Convenience is arguably the most attractive trait that drives customers to a product. As modern consumers we want things to be easy, accessible, and simple for us to use.
As a quick example, take mobile phones. Be honest, you’re not buying one just for the ability to call people. You want a phone that lets you check your email, take photos, browse the internet, use social media, record videos, play games, and manage your entire business remotely all in one place, right?
Okay... while that last one may have been a little on the nose, the point still stands: you’re choosing a product because it allows you to do a lot, very easily. It doesn’t matter if the tasks you want to achieve are complex, either: just that you can manage them with a seemingly ‘simple’ tool.
It should be the same for your job management software. It's a virutal tool that enables you to do a lot of complex tasks, very easily. However, choosing the software that's right for you takes some thought and there are some important things to consider first:
- Take the time to understand a product
- Insight and expectations: what can you learn?
- Choosing a product that grows with your business
It’s important to keep in mind that just because a solution seems simple to use, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the right fit for your business. After all, it’s a myth that “simple” means “easy”. What it actually means is that you want sophisticated software, but one that is accessible to use across your business.
This means it’ll take a bit more work than just Googling “simple job management software” or “best field service job management software” and buying the first thing that pops up, and rightly so! You need to know that your solution is the right choice for your business.
1. Take the time to understand a product
When it comes to choosing job management software for your field service business, it’s likely you’re making the decision because you want to become more efficient.
This means taking control of tasks that have been eating up a substantial amount of your time. It could be to do with mass scheduling, stock control, or it might be other office tasks that you’d like to better manage. Ultimately, though, you want a solution that lets you handle all of these complex tasks in a simple way.
In a conversation with Nisha, our Head of Client Operations at Commusoft, we touched on the complexity of job management software and technology. She pointed out that:
“They improve efficiency and provide transparency by putting everything in one place”, but the reason you want it, is because you realised that “you have a problem and you need a solution to fix it.”
Job management software has a lot of depth to it, and so it requires a degree of understanding if you're going to truly solve the problem it can help you fix.
Rather than just picking anything, you need to figure out if a product matches the purpose you need it for. There’ll be a choice to make, but that’s part of the process, so be clinical; ask yourself:
“Which one ticks most of my boxes? Knowing your limitations and knowing the software's limitations helps too,” Nisha says. “Software can give you the tools and techniques to manage your business, but it’s also your decision to take the time to understand if it’s right for you too.”
To have that context is a powerful thing, as it enables you to understand just how effective (or ineffective) a product may be. It’s also one of the reasons why Jack, our Sales Manager at Commusoft, explains he’ll spend so much time speaking to a customer to work out if our product is right for their business.
“It is a simple program to use, but there's also a lot of sophistication behind it. As an example, we talk to hundreds of plumbing and heating companies, and you'd imagine that they're all the same, but every single one of them has something different: a small little change in a workflow or a setting that they want to use differently compared to other companies.”
While the software is capable of managing these changes, it’s a point that goes toward indicating that only you can provide the final context needed to choose if a solution is right for you. It might suit hundreds of other companies, but can it work with the way you do things? Taking the time to establish the value that a product offers will ultimately help you understand if you’ll get the value that you’re seeking.
It’s not just us too, but after conversations with experts in finance and stock industries (Jibran Qureshi, Director of Clear House Accountants, and Paul Harrison, eBusiness Trading Manager of Wolseley UK respectively), it's a well understood concept:
“We never recommend anything where we can’t show value… once clients speak to a specific accountant or a good business adviser, they're able to see the value, they're able to see the direction, they're able to see what we're trying to do to help them succeed."
Paul, Wolseley UK:
“It depends on how you work, or what your customer wants to achieve: what are the customer's business goals? The speed at which you can provide value to customers and help them run their business [is essential]."
If you’re thinking about adopting or upgrading your software solution, why not consider some practical advice to help you choose the right tool for the job?
2. Insight and Expectations: What can you learn?
If we’re talking about accessibility and the value that a ‘simple’ product can reveal about your business, then you’re going to want to be able to understand what the product can teach you, as well as what it can realistically help you achieve.
this makes real-time data more important than ever. After all, the nature of work these days is to be in the know as soon as possible. Demanding customers (and managing their expectations) is something you no doubt already deal with, but it’s now easier than ever to obtain real-time data to stay on top of your workload and keep customers happy.
Let’s consider some insight you may find useful as you think about ways to help yourself achieve better results for your customers. Whether it’s controlling stock, managing your finances, or making use of reporting data, you’re going to be able to achieve a lot more with a productive, useful software and insight to support your decision making:
A. Controlling Stock:
Paul Harrison, E-Business Trading Manager at Wolseley UK:
“By having real-time data, you can make informed decisions, can't you? [...] The ability to use data and work out what is best for that business outcome, at that particular moment in time; in terms of the reduction of the manual process, the evolution of tech solutions completely lowers operational costs.”
With that in mind, you can make smarter decisions regarding stock:
“From a van stock replenishment point point of view [...]” Paul continues, “that's working capital tied up in our customer's business and if they want to work out what is the cheapest fulfilment method, it could be that it's cheaper for them to go and collect [at a branch] in a five, ten-minute drive or, see if it’s better to actually go back the following day”.
B. Managing Finance:
Jibran Qureshi, Direction at Clear House Accountants:
“The biggest benefit with software is saving customers time and money. These are the two biggest ones. After all, money is a big issue for all businesses, regardless of how big they get. There's always issues with cash flow.”
However, with the right product and tools, Jibran explains that you can give customers more direction:
“The best thing [and the most important to be wary of] with businesses which are growing, is that they can change direction so rapidly that at a certain point they can lose sight of what they're supposed to be doing… however, if they're able to see the value, and they're able to see the direction they’re headed.” They can “do whatever they're doing, successfully”.
C. Optimising Reporting:
Jack Sargent, Sales Manager, Commusoft
“From a software aspect, reporting is something that you always need. You always need to be able to see how many jobs you've got and what status they’re in [booked, accepted, travelling, completed, etc]. Likewise, you always need to see how many invoices you have, how many estimates you have (or haven’t) accepted, and so on. I think reporting is a really key aspect of a software.
Especially from a practical perspective, I think that you always need schedulers, for example, people that can take the calls and people that can book them in. But software enables them to do more, it allows that role to be a bit more rounded and influential to other areas of the business, like finance, stock, scheduling and more”.
The level of insight into all the areas of your business that a job management software allows for, will empower you to achieve more.
It’s like Jack said, a software can be simple to use, but there’s a lot of sophistication behind it, especially when you start looking at integrations and other areas that let you manage additional departments, like the stock control, or finances, and more besides.
3. Choose a product that grows with your business
We’ve spoken before about how coping with change can be hard, not just because you might have old habits that you’re hesitant to let go of (and you’re not alone in that).
While you don’t need someone to hold your hand, knowing that you can get support and advice, and that you’re entering into a form of partnership with a service provider is definitely going to be appealing, compared to being left to flounder. You’re not going to get the value you’re seeking if that’s the case.
Like we said, simple doesn’t mean easy. Therefore, it’s wise to seek help to understand how to make the most out of your chosen solution. That can be the difference between choosing a product that works "off-the-shelf" compared to shelling out for custom software that might sound great at first, but can get increasingly costly, confusing, and difficult to manage as time goes on.
📋 Free Download: Off-the-Shelf Software vs Custom Software
Compare the advantages of off-the-shelf software and custom field service software!
So, before you make a decision, ask yourself: “does it seem like the provider cares about me and my business in the long term?”
Knowing that there’s a support team who can check in to provide you with regular updates and ensure you’re getting the most out of the software (and service) you’ve purchased makes it a great partnership opportunity. This was a particularly interesting point that I discussed when chatting to Nisha, who made the point that:
“A service provider should be there at the beginning of the sales process. Be there during the training process and be there continuously, when they’re needed. For Commusoft, when you're with us, we're always here.”
In a partnership as well, it’s a good indication if you can see that the provider is listening to you. Knowing that the people you’re buying from are listening to you makes you feel valued as a customer, and it works on both levels too, as you may have an observation than improves the service for another customer, and for yourself.
It can be immensely valuable as well, as Paul at Wolseley UK explains:
“We’re constantly listening to the customer and understanding how we can take some friction out of manual process and friction out of the customer journey.”
Without your input, how can they do that?
“People were approaching us to say, can you do this? Can you do that? Can you help with this? And then that's where it evolved into more of a partnership with customers as well. So you're not just giving support, but you also see it more as a learning opportunity from customers as well.”
It’s important to keep in mind that if you take the time to properly understand the complexity of a product—and (more importantly) that it serves the purpose you want it for—then you’ll see the value it can (or can’t) bring to your business.
“Find a piece of software that works for the business, learn it, consume it, and then train it, and implement it.”
Nisha’s advice is definitely useful, and acts as a neat summary here, but it’s true we can often take for granted why and how a product can be useful and even resist understanding how helpful it can actually be for our business.
Hopefully our insight gives you more of an idea and, when it comes to choosing a “simple” job management software, it’s actually a lot more complex than you think, because your needs, though they may not always seem so, are complex too.
If you're eager to learn more about the power of automation, then we've got an entire page dedicated to additional resources, advice, and links to all sorts of topics.
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