become more precise and synchronized with the rest of your business. Some functionality that might be necessary and can probably only be handled well by good, integrated software are below:

  • Combining items into packages

    Video walk through of a good software inventory system

    Video walk through of a good software inventory system

  • Tracking returned inventory
  • Automatic reverse receipting
  • Complete selling and purchase order history
  • Note taking capability for:
    • Parts
    • Packages
    • Vendors
    • Billing and shipping
  • Price variation by part number
  • Minimum level and reorder alerts
  • Bar code scanning
  • Stored photo documentation
  • Pricing levels and mark up
  • Inventory reports with part name, location, quantity, status and other details

If you go through the basic and advanced inventory checklist you should be able to rank your need for good inventory software. It’s possible that you have no need for anything more than a spreadsheet, but if you find yourself wishing you could handle some of the advanced functionality then you might want to look into some inventory software.


In Summary…

SMEHomeScreenshot1

The Whole Package

We hope our software fits your inventory needs since we’ve been designing software specifically for the service industry for over 25 years, but we’re quick to acknowledge when the fit isn’t right and we’d be glad to point you to one of our competitors who might suit your needs better. If you have any questions about inventory systems and how they relate to your specific business processes please feel free to give us a call at 360-293-3000.

This article is the sixth in a nine part series of white papers designed to inform you about the role that software plays in the field service industry. You’ll receive the next article in the series next week, but if you can’t wait until then we encourage you to check out the entire series using the links below. Thanks for reading!

The Team at High 5 Software


Read The Whole Series
SMEVideoOverviewScreenshot1

Watch a video overview of Service Management Enterprise (SME) from High 5 Software

Part 1: Overview
Part 2: Customer Relationship Management
Part 3: Work Order Management
Part 4: Sales, Leads and Proposals
Part 5: Dispatching and Scheduling
Part 6: Inventory Management
Part 7: Double Entry
Part 8: Automated Email
Part 9: Reporting

 

 


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What Role Does Software Play In The Field Service Industry? Part 5: Dispatching & Scheduling

This is the fifth article in a nine part series about the role that software plays in the field service industry. It’s focus is on dispatching and scheduling processes and how software can help you run a better service business by managing your dispatching operations. We’re passionate about software and the service industry, and we want to help you find the right software for your business, whether it’s our product or a competitor’s.You’ll receive the next white paper in the series next week, but if you can’t wait we encourage you to use the links at the bottom of the page to read the rest of the series now.


 

How Can Software Improve Dispatching and Scheduling Processes For The Service Industry?

Scheduling

Dispatching and scheduling is a pair of processes that are so closely related to your work order management system that it is absolutely vital that all three areas work together in unison. We’ll start by looking at just scheduling, since a work order must be scheduled before a technician can be dispatched.

Depending on your specific service business your scheduling process might look something like the following:

A work order comes in and is logged in your work order management system

  • It’s likely that you put new work orders in a pool of unassigned orders until it is ready to be assigned to someone.
  • Software will help you keep track of unassigned work orders and gives you good views of how long orders have been open, who they were taken by, etc.

Unassigned work orders need to be assigned

  • If this is done by your technicians simply claiming orders then this is probably relatively straight forward.
    • A technician looks at his calendar (whether paper or electronic) and schedules the order whenever he is free
    • Potential Problems:
      • Does the job have any special requirements or certifications? If so, does the technician have access to that information?
      • Does the technician have access to the site address for the unassigned work orders? Do they have site addresses displayed on their calendar? They should have both! That way they can schedule jobs in the same area to minimize driving time!
      • Does the technician have access to other technicians’ schedules? Maybe a work order came in for a far away site that happens to be close to another site that a different tech will be at, and they could kill two birds with one stone.
  • If a dispatcher, service manager or scheduler is responsible for assigning orders to
    Order scheduling and dispatching video

    Order scheduling and dispatching video

    technicians this gets a bit more difficult

    • The dispatcher needs a very good view of all the technician calendars with all of the work orders listed by time and area.
    • The dispatcher also needs the site address and requirements for the unassigned work orders that way they can assign a technician who is qualified and in the area.
    • Potential Problems:
      • Obtaining a comprehensive view of technician schedules is going to be incredibly difficult if the volume of work orders and number of techs is large enough and no software is being used
A drag-and-drop technician calendar that you can filter by day, week, month, technician, zone, work group, etc.

A drag-and-drop technician calendar that you can filter by day, week, month, technician, zone, work group, etc.

Once a work order is assigned then the technician for that job must be dispatched.

 


Dispatching

After assigning a work order you now must alert the technician for that job that they have a new work order to take care of. This means you must supply them with the following information:

  • Site Address
  • Customer
  • Contact Info
  • Services Requested
  • Materials, parts or items needed
  • Date and Time for the order
  • Directions to the site
  • Billing info
  • Certifications and Requirements
  • Existing customer equipment and info
  • Custom documents (keycodes for buildings, blueprints, etc)

That list may be less or more detailed depending on your specific business, but the question arises either way: How do you convey that information to your technician?

It’s easy enough to do so if they’re in the office. You can give them a hard copy of this info, though it may be hard to organize it if your inventory management system is separate from your customer relationship management system which is separate from your work order management system (Hint: Software that encompasses all of these systems is great).

But what if you assign a technician an order when they’re already out in the field, or if they work remotely and don’t ever come into the dispatching office? Or what if your dispatcher is the remote worker? Then you must resort to email, phone calls or something else.

Potential Problems:

  • Synchronization is nearly impossible and relies on email or phone calls, which waste both people’s time. Real time data sharing is not going to happen. Plus sometimes getting in touch with someone on the phone or email is difficult.
  • How do you share the above info for a work order via telephone or email? It’s nearly impossible.

Solution:

Software that allows your inventory, CRM and work order management systems to integrate with each other will allow you to easily collect all of the info you need to supply your technicians with. Any good service management software will also provide a way to easily share that info with your tech, and this generally happens in two ways.

  • Reporting Tools
    • Good software will come with a large repertoire of standard reporting tools that will automatically gather the information your tech needs and send it in a well formatted email, including custom documents and spreadsheets.
  • Mobile Applications
    Work order management app lets techs work from any mobile device in the field and syncs all info back to the office

    Work order management app lets techs work from any mobile device in the field and syncs all info back to the office

    • The best service management software will also have mobile applications that extend the reach of the core software into the field. Technicians can access all information from their mobile device in the field and information on both ends is automatically updated in real time. So when a dispatcher assigns an order to a tech from back in the office, the technician is automatically alerted in the field and instantly has access to all of the work order, inventory and customer information.
A customized scheduling dashboard for a customer

A customized scheduling dashboard for a customer


In Summary…

SMEHomeScreenshot1

The Whole Package

We hope our software fits your dispatching and scheduling needs since we’ve been designing software specifically for the service industry for over 25 years, but we’re quick to acknowledge when the fit isn’t right and we’d be glad to point you to one of our competitors who might suit your needs better. If you have any questions about dispatching and scheduling systems and how they relate to your specific business processes please feel free to give us a call at 360-293-3000.

This article is the fifth in a nine part series of white papers designed to inform you about the role that software plays in the field service industry. You’ll receive the next article in the series next week, but if you can’t wait until then we encourage you to check out the entire series using the links below. Thanks for reading!

 

The Team at High 5 Software


Read The Whole Series
SMEVideoOverviewScreenshot1

Watch a video overview of Service Management Enterprise (SME) from High 5 Software

Part 1: Overview
Part 2: Customer Relationship Management
Part 3: Work Order Management
Part 4: Sales, Leads and Proposals
Part 5: Dispatching and Scheduling
Part 6: Inventory Management
Part 7: Double Entry
Part 8: Automated Email
Part 9: Reporting

 

 


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What Role Does Software Play In The Field Service Industry? Part 4: Sales, Leads & Proposals

This is the fourth article in a nine part series about the role that software plays in the field service industry. It’s focus is on sales, leads and proposal processes and how software can help you run a better service business by managing your sales operations. We’re passionate about software and the service industry, and we want to help you find the right software for your business, whether it’s our product or a competitor’s.You’ll receive the next white paper in the series next week, but if you can’t wait we encourage you to use the links at the bottom of the page to read the rest of the series now.


 

How Can Software Improve Sales Processes For The Service Industry?

Contact Management

Contact management and customer relationship management are closely related, but contact management is a more actionable area than CRM generally is.

The purpose of a contact management system is to optimize your points of contract with leads and customers. The following things need to be considered when choosing your points of contact:

  • When was the last time you contacted the person?
  • When was the last time someone else at your company contacted them?
  • What is your purpose in contacting them?
  • What is the contact’s current status or feeling?
  • What is the contact company’s current status?
  • Is this a cold call or a scheduled follow-up?

    Video demo of good, automated sales processes

    Video demo of good, automated sales processes

Good sales management software will be able to answer all of those questions. Without software it might be difficult to record that information, let alone make it readily available to your entire company. Making sales info transparent and available is one of the keys to good contact management. Without transparency it’s possible that multiple representatives will contact a lead without sharing information, which can have disastrous ramifications.


Customer Relationship Management

We reviewed the tenets of a good CRM system in the last article in this series of whitepapers, but let’s do a recap more oriented towards sales processes and how they relate to and depend on a good CRM system. Sales depends on the following CRM capabilities:

  • The sharing of detailed lead, contact, sales, and customer information through all company departments and employees.
  • Lead scoring to identify hot leads and focus marketing and sales efforts on contacts more likely to buy.
  • Sales note-taking capability
  • Document uploading and management

Order Management

Sales processes often cross department boundaries and end up affecting work orders, especially when a lead is converted into a customer and a proposal is approved and converted into a work order, which is then performed by your technician staff. Since it crosses over into the work order management realm, sales proposals must play nicely with your work orders in the following ways:
  • Automated methods to advance leads through the sales process and convert them to customers
  • Automation of proposal approval and proposal conversion into work orders
  • Proposals, bids and quotes management
  • Elimination of double entry by automatically pushing relevant CRM info from sales module to customer module to work order module.

Sales Forecasting
One of the most valuable functions of your sales department is the ability to provide a detailed history of sales and to use that information to predict future sales. Good sales forecasting allows managers to plan business processes and goals accordingly. Software can help facilitate sales forecasting by collecting and reporting data in the following ways:
  • How do buyers buy?
    • Customers that have used your services before supply data that helps you guide your future plans and predict how your sellers should sell. Software can help form reports to show you which of your services are most popular, where the most money comes from and much more.
  • Know your checkpoints
    • Sales processes don’t stop after a lead requests your services for the first time. Converting a lead to a customer is simply the first checkpoint in a customer timeline. Tracking other important checkpoints and additional services allow you to target specific customers and goals throughout the customer’s lifetime, and software helps manage that effectively.
  • Forecasting should be dynamic, flexible and current
    • A sales forecast should be constantly updated and always available. It’s not something that should be put together at the beginning of the year with static long range objectives. Software makes collecting and reporting on the most recent data an easy process, which makes your sales forecasting dynamic, flexible and current.

In Summary…

SMEHomeScreenshot1

The Whole Package

Sales processes need to be just as refined and intuitive as your CRM tools are. They are closely interrelated and any system that doesn’t interface smoothly between sales and CRM is going to be wasting time with double entry and re-filing information when leads are turned into customers. Additionally, your sales processes need to integrate with your work order tools, since proposals are frequently (hopefully always!) converted into work orders. If the interface between proposals and work orders is clunky then, you guessed it, you’re going to spend more time on double entry and entering the same information in different places. Sales, leads and proposals really cannot be a standalone system if you want to maximize productivity and minimize paper pushing.

 We hope our software fits your sales, leads and proposal needs since we’ve been designing software specifically for the service industry for over 25 years, but we’re quick to acknowledge when the fit isn’t right and we’d be glad to point you to one of our competitors who might suit your needs better. If you have any questions about sales systems and how they relate to your specific business processes please feel free to give us a call at 360-293-3000.

This article is the fourth in a nine part series of white papers designed to inform you about the role that software plays in the field service industry. You’ll receive the next article in the series next week, but if you can’t wait until then we encourage you to check out the entire series using the links below. Thanks for reading!

The Team at High 5 Software


Read The Whole Series
SMEVideoOverviewScreenshot1

Watch a video overview of Service Management Enterprise (SME) from High 5 Software

Part 1: Overview
Part 2: Customer Relationship Management
Part 3: Work Order Management
Part 4: Sales, Leads and Proposals
Part 5: Dispatching and Scheduling
Part 6: Inventory Management
Part 7: Double Entry
Part 8: Automated Email
Part 9: Reporting

 

 


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What Role Does Software Play In The Field Service Industry? Part 3: Work Order Management

This is the third article in a nine part series about the role that software plays in the field service industry. It’s focus is on work order management processes and how software can help you run a better service business by managing your work orders. We’re passionate about software and the service industry, and we want to help you find the right software for your business, whether it’s our product or a competitor’s.You’ll receive the next white paper in the series next week, but if you can’t wait we encourage you to use the links at the bottom of the page to read the rest of the series now.


 

How Can Software Improve Work Order Management Processes For The Service Industry?

Work Order Management Requirements

The day to day routine of a service business is best summarized by the work orders they perform. With a network of customers in place, the majority of what a service business does is receive work order requests, assign a technician to the order and then complete the order. It sounds pretty simple (and it can be, for some businesses) but there is a lot of potential for greater detail and more requirements. We’ll look at a few work order scenarios, then see how they can become more complicated and lastly we’ll look at how software can simplify and streamline work order management processes.


A Simple Work Order

 

In the simplest, most ideal case, a work order will arrive in the form of an email or a phone call from a customer with their request that a technician perform some action for them. The entire work order process might look something like this:

1. Receive email/phone call requesting a work order
2. Enter the request in your files and create a work order form
3. Assign a technician (one happens to be available right then, how lucky!)
4. Give the technician the details of the work order
5. Technician goes to the site and completes the order
6. Technician returns to the office, notifies office staff that the order is complete
7. Invoice is sent to the customer and the work order is closed  

That’s a pretty simple process and probably doesn’t require any complex software. Spreadsheets might be a useful way to achieve some of the action items, though paper work orders would also probably work fine.


Potential Work Order Complications and Solutions
1. Receive email/phone call requesting a work order
This remains pretty straight forward, though wouldn’t it be great if incoming emails with work order requests were automatically converted into open work orders for that customer?
Good automated email tools make this possible - watch the video to see how easy it can be

Good automated email tools make this possible – watch the video to see how easy it can be

2. Enter the request in your files and create a work order form
This probably means manually filling out or copying and pasting the customer address, site info, contact info and more standard information from your CRM database for that customer onto the work order for that customer. It’s an example of double entry at its worst. If your processes have you re-entering or copying over customer information onto your work orders you should look into making changes.
Software Solution: When a work order is created for a customer all of the customer, site and contact info is automatically filled in, along with tracking important customer equipment, site notes and more info that could be relevant to the work order.
Furthermore, are you printing the work order form or creating and storing it electronically? How do you enter that into your customer’s work order history? Probably a bit more double entry.
Software Solution: A new work order is automatically linked to the customer’s order history.
3. Assign a technician (one happens to be available right then, how lucky!)  
Uh-oh, there are no technicians available right now. You need a way to log and keep track of this unassigned work order until a technician is available.
Software Solution: All work orders should be searchable and viewable through filters. Useful filters are by customer, by status (assigned, unassigned, opened, closed, etc), date created, date closed, technician assigned and more.
If you want to assign an order to a technician right away, rather than logging it to be assigned later when you know a technician is available, you’ll need access to all of your technicians’ schedules. Obtaining the right view of all of them at once might make assigning a work order difficult.

A good dispatch calendar is crucial

A good dispatch calendar is crucial

Software Solution: Dispatch and scheduling calendars track all company work orders and technicians and can filter according to the work order status, technician, day, week, month, etc, so that you can assign work orders to the right people.

 Furthermore, how do you know if a technician is qualified for a work order? Perhaps some of your customers occasionally request work that requires OSHA certifications or some other mandatory qualification to legally be permitted to perform that job.
Software Solution: Flag customers who require that your technicians possess certain certifications, then when an order is opened you’re notified of that status and will only be able to assign technicians possessing that certification. Certifications and qualifications can be entered in the technician profile in the software user database and are automatically checked against the requirements of the work order.
4. Give the technician the details of the work order
Hopefully your technician is in the office, because if not it’s going to be difficult to get a paper work order to them. Or you could email it to them, but they’ll likely not have access to all of the information you have in the office. Plus if the order changes or the customer closes the request themselves your technician will be out of the loop if they’re already in the field. Communicating changes and updates via email or phone is wasting your time and your technician’s time.

Work order management app lets techs work from any mobile device in the field and syncs all info back to the office

Work order management app lets techs work from any mobile device in the field and syncs all info back to the office

Software Solution: A mobile app, hosted in the cloud, is a great way to let your technicians view their work orders in real time, so that if a change is made to a work order in the office software it is automatically pushed to the technicians mobile app on their smart phone or mobile device. All the information from the office is immediately available to the technician, without wasting time on email or on the phone. Good software will help your technician navigate to the job site in addition to simply supplying them with the site address.

 

5. Technician goes to the site and completes the order
Completing the order could be very straight forward, but if your technician isn’t prepared for the job at hand it could become a problem. How prepared your tech is can depend heavily on your work order software, especially as work orders become more complex and demanding. If an order requires many special inventory items, specialized knowledge or certifications, among other things, and the work order doesn’t list those items the entire process can run aground easily.
Software Solution: Work order software should use work orders that you can assign items to, list any special circumstances, access restrictions, special contacts, certifications or qualifications that are required and custom documents for blueprints, inspection sheets and much more.

 6. Technician returns to the office, notifies office staff that the order is complete
Relying on an email or word of mouth to notify office staff that a work order is complete slows down the turnover rate for jobs.
Software Solution: Mark the work order as completed using the work order management mobile app from the technicians smart phone or mobile device. That way the office staff know right away when an order is completed.

 7. Invoice is sent to the customer and the work order is closed 

Oftentimes the invoicing process can be streamlined using software.
Software Solution: The technician can use the mobile app on his phone to generate an invoice for the job and capture the customer’s signature and credit card information while they are on site.


In Summary…

SMEHomeScreenshot1

The Whole Package

Work order management processes can range from very simply to incredibly complex, and work order software will almost always improve those processes. It decreases double entry, increases automation and smooths the entire process while making sure that your technicians have access to the information they need to provide great service, whether they’re in the field or in the office.

 We hope our software fits your work order needs since we’ve been designing software specifically for the service industry for over 25 years, but we’re quick to acknowledge when the fit isn’t right and we’d be glad to point you to one of our competitors who might suit your needs better. If you have any questions about work order management systems and how they relate to your specific business processes please feel free to give us a call at 360-293-3000.

This article is the third in a nine part series of white papers designed to inform you about the role that software plays in the field service industry. You’ll receive the next article in the series next week, but if you can’t wait until then we encourage you to check out the entire series using the links below. Thanks for reading!

 

The Team at High 5 Software


Read The Whole Series
SMEVideoOverviewScreenshot1

Watch a video overview of Service Management Enterprise (SME) from High 5 Software

Part 1: Overview
Part 2: Customer Relationship Management
Part 3: Work Order Management
Part 4: Sales, Leads and Proposals
Part 5: Dispatching and Scheduling
Part 6: Inventory Management
Part 7: Double Entry
Part 8: Automated Email
Part 9: Reporting

 

 


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What Role Does Software Play In The Field Service Industry? Part 2: Customer Relationship Management

This is the second article in a nine part series about the role that software plays in the field service industry. It’s focus is on customer relationship management processes and how software can help you run a better service business by managing your customer relationship records. We’re passionate about software and the service industry, and we want to help you find the right software for your business, whether it’s our product or a competitor’s.You’ll receive the next white paper in the series next week, but if you can’t wait we encourage you to use the links at the bottom of the page to read the rest of the series now.

—————————————————————————————–

How Can Software Improve CRM Processes For The Service Industry?

CRM Requirements

As a service business your most valuable asset is your customers. Your customer relationship records should be all of the following things:

It might not be immediately obvious how a customer relationship management system can be all of the above things, but actually they’re all closely related to each other and any good CRM system should employ all of the above characteristics. For instance, keeping CRM data current relies on the system being simple to update and integrated with other processes. Having a mobile CRM system also helps keep data current since it can be updated from the field right when new info is acquired. Since the different characteristics of a CRM system are so closely tied together we’ll be examining the details of a good CRM system in chunks rather than piece by piece.

—————————————————————————————–

Customer Info Should Be Current

Current CRM Info Is Useful Because:

Current contact info          —–>          Stay in touch with relevant contacts amongst customers
Current site address         —–>          Ensure that your techs go to the right place for orders
Current billing info             —–>          Ensure that your invoices are received and payments made
Current sales notes          —–>          Keep leads warm and stay in touch at appropriate intervals
Current custom notes       —–>          Track unique statuses, needs and uploaded documents

Maintaining current, correct data enables a service business to excel at what they do: provide excellent service to their customers.

—————————————————————————————–

Some businesses fail to maintain current CRM info because they do not incorporate the supporting characteristics of a CRM system that enable data to remain current. Some of those supporting characteristics and their relation to keeping data current are described below:

  • Mobile
    Work order management app lets techs work from any mobile device in the field and syncs all info back to the office

    Work order management app lets techs work from any mobile device in the field and syncs all info back to the office

    • If your CRM system is not mobile then when your technicians acquire updated information for contacts or equipment on-site they won’t be able to record it immediately. This increases the chance that new info will be lost in transit before techs return to the office, and decreases how current your CRM data is.
  • Accessible
    • The right personnel need access and permission to update your CRM data and keep it current. On the other hand, however, you also need the ability to limit access to sensitive customer data. If you don’t have the functionality to control access and permissions to your CRM database on a person to person basis then you’re probably not getting the most out of your CRM system, or it might be at risk from being incorrectly maintained by unqualified personnel.
  • Automated
    • Automation can be a fantastic way to keep CRM data current. For example, when adding a new contact to a company that’s in your CRM rolodex, it’s a waste of time to manually input their address when it could be auto-filled using the company address that’s already in the database.
  • Intuitive
    • CRM systems that are easy to use stand a far better chance of being updated regularly and staying well maintained and current. If your CRM process is convoluted and difficult to maintain then it’s likely that your customer data won’t stay current simply because no one will take the time to update it.
  • Scalable
    • It’s impossible for your CRM data to stay current if you outgrow the system you’re using. Spreadsheets can only take you so far…
  • Integrated
    It's important to integrate with accounting software

    It’s important to integrate with accounting software

    • If your CRM system integrates well with other software or processes that you use then it is infinitely more likely to stay in use and stay current.A clunky CRM system that is standing alone from your work order processes, accounting and other processes is just going to slow you down and you’ll likely abandon it eventually.
  • Detailed
    • To truly be current your CRM system needs to capture all relevant customer information. If you don’t have the capability to record info that is potentially vital to your operation then you’re not giving your customers the best service possible.
  • Customized
    • One surefire way to keep your CRM data updated and current is to use a system that allows you to custom tailor it to your needs, even as they change over time. Small customizations like the ability to change data field names, upload or create custom documents and control your views and reports go a long way towards keeping your CRM current and correct.

—————————————————————————————–

Customer Info Should Be Actionable

No matter how current your CRM data is, it’s useless if it’s not actionable…

Actionable refers to your ability to perform vital tasks using your CRM data, or in other words, you can act on the information you possess.

Actionable customer data…

  • shows you when a customer has an overdue balance.
  • summarizes open work orders and displays a history of closed work orders.
  • gives technicians info about customer equipment, site notes, notice of special certifications required by that customer and more
  • .gauges customer satisfaction

These are just some of the areas in which actionable CRM data is important. Creating actionable data is a result of combining all of the same characteristics of a CRM system that were important to keeping data current, as discussed above.

To create actionable data the following characteristics must all work together:

  • Mobile
    • Lots of good service businesses give their technicians paper copies of work orders, and that may work fine for some companies. However, there are certainly instances where a technician would benefit from having the entire CRM data for a customer at his fingertips in the field to provide better service.
  • Accessible
    • Keeping your CRM data actionable depends on which internal personnel can access which data. CRM captures a lot of information, so being able to extract only the valuable info for a given role at your company is important. For example, you may not want salespeople bombarded with work order history information. Likewise, you don’t want technicians to have to sift through sales notes while they’re in the field. Controlling what data is seen by which user groups is a vital way to keep data actionable.
  • Automated
    CRMVideoScreenshot

    Video showing CRM automation

    • Automation is one fantastic way to keep actionable data. Being able to transform a lead into a customer with the click of a button saves a lot of time. Similarly, automated, standard views can show you the info you need right away, so you can act on it more quickly.
  • Intuitive
    • If your data isn’t displayed in an intuitive way then it most definitely is not actionable. Sifting through unsorted customer records and sales notes without dates creates problems. Just having the data in your system is not enough. You also need a good repertoire of standard reports, views and fields that are meaningful to your service business.
  • Scalable
    • To be actionable, your data must be expansive enough to capture a lot of information but also drill down to give vital specifics on a customer relationship. If your CRM excels only on one end of the spectrum it won’t fit your needs in all situations. For example, you want to record a customer’s entire work order history. But you also want to be able to look back at a work order from 7 years ago, and see the comments your technician left while he was installing a piece of equipment for a specific customer. Good CRM software can do both.
  • Integrated
    • Here is where actionability can really shine. Your CRM software should sync with your accounting software and other systems flawlessly, with the click of a button. End of story. If your CRM software doesn’t play nicely with your other processes then you don’t have actionable data, since your actions will be devoted to getting those processes all synced and working together.
  • Detailed
    • To have customer data that you can act upon you need information like:
      • Customer status (champion, satisfied, at risk, etc)
      • Special treatment requirements
      • Certifications necessary for work orders for specific customers
    • Without this kind of detailed info your actions may be misdirected and inefficient.
  • Customized
    Video demo of excellent customizable fields

    Video demo of excellent customizable fields

    • Taking the previous point a step further, sometimes it’s necessary to customize your CRM information for specific customers to stay on top of your relations with them.

 

 


 

In Summary…
SMEHomeScreenshot1

The Whole Package

CRM processes are much more complex than simply recording a customer’s address and contact info. CRM info should be current and actionable to really be useful. To make that info current and actionable it’s necessary for the characteristics discussed above to all work in sync.

We hope our software fits your CRM needs since we’ve been designing software specifically for the service industry for over 25 years, but we’re quick to acknowledge when the fit isn’t right and we’d be glad to point you to one of our competitors who might suit your needs better. If you have any questions about CRM systems and how they relate to your specific business processes please feel free to give us a call at 360-293-3000.

This article is the second in a nine part series of white papers designed to inform you about the role that software plays in the field service industry. You’ll receive the next article in the series next week, but if you can’t wait until then we encourage you to check out the entire series using the links below. Thanks for reading!

 

The Team at High 5 Software


Read The Whole Series
SMEVideoOverviewScreenshot1

Watch a video overview of Service Management Enterprise (SME) from High 5 Software

Part 1: Overview
Part 2: Customer Relationship Management
Part 3: Work Order Management
Part 4: Sales, Leads and Proposals
Part 5: Dispatching and Scheduling
Part 6: Inventory Management
Part 7: Double Entry
Part 8: Automated Email
Part 9: Reporting

 

 


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What Role Does Software Play In The Field Service Industry? Part 1: Overview

This is the first article in a nine part series about the role that software plays in the field service industry. It’s intended to give an overview of what you can expect from any good software system and inform you of some of the ways software can help you run a better service business. We’re passionate about software and the service industry, and we want to help you find the right software for your business, whether it’s our product or a competitor’s.You’ll receive the next white paper in the series next week, but if you can’t wait we encourage you to read the rest of the series now using the links at the bottom of the page.

OverviewComputerAtTableWithCofee

The influence that electronics and software have on the business world has been steadily increasing for decades to the point where most businesses rely heavily on software in some form, from simple email correspondence to complex, comprehensive systems that include accounting, customer relationship management and much more. The most important question to ask yourself as a field service business professional is where on the spectrum of software reliance do you fall and how is that affecting your business? The answer to that depends on many factors, which we’ll delve into below in an effort to assess the role that software plays in a modern field service business.

Watch a video overview of some of the features of a model field service management software package here.


What Do Field Service Businesses Do That Software Can Help With?

Customer Relationship Management

The field service industry has unique and complex business processes. The backbone of a

SMECustomerScreenshot

CRM Display – Note the wealth of info available, custom fields, tabs, etc.

service business is formed by its network of customers.

A good service business will maintain some form of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to track contact information, site locations, equipment, work order history and other valuable info.

Potential Problems: Simple CRM  methods can quickly become disorganized or inefficient if the business expands past a certain point. Obtaining comprehensive views and reports on a customer’s history can be difficult.

A great service business will use specialized software to store extensive customer information (including customized notes, forms and uploaded documents). Customizable search views and reports can be easily generated to obtain valuable insight on a customer’s history. All customer information is readily available to all relevant personnel through software running in the office and on mobile devices. Customer info like customer equipment, contact info and requests for new work orders can be updated by technicians in the field to capture info at the source before it’s forgotten and synchronize field and office operations.

CRMVideoScreenshot

Video showing how software handles CRM processes


 

Work order management app lets techs work from any mobile device in the field and syncs all info back to the office

Work order management app lets techs work from any mobile device in the field and syncs all info back to the office

Work Order Management

The defining factor of a service business is their system of work orders. The specifics may vary across the different industries within the overarching heading of the service industry, but all service businesses have the following in common when it comes to work orders:

A good service business might use spreadsheets, email, whiteboards or paper work orders to communicate with their technicians. Incoming work order requests are probably taken by phone or email and manually recorded, then sent to their technicians.

Potential Problems: Large projects or complex service orders might become disorganized. The process for logging a new order and getting that information to your techs along with all of the relevant customer information might involve a lot of double entry and inefficiencies related to printing and transferring hard copies of documents. Communication between techs in the field and back office personnel is sluggish and disconnected. Any changes in work order scheduling are slow to reach the techs in the field.

A great service business easily opens new orders using automated email triggers and a smooth interface for quickly recording incoming information. New orders are automatically tied to that customer’s work order history. Customizable search views and reports can be easily generated to obtain valuable insight on a customer’s work order history, open orders and more. All new work order information is readily available to all relevant personnel through software running in the office and on mobile devices. Work orders can be updated by technicians in the field to optimize the turnover process and synchronize field and office operations.

Video showing how software manages work orders

Video showing how software manages work orders


 

SMEProposalsScreenshot

Proposal View

Sales, Leads and Proposals

A good service business will keep records of their leads in much the same way they track their customers. They will create proposals manually.

Potential Problems:
It might be inconvenient to schedule follow ups or reminders, causing lost or neglected leads. It may be an awkward transition converting a lead into a customer.

A great service business can track extensive info on their leads, automatically assign incoming leads to salespeople and enter them into their software, set automated reminders and emails at predefined intervals and keep in close touch with their leads. Converting a lead into a customer literally happens with the push of a button and it keeps all of the relevant information separate and organized.

SalesVideoScreenshot

Video showing how sales processes are streamlined using software


 

DispatchPlusScreenshot1

A dispatch calendar with a “monthly” filter applied

Dispatching and Scheduling

A good service business can probably get along fine with a white board and paper work orders until they outgrow that system. Maybe they also use spreadsheets or some basic scheduling software. The field and the office probably stay in touch relatively well via email, instant messaging and phone calls.

Potential Problems:
The technicians in the field and the back office employees aren’t truly synchronized; there is a delay in how the information is available to the company on a broad scale. Changes in the schedule are slow to reach techs. Updates on work order statuses, invoicing and other concerns in the field are slow to reach the office. Turnover time suffers as a result. It’s probably difficult to obtain a comprehensive view of which techs are at what place and at what time, so making informed decisions about scheduling is difficult.

A great service business uses software that can help dispatchers choose the best tech for a work order and view all of their technicians’ availability at a glance. Software will also store technician qualifications, certifications and reference that against the demands of particular work orders in the system to choose the appropriate technician for a job. Techs can access, update, invoice and complete their orders from the field on their mobile devices and all of their activity is immediately synchronized with the office. Time spent on the job can be automatically tracked and entered into the software database to be billed. GPS capabilities, signature capture, invoicing in the field and more are all part of a technician’s arsenal of software tools.

DispatchVideoScreenshot

Video on a model software system’s ability to simplify the dispatching and scheduling process


 

SMEInventoryScreenshot

Inventory Display

Inventory Management

A good service business may or may not need inventory capabilities, depending on a lot of factors. Again, many smaller businesses might get along just fine with spreadsheets or basic inventory software.

Potential Problems:
It’s probably difficult to associate inventory with a work order, verify that the technician for that job has the right items and place purchase orders if necessary. Inventory really spans many different sectors of the service industry and affects everyone from the warehouse to the purchasing department to the technicians in the field. It’s easy to end up with miscounted or misplaced inventory and have a tech arrive without the right parts for a job, only to find out upon returning to the warehouse that those parts are all gone and need to be ordered.

A great service business will use enterprise level software to track inventory on its journey from the vendor to the warehouse, to the technician, to the job site and then automatically alert personnel that inventory levels are low so they can create a purchase order. It will be compatible with bar code scanners that work in the warehouse and from mobile devices in the field so that workers in the warehouse can receive items and techs in the field can transfer and tie them to work orders.

InventoryVideoScreenshot

Video demo of how inventory, one of the most complex parts of some service businesses, can be managed more effectively using software.


 

SMEServiceOrderScreenshot1

Take a work order and generate a PO or invoice with one mouse click

Eliminating Double Entry

Even a good service business is going to suffer from the woes of double entry. Re-keying invoices and payments into accounting software, taking paper time sheets and entering them into your database and sales notes or site notes that are scribbled down during a call or a field visit must later be entered into your CRM system. Plus, think about how many notes are forgotten, the number of time sheets that are illegibly scrawled and the errors that happen when re-keying data into a computer. Double entry is a huge cause of inefficiencies, miscommunications and errors.

Potential Problems:
Too many to enumerate.

A great service business must use software that spans every department and synchronizes all of them to eliminate double entry. That software allows notes to be electronically entered once and then ties them to the customer or work order permanently. It converts proposals into work orders and word orders into invoices. It takes those invoices and syncs them with QuickBooks and other accounting software, or includes accounting capabilities within the system. Payroll and time tracking can all be done electronically.

DoubleEntryVideoScreenshot

Video showing how software that can sync with QuickBooks saves time by eliminating double entry.


 

SMEAutomatedEmailScreenshot1

Incoming emails are converted into work orders automatically

Automated Email

A good service business uses an email client like Gmail or Outlook to handle their communications internally and externally. They might have some automatic responses and form emails.

Potential Problems: Even the best email clients don’t cater specifically to the service industry. It’s generally difficult to integrate incoming and outgoing email with your work order flow, so customers will either be kept in the dark or you’ll spend far too much time sending email updates and correspondence.

A great service business can automate email to work in conjunction with their work orders and customer relationship management. Incoming emails are automatically turned into work orders for that customer and stored in your software database. When an order status is changed  or an order is completed in your enterprise software it sends an email update to that customer. Software allows you to email any report with the click of a button, and any software worth its salt will come fully loaded with standard reports for any situation. Alerts and reminders can be set that will trigger an email to relevant parties to help track obligations and set meetings.

AutomatedEmailVideoScreenshot

Video demonstration of automatically converting incoming emails into work orders and other useful email automation.


 

ReportingExample

Custom dashboard setup for a customer

Reporting and Business Intelligence

A good service business probably has some reporting capability using Excel graphs and plots. Custom reports for customers are all done manually.

Potential Problems: Since data from each department is fragmented and not consolidated into one database it’s difficult to gain a comprehensive view of anything. Many reports might be on paper so sending invoices, statements of work and more to customers is probably difficult. Generating picking tickets for warehouse personnel, printing or emailing work orders for your techs and tracking payroll for your employees might be tedious. Combining any of this data in a meaningful way is next to impossible.

A great service business will have its data consolidated into one software system and therefore be much more able to gain insight into business processes and records. Reports can be created, customized and saved to be used at the click of a button. Most software will come standard with dozens of useful reports that can be electronically completed and then emailed or printed. Most software providers also offer custom report work to tailor reports to your specific business processes.

ReportsListScreenshot

A list of some of the most useful standard reports you should expect to get with any good service management software.


 

SMEHomeScreenshot1

The Whole Package

In summary…

These are simply a handful of features that are absolutely necessities when considering any field service management software. It’s by no means an exhaustive list, rather it is just a starting point when considering what to look for. Any enterprise level field service management software should fulfill these bare-bones requirements and then some. So don’t stop the search until you’ve found the software that’s right for your specific business processes, and if you have any questions about what software might be right for you, don’t hesitate to call us. We’ll give you our honest opinion. Obviously we hope our software fits your needs since we’ve been designing software specifically for this industry for over 25 years, but we’re quick to acknowledge when the fit isn’t right and we’d be glad to point you to one of our competitors who might suit your needs better.

This article is the first in a nine part series of white papers designed to inform you about the role that software plays in the field service industry. You’ll receive the next article in the series next week, but if you can’t wait until then we encourage you to check out the entire series using the links below. Thanks for reading!

The Team at High 5 Software


 

SMEVideoOverviewScreenshot1

Watch a video overview of Service Management Enterprise (SME) from High 5 Software

Read The Whole Series

Part 1: Overview
Part 2: Customer Relationship Management
Part 3: Work Order Management
Part 4: Sales, Leads and Proposals
Part 5: Dispatching and Scheduling
Part 6: Inventory Management
Part 7: Double Entry
Part 8: Automated Email
Part 9: Reporting

 

 

 

 

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How To Avoid Failed IT Projects

Too many businesses view their software needs as an item to be purchased rather than a project to complete. It’s easy to make that mistake when you’re searching for software online and see banners on every site telling you to “Get Started Now”. Getting started is the easy part.

It’s like building a house. Digging a foundation is a pretty quick process and it changes the landscape so drastically that it looks like a lot of work must have been done. Just look at how much dirt got moved around! But really the foundation is just the beginning. You’ll need a floor, walls and a roof. Without all of the pieces working together you’ll still get wet if it rains.

On boarding new service management software is the same way. Clicking a download link is just laying the foundation for your IT project. You need to lay the framework of your business onto the new software foundation. The sad truth is that, like many construction projects, an alarming number of IT projects end up going over-budget and/or past the deadline, sometimes without delivering their promised returns. Some fail completely.

IT Project Success Rates

ITProjectSuccessRateThe graphic to the right*, based on a study from Ambysoft.com conducted in 2013, shows a startling percentage of projects that either failed or were “challenged” (challenged means that a “solution was delivered, but the team did not fully meet all of the project’s success criteria within acceptable ranges”, according to Scott Ambler). The same study found some even more alarming trends in the overall effectiveness of software deployment in terms of it being delivered on time and providing the promised return on investment.

Effectiveness of Software Development

Software Development ProblemsSo even if the quality of software development is up to snuff (which is only around 66% of the time, unfortunately) it’s likely that it wasn’t delivered on time and the return on investment might be less than was promised.

 

Avoiding Failed IT Projects

So how does a company make sure software development and implementation arrives on time, with all of the quality that was promised and the ability to generate a return on the investment?

  1. Make sure the software provider you’re working with has an extensive   history supplying software to the specific industry you work in.
  2. Search for a software provider that has a structured plan for implementing their software and for assuring that it performs well after implementation.
  3. Look for software providers that provide more than plain old tech support and go above and beyond to establish themselves as thought leaders, host webinars and cultivate an active relationship with their customers.

Don’t leave yourself wondering how to build a house on the foundation you dug. Don’t buy new software from a software provider who doesn’t have a blueprint for how it will be implemented in your business. Make sure they have a comprehensive plan for installation, implementation and performance.

For a look at how High 5 Software actively works to guarantee the implementation and performance of our software for service businesses check out our Slideshare presentation regarding our Assured Program or view it below.

 

*Images were plotted using raw data from http://www.ambysoft.com/surveys/success2013.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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