As a software and services provider to the building service contractor, we regularly participate in lengthy conversations with industry leaders about the most challenging aspects of running daily operations, the peaks and valleys, the processes that need attention and those that are already producing desired results. Interestingly enough, the need for technology as an automation management tool is clear and the benefits are significant.
The common objections are time, lack of resources or technical prowess, and perception of cost. Some may worry compliance will be difficult to manage with a new process or seen as a diversion from focus on quality, service or organic selling. The reality is that cloud and mobile applications are low overhead technologies and operate at a much lower cost than most realize. Tablets can be purchased for under $200.00 and cloud software at a subscription level is both affordable and sustainable in any budget.
The concept is fairly simple in theory. Invest (time and money) in technology in order to impact efficiency and realize return on investment. A project that will have the greatest long term impact on an organization requires clear, well thought out best practices and project management.
- Start with a ‘Proof of Concept’ based on Customer Selection
Choose one or two accounts in which you know would most value the technology being deployed. (ie. high profile public building, strict contractual obligations, multiple branch locations, etc.) They may be data hungry customers, technologists by nature, or require a higher level of customer service. With this small selection of accounts, training can be implemented in small doses and in a group environment for shared learning.
- Select a Project Leader
This requires a strong manager or leader who is comfortable with technology (tablets/smartphones/software). Perhaps, more importantly will see the value and understand the process workflow. This person becomes the champion or super-user and internal promoter of ‘the project.’ When issues arise or questions asked, there will be an experienced internal resource with the answers and ability to help troubleshoot in the field. The majority of support issues are training related and can work themselves out through familiarization and practice within the teams. A single person or team would be the ideal test case for the implementation and process as you see it working in the future. When that phase is successful, it can then be expanded to more accounts and disseminated to all your teams.
- Plan, Plan, Plan, then Enforce
This typically works well when upper management has the time commitment necessary and the will to enforce a hard stop change. This strategy is recommended for companies facing severe regulatory issues or who stand to benefit the most from process optimization. Company wide deployment becomes the top strategic objective. The key to success in this strategy is dedicated time by the executive or executive team. It requires more upfront planning of who/what/when/where/how and should be executed through a partnership between the management team and your software provider. Through proper planning and clear objectives and a carefully managed timeline, success is inevitable. At Accelerator CC, we have been successful deploying this strategy with companies servicing a high volume of customers on a routine basis with many monthly one-time work orders. Whether motivated by cost cutting efficiencies or market differentiation, it’s a top down approach and one that is highly successful. The decision to invest both time and resources into a project is not one to be taken lightly. The key is to stay focused on the undeniable benefits that make it well worth the effort:
- Centralization of Data, Historical Archiving
Gain access to ALL information associated with an account, past present and future: sales, work orders, job or contract data, building locations, inspections, technicians, reports.
- Control of Assets
Centralized data and single source access to company assets including employee and resource management, equipment, supplies and schedules.
Insight into sales pipeline, opportunity management, calendar regarding work orders, job and contracts, recurring and periodical work and scheduling. The ability to access the data and measure performance to ultimately improve service standards.
Technology should become an extension of your workforce, automating invaluable processes such as: work order and service corrections in real time; bidding and profit calculations; bid conversions to contracts and work orders; reports and notifications; and building specs.
In addition to all mentioned above, the differentiation in a crowded market is your greatest return on this worthy investment. Stay focused on your project goals. The result is a smart, cutting edge set of tools in which to run your business more effectively, efficiently and drastically improve service delivery. Consider taking the first steps in planning the future success of your organization for today and tomorrow.