The Australian field service industry has made rapid progress, thanks to the development and implementation of new technologies. The days of managers planning everything manually or analysing projects through inefficient spreadsheets have become a thing of the past. Instead, more businesses are relying on field service management software to streamline every aspect of a project, from planning to execution.
How field service management software transformed the manager’s role
In the past, field service management involved doing a lot of paper-based processes. To dispatch a work order to the appropriate field technician, managers had to manually check their team’s qualifications and weekly schedule. Then, they would leave approved work orders at the dispatch desk, where a field technician would pick it up. Beyond dispatching, managers monitored work performance and outcomes through paper forms or by going to job locations to check technicians’ progress, which took a lot of time.
However, with modern digital tools, the field manager’s role has shifted away from manual processes to more automated and insight-driven workflows. Rather than manually assigning work orders yourself, field service management software can delegate tasks to the right technicians based on previous service histories, location, and availability.
What’s more, software like WorkBuddy now gives you an all-encompassing view of your operations on a central dashboard. Work orders, client requirements, workload allocation, schedules, job progress, and profit margins are all in one place so managers can make informed and effective decisions. That means instead of wasting time collating information from various data sources, managers can focus more on project planning, performance tracking, and cost management.
Improvements you can make in project planning
The best way you can expedite your planning process is by creating project templates on WorkBuddy for jobs you do regularly. For instance, if your business often performs electrical installations for community housing providers, standardised templates lay out all the steps or milestones involved in these tasks. Your project templates for electrical installations could look something like this:
- Step 1: Schedule delivery of electrical installation and equipment components.
- Step 2: Create work orders and dispatch qualified technicians to perform site inspections to check environmental conditions and manage safety hazards.
- Step 3: Outline the procedures for installing electrical equipment such as circuit breakers, switches, and wiring.
You can even take project planning a step further by using job forms and checklists to help technicians approach their tasks safely and efficiently. These forms can elaborate on safe work method statement guidelines on electrical installations, wearing personal protective gear, and protocols for emergencies. With these ready-made templates, you significantly reduce the time spent on the planning phase. If a similar project ever comes up, you can simply load the appropriate template, fill out the work order details, and dispatch technicians within minutes.
Monitoring job progress
WorkBuddy enables you to closely monitor your on-site operations. Whenever technicians meet a project milestone, submit a report, or cross off an item on their job forms, that information is instantly sent to the company database. The software then processes the information and displays it onto your operational dashboard so you can track job progress.
From there, you can drill down into the specifics such as project status, time spent on each task, first-time fix rates, locations, and work-related expenses. You can also review job forms and checklists to see whether technicians are compliant with your company’s safety protocols and work standards. If forms are incomplete, WorkBuddy allows you to send automated reminders of unfinished tasks so projects are done on time.
Reports that can keep projects on budget
Going over budget on projects can be a slippery slope for your business, especially in the midst of a global pandemic. It can lead to having fewer resources to use for the next project, which, in turn, affects your overall performance and profitability. Poor service and client dropouts as a result of budget overruns are also definite possibilities, putting your entire business at risk of going under.
Keeping projects on a budget is, therefore, a top priority, and having the right reports on hand is key to doing so. First, you’ll need to create a budget plan based on profit margin goals, your current balance sheets, and previous work order histories. To get a reference for budgeting similar jobs, accounting platforms like Xero, QuickBooks, and MYOB Online can help you generate income statements from previous jobs. You can also leverage cash flow statements to predict cash shortages and formulate your budget accordingly.
After determining your project budget plan, you can measure it against your actual costs. Field service management software makes it easy to report and monitor material costs, labour costs, and other project-related expenses in real-time so you know when you’re going over budget. More importantly, by comparing planned and actual costs, you’ll be able to identify what’s causing budget overruns and address them immediately. For example, if overtime work is draining your budget, you may need to improve your scheduling so that field technicians aren’t working more than required. You may even identify unnecessary expenses like extensive fuel costs, which can be avoided through efficient routing with GPS apps.
Field service management software has changed the way managers do work for the better, but using all the features of such software can be overwhelming. If you want to learn more about WorkBuddy’s dashboards, project templates, job tracking, reporting capabilities, and other features, request a demo today. Our software is designed to keep your field service business ahead of the times.