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A generational shift is happening in the global workforce and its changing the way business is done.

No longer are the professional trades driven by the methods and process which dictated previous success. Now speed and accessibility of information are just as valuable as the quality of service.

With accessibility of services and response time being the major factors driving sales, especially in the service sectors, many business are increasingly relying on Millennials to define best practices in service management technology and customer experience.

The maturation and integration of the Millennial generation into the workforce has seen massive changes in how businesses operate. From the financial sectors’ significant shift and reliance on digital assets management to professional sports franchises utilisation of real time data and statistics to influence player conditioning, the millennial generation are adapting the traditional approaches and drivers of engagement to the new technological realities of the 21st century.

According to the Pew Center:

“Millennials are on the cusp of surpassing Baby Boomers as the USA’s largest living adult generation, according to population projections from the U.S. Census Bureau. As of July 1, 2016 (the latest date for which population estimates are available), Millennials, whom we define as ages 20 to 35 in 2016, numbered 71 million, and Boomers (ages 52 to 70) numbered 74 million. Millennials are expected to overtake Boomers in population in 2019 as their numbers swell to 73 million and Boomers decline to 72 million. Generation X (ages 36 to 51 in 2016) is projected to pass the Boomers in population by 2028.”

From the incorporation of tech savvy thinking and accessibility of on-demand information in real time many industries are improving customer satisfaction, response time and the ability to manage large fleets with ease in no small part because of the internal influence of millennials in the corporate management structure.

By 2025, Millennials Will Comprise Three-Quarters of the Global Workforce.

As a recent blog stated :

“We know the stereotypes. Millennials never settle down. We’re drowning in debt for useless degrees. We refuse to put our phone away. We are addicted to lattes even at the expense of our water bill. Our bosses are not wrong about these perceptions. But, pointing to our sometimes irresponsible spending and fear of interpersonal commitment isn’t going to solve your problem. You still need us. We’re the ones who’ve mastered social media, who have the energy of a thousand suns, and who will knock back £4.00 macchiatos until the job is done perfectly.”

What is a Millennial? What defines this generation?

The Pew Research Center defines Millennials as the people who were born between 1981 and 1996. Gallup uses roughly the same time window, and estimates that there are approximately 73 million Millennials in America.

“Millennials already are the largest segment in the workplace. Within the next two years, 50 percent of the U.S. workforce is expected to be made up of Millennials. It will be 75 percent by 2030, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics.”

At companies where managers show sincere interest in Millennials as people, the organization sees an 8x improvement in agility, and a 7x increase in innovation!

Millennials are the first-generation who can objectively be viewed as digital.

“Technology – particularly gadgets like smartphones, but also tablets and laptops – have revolutionised the way they connect and interact with one another and the rest of the world.

While the vast majority of people surf the Web from a desktop or laptop computer at home or work, 85 percent of Millennials access the Internet from their phones – more than all other generations.”

How will Millennials impact how business will operate in the future?

According to Deloitte’s seventh annual Millennial Survey:

Companies and senior management teams that are most aligned with millennials in terms of purpose, culture and professional development are likely to attract and retain the best millennial talent and, in turn, potentially achieve better financial performance. Loyalty must be earned, and the vast majority of millennials are prepared to move, and move quickly, for a better workplace experience.

The top priorities when looking for a job are money (92 percent), security (87 percent), holidays/time off (86 percent), great people (80 percent), and flexible working (79 percent).

Millennials want leaders to more aggressively commit to making a tangible impact on the world while also preparing their organisations and employees for the changes in the formulative process of how Industry works.

How can the service sectors best prepare for a millennial driven work force?

Millennials are especially motivated by dynamic, cross-functional positions that expand their skills and challenge them. As a direct result of this thirst for knowledge, millennials seek jobs that allow them to be in contact with and learn from experts with interesting and diverse skill sets. Millennials strive to enhance interactions with other professionals and teams across a number of projects and campaigns.

With a clearer understanding of the factors which enhance millennial loyalty, companies can develop career paths that provide a wide range of experiences and not just vertical promotions up the totem pole.

How Can BigChange help your business integrate millennials into your operations?

BigChange what millenials want graphic

BigChange provides a dynamic mobile workforce management platform that delivers the digital, paperless and on-demand app-based experience that today’s workforce is increasingly used to. Millenials increasingly use mobile apps and social media as their primary means of communication, whether it’s managing their lives via WhatApp and Facebook, carefully curating their online personas on Instagram or ordering food-on-demand from the proliferation of on-demand apps.

Millenials increasingly demand complete integration and a seamless experience from technology; they don’t expect the need to switch between multiple pieces of software.

With its easy to use interface, BigChange combines everything a mobile-workforce needs into one easy to use package. bringing together back-office CRM, intelligent job scheduling, a paperless mobile app that manages each job step by step and sophisticated live tracking of vehicles. This cloud based system can be accessed by mobile teams collaborating across multiple sites and geographies.

BigChange gives millennial employees the mobile-first experience that they expect in the workplace, boosting productivity.

Where previous service management methods catered to older generations with bulky paper trails and disorganised invoices, the BigChange platform, with its sleek user interface and easy to use portal gives the millennial population a vital tool to manage the customer experience and support technical staff while allowing the back office to manage all billing and invoices in real time. BigChange gives Power to the Paperless!

To learn more about the BigChange 5-in-1 system please click here

References
1. Richard Fry. Millennials projected to overtake Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation (2018). Link
2. Quick Take: Generations—Demographic Trends in Population and Workforce (2018). Link
3. Lisa McLeod. Why Millennials Keep Dumping You: An Open Letter to Management (2015). Link
4. Mark Emmons. Millennials are likely the most studied generation in history (2018). Link
5. Ed Frauenheim. 2018 Best Workplaces for Millennials Summary (2018). Link
6. How Millennials Want to Work and Live. Link
7. The Importance of Millennials in the Workplace. Link
8. The Deloitte Millennial Survey (2018). Link
9. Mark Emmons. Millennials are likely the most studied generation in history. (2018). Link

Gartec, the UK’s leading supplier and installer of passenger platform lifts, has transformed its business with a single IT system that provides end-to-end digital working, eliminating paperwork using mobile devices.

With the 5 in 1 system from BigChange, Gartec field service engineers use smartphones or tablets connected in real-time to cloud-based software that manages the entire business process from initial call to closure and invoicing.

Gartec has been at the forefront of the platform lift industry for 25 years and is a subsidiary of Artico, the Swedish lift manufacturer. Employing 50 people and based in Aylesbury, Gartec supply, install and maintain lifts with a team of 20 service engineers together with sub-contacted installers.

JobWatch – the BigChange system – has completely replaced separate software systems used for service management, audit management and tracking, and added a host of new automation capabilities.

Ben Long, UK Operations Manager at Gartec comments:

“We chose BigChange not only because they offered the best and most cost-effective solution, but because it was clear that they were a company with ambition and vision to really move things on.”

Gartec has initially implemented JobWatch within its service maintenance division but roll-out to the installation services side is planned soon.

Ben explains:

“The beauty of JobWatch is that anyone can access and use it. That means our sub-contract installers can use their smartphones to access the JobWatch app and we can then manage sub-contracted work seamlessly as if it was our own.”

Although much of Gartec’s service work is undertaken as part of Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM) contracts, the company provides 24/7/365 emergency services with guaranteed response times of typically 4 hours. Customer service staff use BigChange to log incoming calls and then plan, schedule and allocate jobs to engineers, who in turn use their smartphones running the JobWatch App the gives seamless two-way connection with the back office system.

Ben comments:

“BigChange is providing huge efficiency gains with the optimisation of routes and resources and the complete automation of many administrative tasks.”

He continued:

“Since implementing BigChange the engineering team has grown from 9 to 15 and turnover has grown by £1miliion, without having to increase the number of office support staff. I reckon we are probably twice as efficient when it comes to administration and managing operations has become a lot easier.”

Gartec particularly like the bespoke functionality and reporting capability of BigChange, allowing changes to be made easily to suit their needs. Customer service has also benefited with the improvements in information and communication – automated emails confirm orders and call outs and accurate ETAs are provided using data from BigChange GPS trackers fitted to Gartec vans.

Armed with better information, there are immediate benefits on the financial side.

Ben explained:

“BigChange provides a complete audit trail of work with job reports backed tracking logs and photographs. Invoicing is now much more efficient. Previously it could take up to two weeks to get an invoice out; now we can generate invoices within 48 hours.”

BigChange and Gartec have jointly developed a series of automation tools to support the project management of installations. The application takes project engineers through a series of pre-defined procedures for step by step task completion. Backed up with site photographs that can be annotated with a drawing tool, customers are fully informed of what site work is required prior to installation and installers are provided with clear installation guides; all generated using JobWatch.

Gartec is also very enthusiastic about the benefits of BigChange vehicle tracking which not only helps operations and customer service but is being used help cut fuel use and monitor drivers.

Ben summed up:

“We have seen a significant improvement in driving and the driving performance reports are used as part of a monthly £100 performance bonus scheme.”

“Overall BigChange has streamlined the business and the whole process is much smoother. Probably the biggest benefit is the added visibility we now have and the automation provided by the system has helped to remove the human error element; the system gives us continuity and accountability.”

BigChange Gartec employee with tablet

BigChange: Briefly explain your background and industry experience.

Ross Moorlock: I joined the senior leadership team at Brake, the road safety charity, in September 2017 as Business Development Director and I am project lead for Brake’s Global Fleet Champions campaign; a not-for-profit global campaign to prevent crashes and reduce pollution caused by vehicles used for work purposes. Alongside my responsibilities at Brake, I also sit on the British Standards Institute’s Road Traffic Safety Committee which communicates the UK view into the development of international road safety standards. Prior to joining Brake I spent 10 years working in marketing and business development roles for a large international accountancy firm where I specialised in the not for profit sector.

BigChange: How long have you worked with Martin Port & BigChange.

Ross Moorlock: BigChange became a corporate partner at Brake back in 2017 and we were delighted to partner with them to launch their Leaders for Life campaign in September 2018.

BigChange: Why are you committed to being a leader for life? Why do you value improving road/driver safety?

Ross Moorlock: More than 1.3 million people die on the world’s roads every year. Many road deaths involve a vehicle being driven for work. The safe and sustainable operation of vehicles that move goods or people must be managed by business leaders through risk management and environmental practices. Leaders for Life is a fantastic initiative which helps senior employees to lead by example and promote safe driving behaviour to their employees. Brake is proud to support it.

BigChange: Why should other business and industry leaders participate in Leaders for Life/ road safety campaigns?

Ross Moorlock: At-work road crashes are a critical, but often unrecognised, safety problem for a lot of organisations. Road safety must be a priority for all employers with at work drivers, whether you’re an organisation managing a large HGV fleet or an SME with employees driving their own car for work. Prioritising the safe and healthy mobility of at-work drivers will also have positive flow-on effects for other road users, their families and communities. I encourage all business leaders to participate in the Leaders for Life campaign.

BigChange: Tell us a little bit about your background, how you got started in the industry and some of your most significant accomplishments?

Jordan Woods: I left school at the age of 13 and joined a Work-based Learning programme in Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC). After persuading Daniel Robinson, a Director at Industrial & Commercial Heating in Leeds, to let me work for free for a number of years I was finally they given an apprenticeship at 16. Without Daniel giving me that opportunity, I would never have got into the HVAC industry. It just wouldn’t have been a possibility. I was named Apprentice of the Year at college and went on to gain a degree in Mechanical Engineering (HVAC).

I was fortunate to launch Woods Building Maintenance nearly 8 years ago in 2011 after being made redundant in my previous position. I had a young family to support and times were tough. My first client was a plumbing job in Harrogate that made me a profit of £13. But I was determined to succeed and kept working hard to grow my business.

Within 7 years I was employing 35 people and had transformed Woods into a £1.5 million-revenue business. I sold Woods to B38 in November but have stayed on as Head of Operations, so for all intents and purposes, nothing has changed and I am still the driving force behind the business. I am also currently recruiting up to another 20 gas engineers, plumbers and electricians.

I consider the number of people I have employed as one of my most significant accomplishments, as well as hitting the one-million-pound turnover mark. Most companies don’t achieve this so early and it was a really big moment for me and the entire organisation.

BigChange: How has your relationship with BigChange enabled you to give over your experience to young businesses and entrepreneurs?

Jordan Woods:
 I am a young entrepreneur myself so for me it’s about being able to show young people that age is not a barrier to success. I truly feel that If you have a great idea and you have a real determination to succeed, then anything is possible.

Working with BigChange meant being mentored by its CEO Martin Port. Martin guided me in the early stages of my business and I found it extremely beneficial. I have learnt from his extensive business expertise and knowledge about strategy. It has shaped how I view our business and its potential growth. Having Martin’s support behind me has been really productive in navigating the common challenges our business has gone through to grow even stronger.

BigChange: Can you talk a little bit about your experience in Building Maintenance and how you have personally seen your industry evolve over the past 10+ years?

Jordan Woods: I was apprentice-trained from the industry and, as a direct result of starting so young, I now have nearly 20 years’ experience and knowledge in the HVAC industry. I have seen HVAC change from paper to digital and have been fortunate to have been part of that big change. Indeed, Woods Building Maintenance was one of the first companies in the UK HVAC industry to go fully paperless with BigChange back in 2012.

I’ve have also seen gas compliance change from CORGI to Gas Safe and witnessed how industry standards and enforcement have significantly increased because of this shift.

More worryingly, I have witnessed a massive reduction in apprenticeships. I think this is something the whole industry needs to address. We need to support apprenticeships again!

I also believe the government should get behind this and create incentives for companies to employ a percentage of apprentices in their business depending on their turnover and size.

BigChange: How has your time working at Woods Building Maintenance shaped your vision to be more globally aware and receptive to diverse customer needs?

Jordan Woods: On the question of diversity, I have always employed workers from diverse backgrounds. In my view, as long as they can do the job at hand and can drive the business forward, they are part of the team, no questions asked.

From a customer point of view, we are fully digital, so our clients are not getting mail and other paper post potentially lost through the letterbox.

We find we have better customer interaction with technology – and we can track our engineers and let our customers know when they will arrive.

As we are fully paperless, it also means we can do our part in saving the environment. It’s something we should all be doing and at Woods, we are always looking at ways to reduce our carbon footprint.

BigChange: What advice can you give to small and medium sized businesses trying to scale up operations?

Jordan Woods: My best piece of advice would be to ensure you have an excellent implementation team behind your mobile force. It’s great to win business and to have engineers to carry out the tasks at hand, but you need to be able to streamline all your processes and systems to suit the clients’ requirements.

One thing I have learned recently is that you should never be frightened of change. If one thing doesn’t work, just try something else. You will always find a solution, but if you’re not open to change, you will never succeed.

I would also advise business owners to surround themselves with people who are smarter than them. It’s so important to find the right people who want to help you grow your business and who want to help others succeed in their careers.

BigChange: What trends are most impacting your sector & how has Woods Building Maintenance taking steps to resolve and integrate these trends into your day to day operations?

Jordan Woods: I would say the most common trend in the industry is how engineers move about from company to company to company, before ending back at the first one they worked for. I have had conversations with so many other CEOs and Directors who all say the same.

In order to combat this and to retain the staff we train, we now carry out ‘exit interviews’ as a way of finding out why someone wants to leave and what we can learn from them about how we do things. Since doing this, our retention levels have dramatically increased.

We also get all of our staff to interact with each other more – so we get our engineers into the office to spend some time with our accounts and administrative staff and similarly the office staff have been going out into the field to see what our engineers do every day. By getting everyone to understand all aspects of the business and what issues each role may come up against, it makes for a much happier workplace which can only be good for business!

BigChange Woods vehicle

BigChange, the mobile workforce technology company, today announced that it has signed former England football captain and manager Kevin Keegan OBE as an ambassador and the first coach of its new club for entrepreneurs.

Keegan, who won 63 international caps for England and captained his country on 31 occasions before moving into football management, will play an active role in the BigChange Entrepreneurs’ Club, a new initiative from the company to help company owners develop their leadership skills and improve business performance.

Launched today, the Club provides a forum for the owners of organisations that work with BigChange to meet and discuss ideas with like-minded entrepreneurs once a quarter. Keegan will support BigChange’s efforts by providing leadership coaching and mentoring to members.

Keegan believes that his experience in top-flight football will inspire a premier level of performance among the Club’s members and help them achieve more business goals.

Kevin Keegan comments:

“Management in football is similar to business. You’ve got to get the best out of your people and you’ve got to keep delivering year after year. The companies that are successful are those where leaders are passionate about making progress, they want to see how far they can take their ideas and they inspire that passion and commitment among their people too. I see that passion at BigChange and I’m excited about working with the team and its customers. There’s a great buzz at BigChange, there’s a nice mix of youth and experience, and not only can I give something to help take the company forward, I can learn things here too.”

Martin Port, founder and CEO of BigChange, comments:

“Kevin Keegan is one of the most iconic world footballers of his generation and an inspiration to me. He has achieved a huge amount both on and off the field and we are delighted to have signed him to BigChange. There is an enormous amount that businesses can learn from his focus, passion and leadership experience. The entrepreneurs and business leaders we work with are progressive and ambitious, and I am looking forward to working with Kevin to help inspire them to reach an even greater level of performance.”

BigChange provides a pioneering mobile workforce management system used by over 1,000 organisations globally that combines CRM, smart job scheduling, vehicle tracking and a series of mobile applications to eliminate paper record keeping and automate many of the manual processes undertaken by mobile workers. Easy to use and install, BigChange provides a unique system and has disrupted a market that was dominated previously by enterprise players who sold almost exclusively to large corporates that could afford complex, lengthy and expensive implementations.

BigChange is a technology company, so many people assume that my colleagues and I come to work in jeans and a hoodie. We don’t. This isn’t the West Coast of the US and I am not an 18-year-old coder who lives on Huel and Pop Tarts.

In fact, I’m still a stickler for the suit. If any of my colleagues in sales or customer service are meeting clients or attending any kind of external meeting, I expect them to dress formally. A suit or smart outfit is mandatory; ties, for men, are optional.

Just one in 10 men now wear a suit to work, according to research by Travelodge. That’s an enormous shift from the 80s and 90s when every professional I knew wore one. This study said that 70pc of respondents felt more comfortable in their own clothes. I get it: suits are more confining than a t-shirt and chinos. But, in my opinion, it’s worth it for the gravitas that comes with wearing a suit.

I realise this may make me sound old-fashioned but I believe dressing smart is a way to show respect – respect for your customer, your company, and yourself. Things got a bit out of hand here recently when I realised people were wearing t-shirts and jumpers to meet customers. I don’t care if the person you are meeting runs a plumbing firm and turns up in overalls. You are my representative when you go to meetings and you will be suited and booted.

I am in the minority these days. The FT recently reported that even Goldman Sachs has relaxed its dress code, and allows its people to wear smart/casual attire.

It is getting harder and harder to police my dress code rules. Many of my colleagues aren’t based in the office full-time – they are on the road, selling. I’m thinking of asking every remote worker to submit a time-stamped selfie every morning to prove they are dressed to impress. Overkill? Sure I don’t mind if people wear smart casual clothes to work if they aren’t meeting clients… But then what about the times that last-minute meetings are scheduled? Or when you find yourself sitting opposite a prospect on the train and you’re in old jeans? That is just unacceptable.

‘Casual Friday’ is an American import and it looks like informal work attire is the latest trend that we’ve adopted from the US – but this isn’t America. Can you imagine if they relaxed the dress code at Wimbledon and allowed players to wear jogging bottoms in any colour? Those tennis whites denote professionalism and respect.

Am I the only one who still believes the suit belongs in the workplace? Let me know what you think, leave a comment below.


Martin Port
Founder & CEO

With the UK’s recent push to digitise the tax reporting process many questions have arisen as to how these changes will alter business as usual.

To better understand the tangible differences of the new Digital Tax process, BigChange has taken a deep dive into the UK’s aim to Make Tax Digital.

In this article we will better define:

  • Who is obligated to file digital tax returns? What is the timeframe of this implementation?
  • How can the digitalisation of tax records and invoicing (via BigChange) save your business time and money?
  • What industries or sectors will be impacted the most by the digitisation of the tax filing process?
  • How can the BigChange platform help my company integrate our existing invoicing and billing to comply with the Digital Tax record requirements?
  • How does Sage integration with the BigChange Platform to help your business run more effectively?
  • What records need to be submitted and maintained through the Making Tax Digital Process?
  • What is a Digital VAT Account, and what is required to update your information?

Q: Who is obligated to file digital tax returns? What is the timeframe of this implementation?

A: Most businesses with a turnover above the VAT threshold [currently £85,000] will be affected from April 2019, if they pay VAT. Niche and more complex businesses or organisations [around 3.5% of the total] have a postponed Making Tax Digital “MTD” start date of October 2019. Making Tax Digital for VAT has the force of law and is therefore mandatory. Outside of a handful of very unusual circumstances, you can’t opt out of MTD for VAT. In the UK, 89% of companies will have to alter the way they submit VAT.

Q: How can the digitalisation of tax records and invoicing (via JobWatch) save your business time and money?

A: On average a small-or-medium-size business can save 27.6 days a year by using digital accounting software in comparison to using manual methods, therefore giving you precious time back to focus on growing your business. An SME that uses digital accounting software can make an estimated saving of £17,000 per annum.

Digital accounting software seeks to further decrease your admin time, leaving you with more money to reinvest in your business. By automating submission, MTD will help businesses manage their tax affairs by alerting them before payment is due and keeping them on top of their tax liability. This will prevent payments from piling up and reduces the chance of error and incurring penalties.

Q: What industries or sectors will be impacted the most by the digitisation of the tax filing process?

A: The agricultural industry, Non-resident landlords, Medical practitioners and consultants operating clinics at several sites, Construction workers, Universal credit (UC).

Q: How can the BigChange platform help my company integrate our existing invoicing and billing to comply with the Digital Tax record requirements?

A: With ‘Making Tax Digital’ you’ll never have to enter the same information twice. You’ll have a real-time view of your tax, so you won’t be taken by surprise. As a Sage Platinum partner, we’re here to help all our customers towards being MTD ready. To make the process of reporting your tax digitally even easier, BigChange has created the JobWatch Sage 50 integration tool. It links the two systems together seamlessly, so data can be exchanged automatically.

Click HERE to learn more about the new Sage 50 integration tool.

Q: How does Sage integration with the BigChange Platform to help your business run more effectively?

A: Sage integration with the BigChange Platform:

  • Improves productivity and reduce double keying
  • Improves data quality and avoid inconsistencies
  • Increases cashflow and reduce invoicing delays
  • Reduces overall Sage costs, by sharing key data in JobWatch

Key financial data and transactions that occur in BigChange are automatically synced with Sage, including information on VAT collected or paid. This includes Sales Quotations, Purchase Orders, Sales Invoices and Receipts, as well as Credit Notes, Nominal Ledger codes and Department codes. BigChange’s integration tool has been written for Sage 50c Professional and is currently compatible with Sage 50 v24 and v25.

Q: What records need to be submitted and maintained through the Making Tax Digital Process?

A: Under MTD for VAT, businesses will be required to keep digital records and to file their VAT returns using functional compatible software. The four main categories of records to be kept digitally include; Designatory data, Supplies made, Supplies received & Digital VAT accounts.

Q: Could you explain in greater detail what is included in the Designatory data, Supplies made & Supplies received that must be kept digitally?

A: For Designatory data you will be required to have digital records including; Business name., the address of the principal place of business, VAT registration number, and a record of any VAT schemes used (such as the flat rate scheme).

A: For Supplies made you will be required to have digital records included for each supply made: Date of supply, Value of the supply & Rate of VAT charged. Outputs value for the VAT period split between standard rate, reduced rate, zero rate and outside the scope supplies must also be recorded. Multiple supplies made at the same time do not need to be recorded separately – it is sufficient to record the total value of supplies on each invoice or receipt that has the same time of supply and rate of VAT charged.

A: For Supplies received you will be required to have digital records included for each supply received: The date of supply, The value of the supply, including any VAT that cannot be reclaimed, The amount of input VAT to be reclaimed. If there is more than one supply on the invoice, it is sufficient just to record the invoice totals.

Q: What is a Digital VAT Account, and what is required to update your information?

A: The Digital VAT account links the business records and the VAT return. The VAT account must be maintained digitally, and the following information should be recorded digitally: The output tax owed on sales, The output tax owed on acquisitions from other EU member states, The tax that must be paid on behalf of suppliers under the reverse charge procedures, Any VAT that must be paid following a correction or an adjustment for an error, Any other adjustments required under the VAT rules.

In addition, to show the link between the input tax recorded in the business’ records and that reclaimed on the VAT return, the following must be recorded digitally: The input tax which can be reclaimed from business purchases, The input tax allowable on acquisitions from other EU member states, Any VAT that can be reclaimed following a correction or an adjustment for an error, Any other necessary adjustments.

For more info on how BigChange can help your organisation integrate with Sage accounting software, email us at info@bigchange.com

BigChange Sage making tax digital guide

Jobs are completed correctly when a company’s workflow process are followed. Technology can ensure that technicians follow safety and workflow process (risk assessments, method statements) without exception.

By mandating that workflow processes are followed for every project, maintenance request or service operation, workers improve their success rate.

With clear-cut directives outlining step by step directions (depending on your system this may also include uploading of images at each step to prove the protocol has been followed) technicians can focus on solving the issue at hand without the worry about missing vital safety, legal or maintenance requirements.

Through the use of management software, such as BigChange’s JobWatch, the back office can improve compliance of safety, operations, and legal procedures by upwards of 81%. In the end, drivers and technicians following all company policies- from servicing machinery to interacting with a customer- ensures the job will be done correctly, the first time, every time!!

Is Service Management software right for your business?

Traditional methods of managing mobile workforces rely upon a dizzying array of papers and phone calls; missed appointments and a problematic first-time fix rate. New fully mobile systems, like BigChange’s JobWatch, can significantly improve customer retention and satisfaction by improving communication between workers in the field and the back office.

Improved visibility between service staff and the back office reduces the time needed for manual administration, while improving the timeframe for scheduling and dispatch of team members to work sites.

For customers, the ability to track services and transaction history can drastically improve satisfaction rate. Bringing together technicians and managers with customers in one place enables everyone to do their jobs better. Saving time, money and making sure the job is done right.

Service Management software aims to optimise system-wide communication while organising customer data for project technicians and office managers. In creating a central hub for all aspects of the service operation- from customer calls to step by step servicing workflows- your business can;

  • Improve worker productivity
  • Decrease fuel costs
  • Increase customer satisfaction
  • Decrease overstocking
  • Ensure industry best safety standards are followed
  • Improve first-time fix rate
  • Simplify workflows and invoicing

If you’re looking to improve productivity and savings across the board you may want to seriously consider comprehensive service management systems, such as BigChange’s JobWatch with 5-in-1 functionality to streamline how your business operates.

To read the entire series please click Here for Part I & Part II

Meetings are a necessary evil. They take up a lot of time, and can be an excuse for people to talk a lot while saying very little. Yet they remain fundamental to keeping on top of your business’ performance. How else can you share important information with the people who are driving the company forwards?

I have spent a lot of time in meetings, and almost as much time trying to work out how to make meetings more effective. Finally, I think I’ve cracked it.

One of the greatest strengths and the most debilitating weaknesses of the modern age is our ability to collect data on anything and everything. This data is then poured into PowerPoint presentations and delivered, slide after slide, at management meetings.

I’ve lost count of the number of three-hour meetings I’ve sat through, as each person shares their KPIs or whatever other metric is the flavour of the month.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand how crucial it is to collect and analyse data. BigChange is built on the understanding that we will harness customers’ data and use those learnings to improve their efficiency and customer service. But there is a fine line between using data to make smart decisions, and letting data drown those decisions.

Time and time again I see data used as a smokescreen in meetings: a way to prove that someone is aware of a problem, while allowing them to avoid actually thinking of a solution. Individuals will come to a meeting with an agenda as long as my arm, listing 20, or 30, opportunities or problems. The following week, they’re back, touting the same list, with only one or two items completed, and another 10 to add to the pile.

It’s time to stop letting the data manage us and start managing the data.

I have come up with the solution.

1.Exceptional reporting

It is important to review the data but I’m not interested in hearing the numbers unless you’re presenting exceptions. To explain: when you review your bank statement, you’re not interested in the regular outgoings that don’t change month to month – rent, your morning coffee, etc. You are interested in the unusual activity. The big bills that were unexpected. Or the sudden boom in earnings. Those are the details you need to study in order to repeat or avoid a trend. As a business, I want to know if I’m not on forecast. I can’t rewrite the past so I need to know what I must do to avoid x, or make y happen, in the future. Department managers need to review the data and make sure the patient’s heart is beating at right rate, reporting only erratic behaviour.

2.Start the timer

Management meetings must last no longer than an hour. Any more than that and people’s eyes start to glaze over. By setting a time limit, we force everyone to be succinct and to prioritise the issues that are most important. If you don’t raise it in time, you are out of luck.

3.Slash the agenda

Everyone is allowed to promote a maximum of two ideas or things causing them pain. Those issues must be dealt with within an agreed period of time. You can’t raise the next issue until you’ve completed the outstanding tasks. Don’t bring five things to discuss at a meeting because it’s impossible to deal with that volume of problems at once. No company can do that. And then you see people returning with the same problem, again and again, like Groundhog Day. Teams only have a certain capacity to change each week or month, so you can’t hurl millions of ideas their way and expect them to instantly adapt anyway.

This new approach to meetings and data could have huge implications for BigChange. If you complete just one task a week, that’s 50 improvements to the company over the course of a year. That’s huge.

The team here is on board with this new approach and everyone is excited to see whether we can deliver some incredible results. Wish us luck – and share any of your data/meetings hacks in the comments below.


Martin Port
Founder & CEO

With the 5 in 1 system from Leeds-based BigChange, DFP has equipped its engineers with rugged tablets as part of a fully digital system connected in real time to the company’s national service centre in Durham. The paperless system has boosted efficiency, reduced administrative work and improved engineer productivity.

With origins in fire protection, DFP installs, services and maintains equipment operating a 24/7 planned and reactive services for gas, heating, plumbing and alarms. The company a major provider to services in the care home sector and with 30 percent annual growth, DFP was recently recognised as one of the top 50 growing businesses in the northeast of England.

The BigChange solution has completely replaced five other systems including systems for service management, vehicle tracking and certification. JobWatch now handles everything from the original services request through to invoicing; jobs are now booked, allocated and managed with the system which allows DFP engineers to operate independently around the clock.

Heather Taylor, Commercial Manager at DFP, says:

“Managing a 24 hour service has always been difficult out of hours but with JobWatch we can always see what is going on and deal with things such as emergencies by simply accessing the system from our mobiles,”

“Also engineers manage everything from their devices so it means they can work fairly independently. Without having to rely on the office so much they can get on with their work; that has boosted productivity and job satisfaction.”

The company employs 45 engineers and 76 staff. The fleet comprises mainly Ford Transit with a few Mitsibishi L200 pick-ups; all fitted with BigChange trackers and tablet cradles for navigation and communication on route. As well as reporting, the tablets are useful for taking photographs of work done and relative state of the site on arrival and on departure.

Jon Paul Seed, Managing Director at DFP Services, says:

“BigChange provides a number of key operational and business benefits. Always knowing what is going on is of course really helpful but so is the management information and traceability that the system offers,”

“We can now review the business properly and Big Data reports allow us to drill-down by customer, by engineer and any other criteria so we can accurately assess performance and profitability. We simply couldn’t do this before.”

Due to the nature of their work certification is vitally important with the BigChange automated certificates have been introduced. Previously certificates were issued with invoices and that could be a week later. Certificates have to be provided for everything from gas safety, fire alarms, emergency lighting and fire extinguisher, with often multiple certificates in each area.

The fact that BigChange is web based is providing other significant benefits as Taylor explains:

“We have just opened an office in Leeds and because BigChange is a cloud solution setting up the office was really easy. IT-wise we were up and running pretty much instantly; connected and fully synchronised to a single system. That was a real revelation and BigChange gives us the flexibility to expand freely and nationally in the future.”

The digitisation is also helping DFP expand the business as within tenders there is often request for an online portal and the provision of electronic documentation/certificates.

Taylor, says:

“The system has been a real help for Bid writing as now we can provide exactly what customers want; we can now tick every box. BigChange means we are no longer restricted as we can offer everything the customer needs. It is especially useful when we need to show we can provide things like customer feedback or an online portal, plus it helps us comply with our ISO 1401 certification for paperless working. All in all BigChange has proved brilliant for competing tenders.”

DFP is also seeing big benefits from the move to the cloud and apart from the obvious benefits of an always-on, accessible-anywhere system, the company found it invaluable for business expansion.

At BigChange we stand strong in promoting safe driving and greater accountability for business & community leaders to improve road safety.

We feel the that setting a good example for our customers, employees and the community starts at the top.

That’s why we’ve partnered with, Brake the Road Safety Charity and Transaid – Road Safety in Africa, as part of our corporate and social responsibility campaign “Leaders for Life”.

Leaders for Life brings together a group of influential and inspirational CEOs and senior executives who together will create a ‘movement for good’ through raising awareness of the importance of road safety and highlighting this in the workplace by sharing their own driving habits transparently.

This month’s winner of most improved driver goes to Alan Letford, Head of Customer Care, Bobst UK and Ireland. We recently got the chance to sit down with Alan to talk about the impact the Leaders for Life program has made on his driving habits. We couldn’t be prouder of Alan’s commitment to safe driving and Bobst UK’s desire to partner with BigChange on improving road safety and driver behaviour.

BigChange: Briefly explain your background and industry experience.

Alan Letford: I have worked in the packaging industry for almost 43 years, beginning my career at Metal Box, Liverpool, in 1976. Whilst there, I completed a recognised apprenticeship in engineering. As Metal Box was a large packaging company, with sites all around the UK and Europe, I worked in both the tin and paper printing divisions and gained significant experience.

BigChange: How long have you worked with BigChange?

Alan Letford: I first met with Martin when he was leading his first telematics company, specialising in vehicle tracking. I’ve known him for approximately 10 years. With BigChange, we began a programme to move employees from paper to electronic worksheets. We are currently the only BOBST site to have an app to record worksheet information, driver behaviour, expenses and CRM all on one mobile device.

BigChange: How has BigChange impacted your business?

Alan Letford: As one of the first customers to work with Big Change in the early days, BOBST has helped to develop the app, and Big Change helped us to introduce real-time data capture. The ability to capture reporting of all hours, expenses, measurable improvements and safety records of machinery in real time has increased the efficiency of several processes within the company.

BigChange: Why are you committed to being a leader for life? Why do you value improving road/ driver safety?

BOBST logo

Alan Letford: As part of my responsibilities as the Head of Customer Care at Bobst UK & Ireland, I also oversee health and safety and I see myself as an important role model to others, especially fleet drivers. As such, I take this responsibility very seriously.

With more than 31 years’ experience working at BOBST, I have driven thousands of miles on the roads and have unfortunately witnessed road traffic incidents almost daily. I believe the importance of any road safety campaign cannot be underestimated.

If driver behaviour is measurable then we all have a collective responsibility to send the message that we are serious about this subject.

BigChange: Why should other business and industry leaders participate in Leaders for Life/ road safety campaigns?

Alan Letford: If any company or business is taking health and safety seriously, then safe driving awareness must be put at the heart of the business strategy. Initiatives like this help raise awareness plus money for two recognised road safety charities, Brake and Transaid. Other leaders should participate to create a ‘movement for good’ to increase awareness of the importance of road safety.

In honour of Alan’s achievement BigChange will be making a donation of £500 to Brake and £500 to Transaid on his behalf. For more information on how you can become a leader for life, please visit https://www.bigchange.com/leadersforlife/

Leaders for Life logo
About BOBST

One of the world’s leading suppliers of equipment and services to packaging and label manufacturers in the folding carton, corrugated board and flexible materials industries. Founded in 1890 by Joseph Bobst in Lausanne, Switzerland, BOBST has a presence in more than 50 countries, runs 14 production facilities in 8 countries and employs close to 5400 people around the world. To find out more, please visit www.bobst.com

GasTech, the nationwide supplier of heating and cooling systems and services has deployed the latest mobile technology as part of a new cloud-based management system.

GasTech engineers have been equipped with rugged tablets that are connected in the real time to central management systems; part of a 5 in 1 solution from BigChange.

GasTech supply, install and service heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems for commercial and industrial premises across the UK. Operating 24 hours, 7 days a week services, the BigChange technology has revolutionised GasTech’s business by eliminating paperwork and providing live operational information for improved control, productivity and service.

With headquarters near Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, GasTech was first established in 2005. Prior to implementing BigChange, GasTech used a PDF-based system for completing engineer reports and forms but it did not provide data or any tracking and gathering reports was proving time-consuming and inefficient.

Craig Firth, Director at GasTech says:

“With our growing workload we knew we needed to completely change the way we managed our service operations and in particular we needed to reduce the time engineers spent filling out forms,”

Craig continued:

“We undertook extensive research into the available systems on the market and it was clear that BigChange was very easy to use and would take away the administrative headaches from engineers so they could be more productive.”

JobWatch is used by engineers for everything from risk assessments to method statements, procedures, boiler and appliance manuals, job cards, quotations. It allows engineers to manage their work themselves knowing that the central office system will always be fully synchronised, whether night or day.

The GasTech fleet is equipped with BigChange vehicle tracking which provides useful real-time data for customer services and historic records for management analysis and proof of service. GasTech engineers also have immediate access to useful data such as the customer history with records of previous work on site and they can also see what parts are available throughout the company, including stock held on other vans.

Craig added:

“With BigChange we have a real-time paperless solution and there are significant benefits especially in the reduction of administrative work. We no longer have to chase engineers for their reports, everything is immediately available,”

“For customer service, the system is very helpful. It allows us to provide a smooth, seamless service and little features like automated text messages telling customers that an engineer is about to arrive are really great.”

GasTech also appreciates the benefits of fast and accurate invoicing, reducing disputes and the ability to raise quotations in an instant is proving really useful. This allows the company to get quick agreement for any additional remedial work while the engineer is already on site.

Final thoughts:

“With BigChange we are simply more efficient and professional. Jobs can be scheduled off a phone or tablet in an instant and when extra work is needed on site it used to take up to a week to get together a quote for additional work. By then the engineer may have been long gone. Now we can get a quote issued the same day,”

BigChange Gastech office and tablet

Workforce management today requires a complicated balancing act.

Attempting to coordinate a dizzying array of workers and service contractors with job assignments as they develop in real time can often prove to be an exhausting process. Within the highly competitive service sectors that you operate in, every edge is needed to build customer satisfaction and loyalty.

In practice, by providing the best service experience and expanding organizational transparency, customers will be more likely to buy your product or service. The question then becomes:

What tools can help your business improve customer experience and save you money in the process?

In bringing together back-office CRM, work order management and job scheduling, together with fleet and workforce tracking, invoicing, parts and the compilation of long-term transaction histories, mobile workforce management software can significantly simplify how your business operates.

Through the centralization of worker logs and customer data, the back office is able to more effectively communicate with customers and contractors, ensuring service standards are followed.

How can Service Management Software save you money?

Business management platforms, such as BigChange’s JobWatch, can save your business money in 3 critical areas.

  • Contractor, Technician and Vehicle tracking
  • In the Back office
  • First-time fix rate & Improving Customer Satisfaction

Contractor/ Technician tracking

The lifeblood of any service business is its technicians. Through the effective management and tracking of technicians, a business is able to better assign tasks, provide essential inventory and inform the end customer of any unexpected delays or complications.

The best manner to support the essential tasks of; scheduling, routing and organising contractors as well as maintaining adequate inventory, fuel consumption records and mandatory maintenance requirements is a mobile workforce management platform.

According to Gartner, “by 2019 more than 70% of Field Service Organisations will equip field technicians with a mobile application that drives profitability.” With the implementation of dynamic workforce management software, such as BigChange’s JobWatch, drivers & technicians are able to accurately manage a range of service situations with ease.

Service management platforms can provide live Satellite Navigation (SatNav) which better directs drivers to the worksite, decreasing fuel costs and unneeded travel time. Whilst real-time alerts and courtesy text messages can keep customers informed in the case of a service delay.

Through effective communication and detailed travel logs, customers receive the best contractor for their needs while the technician is absolved of the often lengthy paper trail which was previously obligatory of most service calls and jobs.

Though the use of BigChange’s JobWatch Platform technicians are able to complete (on average) four extra jobs per month while reducing fuel costs by 10%.

We’re harnessing our network of experts, thought leaders and industry professionals to bring you invaluable insights into the trends and industry related issues that impact your bottom line!

To start this series off, were particularly excited to introduce Steve Herbert. Steve is a seasoned and influential Service industry expert with extensive General Management and Programme Management experience within the UK and around the globe. In the coming weeks and months, Steve will be helping to answer some of your most frequently asked questions and share some of his battle-tested experiences amongst the BigChange Network.

BigChange: Tell us a little bit about your background, how you got started in the industry and some of your most significant accomplishments?

Steve Herbert: I am a TV engineer by trade and I worked in that industry for 10-12 years. When I decided to shift into a position that was more economically viable long term I looked into management positions.

I got my start working in the TV and VCR rental industry (if you even remember such a thing?) and I was blessed to become very successful in it. At my peak in the retail industry, I was responsible for 3 branches as a service manager. Eventually, I became a regional project manager in the US.

At the time it was great, I was rising in the business however the retail rental business was losing relevancy so I looked for a different sector to utilise my skills.
Dixons logoI joined Dixons, as a regional support manager in their service business, then shifted into the distribution side of the business. After a lot of hard work, I rose in Dixons to become the director for the entire UK and Ireland operations and joined their board of directors. With Dixons, I relocated to Russia, in order to manage the soon-to-be-acquired El Dorado company for $1 billion.

In Russia, I managed 29 warehouses and often dealt with Russia’s notorious & very strategically different conditions. When Dixons pulled out of the acquisition, I moved on to join HomeServe, the fast-growing provider of Home emergency plumbing and maintenance services.
Overall, in each of these opportunities, I had positive and meaningful experiences with all involved and it really helped to shape how I do business today.

BigChange: How has your relationship with BigChange enabled you to give over your experience to young businesses and entrepreneurs?

I met (BigChange CEO & Founder) Martin Port, in his previous business, when Dixons was using their GPS tracking system, and we’ve been friends ever since. I’ve been honoured to watch as Martin succeeded with his telematics business and has grown to new levels of achievement with BigChange; building a fabulous product and business.

I’ve always taken the view, that if my job involved people on an operational level, then I could do it. I have a talent for problem-solving. If I see something that doesn’t work, then quickly I can find solutions. Operations is something I’ve always excelled at. I’m a practical and logical person. And I’m a worrier. I’ve made a career in problem-solving so my partnership with BigChange was really a logical progression.

Homeserve logo

After I left HomeServe, I wanted to go out on my own. I set up my own consultancy to leverage my industry experience and make an impact on developing businesses. After this, Martin started to lean on me to help and advise young emerging talent with upward potential. It’s mostly a word of mouth operation but it’s been really meaningful and exciting to share the lessons that I’ve learned in the trenches.

BigChange: How has your time spent working in Russia, Europe & the US shaped your vision to think more globally and be aware and receptive to customer needs?

Steve Herbert: We live in a very demanding world in every respect. The pace of life and expectations of people in affluent countries is very intense. Where expectations of life have been inflated, you must readjust and in-the-end respond to evolving trends. If you’re not always keeping up with these trends and customer demands, you can’t be successful. I’ve been privileged to see it first hand in a number of different places that those companies who are not looking outside, not looking to different markets and broader technological and human resources trends, get left in the dust.
BigChange globe logo

History is littered with companies who didn’t evolve: look at Blockbuster or the TV rental business!

If you don’t change with trends and embrace the reality on the ground, you will fail and I’ve seen it in every place I’ve worked. For example, Russia is a very challenging environment which cannot be changed. You have to work within the system because that’s how you will reach your goals. Similarly, look at the pace of life and priorities of Mediterranean countries and it really can change your world view. You have to fit cultural norms to maximise productivity.

BigChange: What advice can you give over to small to medium size business owners trying to scale up operations?

Steve Herbert: Make good use of your time. I’m not a relaxed person. I can’t sit still and do nothing. I have to have a project and I always have a plan and this is critical. Having direction and staying focused keeps your moving forward.

Additionally, I think that accepting people for who they are is huge. Changing people is futile. You can help them to realise their potential but you have to understand that your collective differences aren’t a reason for value judgement. Also, it is very important that you integrate technical advancements into how you operate but not at the cost of customer service and personal relationships. Use your time and resources pragmatically.

Steve Herbert will be one of our rotating experts and thought leaders providing his experiences and guidance in a monthly series we’re calling ‘Ask Steve’, where Steve leverages his understanding to help your business work more efficiently.

At BigChange we believe in the power of collaboration, which is why we have launched the BigChange Collaboration Network.

To commemorate the launch of the network, we’ve teamed up with Collaboration Expert and author Paul Skinner whose new book “Collaborative Advantage” questions how collaboration can beat competition as a strategy for success.

We asked Paul why he wrote his book and for his thoughts on the importance of collaboration for our clients. Plus we have 10 signed copies of his book to give away (see details at the end of the article).

Here is what he had to say:

BigChange: What if the most important thing you had to do to grow your business this year was not to compete but to collaborate?

Paul Skinner: We tend to think of competition and cooperation as equal and opposite. They are however certainly not equal. Cooperation is a bigger idea than competition because when we compete we are using our own resources, but when we cooperate we can access the relatively unlimited resources that lie outside the bounds of our particular business.

And they are not opposites either: competition can itself be seen as a particular form of cooperation in which we agree to play the same game. And of course, in business, we rarely want to play the same game as other firms. The greatest value is unlocked when we bring something to market so unique it makes the notion of competition irrelevant.

In today’s environment, one thing I propose we can’t afford to do is to step back in our capacity to cooperate.

We frequently face such uncertainty that we can only really cope when we forge common purpose with others addressing similar challenges to ourselves.

We can only optimise productivity by learning more quickly from the world outside the business as well as across teams, functions and territories inside the business. The percentage of the world’s knowledge that any of us can hold inside our own mind is diminishing by the second and we are each affected every day in ways we don’t know, by actions we can’t see and by technologies none of us can individually fully understand, so we need to get better at working with others.

And with the potential for a further global downturn on the horizon, while every CEO wants to achieve more, many CFOs would still like us to spend less, so we need to get better at making better use of shared resources, avoiding the duplication of efforts and unlocking the fullest value of every investment.

Observations such as these led me to the questions that inspired my book:

  • How can we grow our businesses more quickly, by better accessing the resource, energy, and influence of all our stakeholders?
  • How can we better address social challenges by more strongly harnessing our collective agency and in particular by better enabling the groups we wish to support to actively help themselves?
  • What kinds of methods and techniques can help leaders to better mobilise around shared purpose across and beyond the business?

The winning formula for business today has to be less the ‘survival of the fittest’ than the ‘survival of the friendliest’; less through the creation of Competitive Advantage and more through the creation of Collaborative Advantage.

In transport, new forms of cooperation could make the difference in the years ahead between increasing gridlock or a phase transition towards digitally enabled greener modes of more efficient travel.

In construction and maintenance, this could mean the difference between today’s flat-lining productivity and the application of breakthrough technology in the hands of a safer, smarter workforce.

In mobile workforce management, it could mean the difference between staff who are disconnected and disempowered and the acceleration that comes from remote teams empowered to learn and work as one.

Through my advisory firm the Agency of the Future and my social enterprise Pimp My Cause, I have been involved in creating Collaborative Advantage for everything from entrepreneurial ventures to some of the biggest businesses in the world as well as across a diverse range of social and environmental issues from how to better adapt to the needs and capabilities of ageing populations to how to tackle climate change. One thing these experiences have convinced me of more than ever is that the best answers lie in the spaces between us.

What could you achieve with more of the world’s available support on your side?

For your signed copy, please like our page on social media and share this link and you will be automatically entered.

If you’d like to build your own Collaborative Advantage, consider using our platform the BigChange Collaboration Network to seamlessly allocate and manage jobs through external partners, bringing scale within access to the touch of a screen.

BigChange

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