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Job sheets, whiteboards, clipboards, filing cabinets … these are the communication and information storage tools of old-fashioned, inefficient small businesses. For owners and managers of trades and services companies who are only familiar with these traditional ways of working, and systems that may have been used for decades, it can seem like a difficult task to move to modern, cloud-based job management software.

It’s only natural that people tend to resist technological change. It can be hard to explain why processes that have worked for years are no longer relevant.

It’s only natural that people tend to resist technological change. It can be hard to explain why processes that have worked for years are no longer relevant. Even when faced with irrefutable evidence that cost-effective, easy-to-use, mobile software will save a business time, energy and money, managers prefer to defer the decision until “the right time” comes along.

For some businesses, the right time never seems to arrive. Managers and workers might be too busy just getting things done to have the chance to look for better alternatives. Often it’s difficult to make a decision when so many options are available. For others, the very thought of adopting something that’s new (or untried at their workplace) is the issue. For them, the words of US designer and engineer Bran Ferren ring true: “Technology is a word that describes something that doesn’t work yet.” They see any new thing as just another problem that must be overcome.

A good field service management system is not only easy to set-up, it offers infinite advantages over traditional paper-based methods. The key benefit is that it allows end-to-end job management.

A good field service management system is not only easy to set-up, it offers infinite advantages over traditional paper-based methods. The key benefit is that it allows end-to-end job management. Customers can request a job and the business can easily view its field staff schedules and locations. It can allocate the job to the right mobile worker, and provide all relevant information immediately. Once onsite, a worker can take notes and photos – sharing them with staff back at base in real time – and collect signatures and payment when the job’s over.

Excellent mobile job management software drives efficiency by safely storing customer information and field staff information and making it available everywhere, at all times. Job details aren’t lost because of misplaced written messages, unmarked manila folders and locked filing cabinets. It saves businesses time, by eliminating or reducing manual processes, and supports occupational health and safety (OH&S) needs by keeping track of their field staff. It is available offline, too, for times when field workers aren’t connected to the internet.

Getting started

So what should trades and services businesses do to prepare for the move to cloud-based mobile job management software? The first thing they need to do is prepare their staff for the transition, says GeoOp’s Chief Revenue Officer Rhonda Robati, who has more than 25 years’ experience in the software and services industry.

“Change management is the greatest detractor of successful deployment,” says Rhonda Robati, GeoOp’s Chief Revenue Officer.

“Change management is the greatest detractor of successful deployment,” Robati says. “To ensure business owners maximise their investment in new software, they should invest in up-front training. This will help field workers and admin workers embrace change and make the most of the application.”

She says that staff with mobile devices carrying the latest operating system can be set-up easily with mobile job management software. Businesses only need to plug in basic information to get started. “Your existing customer information should be added to the application,” she says. “When an existing customer connects, their information is on hand and a new job can be created and assigned immediately.”

Depending on the type of business, Robati says other set-up essentials are parts and labour charges, user profiles and permissions for field workers, and details of recurring jobs. A reputable software company is often able to help with this task. GeoOp, for instance, can take a company’s data files and load them into its software.

Job ready in six hours

Robati says a small business can be ready to use mobile job management software within six hours. “Realistically, a business with 50 users can be set up and trained to use the software within one or two days,” she says. “This is typically two half-days of onsite training, with admin included.”

She suggests any company looking to integrate other business software should do this after the field service management software has been rolled out to all users. “It’s an easy-to-use system focused on executing job scheduling efficiently,” she says. “I think it’s important to set up customers and jobs is the first phase and then move to potential accounting integrations, such as Xero.”

The key to a successful transition is keeping staff informed about the benefits of the new technology.

Robati says the key to a successful transition is keeping staff informed about the benefits of the new technology – not only for the business but for their workers on the road, too. “OH&S is critical, so knowing where people are improves overall safety,” she says. “It also means jobs can be allocated quickly to the nearest field worker.

“We recommend businesses undertake training in the new software because we know many field staff are not familiar with technology. We can also show them how they can get more time back in their day.”