In 2016, the Service Council polled 150 field service engineers on their least favourite parts of their job. The results? Forty-six percent cited paperwork and admin the tasks they hate most, and 31% said they dislike spending time looking for information.
The bad news is that admin tasks need to get done to keep your business running smoothly. The good news is that there are solutions that can help lessen these burdens on your engineers.
When your engineers are able to focus on what they’re best at—whether it’s fixing boilers, wiring a house for speakers, or repairing alarm systems—they’ll be more productive, which means you can take on more jobs per day. Not to mention, happy, productive engineers are less likely to quit, which is key in this era of a dwindling trade workforce.
8 Ways to Cut Down on Field Service Admin Work
- Make it easy for your engineers to work offline.
- Use stock management software.
- Take receipt-writing off your engineers’ hands with mobile payment apps.
- Use editable checklists.
- Give engineers tools to quote and approve additional works right on site.
- Make sure your FSM software integrates with the tools your engineers know and like.
- Make finding customer records easier.
- Make admin fun
Now let’s talk about how you put this advice into action with digital field service tools.
1. Make it easy for your engineers to work offline.
You invest in a mobile workforce management system, expecting it will cut down on admin work for your engineers. And it does—except when they’re on a job where they don’t have internet access. This happens more often than you’d think, and when it does your engineers have a new admin task: finding an internet connection. If they can’t find one, they have to revert once again to scraps of paper, phone calls to the office, physical forms, and their memory to get the job done.
Installing an app that doesn’t work offline isn’t the best way to make your engineers’ lives easier, so be sure to purchase an app that offers full functionality online and off.
2. Use stock management software.
When an engineer needs to grab a part from the stockroom for a job, do they have to fill out a paper sheet to sign the part out? And does someone else have to go through the sheet later to make sure it’s accurate and to order replacement parts? If so, you’re wasting your engineers’ time with unwanted admin work.
Instead, look for a digital stock management system (or an FSM solution that includes a stock management feature) to automate the entire process. According to nibusinessinfo.co.uk, stock control systems have these benefits:
Stock and pricing data integrate with your accounting and invoicing systems, so you only have to input the data once.
Sales orders and purchase orders can be integrated into the system so that stock numbers are automatically updated as orders are processed.
These systems perform automatic stock monitoring, which triggers orders when the level drops too low.
The software may help you identify the cheapest and fastest suppliers.
If your engineers are grumbling about your paper-based stock system but you’re not quite ready to go fully digital, download our free stock control spreadsheets as a good compromise.
3. Take receipt-writing off your engineers’ hands with mobile payment apps.
At the end of every job, your customers need a receipt. You can have your engineers call the payment into the office and then write out a receipt, which takes time away from their getting to the next job—or you can use a mobile payment app that accepts credit and debit cards.
With a digital payment app, your engineer simply enters in the customer’s payment information or swipes their card through a card reader, and the app quickly processes the payment and automatically emails the customer a professional, branded receipt. Another admin task off the list!
4. Use editable checklists.
Smart field service business operators have systems for how to handle every aspect of the business, from scheduling a job to actually completing said job and following up with the customer. However, if all those systems are in the form of printed task lists, they require engineers to spend time filling them out by hand, modifying them as needed to fit the job, and bringing them back to the office so they can be filed with the rest of the job’s documentation.
Editable checklists are a digital tool included in some field service apps that are fully customisable, branded PDFs that can be quickly linked to a job record. Use these instead of paper and your engineers will have (more than) one less admin task to do.
5. Give engineers tools to quote and approve additional works right on site.
Your field service engineer is at a business site doing a tightness test on a boiler. The customer realises they also have a sink that needs fixing, and says, ‘Hey, can you do that while you’re here, too?’
Additional works can be a nightmare of paperwork and back-and-forth for field service engineers: They have to be able to quote the new job, get it approved, and get the additional work order back to the office. Meanwhile, the customer is sorry they asked.
That’s why it makes sense to remove some of these admin tasks from your engineers’ to-do list by giving them digital field service tools that handle additional works all in one go: They can quote and approve the new job right on site, giving them more time to do the actual work.
6. Make sure your FSM software integrates with the tools your engineers know and like.
You can have the slickest field service management software available, but if your engineers have to ditch the apps they like because the software doesn’t integrate with them, that creates more admin work—not less.
Before investing in software, take note of what your engineers are using in the field—for example, Anton Flue Gas Analyser, Gmail, or SumUp—and look for a solution that will integrate with as many of these as possible. The fewer new apps your engineers have to learn to use, the better for their productivity.
7. Make finding customer records easier.
Remember how engineers dislike having to search for information? We get it: It’s no fun to dig through paper files, flip through a messy diary, or have to type in whatever bits of customer data you know to try to bring up their record.
But you can make the process fun by letting your engineers use voice search capabilities in their field service management app. No more having to type on a tiny screen with big fingers—engineers can delete this hassle by just telling Siri what they need.
8. Make admin fun.
Why waste your experts’ specialised skills on administrative tasks they don’t enjoy? The right digital field service tools will save them from the dreaded tasks of writing out paper receipts, fiddling with forms, searching for signals, and more.
If you’re a growing field service business and you find your progress is stalling, read our Restart Guide for Field Service Businesses, updated for 2020. Get access instantly—no need to register! You’ll learn how to quickly reboot your sales, customer service, engineer management, and parts management, so you can kick-start new growth.