Field service organisations that use manual processes are likely operating at a disadvantage because they lack visibility over their operation. This lack of visibility, and continued use of legacy systems and paper-based records, has led to a largely reactive approach when it comes to fleet management, health and safety, and business efficiency.
Fixing damage to vehicles or doing emergency maintenance in a reactive fashion can eat into profits. It can cost up to five times more to fix something reactively than it does to carry out proactive maintenance regularly. Using outdated methods of fleet management also compromises the safety of your field-based workers as their journeys and risk assessments go unmonitored, meaning that issues could arise when they’re on the road. Fortunately, technology can improve vehicle safety and reduce costly downtime for your business.
Some organisations in field management have shifted to using digital tools to manage their fleet, technicians, customers, and employees. In fact, companies that use field service management software enjoy a 90% time saving on average. However, there is still significant room for modernisation in this industry, and many businesses still rely on guesswork or inefficient processes to get the job done.
So how can technology and software help you manage your fleet more effectively? This article will be a guide on what benefits your company could enjoy if you adopt field-service management (FSM) software.
Manage Vehicle Maintenance Effectively
Businesses that take a preventative approach to vehicle maintenance can save between 12-18% on the costs, compared to firms that only fix something when absolutely necessary — a reactive approach.
To help you take preventative measures when examining your fleet, field management software includes features such as DVSA compliant walkaround checks. The feature allows your drivers to do a daily walk around the vehicle and log any defects through a mobile app. The driver or technician can then check the functionality of the vehicle and record any areas of concern, and they can add their notes to the log for that specific vehicle every day.
Over time, the system builds a detailed report from the daily checks so that there is always something to refer to if you need to identify the root cause of a vehicle issue. In addition, daily monitoring will allow you to note any changes that could become issues later down the line and pay a lower price to have a vehicle repaired beforehand.
Furthermore, you’ll be able to create Event Alerts for each vehicle. Each ‘event’ is stored on each vehicle’s record so that your back-office staff are notified when your Road Tax is expiring or when the vehicle service or MOT is due to be booked, for example. These notifications help your business stay compliant and avoid unintentional breaches of vehicle laws.
Monitor Mileage with GPS Vehicle Tracking System
Many field service management softwares have a GPS tracking system in place for all the vehicles in their fleet. GPS allows your business to track how far vehicles are travelling before they need routine maintenance without having to do guesswork. BigChange’s vehicle tracking is integrated into the software so that your back-office team can monitor any vehicle when necessary.
The software records the mileage completed by each vehicle for years, so you can always refer back to previous journeys without having to search through mountains of paperwork or receipts.
You can also link transactions to the actual mileage completed by each vehicle. By lining fuel card transactions to the mileage data, you’ll be able to calculate highly accurate miles to the gallon figures, as well as identify any discrepancies in your costs. The GPS and fuel features will help you save money and deploy more efficient decisions when managing your fleet of vehicles.
Storing Documents Securely
In 2020, around half (48%) of field service businesses were still using manual administration processes, paper-based methods and legacy systems to manage their field service fleet. Therefore, now is an opportune time to upgrade your systems and stand out from the competition.
You can gain an edge over your competitors by adopting FSM technology for managing your fleet because you can keep all important documentation in one place. You will be able to access any document at any time for any vehicle: MOT certificates, insurance details, leases, invoices for maintenance, or even drivers licences for your employees, all at the touch of a button.
The cloud-based software will store the documents safely so that your back-office staff can access them easily. As a result, time-wasting tasks such as looking through digital folders or sifting through paper records are eliminated. Your customers and staff will also be able to rest assured that their personal information or important documents are safe. Unlike spreadsheets and legacy systems, which are notoriously challenging to manage compliantly, CRM systems such as the one that is integrated into BigChange’s platform, allow you to carry out GDPR-compliant management of individuals’ details.
Keeping on Top of Vehicle Safety
If you’re the Head of Operations at your company, it’s unlikely you’ll know everything about every vehicle in your fleet. At most organisations, the state of a field service technician’s vehicle is logged in a book or spreadsheet somewhere only accessible to the back-office staff.
Using BigChange’s mobile workforce software and GPS vehicle tracking system, you’ll have access to your entire fleet’s history and real-time location at the tap of your finger. Not only does the software give you a comprehensive overview of each vehicle, its age, mileage, and condition, everyone who needs to will be able to access every DVSA compliant walkaround to ensure your vehicles are safe for driving.
So, aside from reducing administrative headaches, you and your technicians can rest assured that every vehicle is roadworthy and safe to drive.
Another essential part of managing fleet safety is keeping an eye out for how field service technicians are driving from job to job.
BigChange’s commitment to improving safety on UK roads is why we’ve developed an advanced driver behaviour analysis feature for our platform. Using the GPS vehicle tracking system, you can generate an analysis for each technician that includes their idling, speeding, cornering, braking, and harsh accelerations. Then, to give managers an at-a-glance view of each field service technician’s driving behaviour, the platform assigns a driving score for each driver.
Combine this driver behaviour analysis with our advanced time-stamping records for each driver, and you’ll be able to understand how your field technicians are driving, and more importantly if they’re taking the necessary breaks to ensure they’ll be alert on the road.
Time is money. But, unfortunately, with petrol prices escalating to an eight-year high in the UK, many field service businesses are losing large sums of money by not optimising their technicians’ routes between jobs.
However, if you’re relying on spreadsheets or outdated in-house systems to manage everyone’s routes, how can you guarantee that you’re optimising them and able to account for the unpredictable nature of traffic on the roads?
That’s where workforce tracking software comes in.
FSM platforms such as BigChange give you complete visibility over your technicians’ whereabouts so you can allocate nearby jobs to them. The intelligent scheduling assistant uses several factors to identify which technicians are the most suitable to travel to a job to allocate jobs efficiently. You’ll be able to look at:
- Real-time resource location
- Live-traffic information
- Job constraints (such as skills or qualifications)
- Type of vehicle
- Inventory of parts required
- Customer history and requirements
Combining the above information means you can make informed decisions about which technician to allocate to a job — even if they are not geographically closest to it.
As a result, your schedule will be optimised, with as little wasted time as possible, which means not only will your technicians be able to attend more appointments per day, but you’ll also save money per journey, which all contributes to boosting your profits.
Your technicians’ journeys will also be shorter and managed more efficiently, which puts them at less risk of any road accidents.
Tracking Tools and Equipment
Your fleet doesn’t just include your vehicles. It also includes your equipment, tools, parts, and other assets like trailers or machinery. Did you know, a staggering 43% of small businesses fail to track their assets and inventory effectively? Because so many field service organisations still rely on old-fashioned, manual tracking methods, and some have no official processes in place, they’re vulnerable to a range of potentially costly issues.
With state-of-the-art asset management software in place, unreliable data becomes a problem of the past. Modern systems record data in real-time, allowing you to make more informed business decisions based on fact rather than needing to count on potentially incorrect paper records.
It makes logical sense to use manual check-out and check-in sheets to keep track of your equipment. However, traditional paper asset management methods don’t always work in practice and are inherently error-prone. In fact, human error is the leading problem for 46% of businesses when it comes to accurately reporting on assets.
Whether your technicians forget to sign the sheets, inadvertently take too many items, store spares in their van for another project, or their writing is simply illegible, you’ll come to realise that the numbers aren’t adding up.
But whilst those errors may have gone unnoticed, they could have been costing the business a fortune. For example, if your equipment was to go missing, then there’s no exact way of tracking what happened to it. Not only will lost equipment likely stall other projects, but replacements can be expensive.
Instead, you can create a detailed register of equipment and other vital assets when you digitise your asset management methods. On BigChange, you’ll be able to maintain a record of fitted parts, tools or other specialist equipment, and you can track each item’s movements through serial numbers, barcodes or QR codes on the stock.
Your technicians can then check inventory in and out directly from their mobile devices, and you will have better visibility over your valuable assets. Digitising your inventory management process will not only save you money replacing expensive equipment but will bring up your first-time fix rates as technicians will have access to the assets they need to complete the job on their first visit.
Improving Your Entire Operation with Fleet Management Technology
However you are currently managing your fleet — whether it be a spreadsheet, paper records, or a system that has been used for a long time — it’s no match to the efficiency of the latest technological advances in the field service industry.
Using a platform like BigChange can revolutionise your operation, and the investment will pay for itself in the savings and added profit you’d make from its use.
Not only will your bottom-line benefit from adopting a field service management system, but as we’ve seen, your drivers’ safety will always be a priority; your essential documentation will be secure and accessible; your back-office staff will save time on mundane admin and be able to return to tasks that can grow the business, and ultimately your fleet will be in better condition because of the preventive approach you’ll be using to maintain your vehicles.
Managing Your Fleet Effortlessly with BigChange
Manage your entire operation on a single platform.
BigChange gives you complete control of your admin, from quotes to invoicing and beyond. Also, with our mobile app (available on iOS and Android), you can seamlessly connect your office, field technicians and customers and boost productivity as a result.
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