As I work from home, I see many field service workers coming and going during the day… from plumbers and electricians to renewable energy consultants to bathroom installers. Recently, I have begun to take a more active interest in their systems. Are they using a clipboard, a phone, laptop or tablet? It’s amazing how much information you can gather by just observing.
Would it be fair to assume that the companies with the clipboards and the pens are not as professional as the companies with all the technology? I’m not sure I can leap to that conclusion just from my small amount of observation, but there are definite benefits that companies can derive by having the most efficient tools at their disposal.
I hope you find this article interesting and be sure to download our field service management checklist below.
Before we look at the When, let’s discuss the How? How do I know if I should change my field service management solution?
There are some obvious signs to look out for including:
- Disconnected teams and planning
- Limited visibility of who’s doing what and when
- Repeat calls and follow-ups
- Low utilisation rates
Compliance & Safety Issues
- Manual, time-consuming, inaccurate record keeping
- Potential gaps in field staff safety procedures and protocols
- Inventory losses and shrinkage
- Slow billing
- High administrative costs
- Time spent locating assets
- No asset history available to field workers, resulting in extra investigative processes
- Time spent calling the office for information
- Low referral rates
- Customer complaints/chasing for information (location of technician, part availability etc)
- Lost revenue/credit notes
- Lost customers
- Time consuming to compile/inaccurate/out-of-date
- Lots of spreadsheets
- Gaps in processes/workflows/disconnected reporting
If any of the above points are ringing some bells, the next important question is to work out the best time to change system.
When is the right time to invest in a field management solution?
In an ideal world, as soon as you grow to a certain size, you would have all your ducks in a row to change system in a nice calm and orderly fashion. The reality is that timing is never perfect, but you should look for the optimum time to switch system. Some consideration should be given to:
Is there a good time of year where you will have some breathing space to implement a new system?
But what if your business has no quiet time but is continuously getting busier?
We come across this dilemma time and time again. If you haven’t yet reached this point, then it comes down to having a robust strategy for the business. Try to align your growth trajectory with a phased system implementation that is manageable, both from a financial and a resource perspective. The tipping point might be where you have a large tender pending and if you are successful in winning the contract, you may not be able to deliver it without having the systems in place to deliver it. But what if you take the plunge and the tender doesn’t materialize?
This is where strategic planning comes in.
Understand what the next 1-3 years will look like. If your business is growing and your systems are inadequate to support this growth, then making that investment in your field service management solution can certainly help you plot and plan your growth with a greater degree of accuracy with up-to-date, real-time data.
If you have already reached this point where business is booming but your growth is being hampered by inefficient systems and processes, then this comes down to good project management and making sure the project is broken down into manageable phases with timelines that are realistic and achievable from both sides.
Having sufficient resources goes without saying, however assigning your “Key” people to the project is crucial.
The ideal scenario is to have a dedicated project team for the duration of project. They may be available on a part-time of full-time basis, depending on the size of your organisation, however having the right people with experience and skillsets is going to be a crucial success factor.
If the field service/operational system is part of a complete ERP system overhaul, then departmental representation is highly recommended for your project team.
Is there a logical cut-off for the go-live?
Some customers choose month-ends or year-ends to switch over, but in reality, each customer has their own set of circumstances (internal or external) that will dictate the ideal time to change system.
Should my Field Service Management system work independently or be part of an ERP system?
I will give a slightly biased response to this question as we deliver an integrated NetSuite ERP and Field Service Management solution. NextService Field Service Management is built for and directly inside NetSuite, so you can run your entire business from one system.
Nowadays, we live in a connected world. We have the information we need when we need it. Companies can see what’s happening on the ground in their German or Australian subsidiary in real-time.
Accessing real-time project profitability across the group becomes invaluable. It makes sense that systems should facilitate data flows between departments with different users and roles accessing the data that is relevant to them. Processes and procedures become consistent and accurate with reports and KPI’s falling out in the form of dashboards and data analytics. No more spreadsheets, dis-connected processes and gaps across the organisation.
Users become more efficient, first-time fix rates shoot up, project profitability should be more predictable, customers will love working with your company and everybody is happy.
If you’re on the fence (no pun intended!) and are not sure about your next move, why not check out our easy-to-follow Field Service Management Checklist? It should help you to better understand what you need for:
- Mobile Work Management
- Customer Management
- Job Scheduling
- Field Service Intelligence and Analytics
If you would like to have a chat about your requirements for a Field Service Management solution, get in touch with our team on firstname.lastname@example.org or call + 353 1 811 3811
Having a suitable inventory management solution for your business is incredibly important, especially in these times of supply and personnel uncertainty. More and more warehouses are moving away from time-consuming manual inventory processes and investing in technology that can help them better position their business for success.
If you currently use spreadsheets to manage inventory, there is a high chance you frequently find yourself with stock levels that are too high or too low and you have to deal with stock counts that don’t align with what’s really in your warehouse. When you implement the right inventory management solution, you can minimise manual work, streamline day-to-day operations and improve efficiencies. This, in turn, will help you to overcome common challenges faced by businesses, adapt to future changes and achieve your goals.
Ultimately, inventory management is all about stock ordering, storage and control, and having the right quantities of the right products at the right time is key to ongoing success. When you’re trying to find a new warehouse stock management system for your business, there are a few key features to look for. Using technology that is cloud-based, all-encompassing and adaptable, like NetSuite solutions, is beneficial for several reasons and it can help you to effectively manage your inventory process. Below we have looked into these three key features in more detail.
Implementing cloud-based solutions can help you to manage your inventory smartly and efficiently. Cloud-based software systems don’t have the same limitations as on-premises systems and your warehouse stock management solution will be able to handle everything required. With the help of a NetSuite cloud-based warehouse stock management system, your business will become more intelligent and you can directly benefit from the increased flexibility and transparency this type of system provides.
Leveraging cloud-based platforms within your warehouse will enable you to get real-time updates of inventory levels whenever required. All information stored within your cloud-based management solution will be readily accessible to users across multiple warehouses and locations, and this visibility will be invaluable. When you’re no longer restricted by an on-premises system and you have all of the capabilities you need to effectively manage your inventory, you can focus your time and attention on other important aspects of your business.
The best inventory management solutions will extend from the point of origin to the end-user. Having visibility of the whole supply chain is incredibly beneficial and using technology to support the movement, management and fulfilment of inventory is a cost-effective way to significantly improve customer satisfaction. End-to-end stock management solutions can revolutionise your order fulfilment process by automating several processes.
When you invest wisely in technology, whether you implement a basic NetSuite solution or integrate different applications that support native NetSuite functionality and extend its value, you can improve profit margins. Not only can a warehouse stock management system increase inventory accuracy, but it can maximise order picking efficiency, driving costs out of the distribution process. Not to mention, all-encompassing inventory management solutions can help to reduce human error and the costs associated with this too.
Being able to adapt your software to your changing warehouse needs and the changing external environment is crucial for growing businesses. Implementing an inventory management system that you can build upon will help you to ensure your business remains automated, streamlined and profitable, regardless of what the future holds, and you can maintain high levels of performance. It is likely that some features you need in years to come won’t be seen as requirements when you first invest in a management system, and adaptability will enable your inventory solution to scale and change with your business.
The right technology will help you to gain better control during challenging times too and no matter how uncertain market conditions may be, your adaptable inventory management solution will help you to continue delivering exceptional service. Predicting the future needs of your business can be incredibly difficult, but having software installed that can help you to achieve maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort and expense is always advantageous.
Speaking to a NetSuite consulting partner about Inventory Management
Investing in a warehouse stock management system that is cloud-based, all-encompassing and adaptable is something that all businesses should do, and using the right system can have a direct impact on your ongoing success. Should you have any questions about NetSuite solutions and the integrated apps available, don’t hesitate to contact our team at OSSM. As the leading NetSuite consulting partner and solution provider in Ireland, you can rely on us to provide you with the tailored advice you need when finding the best technology for your business.
Here at OSSM, we have collaborated with lots of businesses, across a range of industries, and we are committed to helping our customers overcome any problems they’re facing with new NetSuite solutions. We can integrate your chosen inventory management system into your operations efficiently and effectively too, so you can start reaping the benefits straight away. To find out more about how we can help, explore the rest of our website today.
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Click here to book a short, 30-minute demo of NetSuite, where we will show you the benefits that this solution can bring to your business.
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To run projects efficiently, you need to ensure your costs and revenue data are working in harmony. Centralising data and having real-time project and financial performance metrics can be undeniably beneficial, and it can help you to keep track of all project costs. NetSuite solutions, such as NetSuite SuiteProjects, can assist you with both project management and revenue management, providing you with a centralised solution where you can effectively capture costs and automate billing processes.
Below we have explored how project-based organisations can use NetSuite to keep tighter control on project costs from the moment an opportunity is identified, through to its final delivery.
What is revenue recognition?
Revenue recognition means the revenue of a business is realised/recognised when a service or product has been delivered to the customer, not just when an invoice is paid, or payment is received. Revenue recognition differs from cash flow and just because money is in your bank doesn’t mean that it can be recognised. The project may be cancelled, or a refund may be demanded, for example, resulting in the money being removed from your bank.
NetSuite Revenue Management makes it easy for businesses to keep on top of revenue by automating complex revenue calculations and supporting multiple revenue scenarios on a project-by-project basis. This NetSuite software solution prevents you from having to use spreadsheets to manage project costs and NetSuite Revenue Management brings efficiency, flexibility, and intelligence to all of your projects, without the needs for spreadsheets.
How can NetSuite help you keep track of project costs?
The right software can transform how you run your projects, ensuring they are smooth, efficient, and profitable. Not only can you use NetSuite’s cloud-based solutions to track your projects from beginning to end, but you can manage all your projects from the one central system for added convenience.
NetSuite SuiteProjects offers extensive functionality, eliminating manual entry, multiple systems, and costly integrations. This cost-effective solution helps to improve cash flow and eliminate revenue leakage on long-term projects, and it is an unrivalled choice for project-based organisations. There are several key features within NetSuite SuiteProjects that can help you to keep tighter control of project costs and this particular software can be used to simplify the complexities of both project management and revenue management.
NetSuite Revenue Management helps to ensure revenue is accounted for correctly and you can schedule revenue to be recognised at the appropriate time automatically. Based on real-time business events, real-time billings and revenue data, it also provides flexible forecasting to accommodate revenue projection updates. Not to mention, it supports multi-currency transactions, ensuring fluctuations in exchange rates are appropriately accounted for.
In addition to this, NetSuite Project Management allows for automated project creation, tracking and reporting, removing the hassle associated with staying organised and keeping track of projects. This software enables project managers and team members to collaborate on projects too, and you can empower employees by giving them access to the employee centre. By using NetSuite Project Management, you can even maintain an accurate project status at all times, which can be invaluable when it comes to proactively identifying and resolving potential issues.
Other features, from Resource Management and Time and Expense Management to Project Accounting and Reporting and Analytics, can also have a significant impact on the day-to-day business processes of project-based organisations. With NetSuite SuiteProjects, you will gain complete visibility into and control over your entire bid-to-bill process whether you’re operating locally or on a global scale, giving you a new level of efficiency in what you do and how.
Speaking to a NetSuite solutions partner
All in all, NetSuite solutions can be incredibly beneficial for managing project costs and keeping track of profitability. If you run a project-based organisation and you’d like to find out more about integrating NetSuite SuiteProjects into your way of working, don’t hesitate to contact our team of specialists at OSSM. As a leading NetSuite solutions partner, we can help you to make the most of this end-to-end cloud-based solution and we have experience assisting an array of companies, across a vast range of industries.
We believe in working in partnership with our clients, enabling us to recommend the most suitable NetSuite products and integrated apps for their problems and needs. The solutions we implement can completely transform business operations and our highly skilled team of support consultants will be happy to have a no-obligation chat with you to see what we can do for your organisation. There is no better NetSuite solutions partner to turn to.
Book a NetSuite Demo:
Click here to book a short, 30-minute demo of NetSuite, where we will show you the benefits that this solution can bring to your business.
Among the challenges facing renewable energy (RE) companies that are manufacturing, installing, or servicing renewable sources such as wind turbines or solar panels, keeping costs down is at the top of the list. From a broad perspective, installation costs for RE businesses can be grouped into two categories: hardware and soft costs. Hardware costs are self-explanatory, including the cost of components required to harness energy—solar panels, converters, wind turbines, hydropower or biomass processing equipment, and more. Soft costs include labour, sales and marketing expenses, permitting and inspection fees, and other associated administrative costs.
A recent solar industry website published a breakdown of solar installation costs, indicating that hardware accounts for 46% of average costs, while soft costs account for 54%. These percentages vary dependent upon the RE source and scope of the project. However, one common factor remains: The initial costs of renewable energy project installation and construction, whether commercial or residential, are substantial.
How you manage the processes and data associated with such projects can reduce costs—for your business AND your customers. A logical starting point for controlling projects costs, both hardware and soft, is to identify challenges that are commonly encountered with field service operations and then explore solutions for mitigating these challenges.
Field Service Challenges That Impact Renewable Energy Project Costs
Improving field service efficiency begins with identifying the inefficiencies that may be costing your RE business time and money. In working with a multitude of customers and prospects within the renewable energy space, I have observed the following pain points most frequently mentioned by RE businesses seeking to improve field service operations:
Scheduling and resource planning inefficiencies
RE projects involve many moving pieces. Scheduling project managers, technicians, contractors, and even equipment can be a juggling act. When not executed properly or done using manual processes like whiteboards or spreadsheets, projects can run amuck due to a lack of visibility of data and technicians can easily get double-booked or sent to jobs without the proper supplies, inventory, and asset information. In addition, these inefficiencies can negatively impact important field service metrics, such as first-time fix rate (FTFR) and mean-time-to-repair (MTTR).
Project costs rise when planning and scheduling processes lack efficiency and utilization numbers drop—in the field and the back office. With recent labour shortages and supply chain delays, scheduling and resource planning becomes an even greater challenge requiring the most efficient use of limited resources to maximize utilization and keep projects within budget.
Inability to capture (accurate) data in the field
If you have technicians out in the field who are completing paperwork and bringing it back to headquarters at the end of the day, valuable data is at risk of being inaccurate due to human error or even worse, misplaced or lost. Every data point matters as companies seek to scale, improve, and use data to guide future business decisions.
I have heard customers tell me their technicians will often lose paperwork, forget to complete certain forms and fields on work orders, or fail to follow critical workflows required to maintain compliance. Such liabilities present RE businesses with increased exposure to costly mistakes and potentially very unhappy customers.
Lack of visibility of comprehensive job costs
Not having full visibility of all costs associated with projects can cost companies a lot of money. Without a single source from which users can view the inventory, time, and payment status associated with each job, businesses run the risk of not accounting for all the resources (inventory, labour hours, supplies) used to complete the job. Having to chase this data down and manually amalgamate it can, in turn, increase the amount of time between job completion and invoicing customers, which ultimately impacts cash flow. And even when the costs are calculated, businesses may struggle to ensure accuracy of the data if it is manually recorded by technicians in the field.
Poor customer experience
A poor customer experience costs businesses money in the form of opportunity cost—losing existing customers and/or not attracting new ones due to negative online or word-of-mouth reviews. When the previously mentioned inefficiencies rear their ugly heads in the form of extended project deadlines, inaccurate billing, and inconsistent communication with the customer, customers notice. If customers have easy access to provide feedback, they may do so. However, one market research firm found that 96% of dissatisfied customers will not complain, and 91% will simply not return.
Whether business owners acknowledge it or not, every member of your team and every touchpoint with customers can impact the customer experience positively or negatively. This is especially true for field technicians who are going onsite to service or repair customer assets. When technicians do not have all the information required to complete a job efficiently and accurately, the customer notices. And when technicians do not have the tools to capture new data accurately and easily, this perpetuates a poor customer experience.
The Right Technology Can Reduce Renewable Energy Project Costs
Now that we have identified challenges that impact RE project costs, I would be remiss not to mention how to overcome them and thereby reduce costs and increase profitability. At the highest level, the solution lies in identifying and implementing the right software to address and remedy the previously mentioned inefficiencies.
As you search for the right technology to accommodate your business’s unique requirements, you would be remiss to not ensure the technology you choose provides the following features and functionality to enable your business to streamline field service operations:
Easy scheduling and dispatch
Field service software should enable users to easily schedule jobs and dispatch technicians to these jobs. Back office and field staff should be able to easily identify available resources and the tools or inventory needed for each job. In addition, they should be able to easily communicate changes or updates to any of this information…in real-time.
Real-time, 360-degree data
Ensure that whatever solution you choose provides users with access to real-time, 360-degree data needed to complete jobs efficiently and accurately. The ideal solution will house all business intelligence, including not only field service data, but all financial, inventory, customer, vendor- and project-related data on one single platform. Having all this data on one platform versus having to gather it from multiple sources reduces the risk of inaccurate reporting and enables nimble business decisions.
This same solution ideally offers a mobile application that enables field service technicians to record and capture data out in the field and transmit the data in real-time. A mobile app will empower technicians to easily record data pertaining to inventory consumption, asset history, and work order status, including photo and signature capture. Such field mobility will expedite job completion, ensure accurate invoicing, and ultimately improve cash flow.
CRM (Customer Relationship Management) functionality
Closely related to real-time, 360-degree data, the right technology will provide users with the tools to communicate with customers clearly and consistently. Make sure the technology you choose offers the ability to identify every touchpoint with customers–from service reports sent to customers and other correspondence to customer satisfaction survey results. Access to this information empowers businesses to identify opportunities for improvement and quickly address customer dissatisfaction.
Last but certainly not least, choose a solution that offers the previously mentioned features and functionality out-of-the-box but that can also be configured to meet the unique needs of your business. Be sure to inquire about whether the solution can be configured with custom fields, forms, and reports that are specific to your operations.
NetSuite + NextService FSM SuiteApp = The Right Technology for RE Field Service Excellence
Whether you are manufacturing RE assets or installing and servicing them, streamlining field service operations can offset both hardware costs and soft costs. Efficient field service management can prolong the life of assets, optimize the use of resources (time, money, and human), and turn your customers into loyal advocates of your brand.
As NextService + NetSuite experts, the OSSM and Next Technik teams provide customers with optimally implemented enterprise resource planning (ERP) and field service management (FSM) solutions. Let OSSM show you how your renewable energy business can reduce costs and increase profitability with NextService FSM SuiteApp — the ideal field service solution to enhance your NetSuite technology investment.
“We need to constantly improve. That’s what led us to NextService, and that’s what is leading us going forward as we keep finding new ways to exploit the system’s power”.
Jody Kass, Director of Field Operations at NexRev, a NetSuite & NextService Customer