Scheduling a work order is at the heart of field service businesses. If you are providing some sort of field service work, you are scheduling work orders for technicians and subcontractors to complete. It can be a difficult process if you’re doing it manually with paper-based work orders. But if you’re using work order software, it’s rather simple to go from the phone call coming in, to the invoice going out.
In this guide we’ll discuss:
- How to turn customer contacts into work orders
- Building out the work order with proper information
- Adding parts to the work order
- Scheduling your technicians and getting them the work order
- Getting the work order returned
So if you want to get work orders out fast and make the process easy, you’ll enjoy this guide to scheduling a work order.
Let’s dive right in.
Initial Customer Contact
Your customer is reaching out because of an emergency situation. You may have other processes in place for customers to reach you, such as by email, an automated phone system or specific QR codes. But for this guide, we’ll stick a standard phone call to a voice operator either in an office or in a call center. Rather than taking down notes of the problem, your operator can start to build the work order right away.
From the work order software, they can pull up the customer’s work order history and contract status, to see if work would fall under a preventative maintenance contract. If not, they can start building a new work order by quickly selecting the name of the company calling. With an integration to ERP systems, customer information is previously imported into the work order software, which saves time on all the small details like the address and contact information. Furthermore, if a new company is calling in for the first time, the information your operator takes down can start a new account. Upon competition of the service call, a new account will be available in your ERP and accounting system.
Building the Work Order
With the customer, location and contact information all identified, it’s time to start adding specifics to the work order. What does the technician have to accomplish? Information pertaining to the call can be immediately placed on the work order, easily readable for a technician. That can include problem notes, such as the customer’s description of the problem, as well as customer notes, such as the customer wants the technician to call ahead or use a certain door.
It’s also here that operators can establish different tasks for each job on this work order and attach different checklists if needed. For example, perhaps your company has a standard diagnosis checklist that needs to be added to each work order that comes in. Quickly, operators can add these checklists that are pre-built, knowing a technician will be completing them on a mobile field service app.
It’s also here where severity can be selected, and for your own purposes, back end automation for invoicing, such as specific rates for the time of the call, such as weekend or emergency rates. This will speed up your billing process later on, as the system will automatically calculate the hours worked with the assigned rates.
Adding Parts From Inventory
Adding parts to a work order can be tricky because your operator or dispatcher might not know if the parts are in stock. If a customer is calling about a specific part, having the information available to tell them can be the difference in getting the job or not. It also can be the difference in delays if you have to order parts in. With work order software and an integrated ERP system that has inventory controls, you will get a real-time look at your inventory levels. This way, you can be affirmative with your customers that the parts are there and you can complete the job.
If they aren’t in stock, work order software also has purchasing ability. Create a requisition and purchase order for specific parts that you need to purchase, generated directly from the creation of the work order. This way, you are getting exactly what you need, when you need it, and it’s attached to the specific work order for billing.
Scheduling the Work Order
With the work order now built with all the correct information, it can be passed directly to your dispatchers for scheduling. With everything being completed in the same work order software, scheduling work orders is simply done by finding the right technician, with the right skills for the job. A skillset search, or even finding the nearest technician with a routing tool will narrow down the options. The work order can be assigned to the technician, and if they are using a mobile field service app, it will automatically be sent to their mobile device.
That means no returning to the office to pick up the work order or checklists. No phone calls to tell them their schedule has changed, and they are heading to a different customer. This gives dispatchers more freedom with work order scheduling to make decisions that are best for their entire service delivery. It allows technicians to work more efficiently, and spend less time returning to the office to pick up information for each call.
Complete the Work Order
With the work order now with the technician on their mobile field service app, completing the work order requires the technician to follow through on his mobile device. That means checking each task that needs to be completed, filling out all the required information on checklists, adding photos to the work order, and completing expense reports and additional part requirements. Finally, to finish the work order, they can collect a customer’s signature on the mobile device and close the service call.
If they are actively connected to the Internet, the work order is synced with the work order software and can be closed and invoiced automatically. Customers can receive invoices in minutes, sometimes even before the technician has left the job site. This level of automation reduces the time needed to review work orders and process them into invoices, which is a critical step in order to get paid quickly for service calls.
Simplicity With Work Order Software
This guide may seem like the best-case scenario, but with work order software, it can basically be every scenario your company handles. Regardless of the size of the customer, the type of call or who answers it on your end, work order software will streamline how your business turns customer requests into work orders. And it will offer you levels of automation that will save you time throughout the entire process from start to finish.