The service technicians at a southern Sweden service provider no longer need to keep track of loose notes and bundles of papers with work orders in their cars. With a smart mobile app, which integrates with the company’s existing business and customer management system, service technicians can do all their administration for a job via their tablets.
The company’s sales organisation previously used Microsoft Dynamics CRM and wanted to get service administrators and technicians into the same system to streamline their processes and give everyone in the company a common view of customers. In collaboration with Stratiteq, a solution was developed that is also integrated with the ERP system.
”They were responsive and met our specific needs in field service operations. They helped us to become a sustainable, data-driven business by delivering technology and strategy implementation for smart decision-making. They took a holistic approach to our systems and increased transparency between the service and sales organisations”, said the Service Manager.
Previously, loose notes, handwritten work orders and manual reporting was the norm for the large number of service technicans. They performed repairs, installations, and preventive maintenance of cranes and other lifting equipment at the sites of industrial customers across Sweden. Upon completion of the project, all work was documented and reported to the customer, which resulted in extensive administration.
According to the Service Manager the organisation did not have adequate IT systems in place to support their technicians and wanted to relieve them from paperwork to enable more efficient use of their time.
The administrative burden for each work order was heavy for the service administrators in the office as well. They received the technicians’ handwritten reports on materials, cost and time, and manually transferred these to the ERP and generated an invoice. This resulted not only in the same work being done twice but also the risk of errors as a result of illegible handwriting or misinterpretation of the information.
In collaboration with Stratiteq, the service organisation began building a mobile app for field service work and at the same time integrated the solution with existing CRM and ERP.
”We involved a couple of their service technicians early on in the development process. They contributed their experience to make the app as user-friendly as possible and to ensure that relevant information was included in the transition to digital management of work orders and reporting”, says the Project Manager in charge at Stratiteq.
From the beginning all service technicians used the new system for paperless processing of work orders, materials, time reporting and invoice documentation. All information about customers, contracts and service objects was consolidated in a shared database, and all colleagues could easily access current work orders via their tablets. Instead of paper forms, digital checklists and protocols are used, which are filled in and signed directly by the customer. As a result, the customer received a report on the work performed before the service technician even left. At the same time, the data entered in the mobile app went directly into the ERP.
Service technicians who work in inaccessible locations without a network connection were able to use the app offline. Updates are made to a local database in the tablet and then synced with the central database as soon as the technician has access to the network again.
”We completed the entire flow, from the point when a customer needs to have a job done until the invoice with correct specifications is sent and paid. This also provided a better overview of the service projects that are underway and smoother tracking of current customer agreements”, says the Service Manager.
With support for the entire workflow easily accessible on a computer or tablet, neither administrators nor service technicians needed to keep track of loose paper notes to do their jobs. The service technician does not have to rewrite thick stacks of paper each week, and the service administrator only needs to look through and possibly make a final edit to an auto-generated invoice before forwarding it to the customer.
”Work was made more efficient and accurate. We did not lose working hours or materials in the reports, and the whole process from work order to invoicing was faster, which was also positive for our revenue flow”, says the Service Manager.
Stratiteq Business Developer Fredrik Swahn: ”They have saved money and increased earnings using this system. Because everything is reported straight into the app, no hours, materials used or other extras are forgotten, and are now being invoiced in full. Tasks that were previously not really noted are now entered in the system and consequently invoiced. The administrators who organise the service technician’s workload can plan optimal routes between jobs, saving time and money.”
Fredrik Swahn continues: “Once at the customer’s site, the app enables the technicians to order spare parts on the spot, which saves time and administration. They can also get contracts, service orders and other agreements signed by the customer in the app while on location, which not only provides an elevated level of customer service but also is great for sales. And last but not least, an important aspect for management is the visualisation of the service technician’s workload and performance.”
What would be the next natural step for this company to add value and raise their service levels another step?
Fredrik Swahn suggests that, first and foremost, you need to make sure you have control over the data that is the foundation of all your ERP. Once you know what data you have and how it is generated and managed, you should migrate it to the cloud.. Another thing that is important is to gather usage data from the end users, in this case the service technicians, in order to understand how the app is actually being used. This data will be valuable for the continuing development of the app and is worth spending resources on, because everything is dependable on usability. Artificial intelligence (AI) applications, such as customer service bots, could be introduced alongside further automation of administrative tasks.
Another great idea would be to introduce Microsoft Dynamics 365 Remote Assist and Guides together with the HoloLens 2 headset. These are augmented reality (AR) apps that enable you to help your customers resolve service issues without sending a technician to them in person. Wearing the HoloLens 2 headset, the user can invite another person into the virtual room to see what the headset wearer sees. The two can share a document, such as a diagram, on-screen and discuss solutions. Microsoft Dynamics Guides are for training and resolving issues on your
”The very next step is to use AR to create a shared virtual environment with your customer, and in this space you can develop products and test specific scenarios. If you use 3D printing, you can assess new patterns or the look of a product before going into production. One of the benefits of running everything in a virtual environment is avoiding expensive and resource-heavy POCs”, Fredrik Swahn suggests.
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