The Field Service Business’s Guide to Going Paperless on the Road

Linda Formichelli

Last week we offered advice, and more than 18 helpful resources, on how to go paperless in the office.

Now let’s streamline another key aspect of your field service business through paperless apps: Your engineers in the field.

This means digitalising your job scheduling and fleet management to give you the time, data, and tools to take your business to the next level. Digitalisation has been a big trend throughout 2018 and digital solutions for formerly manual tasks—like using GPS for fleet management, according to GenieBelt—are expected to be even bigger in 2019. The safety experts at Dakota Safety agree that "huge blueprints and endless amount of forms and plans are almost a thing of the past". As a bonus, going paperless will help you save time, save money, get more jobs done in less time, and increase your business’s profits.

So check out our pro tips for how you can capitalise on these trends using paperless apps like fleet management systems, service scheduling software, and other digital tools.

(Want even more expert advice on automating your plumbing and heating, electrical, fire and security, property management, or HVAC business? Download our free checklist 10 Steps to Level Up Your Field Service Business, updated for 2020.)

4 Tips for Going Paperless on the Road

Here are some paperless office solutions that will help your field service business make the leap from manual to fully automated...and fully efficient.

  1. Instead of manually scheduling jobs, creating “busy” and “slow” periods... level out your schedule with Intelligent Scheduling.

  2. Instead of making your engineers come into the main office to pick up their jobs for the day... use service dispatch software that has a mobile app to push jobs to engineers in the field.

  3. Instead of manually trying to figure out which engineer to send to which job... use the diary management feature in your FSM software to filter engineers by skill.

  4. Instead of siloing your GPS data... integrate your fleet data with your field service management system so you can use the data to improve all areas of the business.

Below, we have expert advice and resources that will help you put each of these tips into action.

Create a Paperless Schedule

Scheduling jobs and engineers is harder the more engineers you have. Why struggle with manual, paper-based systems when you can use paperless solutions to make it all easier? Here’s how.

Instead of this:

Manually scheduling jobs based on the next available opening, creating a “feast or famine” cycle.

Try this:

Save your engineers’ sanity with an Intelligent Scheduling feature in your FSM software.

Paper-based scheduling systems don’t offer an easy way to create a schedule that keeps your engineers busy—but not too busy. All you can do is take jobs as they come in, and do your best to fit them all in.

You know what that is? It’s the perfect way to burn out your engineers. (And to burn yourself out, too: If you need to make a change to the schedule, you have to start over from scratch.)

Intelligent Scheduling can help you "level out" your job schedule. It uses an algorithm to strike just the right balance between travel times, engineer availability, and customer needs.

An Intelligent Scheduling feature might also offer "continuous optimisation," meaning it’ll readjust the schedule on the fly if you need to make a change.

3 Job Scheduling Resources to Get You Started

Commusoft Intelligent Scheduling Feature

Commusoft's upcoming intelligent scheduling feature helps solve all your scheduling challenges, and will help you improve your first-time fix rate, boost customer satisfaction, reduce costs, and increase your engineers' productivity.

Find more details here, and register your interest to be the first to learn about this new feature.

How to Hire, Retain and Manage Your Engineers During the Busy Season

We interviewed field service business owners to find out whether you should hire temporary staff, where to find these temporary workers, and how keep your engineers from burning out.

Save Time, Earn More: How to Create the Most Efficient Job Schedule

Here are the best ways to use your business data to figure out how many jobs you can expect to have—plus the tools and tactics that’ll make your workforce scheduling more efficient.

Instead of this:

Having engineers come into the main office to pick up their jobs for the day.

Try this:

Using service dispatch software that has a mobile app.

Asking your engineers to show up every day to pick up paper job forms is a colossal waste of time and resources.

With a mobile service dispatch app (or an FSM solution that includes a service dispatch feature) you can push job information out to your service engineers in the field—and your engineers can quickly access their schedule and be notified of changes though their mobile devices.

3 Dispatch Resources to Get You Started

Service Scheduling Software: 8 Key Questions to Help You Choose the Right Solution

To find the right service scheduling software for your business—and get buy-in from all the right people in your organisation—ask these eight questions. Then compare products to figure out which hits the most important points for you.

The Beginner’s Guide to Technician Scheduling Software by Capterra

According to this article, ‘Companies that use a real-time dispatch system can increase the number of jobs completed each day by 80%, which in turn can reduce the time customers spend waiting for appointments with technicians.’ Read the rest for more insights on field service dispatch.

Mobile Workforce Management for Field Service Businesses

Watch a free demo of how Commusoft can help your engineers use their mobile devices to manage their work.

Instead of this:

Manually figuring out which engineer to send to which job.

Try this:

Using the diary management feature in your FSM software to filter engineers by skill.

There’s more to sending the right engineer to the right job than figuring out which one is closest to the job address. You also need to consider your engineers’ skills—but the more engineers you have, the harder it is to keep track of their skills.

Who’s certified to work with certain equipment, who’s good in emergency situations, and who’s best at soothing angry customers?

Trying to figure all this out manually, using paper notes and records, can slow down your entire business. That’s why it’s critical to have an easy way to organise and track workforce data. A diary management feature that lets you sort engineers by skill is the answer.

3 Engineer Management Resources to Get You Started

Workforce Scheduling Basics: How to Send the Right Engineer for Every Job

We interviewed two field service business owners for their tips on how to make sure you always dispatch just the right engineer for every job. (Hint: Soft skills are key to consider too!)

Free Job Status Worksheet for Field Service Engineers

If you’re interested going paperless and want to take it step by step instead of going 100% digital all at once, here’s an intermediate solution: a free, downloadable Excel worksheet that’ll help you organise and track your jobs. 

Scheduling challenges: Getting the Right Engineer in the Right Place at the Right Time from Field Service News

This short guide offers handy pointers for creating a schedule that meets the needs of both your staff and your business.

Create a Paperless Fleet Management System

Maybe you’re still using paper-based systems to manage your fleet, or maybe you’ve automated some parts of your fleet management but not others. That might fly for small businesses, but large field service businesses, and growing ones, should digitalise their fleet management—and then use the data they pull from the system to improve their metrics.

Instead of this:

Tracking vehicles with GPS, but using the data manually.

Try this:

Integrating your fleet data with your field service management system.

You’ve got GPS trackers in your service vehicles—that’s good. But what are you doing with the data? If the answer is that you’re writing down or printing out anything, then you’re not using the data to its best advantage.

Integrating your fleet management data into your FSM system will let you:

  • Decrease fuel costs by reducing your engineers’ travel time.

  • Give customers courtesy calls when you notice an engineer is running late.

  • Let customers track the engineer’s journey via an Uber-style link, so they know when the engineer will arrive.

Check out our resources below to learn the benefits (and how-tos) of ditching paper in favour of digital fleet tracking.

3 Fleet Tracking Resources to Get You Started

Why You’ll Save Money with an Integrated Fleet Management System

Here’s why you shouldn’t spend money on a fleet management system whose data is unusable by other parts of the business. 

4 Surprising Problems Solved by GPS Tracking for Field Service Engineers

It’s about more than knowing where your engineers are. A surprising fact: Tracking your vehicles, and analysing the data with an integrated fleet management system, actually boosts your engineers’ engagement.

Are UK Fleet Operators Making the Most of Telematics Data? From Teletrac Navman

The short answer is no: Teletrac Navman’s research shows that only 50% of respondents are currently evaluating and benchmarking driver performance, and only 20% are monitoring vehicle data. Read more results in this post.

On the Road to a Paperless Business

These resources on going paperless on the road will get you on your way to becoming fully automated. Be sure to download our free checklist 10 Steps to Level Up Your Field Service Business in 2020 below for more details on how to skyrocket your business using digital tools in the new year.

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If you want to learn more about Commusoft's field service software, please see our product blog.