Having problems with a newly installed field service system, and not sure it’s right for you? This simple guide will help you to know if the system you have is what you really need.
Here are the key points:
- Know where you are
- Face the facts of what it does or doesn’t do (and know why)
- Test and re-test your workflow.
Do you feel like your system isn't quite working?
You are in the business of delivering goods or services to clients, with a team that is out in the field as much as possible. You brought in a heavy-duty field service management system to lighten your load. But it has been underwhelming.
Not only did it take you ages to learn, you're now wondering how long it's going to take your team to learn it. It takes ages to learn how to use it, even for simple tasks. Everything feels confusing or in a place that doesn't quite make sense. You end up spending more time in the help line trying to fix simple errors made by confused users. Who knows what kinds of gaps there are!
Don't worry just yet. Before you decide you've burned your money, there are some steps you can take to see whether these are normal concerns.
First, remember what you're after
In an ideal world your, field service software should help you with every aspect of your business. It includes onboarding and managing employees, scheduling work, integrating databases with inventory, generating work orders, issuing invoices, customer service provision, and much more. Your system will reduce costs and boost efficiency in the day-to-day functioning of your business. It should promote accountability in your company workflow, and inspire trust, in both your team and your client base.
Ultimately, your field service software will help you keep your customers happy and loyal to your brand.
So if you feel like you are not travelling to this destination, your first step is to work out where you are. The first step is simple: It's facing the facts.
Second, work out whether you bit off more than you could chew… or not
While it may sound like a good idea to have a complex system, one with all of the bells and whistles, you will end up paying for features you will never use in the beginning. That is a waste.
It is also a risk. You might end up modifying the way your business runs, to fit the software!
When you first buy a great Field Service system, you want it to handle your core business, the parts that take you the most time. Typically, these are scheduling, customer service, and finance.
If your new system is unwieldy, it might just have loads of things you don't need right now. And you might be trying to make your business fit it, instead of the other way around. However, maybe you will need all those features. And if so, maybe you’re just in the middle of a learning curve that will get easier with time.
Check your features list against your core workflows. If you did end up with a lot of features you don't need (or don’t even know when you’d use them), you could:
- Talk to your supplier and find out if you can go back to basics, to do your business yourway
- Ask for unnecessary parts to be removed or turned off
- Ask your supplier to help you maximise the 'critical path' of your workflow.
Third, review your workflow
A good workflow answers the question of what is the best way to get a task done. You may remember this article we wrote about how to unpack it.
A good workflow will let you accomplish your goal in the most effective way. A bad workflow will slow your employees down and cost you money.
So how do you optimise your workflow? How do you identify those unnecessary steps slowing you down? Or that crucial step you are missing? Workflow optimization can take many forms, like reducing operating costs, adding or taking functions, or reducing the time taken to complete specific tasks, just to mention a few examples.
Let’s say you have a plumbing and electrical maintenance service. You provide service to small and mid-sized businesses. You interact with different suppliers for parts and services, and you have a team that works out in your clients' locations.
To find out whether it's the workflow that is the problem, or the system, you could:
- Call the team together for a brainstorming session. Include experienced employees who can compare the time before the system, and now. What is better? What is worse? What improvements do they suggest?
- Review your workflow maps, first by yourself and then alongside someone else. The system should match your documents. If you haven't reviewed your workflow maps for a while, this will tell you whether or not they were the problem, or whether the system is incomplete.
Hearing feedback from other people will either confirm your gut feeling, or set you on the right track. Similarly, your workflow maps will give you an indication as to whether the system is right for you.
What if you bought a system, but never mapped your workflow?
Then this is probably the heart of the problem! Always map your workflow before you look for a field service management system.
Right now, the best thing you can do is sit down and draw your workflow. Then, once you've drawn it out, test it.
After going through a brainstorming process, put your workflow to the test, as many tests as you can. What happens when a step fails? Is that accounted for in your workflow map?
Test it with your employees. Do they all do the same jobs the same way? Standardisation is critical before you buy in a system. You can read more about that here.
How we helped AllState Pest Control create the perfect system
Have a look at our case-study of AllState Pest Control, a family-owned South Australian company. The company, with 35+ employees has been around for over 30 years, starting as a humble three-man team in the 1980s.
Before jumping on board with myFLO, the company was relying heavily on paper to get things done. In fact, they had employees whose sole jobs were photocopying and filing papers.
‘The problem with the system that we had was that paper ruled the day,‘ said CEO Vasili Tsoutouras. ‘At the end of every day, or at the end of every other day, our technicians would have to come to the office to drop off paperwork, and pick up the next stuff for the next few days' worth of work. So we were losing billable hours in the process of picking up and dropping off paperwork,’ he told us for our case study.
How myFLO helped this business
We worked with AllState Pest Control to completely understand their business and their workflow. The result is that the system was perfect for them. And the new system produced some very clear results. For example, technicians gained about an hour per day in productivity, which is serious money.
Getting the right system is what will take you to the next level
A purpose-built field service management system will see your company achieve new levels of productivity and efficiency. The purpose of every component of what you do will become clear. Instead of ‘fixing’ things, you can move to optimisation.
myFLO has been unravelling difficult systems decisions almost since we started.
For a confidential discussion about how we can help you unravel your system difficulty, speak with one of our experts. Call 1300 78 46 60 today.