How to prepare your trades business for the switch
Implementing cloud-based job management software in your trades business can significantly improve efficiency and the bottom line, while making life less stressful for owners and staff. But the benefits can only be realised if the system is implemented properly, and that requires planning, preparation, and the support of everyone in the business.
We asked some of our clients how they prepared for implementing AroFlo. Read on for a summary of their advice, combined with our own top tips for a successful launch.
Create an action plan
Taking the time to map out a simple action plan will set you on the right track to achieve your business goals with your new system. How much or how little detail you need to include depends on the size and complexity of your organisation.
Here are some key considerations to get you started:
- Who will be responsible for managing the rollout?
- What are your critical business requirements in terms of workflow, training and equipment?
- How do you want to go live: all at once or in stages?
- Do you plan to continue using your existing system(s) in parallel with the new one for a while?
Consider writing a checklist to cover the key rollout tasks, assign responsibilities, and set realistic completion dates for each task. Here’s an example of one of our Getting Started Checklists.
We did lots and lots of planning. We are an 11 branch, 130 staff business, so it’s hugely important that we research, test and plan before we implement new systems like AroFlo.
We worked in our current system until we had completed enough training and setup with AroFlo so we could slowly transition.
Prepare your team for change
Change can be a real battle for some people, especially if they don’t understand the purpose of it. Some of your team members may be thinking ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. This kind of sentiment can seriously hamper your efforts to introduce job management software into your business. That’s why it’s vital to plan for resistance to change from the start. The Harvard Business Review, identifies that there are always ways to adapt to change, and even take advantage of it.
So, how do you get staff buy-in?
- Explain the benefits that the new system will offer, for example:
- increases speed of allocating tasks through automation
- improves communication and response times
- allows your business to stay competitive
- ensures long term success, which ultimately, their jobs depend on.
- Make it a company-wide project that involves all levels of staff. Get their input about changes that affect their daily tasks.
- Most importantly, communicate often and regularly. Hold a kick-off meeting, provide ‘lunch & learn’ sessions, and send out regular emails to keep everyone in the loop.
Train a champion
Behind every successful software rollout is a champion. This person dedicates their time to learning how to use and integrate the new software into your business processes.
We prepared by doing the online training and ensuring all our data was as correct as possible for importation into AroFlo and allowing one person to handle the whole process.
As the business owner, you may want to champion the rollout process yourself. Alternatively, you can nominate someone within your organisation who has a good understanding of your internal processes and is comfortable with new technology and with managing change.
Ideally, the champion should be involved throughout the rollout to help drive the process and promote staff involvement. It should also be their responsibility to document new processes along the way. After go-live, they will have gained the necessary skills and knowledge to become the go-to person for system-related queries, support and training.
Prepare your data
You want to hit the ground running with your new job management software, and a great way to do this is to look at importing your existing customer and supplier contacts and inventory or asset registers. But before you start compiling your data files, remember: Garbage in = Garbage out. Try to set aside some time to clean up your data – remove any duplicate records and ensure you’re using consistent naming conventions, e.g. Pty Ltd or Proprietary Limited.
You might want to meet with your accountant, to discuss integrating your accounting software with your job management software.
We cleaned up our existing database. And made sure our site crew had sufficient mobile data plans and tablets for site use.
Get the right equipment
If your organisation is still using a notice board to keep track of jobs, it’s time to get rid of it!
Your field technicians will now be able to access their jobs from anywhere, using a mobile device. And just like using the right tool for the job, using the right device makes all the difference. The easier job management software is to use, the happier your team will be to adopt it.
When choosing a device, think about the tasks that are critical to the individual’s role:
- Smartphones – suitable for the AroFlo Field interface.
- Tablet devices – suitable for AroFlo Field, and also provide enough screen space to easily use most features in the AroFlo Office interface.
- Laptops – suitable for both AroFlo Field and Office.
Check your mobile data plans to ensure they allow enough data for uploading images to the system. A 1GB plan should be adequate.
Use the training and support resources
An important consideration when deciding on a job management software provider is the level of training and support provided. After all, adopting a system like this is a big investment, which can really pay off if properly implemented. It’s in your best interest to ensure you’re using the system to its full potential in order to see the return on investment.
Make sure you select a provider which offers comprehensive training and support. The best providers will assign you a dedicated account manager who has a wealth of knowledge and will be committed to showing you how to customise the software to meet the needs of your unique business.
Learning new technology can take time. That’s why we encourage all our new clients to get a head start with our interactive online tutorials, video tutorials, webinars, Help pages, and written tutorials. These are a great way to reinforce the learning between training sessions with their AroFlo consultant.
AroFlo’s website, help files and videos are very easy to use. Kate (Customer Service Rep) did an awesome job in keeping us on track as we went cold turkey by not taking over any of the old company’s systems. We went from zero to invoicing in the matter of a couple of weeks.
We discussed our requirements and the way we currently worked with AroFlo staff, reviewed your tutorials and arranged an online demo. We reviewed the material with staff and obtained commitment and feedback from them. Once signed up, we worked through the training modules and provided training for staff.
Once you’ve done the work to create a successful implementation, it’s time to celebrate your success and the extra efficiency, visibility, and freed-up time you and your team will enjoy.