outsourced labour in workflow

FieldMotion’s field service management software can send jobs to outsourced workers, including customer information and form fields. This means that your outsourcers fill in your form, and that is sent back to you as the outsourcing company.

As a bonus, we also tie the outsourcing into workflow. When an outsourcer marks a job completed, the job data is sent back to you, and your onComplete workflow can then do whatever you want – send emails to yourself or the client, create new jobs, etc. Field service job management software lets you decide for yourself what happens when a job is finished.

When a job is created through workflow, it is usually assigned to either no-one, or one of your own users.

We added that you can now have it that if an outsourcer marks a job completed, you can automatically assign a new job to them.

For example, let’s say you’ve got a job to go fix a boiler which should be followed up a few weeks later with a checkup, but you want to outsource it to someone not in your company.

With the new field service engineer management software feature, you can now assign a job to an outsourcer, and set it that when the outsourcer completes the job, the data will be sent back to your own company, and then a new one will be created and automatically assigned to the same outsourcer.

workflow in customer relationship management software

This week is mostly about adding workflow to our customer relationship management software.

The “customer journey” describes how a customer changes from being a lead, through its various possible other labels. There is no real end-point to the journey – a signed customer might become a re-sign, etc, a canceled customer might eventually become a lead again.

In our system, you can define what customer types are possible “next steps” in the journey, ensuring that your managers don’t accidentally update a lead immediately to a re-sign, for example. Of course, each of these labels is completely customisable by yourself, so you can name them whatever you want, add as many as you want, etc.

When you set up a customer type, it is set by default that any customer with that type can be changed to any other afterwards. But, you can reset this so that customer with that type can only be moved onwards to set other ones. For example, a customer with “Signed” status should not movable to “Qualified” or “Lead”.

Another thing we’ve added is that when a customer is moved onto a specific customer type, a templated email can be automatically sent out to them. For example, if you have just signed someone up to your product, you might want to automatically send out a welcome email with a list of instructional documents and videos. Combining this week’s work with the email template work described last week, you can choose what emails should be sent, and design those up however you want.

In a way, this is like the workflow that happens in field service management software – when a customer reaches a point where you need to change how to label them, there are usually a restricted set of ways forward (which types they can be changed to), and a number of associated messages that need to be sent out.

Prettying your email templates in Field Motion

FieldMotion field service management software has many parts to it which generate and send emails. Up until now, we’ve kept the design of those emails to be very bare-bones, but over the last few weeks, we took it upon ourselves to add a personalised touch to the emails, making sure the paperless forms of your corporate letters look just like the printed forms.

We added a configuration page for creating email templates, in which you can design the emails as if you were creating a document in Word. You can add images, tables, etc. This lets you create your corporate letter-head feel for the emails. Dragging the office look into paperless mobile forms!

You can set one of those template to be the site default. When an email is being sent, this template will be chosen if no other is already set.

In the Forms section, you can set specific templates for each Form type. So, if you just finished a task in your job management app and an inspection report to send off, you can make the email look different than a time-sheet report, let’s say.

As an example, here’s one I just generated for testing purposes (image on right – click to view):

Pretty, right?

Because emails are part of any workflow management software and you won’t be manually sending every email that your customers receive, it’s important that you have some measure of control over how they look.

If you want a demo of FieldMotion’s features, contact us and we’ll be happy to arrange it!

Tracking your mobile workers in FieldMotion

FieldMotion’s field worker software automatically adds some geolocation data onto important events in order to allow measurement of distance traveled by the mobile workers, estimation of time to the next job (etc), or even just so the person in the office knows what field workers are near a job in order to be assigned it.

When a signature is take, the time and location is recorded. This is important, because a signature is a record of authenticity, so it is good to be able to verify not just that the recorded signature matches a person’s paper signature, but also that the person and the mobile worker were at a specific place at a specific time.

Photographs are datetime/location stamped in the field worker app as well, so we can say that a specific photo was taken at a definite time and location. For example, you will sometimes want the mobile worker software to verify that a photo was taken before or after a certain time or event, or that it was at a specific location. An example might be the taking a photo of a delivered asset, in order to verify when and where it was delivered.

We also stamp the events when you say you are on to way to a job, have started a job, or are completing the job. From a financial point of view, this is valuable information, as it allows the accountants to charge accurately for distance travelled and to figure out the mobile worker’s allowance, and allows the managers to manage field workers based on current locations.

In the office part of the field engineer management software, we encourage the managers to record the location of customers because it lets us set up route optimisation for the fieldworker, using our dynamic scheduler software.

Forms on Mobile Devices

Mostly when describing what we do, we’ve talked about the industry itself, “field service management”, but when you get right down into the details, what we’re mostly working on is putting forms on mobile devices so that engineers can fill in their report data easily in a digital manner so it doesn’t need to be done twice – once by the engineer in a notebook, and again by a clerk in the office through data entry. FieldMotion is mobile forms software.

Some mobile field solutions companies offer specific forms for mobile devices (such as the Fire Safety industry’s “Pas 79 2016”), and reports for those specific forms. However, this is a very constrained way of working – if you need to track further information related to the job, you are then forced to write it in a notebook, which is exactly what we’re trying to get a way from.

Instead, we offer the ability to create mobile forms custom to your needs. Whatever questions you need answered, you simply create a form that includes that question. And you then can either tailor your report to include the answer, or you can even have the information forwarded into a follow-up form and report.

A big part of form design for the mobile office is that the engineer must not wade through pages after pages of questions, when they are looking for a specific question. Instead, we offer two solutions – forms can be broken down into expandable sections (you just see the header, until you expand it), and we can also hide questions or sections depending on what’s already been answered.

image source

New features in the Dynamic Scheduler

This week, we concentrated on development of one of our flagship features – the dynamic scheduler.

The dynamic scheduler is a field service scheduling software tool that lets you automatically assign jobs to your engineers. It tries to find the shortest route in order to finish the jobs, based on a number of criteria.

The field scheduling software can set your jobs so that they require that your engineers have specific skills. You can set work hours for the engineers so they are not assigned jobs in the middle of the night or weekend. You can “stick” some jobs so they must be done at specific times.

The work this week was on enhancing the job scheduling software so it has additional new features. You can now:

Set work-days and hours for your engineers. Previously, it was hard-coded that jobs would be assigned Monday-to-Friday, 9 to 5, and anything outside those hours would be heavily discouraged by the heuristic. You can now set “shifts” for your engineers, and specific work-days.

Set daily end-points for your jobs. Previously, the routes would be calculated from a “work-base” (for example, the engineer’s home) and radiate outwards from there, but there was no guarantee that the routes would lead the engineer back home at the end of the day. Because European law says that field-workers need to be paid for the hours it takes to get to/from work, this means some routes could end up with the company paying overtime as the engineer simply drives home from the last job of the day. The route planner now designs the routes so that routes end up every day at the work base. Basically, routes are loops now where they were previously strings.

The system would try its best to stop at 8 hours in a day. But if jobs are four hours each and there is 30 minutes travel between them, this could cause the planner to assign just one job per day. We have added in overtime rules to allow the planner to assign jobs that might stretch the daily work hours a bit.

We have also added a new feature to allow you to add any overdue jobs to the pool of jobs being scheduled. So you can say “I want to schedule jobs assigned between Tuesday and Friday, and put any overdue jobs into that mix as well”. With pest control scheduling software, you don’t want to have to wait too long for a job to be rescheduled, if it has already been put off once.

Some jobs require that a specific engineer do them. Maybe the customer likes the engineer, or they have specific knowledge of the job. You can now “stick” a user to a job so the scheduler doesn’t try assign the job to someone else. this is particularly useful in service industry scheduling software where the product being services is unique.

how to: paperless office

We created an online savings calculator a few years ago which calculates how much money you can save by going paperless with our field service management software.

It measures a few important metrics, but I think one of the most metrics is how much time is spent filling in documents, and the cost in paper for these.

In a traditional services company, the engineer goes to the office to get the orders for the day, fills in reports when out on the job using notepads, and then returns to the office with those filled notepads to have the details re-typed by a clerk. One company I worked with literally had shelved rooms with boxes on each shelf, each filled with notepads of reports.

Apart from the cost of those notepads (minor) and the cost of storage (grows year by year), the biggest issue here is that a notepad that sits in a box in a room is not readable by the customer or by the engineer. If you go visit that customer again and need to recap on what was done last time, you need to dig out that notepad.

And so companies invest in clerks whose major role is to retype those notepad reports into a digital format that can be stored in a database or folder of documents, and emailed out to the engineer or customer when requested.

The cost of a clerk is prohibitive – why are you paying someone to type up something which has already been written?

With service management software, the report is filled in on an app, using your mobile device, such as an Android or iOS phone or tablet. Because the information is stored digitally, there is no need to retype it. Simply take the information from the phone and store it in the database!

The next waste of paper is with the reports that you send to your customers. Do they really need a typed report? Most companies these days are perfectly happy to accept digital copies of your reports, which they can store in their own databases, and which can easily be regenerated by yourself if the customer loses their copy.

A clerk is traditionally needed in order to create these reports, as the format that an engineer writes in may not be readable to your customer. And a report can run for 60 pages or more, such as the PAS 79 2016 form used in fire risk assessment.

With field service software, though, the information can be entered into the mobile device in one format, and neatened up and output in another format automatically when it comes time to send the report.

With FieldMotion, we completely automate the process – the engineer fills in the details of their report as they work, and then when they have the customer signatures entered (again, using the mobile device), they mark the job complete, the report is automatically created by the workflow management software, and the customer has the report in their inbox within minutes of the job being done.

With our own office, it has gotten to the point that when I needed to draw something up to illustrate a point to one of my programmers, I had to go search for paper, and then had to go search for a pen afterwards.

Paperless office solutions such as FieldMotion not only reduce the storage requirements (and associated fire risk) in your office, but also speed up your job to the point that we have one testimonial which states “The best was when we measured from receiving a call – job to engineer- job completed- job invoiced took 25 mins in total – never known before within our company!”

Why certification is important

We’re working through certification at the moment for some ISO standards and some computer security standards, in order to prove to ourselves and our service management software clients that we’re doing everything correctly and by the book. At first, we were exasperated at the need for these things, but there are really important reasons why certifications are necessary, as I’m sure you are already aware!

It’s not good enough us saying “your data is safe with us”. Anyone could say that. But if you are to use our service, you would be much happier to hear that a third-party who has no reason to lie has assessed our business and pronounced it safe.

A lot of our risk assessment software clients are risk assessors for the fire industry, or inspectors for pest control. In those industries, it is important for their customers to be able to point to their certificates and say “We were inspected by independent experts, and pronounced up to standard”. This is especially important when you watch the news and realise what can go wrong if you’re not up to standard. The recent fire in London’s Grenfell Tower is an example. An example certification in the fire risk assessment industry is the PAS 79 2016, which we do as standard in our fire risk assessment software.

Our own industry involves data management and data security, so we spend a lot of time working on security. We use vulnerability checkers such as Nessus and Metasploit in order to find issues in our workflow management software that might already be known about elsewhere, and we use penetration testers to find the issues that software can’t find.

Of course, it’s not enough to simply say “I tested my software and it is secure”, which is why we deliberately hired penetration testers (good hackers) to try break into our systems. So far, not a single crack in our wall has been found.

Our fire safety and pest control software clients provide certification of a different and probably more vital importance – if you go to a restaurant, you want to know that the restaurant has been inspected by a pest control company and does not have bugs or rodents walking all over the food. And if you live in a house or work in a building (which you probably do), then you would like to know that the building has been inspected by a reputable third-party fire and risk assessment company and found to be safe.

There are advantages to choosing certification companies that use FieldMotion. We have proven over and over that we can cut down on the time it takes for an inspector to finish their inspection and write up their documentation. And, because everything done through FieldMotion is recorded digitally, there is an easy-to-search history of everything that your inspection company has ever done relating to your property.

Also, because we provide our job management software clients with “customer portals”, which allow their customers to click in and see all work relating to them, it is possible that you’ll have your certification printed and placed on your wall within minutes of the engineer finishing the inspection.