Chances are, your field service business has been cutting down on paper – either on purpose or gradually – for a while now. But what if I told you that it wasn’t just the way field service is going these days, but a natural cultural change to data management and something your business really needs to get behind?
EDM – electronic data management – is the only way you, as a mere human, will be able to deal with the vast ocean of information produced by modern-day businesses. And it’s not just a “nice to have”. Without an electronic way to manage data, there’s no way you can take advantage of it, and if you can’t take advantage of it, you’re going to fall further and further behind your peers and competitors, who DO have access to this information, and are mining it for all it’s worth.
The benefits of going paperless in field service
So, as a corporate mindset, going paperless will ensure that your business, whether you’re in HVAC, telecoms or security, stays competitive in the new era of data-heavy business. However, there are other, more tangible benefits.
Would you rather type a name in the search box to find out who did job #123545 last year in Reno, or sort through 12 months of job reports to track down the technician?
I thought so. Electronic record management is quicker and easier, simply because YOU’RE not doing the searching, the computer is. This makes things quicker, more reliable and more accurate, all things that will make your business more productive.
Environment and Space
One of the first things that people think of when they think paperless is the forests and woods that will be spared the woodman’s ax. To be honest, I don’t really know if that’s how paper’s made anymore, but however that stuff is produced, going paperless does indeed mean a whole lot less paper.
As well as saving the environmental cost of making things from wood, it also says goodbye to the physical action of keeping the paper with the important stuff on it – your records. Depending on the type of business, these records used to take up a huge amount of space and gave rise to two very paper-specific problems – you had to have the space necessary to keep your records, at physical and monetary cost, and you had to make sure this space was safe and secure – and pray there were no fires, floods or plagues of locusts. Paperless safety is still very important, but it’s less expensive and easier for one person to manage.
Here’s one people often forget – paperless data management enables much-improved collaboration, whether it’s between employees, you and your service companies or indeed you and your clients. It doesn’t matter if two people – or ten – are separated by location, time zone, at home, in the office, on the road, electronic documents and management software will keep everything under control, up to date, and correctly saved, eliminating the kind of frustration that everyone experienced even 5 years ago, when a document would be shared and changes lost, or, if you’re really old (just kidding!), of documents being emailed back and forth for changes and signing. Ugh, those were NOT the days!
Once your business has the whole paperless thing truly sorted out, you’ll notice that as well as saving time, making employees more productive, helping eliminate loss and security issues and more, you’ll see a major benefit that you mightn’t have thought of before. Your customers will be happier. Jobs will be done quicker. Techs will be able to provide a more accurate, personalised service, once complex processes will seem clearer and more efficient. In effect, you’ll improve your client relations. Better than that, because you’ll be impressing and delighting clients throughout the whole customer lifecycle (going paperless makes everything smoother), you’ll improve
In effect, you’ll improve your client relations. Better than that, because you’ll be impressing and delighting clients throughout the whole customer lifecycle (going paperless makes everything smoother), you’ll improve the all-important customer experience, which many say is more important than customer service in the information age.
How to go paperless
Hopefully, your company will have already made steps towards the paperless office, even if that wasn’t your major intention when you made the change. You may already have a paperless invoicing system, or use a CRM. In fact, paperless invoicing is one of the easiest and most accessible ways to get started with paperless business, and many paperless experts recommend you start there. Then look to any tools you already use. Are you using them to the most of their capacity? If you pay for the tool, call customer service and tell them you want to go paperless and need to get the most out of their tool. They should be falling over themselves to help you out. Use Synchroteam?
Then look to any tools you already use. Are you using them to the most of their capacity? If you pay for the tool, call customer service and tell them you want to go paperless and need to get the most out of their tool. They should be falling over themselves to help you out. Use Synchroteam?
Use Synchroteam? Give us a call, and you’ll see how it should be done! Once you get to grips with the tools you own, assess new tools with a view to a reduced reliance on paper – will they fit into your system? Will they help reduce the use of paper in an area that’s currently paper-heavy?
When you’re assessing these new tools, you might notice that many draw your attention to their API, or Application program interface. In very, very basic terms, APIs let the code of one tool “talk” to the code of another, allowing it to use some of its services and vice versa. That’s what’s happening when an app you use shows you locations on Google Maps or to-do apps can pull reminders from your email account.
The reason it’s so important on the road to paperless..ness is that if all your tools and apps can talk to one another (as things stand now, many, but not all, can), they can keep the entire chain of services “in the cloud”, as opposed to keeping it “on your desk” and risking data corruption or loss!
For other, more practical tips, this article by Optsy has a few good suggestions. Some of my favorites are their suggestion to start removing printers and other “paper” tools from your offices. It can be hard to wean older team members from paper, and removing the visual reminders of the old days can help retrain their habits.
They also remind you to make sure your training and informational manuals are available in good-quality (also well-formated and searchable!) PDFs. This means people can and will use them anywhere and, crucially, in preference to a paper version. For the rest of their handy tips, check the article out.