How to get started with gas engineer software

George Dibb
August 21, 2023

Using the right software for your plumbing or heating business makes managing work a lot easier. Gas engineer software, also called job management software, automates and improves key parts of your operations.

But how do you get started? What are the key steps to implement the tech? And what are the pitfalls to avoid?

In this blog post, we'll walk through the key steps for plumbing and heating companies to get started with gas engineer software. Following these steps will help you transform the way your business operates and set you up for success.🚀

Step 1: Research 

Sounds obvious, but the first step is to start researching the various software options available. There are many solutions out there aimed at different industries, so you want to focus your search on systems with tech built specifically for plumbing, heating, and gas engineering companies, like BigChange.

Look for solutions that provide robust scheduling and dispatch capabilities. You want to be able to easily schedule jobs, match them to engineer availability and skills, and automatically optimise routes to reduce drive times. The software should make job scheduling smooth and efficient.

Also, pay close attention to the invoicing and payment capabilities. The software should integrate with systems like Xero and Sage, allowing you to quickly generate branded invoices, accept customer payments, and manage accounts receivable. 

Other key features to look for include mobile access for engineers, customer portals for self-service, inventory management, and data reporting. Comparing these features across 2-3 leading software options will help you narrow down the best fit. Make sure they have real-life plumbing and heating case studies specifically in the plumbing and heating sector.

Once you have identified the leading options, sign up to receive demos of each. Seeing the software firsthand and how your specific data would appear is invaluable in the selection process. The demos will clarify if the software is truly user-friendly and aligns to your workflows.

Taking the time upfront to thoroughly research and demo options will pay dividends in choosing a solution that best meets your needs. More on this next. 👇

Step 2: Choose the best fit software

After researching the top software options and going through demos, it's time to choose the system that is the best fit for your business. 

Here are some key factors to consider when making your selection:

  • Price: Compare pricing models like per user per month or one-time licence fees. Get an accurate quote for your needs. Also confirm any implementation, training, or if there are hidden costs? Just because the software has features doesn't mean that it's included in your package, so beware add-ons that can make cheaper options more expensive in the long run.
  • Ease of use: The system should be intuitive and easy to use for the entire team including engineers and admin staff. Complex systems lead to lack of adoption.
  • Mobility: Assess the native mobile apps for iOS and Android. Engineers need full job and customer details, navigation, and easy photo and signature capture.
  • Integration: Determine how easily the software integrates with your other systems such as Xero and Sage.
  • Customisation: Look at options for custom fields, templates, rules to match your exact workflow needs. Lack of flexibility will hinder adoption.
  • Support: Review the support tier offered - live chat, phone, ticketing system. Confirm response times and expertise. Also check support availability/opening hours. Is there an out of hours service?  And is support ongoing for the life of the contract or just for onboarding?

By comparing options across these criteria, you can determine the best fit to transform your operations. Don't simply default to the cheapest system - really consider the long-term value.

Once you've selected the right software, it's time to kick off implementation and get your teams trained up. (More on this next).

Step 3: Set-up and configure 

Once you've signed on with your chosen software vendor, it's time to work closely with their team to get the system properly set up and configured for your business. This process is crucial to ensure the software supports your exact workflows and needs.

Some key steps in the setup process include:

  • Customising fields and templates: Work with the vendor to see how to set-up integrations. And identify the templates they have within the tool and how to add your branding, custom fields, and terminology. 
  • Configuring user roles: Set up user profiles whether it be office staff, dispatcher, or field engineer. Then apply appropriate access and permission levels.
  • Importing contacts: Import your customer contacts and job sites to have data ready for go-live.
  • Setting up billing rules: Configure your rates, payment terms, invoices, and other billing settings.
  • Establishing scheduling rules: Set up scheduling rules, SLAs etc to align with your scheduling processes.
  • Testing flows: Try scheduling sample jobs, assigning staff, and generating invoices to check everything works as it should.

It’s really important to set aside time for this critical setup process. After all, making sure the software handles your unique workflows will lead to quicker user adoption. And if any customisation is needed, the vendor can usually accommodate requests. This upfront investment will pay off with a smoother transition.

After setup is complete, it's time to train your staff on how to use the system effectively.👇

Step 4: Staff training

Once the software is fully configured, the next step is properly training your team members on how to use the system. You’ll find some software providers have comprehensive training and even their own ‘university’ whereas others expect you to carry out all the training yourself.

Setting up the right training will ensure quick user adoption and the ability to use the full capabilities of the software.

Here are some best practices around staff training:

  • Schedule training sessions: Set up required training sessions based on user roles - office staff, dispatchers, field workers, etc. 
  • Use real examples: Have everyone practice real-world workflows like scheduling jobs or completing invoices. 
  • Provide training info: Give your team user manuals and screen recordings to reference.
  • Shadow existing workflows: Have users shadow current processes then transition to using the software.
  • Start with core features: Focus initial training on the core features like scheduling and invoicing then expand to advanced functions. Plus, consider role-specific training, for example, schedulers don't need to learn how to use the app.
  • Evaluate comprehension: Follow up with quizzes or observations to confirm understanding of the software.
  • Offer refreshers: Schedule refresh sessions after a month or so to reinforce learning. Your vendor should be able to help with these too. Look for ‘always-on’ self serve training options or help/step-by-step guides from your software supplier.

The right training will lead to higher use of the system. Plus, employees will feel more confident using the software which leads to quicker adoption. Ongoing training resources also help with keeping up with knowledge.

With your team up to speed, it will soon be time for full go-live!

Step 5: Go live

Once your team is fully trained on using the new software, it's time to set a go-live date and switch over business operations. This is an exciting milestone after selecting the software, configuring it, and training staff.

Some tips for a smooth go-live include:

  • Set a target date: Work backwards from this date to complete training and configuration with time to spare.
  • Limit the transition window: Choose a go-live date and transition all operations to the new software on that day rather than a phased approach.
  • Migrate any data beforehand: Import all customer, job, and other data into the new system prior to go live. 
  • Run parallel operations: In the weeks leading up, schedule jobs and dispatch in both old and new system to make sure nothing slips through the cracks and everyone feels happy with the new approach. 
  • Get vendor support: Have additional vendor resources available for quick troubleshooting during the transition. Choosing the right vendor at the start really helps when it comes to getting the best support. 
  • Communicate timelines: Keep staff informed of the go-live date and what to expect.

There will likely be some growing pains and learning curves as you fully adopt the new software. But with proper planning and support, you can minimise disruptions. If any major issues emerge, you can contact the vendor for help.

Within a few weeks of daily use, your teams should be fully up to speed and appreciating the benefits of optimised scheduling, dispatching, invoicing and more. Then it’s just about refining processes over time. 

Step 6: Refine over time

The weeks and months after launching your new software are critical to reinforcing its use and optimising adoption. This ‘refinement’ period helps uncover additional ways to maximise value from the investment too.

Some key steps during this period include:

  • Review processes: Identify any sticking points in new workflows and brainstorm improvements. Are there any manual steps that could be automated?
  • Expand feature use: Look for additional capabilities like inventory management or customer portals that could further streamline operations. 
  • Tweak configurations: Make small tweaks to templates, data fields, or settings based on initial user feedback.
  • Analyse initial data insights: Use reporting dashboards to identify trends and opportunities. For example, are certain jobs more profitable than others?
  • Check-in with users: Survey users or hold focus groups to get input on enhancements or additional training needed.
  • Develop best practices: Document tips and tricks for maximising the software to train new hires. Create standards and guidelines.

Top tip: Don't just "set and forget" the software after launch. Dedicate resources over the first 6-12 months to refine configurations and your team's capabilities. This will lead to greater user adoption and business benefits over the long term.

Streamline operations with the best gas engineer software

Implementing a dedicated software solution can transform the way plumbing, heating, and gas engineering companies operate. Automating scheduling, dispatching, work order management, and invoicing provide huge time savings and productivity benefits.

However, simply purchasing the software is not enough. So take the time to properly research options, configure the system, train staff, and refine over time, to make sure you get a full return on investment. Following the step-by-step guide in this blog will set your team up for success.

While no technology transition is ever completely seamless, the long-term benefits for productivity, organisation, customer service, and the bottom line make it well worthwhile.

The most difficult part is taking the first step – but know there are great solutions and expertise out there to guide you. 📲 Talk to an expert to find out more. 

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