Today’s modern field service businesses require levels of automation. There is no question about it, today’s hottest topic when talking about field service is how to automate the many processes that happen daily. The old method of manually processes everything is extremely time-consuming and doesn’t lend well to a productive field service business.
Modern field service automation includes:
- Work order creation
- Scheduling the right technician to the right job
- Getting work orders to your technicians
- Generating invoices
- Turning data into useful analytics
Ready to get into field service automation? Let’s go!
Automate work order creation multiple ways
If you are going to start anywhere with field service automation, it has to be with your work order. Field service wouldn’t be field service without a work order to complete. And those paper-based forms or ones sent by email can be extremely difficult to produce if you have to do every single one manually. So the modern field service business has to set up levels of automation in their work order software to supplement manual instruction.
Start where work orders are created. Automated phone lines or specific emails can trigger a work order to be created in a work order software. Then someone comes in, fills out any additional information and schedules the call. Similarly, preventative maintenance contracts generally come with some kind of schedule for work orders. But is your dispatcher going to remember each date, or do you want them posting it in their calendar? That’s just asking for appointments to be missed. Instead, work orders are automatically generated for each call and once again, a dispatcher just looks to schedule the call.
You can also look at a connection to an ERP system like QuickBooks, NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics Business Central or Microsoft NAV as another form of automation. A customer calls in with an emergency repair and all their history and information are available. Starting a new work order is just as simple as clicking a company name and all of their information shows up on the work order. Avoid mistakes and errors in information but using integrations to ERP systems.
Scheduling technicians can be automated
Having a computer automatically pick a technician and schedule them may be a bit of a stretch, but automation is helping to get the right technician, with the right skills, to the right job. Need to find a technician with the right skillset and right certifications to complete work? Using a skillset search will narrow the field to the technician who can complete that. That’s a lot easier than trying to sift through paperwork or ask around to see who has the right skills.
Once that list is narrowed, you can see their entire schedule and what other appointments they have. If you need to make a change, field service automation enables dispatchers to move appointments with a general click-and-drag system to better utilize a technician’s time.
Finally, once their appointments are all set, use automation to properly route them to the job sites you have, or make changes to their route. Inside work order software is a routing tool that shows you the real-time directions they are taking to complete service calls. Allow the system to optimize their route, saving time on driving from job site to job site with the shortest route between them all. This also saves you gas and other vehicle expenses through less driving time.
Mobility is a form of field service automation
How do you get your work orders to your technicians? Are they physically having to come to the office and grab them from the dispatcher? That can chew up a lot of time they could be spending going to job sites or actually working. So, automate this process by using a mobile field service app. When a work order is assigned to a technician in the work order software, it’s automatically pushed to their mobile field service app. It includes all the tasks, part requirements and checklists the technician needs to complete.
What this also gives your dispatchers the ability to do is make changes on the fly. If an emergency call comes in for a customer under contract, that work order can be moved into the technician’s schedule and another call moved out. It can be assigned later or passed on to another technician. Think about how that would have to happen if it was a manual way. The technician would need to be contacted, drive to the office to get the new work order and rearrange his schedule. The new technician would have to also meet up to get the work order that was assigned to him.
Mobile field service apps add levels of automation through data entry that it’s one of the single most important field service automation tools you can add to your business.
Turn work orders into invoices
As soon as the technician is finished working and closes the call on their mobile field service app, an invoice can automatically be generated. With integration to an ERP and accounting software, such as QuickBooks, NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics Business Central or Microsoft NAV, work orders can automatically be turned into invoices. Your prices and costs are pre-set in your work order software, so the calculation of your labor time and labor rate is completed for you.
And through the integrations, it goes right into your accounting software for accurate tax calculation and billing to the specific account and customer. This level of field service automation makes it so your technicians can have a bill in the customer’s hands before they even leave the job site.
Making sense of all that data collected
There is plenty of data being collected over any given day. Especially if you have armed your technicians with mobile field service apps. With all that data coming in, it needs to be turned into useful information. Imagine having hundreds of work orders and having to turn it into useful data yourself. What’re your companies first-time fix rate? Which technician is spending more time in their truck driving? What parts are you going to need the most in inventory in the coming months?
With work order software, field service automation takes care of those calculations for you. It turns that data into useful information that you can make real, informed business decisions from. And it does it in real-time with data straight from the field this moment, not weeks past.
So, just how important is field service automation?
The conclusion you should get out of this is that field service automation is the backbone upon which work order software the modern field service business is built. Without it, it grinds the entire business to a halt. Automation removes the tedious tasks and makes it easier to get work orders out the door and technicians to your customers.
Field service automation is so important that it’s a constant focus of the industry. Every new product and feature in work order software is designed to add some form of automation in one of these key areas. If you’re a field service business who is struggling to keep up with the number of calls coming your way, it may be time to automate your business and add in field service automation tools to your modern work order software.