Have you ever held on to a pair of running shoes much too long? They’re comfortable, they’re familiar and, besides, you’re just too busy to get along to the shoe shop and find yourself a new pair? But you know deep down that you really should. Shoe design improves all the time, your old shoes may be comfy but they’re really not giving you the support you need anymore.
Field service operations can be a bit like that, with tools still being used that are past their ‘best by’ date. If you’re still relying on spreadsheets like Excel, there are some compelling reasons for you to ditch them once and for all.
There is a fundamental problem with using a spreadsheet to keep track of work orders and this is that it requires human input to manually update job statuses. This means the spreadsheet is always out of date and you’re always playing catch-up. But with a field service system specifically designed for the task, office-based users are able to track tasks and progress in real time. They can see immediately when a technician has arrived on-site, how long they spend there and when the job is completed.
Some users may like to keep all sorts of business critical information in their spreadsheets, including the model, serial number and condition of assets, plus the preventative maintenance schedule. This is all information that is useful to share with customers, but then the issue arises of scaling up and working with multiple spreadsheets – how can this be done while taking care not to expose a customer’s private information to third parties? A dedicated field service system has such checks and balances built in and ensures only authorised eyeballs can access the relevant information.
This is an area where the limitations of spreadsheets can be made very apparent. To glean a clear idea of the big picture, track productivity and thorougly understand business performance, a system database invites the simple transformation of information into comprehensive and easy to read graphics and charts – enabling the user to make fully informed business decisions.
The oldest problem in the book… according to Market Watch, up to 88 percent of spreadsheets contain errors. While the issue above involves the actions of deliberate malevolent forces, a busy or stressed human agent can get things wrong completely unintentionally. The impulse is totally different, but the outcome can be just as catastrophic.
If there’s one thing the events of the last 18 months have shown us, it is that organisations that are flexible and able to pivot at a moment’s notice are the ones that will not only survive but thrive in the current and future business landscape. But even before the pandemic, the proliferation of mergers and acquisitions, buyouts and new technologies, not to mention outside forces such as climate change and other natural disasters have proven that businesses simply must be agile in order to succeed. In this scenario, spreadsheets are the daubings on the cave wall and when a new person arrives in the business, they can be next to useless. These are just some of the reasons that the humble spreadsheet has had its day in field service systems. There are many, many others. But what to do about it?
The answer is simple – cloud-based software that ensures records are updated instantaneously and in real time. Everyone in the organisation who needs to be included has access to exactly the same information. An intuitive and fit for purpose cloud-based software system also removes the danger of cut and paste errors. Time is saved, and the potential for errors and fraud is dramatically reduced.
So, just like a pair of worn out runners, ditch those tired old spreadsheets and see your business running smoothly again.