Job scheduling software

Job scheduling software - the ultimate scheduler guide

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What is job scheduling software?

Let's start at the beginning with a look at what is job scheduling software, what does it do, and areas it can impact.

Broadly, it is a system that takes the manual element out of job planning. It automates the job handling process, meaning improved performance and efficiency. Although this is a large part of the attraction for many field service businesses, there are a host of other benefits.

The software uses algorithms to plan the most cost-effective and time-efficient routes. In turn, these result in lower fuel costs and more jobs completed in a day. When combined with much higher instances of first time fixes, these savings quickly mount, meaning that the software provides instant ROI.

Broken down into essentials, it will help you:

  • Manage incoming job requests
  • Prioritise job order
  • Evaluate time, distance and skill constraints
  • Optimise routes
  • Reduce fuel costs
  • Improve communications between office, road team and customers

Why is Job Scheduling Software Important for Business Operations?

Many field service businesses grow organically. They often start small and through a combination of hard work and word of mouth recommendation, gradually build up. The drawback of this type of organic growth is that the processes and software often lag behind the rest of the business.

Larger companies have similar software problems, even if the causes are different. Without control, a department might bring in software that only benefits them and not the rest of the business. This kind of software creep can not only lead to inefficiencies but also to silo working.

No one wants a situation where different departments and software applications aren't communicating with each other. When this issue affects job schedulers, the problems mount. Job scheduling is a juggling act in the best circumstances but when communication is poor, it becomes almost impossible.

Good quality job scheduling software relieves pressure on your job schedulers and will make efficient job scheduling simple. Not only will it provide a framework for good business processes but also an easy method for team communication. When live tracking is available, it is much easier to find a colleague nearby to send to an emergency call out. Job planning is even easier if their is a mobile app that is an integrated part of the software.

One additional advantage, that makes this type of product the best job scheduling software to use for trades businesses, is that it's cloud based. This gives you the advantage of full visibility of your operation from anywhere with an internet connection. Perfect not only for reactive job scheduling but also for business overview and reports.

Schedue close-up


Features of job scheduling software


Automated job scheduling is a game-changer for field service businesses. Few other single features truly act as a win across every aspect of your business. It does this in four main ways:

Time saver

You can automate lots of repetitive processes to dramatically reduce your admin. For example, the system can create a new job if the engineer doesn't fix the problem on the first try. Or send a service reminder to a customer, or raise a note, flag or alert when a specific event happens. It can even automatically adjust recurring jobs if they fall outside your working days.

Eliminate human error

The less times that the same information is input, the fewer opportunities for human error. You can use it variously across the business, but here are a few examples. Automatically creating follow on jobs can also transfer the previous job's information, including parts. Automated syncing of financial packages mean no more double entry of financial information.

Increased productivity

Automation also gives a huge boost to productivity. It greatly improves first time fixes by replacing so many elements of manual job scheduling. It adds the correct parts to the job before assignment, together with location information if it isn't van stock.

Improve customer satisfaction

If you haven't tried job scheduler software, you might worry it could harm customer service. In practice, automation massively improves customer satisfaction.

For example, using online scheduling software you can send service reminders automatically with a convenient link to schedule them in to the diary. Or perhaps set up a text or emailed message to tell a customer when to expect an engineer. You can even include a link to follow their journey.

Smart scheduling

Smart scheduling is a clever feature that takes the guess-work and juggling out of job scheduling. It takes all sorts of constraints into account, such as opening times, vehicle needs or skill sets, and calculates the best and cheapest schedules. You can see the fuel costs and time saved and can even fit more jobs into a day.

Once you know who will carry out a job, you can simply drag and drop it against their name on the schedule. If your provider also supplies a job scheduling app, the job will then go directly to the engineer's device.

If you are interested, you can learn more about what smart scheduling is, or look at our guide on how to use smart scheduling as part of your process.

This will totally change your approach to job planning and allocating jobs.

Live Dashboard

Illustration of dashboard

Having a live dashboard is a great way of speeding up reactive job planning. You can see who is nearby for an emergency call in real time and check if they have the necessary equipment in their van. It also makes distributing their scheduled work to other colleagues, simple.

A visual dashboard is also the perfect way of monitoring productivity and checking on work efficiency. It allows you to get ahead of problems as they arise. Good job scheduling software suppliers will let you customise your views for quick and easy access to information. Consider using colour codes, flags, job groups, and so on.

Depending on your software supplier, you might also be able to use the job scheduling app for contractors. This means that you are able to monitor their work in the same way as your own employees for seamless service.

Lastly, you ideally want to be able to switch views and filter quickly depending upon the needs of the moment. You may need to see if a worker with special skills is available or check the monthly workload by team or region. Look for flexibility and ideally the option to bookmark your most used views.

Easy communication

When you are using scheduler software that works in sync with a job scheduling app, you are providing the perfect basis for good comms. Whereas some job scheduling tools only focus on the office side of the business, the best ones will link your office and road teams.

This improves trust and collaboration between different parts of your business and allows the easy flow of information. With the quicker transfer of information comes greater productivity and faster job completion. That allows for faster invoicing and improved cashflow.

Reporting and analytics

When you consider job scheduling software, reports and analytics probably aren't your priority at the start. However, they are actually a huge benefit that job planning software together with employee scheduling apps can provide.

Between these two features, you can get detailed information on everything from employee performance to job costs. This helps you understand your business in a way that simply isn't possible in a manual or paper-based system. You can quickly see which routes or tasks are most lucrative and which are not financially viable.

The best scheduling apps collect data about jobs and employee performance. You can use filters to analyse and generate different reports from this information, for both big picture and detailed analysis. It means that you are making business decisions based on hard facts and not instinct.


Benefits of using job scheduling software

Increased efficiency

One of the most immediate effects of using employee scheduling software is that everyone becomes more productive.

Automation frees administrators from performing mundane and repetitive tasks and allows them to focus on higher value work. The same is true for the removal of filing from the daily task list.

The ability to create templates is an enormous boost to both efficiency and professionalism. You can create attractive branded documents for everything from service reminders to job sheets and send them automatically.

Your response time will improve massively, as live tracking allows you to react instantly to urgent customer requests. As well as faster job scheduling, this also means more cost effective job allocation. The software will plan routes to include as many jobs as possible while minimising extra travel. It does so so effectively that users report taking on up to 25% more work without expanding their workforce.

It also means that you can collect accurate data, measuring metrics such as planned versus actual time on jobs. This benefits your entire business by helping you understand the real cost of the work you are doing.

Ease of scheduling

Real-time job scheduling allows you to deal quickly and easily with both planned work, maintenance and reactive job planning.

Not only will it boost your efficiency but it makes adjusting the work schedule more straightforward. It guarantees the right people for jobs at specific times, quickly solving problems like skill requirements or special tools.

Gone are the days of workboards with post-it notes or T cards. Digital scheduling is more effective, more efficient and removes complexity. It means that you can rearrange workloads in seconds and then send the revisions straight to your engineers' devices.

It also has the benefit of fast access to customer files. We all have experienced the frustration of waiting on hold while someone searches for a file. It wastes the time of both job scheduler and customer. With jobs scheduling software, however, the problem disappears.

Not only are digital files easy to retrieve but your software can also integrate with your phone system. If you're curious about how this would function in a real-world scenario, it would look something like this:

A customer calls and the phone software, such as RingCentral or BT, will investigate your job scheduling CRM. When it finds a number that is already in your database, it will immediately retrieve the customer files. You will know who is calling and have all the information you need in front of you when you answer the phone.

Finally, it is worth mentioning the introduction of the customer portal. As more companies and employees move to extended hours or flexible working, you need to move with them.

The best jobs scheduling software will offer your customers the chance to self-serve. Portals function by allowing customers to access information about work carried out for them. Customers can ask for jobs, specify preferred time or date, and include notes or restrictions. Once requested, they will appear directly on your job schedulers' list of unassigned jobs.

You can easily drag and drop work from the unassigned jobs list to the team schedule. After that, the job scheduling software will send the job to the engineer's device and email a confirmation for the requested time to the customer.

In fact, the sole drawback of job scheduling software is that once you've used it, you'll never be able to function without it again!

Cost savings

For those companies who are new to job scheduling software, it is easy to focus on the up front costs to your business. These costs are significant but you should consider two crucial factors:

  1. The cost of not using it
  2. The return that it offers on your investment in it

You are likely to have considered lots of the more obvious upfront savings. Fuel savings are an obvious example, as is the reduction in paperwork, storage and postage costs. Reducing admin and automating processes result in the need for fewer job schedulers to plan the work. So you are likely to see savings in staffing levels, despite the likelihood of growth.

However, there are lots of ways that it can save you money that are less obvious and that you might not have considered. Here is a real example:

Although UK authorities first introduced ultra low emission zones (ULEZ) in 2019, they have gradually extended their geographical reach. By August 2023, the expansion included all London boroughs, catching some companies off guard. As a consequence, one company reported a loss of £500 per job on fines.

The drivers had entered ULE zones unknowingly and received penalties for it. However, council delays in issuing the penalty notices meant that the fines arrived long after customers had been invoiced.

Introducing job scheduling software easily solved the problem for the company in question. They set up charge zones as separate ULEZ territories with predefined costs. When a driver enters a ULE zone now, the system automatically adds the charges to the job costs, meaning no lost income.

Then there are the savings provided by greater business insight. For example, you might traditionally plan for a specifc job type to take an hour. The data could reveal that it actually takes forty-five minutes, so you can fit more jobs into the schedule.

Naturally, the reverse can also occur. Engineers might actually spend sixty minutes completing a job that you expected they'd complete in thirty minutes. This simple error can lead to troubling consequences.

Most obviously, it can have a disastrous knock-on effect on both your engineer's schedule and your company's reputation. The hidden issue is that it will heavily impact your true costs for the job. Where margins are already small, this can be catastrophic.

Collaboration and subcontracting

Many of us have missed out on a contract because we just don't cover the entire area or can't carry out a specific element of the job. It is horribly frustrating but accepted as one of those inevitable parts of business life.

The good news is that with job schdeuling software, many of these opportunities come within reach. You can send jobs and job sheets to subcontractors in exactly the same way as to your own employees. You can even mandate risk assessments, prevent job completion if parts have been missed and ensure compliance.

Some software providers, such as BigChange, offer a network of customers that makes subcontracting even simpler. By introducing a job scheduling app for contractors you can seamlessly extend your range and orbit.

This is particularly useful because you know that those subcontractors already know your job scheduling system.


Winning business

We have briefly discussed how job scheduling software can pave the way for bigger contracts but it also speaks volumes about your company.

Many businesses are looking for like-minded partners. They want to make sure the companies they work with will last and are as dedicated to success as they are. Positioning your business as professional and forward-thinking makes you stand out from an often crowded market place. You can use it as a point of distinction.

It also allows you to offer fantastic customer service through:

  • faster response times
  • provision of a customer portal
  • instant access to documentation
  • enhanced communication
  • Engineer ETA and journey tracking

Send jobs straight to the app

When combined with a job scheduling app, job scheduling software is particularly fast and effective. It removes delays in your scheduling process between job allocation and receipt of jobs by your engineers.

You may still have a very manual system whereby your road team travel to the office to collect the job sheets they need for the day or week. Or perhaps you rely on the postal system to shuttle paperwork between your office and road teams?

Even if you have moved on from such a manual process, if your employes don't have access to a mobile app, you're missing out.

Firstly, it means the end of physical paperwork and the introduction of digital replacements. They cannot be lost or destroyed by accident and can be sent automatically by job schedulers when a job is assigned.

Digital job cards are also much faster to complete and offer the additional option of photographic evidence. So that's no need for stamps, no paperwork, and no heaps of unfinished job sheets on the van's passenger seat!

A job scheduling app also gives team members in the field access to a job scheduling tool. This empowers your engineers and makes them more responsive to customer needs. For example, a customer might see them on site and ask them to carry out an extra job.

The app will allow them to create a new job and schedule it to themselves. The correct job sheets will then automatically load on their device ready for completion. Once completed, they will go to the office for billing as with any other scheduled job.

Job list on phone

Choosing the best job scheduling software

If all the above has convinced you that job scheduling software is the way forward, it's time to choose a supplier.

How do you choose the best job scheduling solution for your business?

Don't be afraid to shop around because you are looking for a business partner, not just a software provider. Make sure the company's values align with yours and that they won't vanish once you sign the contract.

Have frank conversations with suppliers about what you hope to achieve and ask for product demonstrations so that you can see how it works. Equally important is asking yourself whether or not the company genuinely understands your business needs.

As well as a company experienced at providing job scheduling for field services, you should look for one that can grow with you. No one wants to go through the entire process of discovery, selection, and implementation again in a few years.

Finally, does your prospective supplier have a workable plan for onboarding the software. That should include a timeline, an outline of what both you and they will need to do and a schedule of training.

Which features should you look for?

Whether or not you like lists, making a wish list is the best way to ensure that you get the features that matter most to you. Everyone's needs and priorities are different but here is a good starting point:

  • Smart scheduling for faster, better route planning
  • Live tracking
  • Mobile app
  • Reports and analysis
  • Powerful CRM
  • Integration with other software such as Sage, Xero, Microsoft, RingCentral and what3words
  • Robust financial control, including easy calculation of mark ups, discounts and VAT rates.
  • Automation to reduce administration
  • Excellent onboarding, training and customer service
  • Information dashboards
  • Customisable flags, alerts and colour coding
  • Customer portal

How do you get your information onto the new system?

It's crucial to know who will do what when setting up the new jobs scheduling system. Some suppliers will offer software features that simplify the data import process but it will still need someone in your company to transfer the data.

This is probably the most daunting part of the experience but if you choose the right partner they will help you through it.

What is the best way of ensuring staff adoption of your new system?

Many business leaders forget to explain the purpose of change to their workforce. That might sound simplistic and it isn't the same thing as asking permission or decision by committee. The truth is that if employees understand the rationale and the benefits of a proposed change, they are more likely to adopt it.

After all, we are all more keen to use something if we understand how it will help us.

Try to also be mindful that some people are more open-minded than others about technology. People can have all sorts of phobias around tech. For some it is a reluctance to change but often it is fear of the unknown. They might worry that they aren't clever enough to use it or that it will replace them.

To combat these issues, the answer is a robust and comprehensive training plan. Look for a job scheduling software supplier who offers different approaches. Some people learn best by following a demonstration, others learn better at their own pace.

Try and find a software champion for each department and spread the load of implementing it across the company. People are often far more receptive to peer pressure than they are to senior management directives.



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