Why should your field service organization consider going paperless?
In 2016, many field service organizations are moving to a more fluid, paperless, mobile-and-cloud-based operations model. Before you begin the same journey, though, it’s important to understand why it needs to happen.
First off, and somewhat comically: storing tons (literally) of paper-based invoices, manuals, and other field service data can literally collapse your office, as happened with the North Carolina Department of Veterans Affairs.
In general, though, going paperless should help improve:
- Information Access
- Spare Parts and Inventory Management
- Task Management
- Field Access Management
- Invoicing and Work Orders
Going completely paperless may be an impossibility for some field service organizations right now, but embracing a paperless field service mindset is crucial. In the last 5-10 years, it’s shifted from a ‘nice to have’ business element to a ‘need to have’ business element for many of your clients.
How can your organization go paperless?
There are numerous tips and tricks, including:
- Start with a focus on electronic invoicing: This leads to more effective invoicing, less potential for human error, and can create a bottom line boost as a result.
- Make it less convenient to print at every desk: Simply shifting away from a ‘printer on every desk’ model to a ‘one major centralized printer and credits per employee’ will increase the rate of paperless and mobile adoption.
- Build easy-to-access PDF manuals: Going paperless for work orders and invoices is a plus, but remember: your field service technicians need access to other elements while on a job. If you turn your manuals into PDF guides and store them via a cloud-based solution, your field service workers can access them from anywhere. Optsy can help with this process, as well as many others.
- Develop equipment guides: This is similar to the above; essentially, you want your field service workers able to access all their tools in a paperless format. This will require digitizing equipment guides and turning them into PDFs.
- Understand the modern customer: One of the main reasons that paper-driven organizations persisted for so long is that customers often wanted a hard copy of their invoice at the end of a job. Modern customers, though, typically prefer something e-mailed to them -- they will subsequently handle how it’s stored or organized on their end. (Everyone wants to go paperless, not just field service organizations!) If you do encounter customers who want hard copies, simply explain that you’ll digitally send them records and they can print them out themselves.
- Creative an effective customer-facing portal: Customers want to be able to see the field service technician at every step of the process, from scheduling to final invoice. Optsy will work with you on making sure your portal is easy for customers to understand and access; in the process, we can move toward paperless at every step.
- Prioritize inventory alerts: This is a crucial step in the process. With a strong paperless inventory management system, field technicians can track and search parts from their vehicle, as well as being alerted to nearby warehouses or offices that have parts necessary to complete their service orders.
- Shift your mentality: There can be an attitude in business around “We’ve always done it that way,” which is dangerous. You may have been a paper-driven organization for decades, with an excellent system for organizing work orders, inventory, invoices, scheduling, and every step of the process.
With mobile becoming omnipresent, customers changing their appreciation of digital, and a faster-paced work environment, you need to embrace processes to help your field service organization go paperless. This will ultimately be better for your bottom line and your relationship with customers. It can seem daunting at first, but Optsy can help. Contact us today to begin discussing potential plans.