Editor Dannielle Furness spoke with AroFlo client Darren Andrews, Director at GB Electrical, in the August 2016 issue of Field Service Business magazine.
Field Service Business: GB Electrical works across a broad range of industry sectors and with many different types of equipment. What challenges does that pose in terms of managing a mobile team?
Darren Andrews: The challenges in running our operation are ever changing. To utilise our mobile resources efficiently is the key to providing a responsive and high-quality service across varied business specialties. We are constantly challenged by client expectations for paperwork and data. Through the use of mobile service management systems, we are able to provide our employees with real-time job details and our administration can receive real-time feedback on what is happening in the field.
FSB: How many mobile staff do you have on the road and across what geographic region?
DA: We have approximately 40 field technicians and tradesmen working across seven different business units. We operate right across the NSW Central Coast, Hunter and Port Stephens regions – it’s a fairly extensive reach.
FSB: What types of technology and systems has GB Electrical implemented to overcome some of the challenges associated with running a team across multiple regions and in different industry types?
DA: We have been using a web-based service management system from AroFlo since 2006 and we worked closely with them in the development of the product. As far back in 2006, we recognised the need to find a mobile solution in order to reduce the burden associated with paperwork and to allow us manage our workflow more efficiently. This was a time of rapid growth in our business and we struggled with the quantity of works that we had to manage, so we knew something had to be done. The AroFlo system delivered us the solution that we needed and allowed us to confidently continue to grow our business.
FSB: What improvements has this initiative delivered?
DA: The improvements to our business include improved resourcing efficiency and scheduling of works, access to real-time data, completely traceable work information and job history, tighter control over our inventory systems, productive quotation systems, flexible job management and invoicing. Our business has come to the forefront of technology in our service area and we have been able to promote this through our delivered efficiencies to our clients.
FSB: Was it difficult to get user buy-in and was there any resistance from the team?
DA: It is always difficult to bring in change to your business operations, and the moving to a more automated form of field management is no different. We deliberately moved through the process in stages—we trialled the system using small teams at first so that others could see the positive change occurring. This made the process much smoother than a general rollout, as we worked out any issues that cropped up within a small group first before taking it out more broadly across the business.
FSB: Have you seen similar productivity gains in the back office?
DA: We operate at a faster pace now and it is hard to imagine how we could do that without a mobile service management system. The key to us is to manage the way we utilise the system in order to get the most efficient use out of it.
FSB: Did you experience any unexpected bonuses along the way?
DA: The main added benefit that we were not expecting was the ability that the system has given us to grow the business. Additionally, the flexibility of being able to look at any part of our works from anywhere at any time has been a real bonus.
FSB: What sort of improvements will you be looking at in the future?
DA: Future improvements in consideration include incorporating GPS tracking to our system so that we can remove the reliance on other third-party systems. We’ll also investigate developing the ability to incorporate client forms so we can satisfy individual customer requirements. We’ll continue to focus on making the system meet our customers’ needs, rather than the other way around.