As a trade or service professional, the tools you use every day should be reliable, made to last, and most importantly, they should help you succeed no matter the job. But what many professionals don’t know is that the same logic applies to the systems they use to operate their business.
No matter how well a trade or service business is run, pen and paper methods are becoming increasingly outdated and can even cost professionals money in the long run. Consider also how slow and clunky methods that are both labour intensive and open to human error could be affecting your ability to meet customer needs. Additionally, manual processes take up many more hours out of every work week and often leave time-poor business owners feeling trapped and unable to explore alternatives in a never-ending loop.
The examples of where pen and paper methods fall short could go on forever, but each one highlights why every trade and service business owner should be looking to upgrade.
But what alternatives do you have that beat what you’ve used since forever?
We believe the answer to that question is digitisation. In this two-part series, we’ll help you discover the potential of digital job management versus traditional pen and paper methods.
This article will cover everything you need to know about the benefits of digitising your field operations, followed by our second article, which will tackle the benefits of digitising your office setup as well.
Here’s what you stand to gain by making the switch to a digital job management system for your field operations:
Improved job completion times and better field operations
The core of any successful trade or service business is decided at times by how quickly its employees can complete one job and move on to the next. After all, job completion time affects billable hours, which affects profitability, which affects cash flow and so on. The use of digital job management can transform any field-based operation into an efficiency powerhouse and let you attend to more clients by cutting down the amount of excess time you spend on tasks in the field.
Administration and data entry are the two biggest offenders when it comes to wasted time. Consider how often you’ve had to stop work to fill in a form by hand, call up a supplier to check part availability or contact your admin staff for job details. Now think about how much quicker each of those tasks would be if you could complete them all in the same interface. No pen and paper and no phone calls needed, just a digital device with an internet connection, and you’re good to go.
But digitising field operations doesn’t just help you improve on the tasks you traditionally completed by hand; it also offers you additional functionality you couldn’t access before. These tools include remote job scheduling, job timers that feed information directly to your timesheets and even the option to raise purchase orders in the field. These are all features of modern digital job management packages that make running things in the field both efficient and easy.
Faster invoicing and payment processing
Quickly completing a job is great. But unless you have a system in place to receive prompt payment for the services you’ve worked hard to provide, then all that effort might not actually affect your cash flow. You may already use computer systems to dispatch invoices, but that still requires multiple manual inputs like typing out details and dispatching invoice emails by hand.
But digitising your field operations means embracing everything that digital job management has to offer, and the more of your business that’s digitised, the more efficient everything else becomes.
Many modern job management software options include the ability to raise and dispatch invoices entirely from within the same system, with some even using details pulled from jobs directly. Now simply add an on-site payment method like Square, and not only can you invoice in the field, but you can also take payment too. Having this utility available in the field allows any trade or service professional to control their invoices on the spot and get paid faster for their work.
The benefits of digitising your field operations aren’t just about getting work done faster and improving your cash flow; they also extend to improving your quality of life as a business owner.
A paper timesheet is a thing of the past, and recording labour on the go via digital job cards has more than taken its place. Think back to the hours you or your office staff spent manually creating timesheets only to find an error that requires more time and effort to fix. Now imagine that all you need to do to complete your payroll is pull job data from your digital field system and let it automatically populate your timesheets for you. Add additional functionality like accounting package integrations and custom overheads or margins to timesheets, and suddenly, the entire process is effortless and completable in seconds.
This also means even the busiest field employees can get on top of their labour entries in seconds, and you won’t be chasing them for their work hours either.
Safer work conditions
Compromising on safety is never an option in high-risk environments and digitising your field operations is one of the best ways of ensuring your employees remain safe on-site.
Safety documentation such as compliance forms, JSAs, and SWMS can often be forgotten, delayed or misplaced when work picks up and your employees get busy. With a digital field solution in place, however, you can not only make filling out these forms a lot easier but also keep your employees safer as well.
Many digital job management options even include the ability to set forms as mandatory, meaning an employee’s job card won’t be accessible until a form is completed and signed. This gives you the peace of mind that your team are secure and makes compliance in the field an absolute breeze.
Now you know the benefits, how do you choose the right digital system for your business?
In this article, we’ve focused on the main benefits of digitising your field operations, and they are a great place to start when considering what your business needs to thrive. The next step is to look at other areas that could benefit from a digital leg up and begin searching for a solution that meets these needs.