Congratulations, your manufacturing business is growing! Along with more units being manufactured, there is more service work for your technicians to go out and complete at your customers’ locations. As the business grows, there is more paperwork to manage for each technician and customer. You need to ensure that each technician has the right tools and parts when they go to a job, to complete the job correctly the first time. You also want to make sure invoices are sent accurately and quickly so you can collect from customers sooner.
In order address these issues, to improve customer satisfaction, maintain employee happiness, and increase your profits, you need to optimize your processes and systems for your field service staff that are on the road. Now that your business has multiple employees and an increasing number of customers, using pen and paper or an off-the-shelf system isn’t going to cut it anymore. As you select a new system and software solution provider to handle your needs, consider these 7 points to make sure you are on the right track.
1. Does it work with your existing ERP?
Your ERP system that is in place already handles your accounting, inventory and other complex processes. In a manufacturing business that has a servicing component, this can be very in-depth. Your new field service solution will send and receive data from your ERP. Switching ERP systems is huge task with many business implications. Ensure your field service integrates into your existing ERP. Look for a software solution provider that already has experience integrating into your ERP system, this will ensure a smooth process for your company.
2. Core functionalities
The software that your solution provider offers should already handle the major business issues you want to solve. Major features such as central planning of employees, scheduling jobs, online/offline mobile access for field workers, and inventory management need to already exist with the software you are purchasing. You don't want to have your software solution provider build too many customized features and this will increase your costs and implementation time.
3. Is it adaptable and expandable?
Although you don't want to spend time and money building major features, you definitely want some parts of the software to be tailored to your specific business needs. There are many simple solutions on the market that handle the basic needs of a standard field service business. However, in order to maximize the benefits of a solution, and digitize as much as possible, make sure your provider has the ability to customize the software and adapt it to your specific business processes.
4. Right size for your business
Some solutions are meant for smaller businesses. This usually means they cost less up front, but they lack many of the more complex features that are necessary as a business grows. Alternatively, systems targeting larger companies may be very complex, but may offer more than you need. Booking a demo to see the solution’s standard features and possible customizations is a great way to find out if their solution offers too much, too little or just the right amount of features.
5. Ease of use
Your technicians have a challenging enough job solving problems for your customers, they don’t want to add to their workload with difficult to use technology. The field service solution you select needs to be straightforward and easy to use. It has to make the job of your technicians easier, and it needs to be quick to learn and implement. Your technicians don’t want to learn a complicated new software that is annoying to use in practice.
6. Consider the needs of all staff
A major benefit of a field service management solution is that your company will save a lot of time on unnecessary administration work. As a result, some companies consider only how their office and dispatch will use the system, but forget to think about how their technicians out in the field will adopt it. In order to actually speed up the time it takes to do each job, your field service software needs to meet all of the organization’s requirements, so be sure to involve all relevant stakeholders when you define the features your coming software should have. Instead of selecting and implementing a solution from a high level, get the input and feedback of your customer service and field service staff. They will help make sure you've picked the best solution, and since they have been involved in the process, adopting the new solution will be much easier since you have their buy-in.
7. Get a demo!
Before you make a decision, get a full demo of the standard product you are considering. Ask any possible questions you have. Then, set up a consultation to discuss the specific business needs for your manufacturing and service business as well as potential custom features you need that apply only to your business. It’s also a good idea to talk to other customers of the solution you pick before going ahead with it.
Now that you have considered these 7 points, you are ready to start talking with field service software solution providers. If you want to get started today, talk to Solution Systems to set up a demonstration of the ExpandIT Mobile Field Service product and find out if it is a good fit for your business! -- About the Author and Company:
John A. Macdonald is the Managing Director of ExpandIT North America. With experience at Navision and Microsoft Canada, John is an industry veteran with years of experience of working with industry partners. ExpandIT’s Mobile Field Service Solution lets you empower your service division with tools that help them eliminate time consuming processes and paperwork. Let your technicians focus on the real reason they are in the field – solving problems and delighting your customers.
How ExpandIT works with Solution Systems:
ExpandIT is a Microsoft Gold Partner Certified ISV that specializes in Mobile Solutions. ExpandIT works with Solution Systems, an expert in Microsoft Dynamics implementations. ExpandIT conducts a discovery call with the customer, hosts a workshop, then completes implementation of the mobile solution.