Paper-based Processes are Broken: Here's How to Supercharge Field Services
Ann F Dewar
June 12, 2023
Most field service businesses know the value of efficient and productive processes. What they don’t know is how to pull it off efficiently. Rather than keeping everything organised on a single platform, teams end up scattering job management across paper job cards, spreadsheets, and invoicing tools.
But manual processes aren’t built for premium-feeling client interactions. They’re clunky and lead to huge efficiencies and the risk of human-error. ❌
That’s why we recommend working with a simple but powerful job management system, like BigChange. The right tech lets you move away from long-winded processes to build a frictionless job management experience.
In other words, BigChange just makes job management easy. 🚀
Today, we’re your guide to this new digital process. Keep reading for a breakdown of the main problem with paper-based processes, plus the benefits of supercharging your business with digital field service management.
The problem with paper-based processes
For over 20 years, paper was the main method used by field service businesses to manage jobs. Schedules, work order, reports, certificates, and job sheets have all been handled by printing information out and physically distributing copies across a scattered workforce.
And this approach is still being used by many of today’s field service businesses. If you’re one of these businesses – this guide is for you.
With a range of digital alternatives now available, all field service businesses need to reevaluate the efficiency and costs of paper-based job management.
So the question quickly becomes, what should you be doing?
Making the move to digital
Making the move from a paper-based process to a digital workflow isn’t as daunting as you might think. The first and most important step is to simply invest in digital field service management software.
Put simply, field service management software connects separate processes together through integrated systems that talk to one another. With the right software, paper-based processes are completely replaced. This allows you to create business processes that meet your exact requirements.
👉 As an interesting side note, it’s important to choose the best software for the job. After all, you don’t want the headache of needing to switch a couple of years down the line. The right tech should be flexible and be able to scale as your business grows.
So with this in mind, let’s now take a look at some of the key benefits of replacing manual processes with tech.
The benefits of replacing paper-based processes
From saving time and money to improve productivity, there are heaps of benefits to replacing paper-based processes with field service management software.
Here’s a summary of the top benefits:
Save time and money
Time is often the most valuable thing you and your team have. But the lost productivity from manual processes is draining money from your business and stopping you from allocating the right engineers to the nearest jobs.
Digital processes increase the speed information can flow through your business, and ultimately, jobs and tasks are completed quicker.
For example, engineers can instantly access documents on a mobile app, rather than wasting time searching through their van for paper documents. Plus, with paper, it also makes you less reactive. For example, if an urgent job comes along, even if your engineer is near to the customer, they might need to come back to the office to pick up the paperwork.
In fact, Magicman is saving several days of work a month by eliminating paperwork:
“With BigChange we are much more efficient. In the office we have been able to re-deploy 2 or 3 staff by eliminating paperwork and the insurance team is saving several days’ work a month providing monthly reports and real time data to insurers with a single click, it’s still early days and there are many more useful features we have yet to use. BigChange is however a key to productivity and our efficiency has certainly improved, wasting a lot less time now.”
Automated digital processes can mirror your old paper-based processes. And accurate data capture from the start means the correct information moves through the business.
Manual data entry is removed and errors reduced. Plus, it’s easy to set up integrations with third party systems (like finance tools) so that outside data can be brought into the digital workflow.
“Using BigChange we have automated around 99% of our workflows. This not only reduces paper and the environmental impact of our working practices, it also improves visibility, accuracy and currency of information, as data is recorded as it happens, reducing the potential for errors, and is available 24/7 from any internet connected device. This proved especially useful during COVID restrictions when a lot of the workforce was working remotely.”
Digital workflows with a CRM system remove errors as paper doesn’t exist and therefore can’t go missing. All information is stored securely and backed up, only available to those with authorised access.
As a real-life example, Fleet Dynamic has reduced risk and improved efficiencies with paperless working:
“The capture and sharing of intelligence means we can effectively manage the fleet, monitoring downtime and forward planning for servicing and MOT events. This has contributed to more efficient use of workshop time with savings of around 30%. Additional savings have been achieved as a result of a reduction in missed recharges and the fact we no longer have to pay for specialist software, such as an HR platform, as BigChange does it all.”
Improve the client experience
Let’s face it, today’s customers expect a digital experience from your business. They want to be able to do as much as possible for themselves on their own schedule. One way to meet this need is through self-service portals, which come integrated with some field service software tools.
Self-serve customer portals are great for customers, but they’re also beneficial for the business. When customers can help themselves, your team is freed up to help with more complex customer needs and in other valuable areas of the business.
But these digital experiences must be as streamlined as possible for customers. They don’t want to fumble through the portal to accomplish what they’re trying to do, which means your customer-facing processes and user experiences have to be spot on.
Take this example from Access Innovations who achieved a 70% reduction in paper with BigChange:
“As well as reducing our environmental impact through a massive reduction in the paper we consume, BigChange has also had a positive impact on other aspects of the business,” commented John Lunt, Operations Director at Access Innovations. “The back-office resource required to record, schedule and report on jobs has been reduced, which in turn results in better service for our customers. I even had one client email me saying ‘give us a chance’ having received completion reports, including photos, and the invoice, all within 5 minutes of the engineer finishing on-site!”
Improved business intelligence
When processes are digital, they create data. That data can be extracted and analysed to help improve the business.
For example, with the right software, you can learn:
What is the current capacity and how much is being used?
Which areas of the process seem to get bottlenecked frequently?
How long does the average job take to turn around?
What are the profit margins on certain routes?
Which customers are most profitable?
Plus, profit forecasting, and much more
In fact, having everything in the cloud is something Rescue Rod really appreciates:
“With everything on the cloud and 24/7 visibility through live reporting from engineer tablets, we moved from a business that relied on disconnected legacy systems and mountains of paper to a modern, fully digital business – all literally within a few weeks”.
To sum up, these are just some of the benefits of digitising paper based processes – each field service business will likely experience others, unique to their specific situation.
How BigChange can help
If your business is ready to take the first step in moving away from paper-based processes and take advantage of digital field service management, we’d love to help.
Our battle-tested approach to job management not only streamlines job scheduling processes, but also creates clarity between office and field-based teams.
By organising digital processes in a single place, BigChange enables you to significantly improve the experience for clients, align your teams, and fit more jobs into a day, while mitigating risk.
As a result, your customers will have a better experience, leading to high retention, higher first-fix rates, and increased profits. 📈