The business case for investing in an FSM software solution
By: Shatrujeet Swain, HVAC Engineer, Consultant, and Mentor
Technological interventions have made significant inroads into corporate boardrooms across industries. Companies in the HVAC industry are no different. With evolving customer expectations and an imperative to reduce cost structure, many are looking towards software applications to enhance productivity and efficiency. HVAC companies with the right set of technology tools can manage customers, inventory, technicians, vendors / suppliers and various other parts of their operations seamlessly.
Having advised a number of HVAC companies and despite all the perceived benefits of using software applications, I am amazed by how few of the HVAC companies actually have digital interventions to help with business growth. In fact, a recent research study suggested that only 48% of organizations are actually using FSM Software.
Through this blog, I'm going to evaluate the benefits that an FSM software can bring to your business and how these can turn into a quantifiable number that you can monitor moving forward and as you grow your business:
1. Streamlined Communications and Coordination. One of the biggest advantages of having an FSM solution is that it brings everyone on the same unified platform – the dispatchers, technicians, customers and even your suppliers and vendors.
Your dispatchers can use FSM software as a dispatch board to schedule service calls. In addition, technicians on the field can then use the mobile software and to be notified when a new job is assigned to them. By providing customer access, you can allow them to raise requests, get notified of the status of their requests and feel empowered. All these save you valuable hours of manual work or call-center employees catering to incoming queries, translating into direct savings for your organization. HVAC software simplifies management of the complete field service life cycle, including the equipment, work orders, labor, service parts, warranties, returns, contracts, and projects.
2. Streamlined Operations. HVAC software puts everything in one place, making it straightforward to operate your business. As mentioned in my previous article, workflow automation can optimize and streamline processes saving valuable resources. Software allows reporting dashboards which allow to track business growth and view the real-time health of your business. They even provide information on technician performance and help manage customer relations ensuring retention and loyalty.
3. Time savings. HVAC software saves contractors time by increasing efficiency. The mobile version allows technicians to save time in the field because they can view and provide information for customers. Similarly, dispatchers save time by accessing all customer information from one digital platform and allowing them to assign the right technician to the right job.
4. Invoicing and Feedback Automation. Typically, it is invoicing which can be held up massively by the paper trail - completed work documentation arriving from one/all of your field workers at once, leads to inevitable bottlenecks and admin teams frantically playing catchup. HVAC software will capture and record everything from hours worked, parts used electronically and when a job is completed.
The digital solution will then sync back all the necessary information instantly to your office staff to action for invoicing - resulting in not only a quick invoice turnaround but also accurate invoicing every single time. In case of late payments, automated reminders and notifications could be set up so that all your customers and stakeholders do not miss an invoice.
Another example is automated cost management and invoicing, as the actual service labor and associated costs are recorded instantly. HVAC software also knows which service is under warranty, and whether there are any special pricing considerations such as a pre-negotiated labor rates or parts discounts. The software drives billing speed and accuracy, removing that burden from the technician.
5. Accuracy (Eliminating error-prone and manual paperwork). Consolidating all HVAC activity in a single tool promotes greater data and decision accuracy. For example, the tracking of inventory in the service supply chain is more precise with software. Parts are recorded as they are taken from stock and also when acquired from supply houses or colleagues nearby. This encourages optimal parts placement and inventory levels, and drives supply house relationship improvements.
Your technicians will no longer have to fill out paperwork for your office staff to encode into your system. There would be costs saved there too and your systems would be able to keep track of the customer data in a more seamless way. Understandably, insights from the customer data could be mined for upsell and cross-sell opportunities, which would not have been possible with paperwork.
6. Scalability for business growth. As service processes and technologies become more sophisticated and field service teams get larger, keeping the administration cost structure and profit margin intact becomes more urgent. This is where field service automation has its greatest payback. An HVAC software mitigates the complexity of meeting growing customer demands and aggressive service delivery levels, and balances all the moving parts that go into deploying field personnel to complete service work.
7. Responsiveness. Lacking an intelligent HVAC solution puts companies in a reactive state to inevitable changes. Situations in the field change rapidly throughout the day, causing static work plans to degrade as soon as they are generated. Necessary parts or skill sets may be missing, or union rules may require an additional crew member. Travel time to the site or the work duration may take longer than planned, the weather may not cooperate, the technician may fall ill, or a higher-priority task may arise.
The primary downside of a manual approach is the absence of real-time, tethered or untethered mobile communication with the field staff, leaving them unable to effectively deal with surprises. With FSM software and mobile devices offering real-time, two-way communication, schedulers and service teams can respond quickly to dynamic circumstances and alert the customer, reorganize priorities, and address any shortfalls from the field.
To give a clearer view of how an effective FSM Management Solution and digital transformation can revamp HVAC operations, we invite you to join our free webinar on April 16, 2021 at 2:30-3:30PM (IST)/ 5-6PM (SGT). Designed for HVAC professionals, the webinar will cover the ffg. topics:
Understanding the various bottlenecks in internal operations which hinder scalability and growth
Exploring the impact of digital transformation on process optimization and impact on cost savings
Uncovering tools and frameworks which help you get started with this journey today
Register now and reserve a slot for you and your colleagues HERE.
About the Writer
HVAC Engineer | Consultant | Mentor | Trainer Shatrujeet Swain is an HVAC Engineer & Consultant, and is also a mentor to fellow HVAC Engineers who aspire to master different industry skills . His expertise include HVAC Systems Design, Sales, Project Execution, and Management. He is a CWC Member of Indian Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ISHRAE), Bhubaneswar Sub Chapter, and is also the Student Activity Chair for session 2020-21.
Connect with Shatrujeet on LinkedIn to know more about his expertise and engage & discuss HVAC consulting services.