Automating workflows to speed up job management & ensure business growth
Still scheduling your service jobs on Excel sheets or Whiteboards? It’s time to look into digital tools to help speed up job management and ensure automation takes care of the repetitive and manual tasks in your field services management company.
Throughout the course of my career, I have had an opportunity to work with a number of companies in the HVAC space. As a consultant for a number of these companies I have been amazed with how many of these companies still rely on pen and paper or excel sheets to schedule service jobs or to respond to customer queries.
In this article, we'll talk more about workflow automation and how it can potentially impact your HVAC operations.
What is Workflow Automation?
Most of us engage in a set of routine tasks as part of a daily workload. In fact, according to a research study by Forbes, 73% of employees perform more than 50 recurring tasks every week. A workflow management tool automates these sequences of predictable and repeatable tasks. Once an individual or team has completed their specific job, automated workflow software ensures that the individuals responsible for the next task are notified and receive the information they need to execute their part in the process.
For example, if a gas utility customer reports a suspected leak, a field service engineer or technician is dispatched to investigate and repair. Imagine the time saved when the dispatched inspector has the ability to automatically submit their findings with pictures or videos taken at the site, route an inquiry for more information, or flag an immediate safety concern in real-time to the right people.
How to automate workflows?
A workflow automation process begins with a clear objective and ends at process evaluation. Here are 5 steps involved in carrying out a workflow automation plan:
Identify a repetitive process. Freeze on a process that could benefit from automation. Understand whether there is manual intervention or repetitive work to complete it. Ask questions such as ‘Is it matured enough to be automated?’
Define goals. The benefits of automation can be varied - increased ROI, faster time-to-market, increased team productivity. Clearly articulate your team’s expectations from automation. In case of scheduling service jobs, it could be faster response time or employees who used to manually create orders could be freed up to put to other tasks
Design the workflow. Build the process in the workflow management tool. Create a form, define the workflow, and assign permissions and logic / rules for each step and stakeholder.
Train the team. The success of workflow automation depends on the willingness of its stakeholders. Communicate its benefits to the process owners and encourage their feedback.
Measure KPIs and ROI. The purpose of automation is not fully achieved until your business compares the difference it has made to the pre-existing processes, measured through reports and data analytics.
How will workflow automation benefit your HVAC company?
In my previous blog, I have shared the importance of tracking your HVAC team's performance and why it's beneficial for your company to do so and workflow automation can greatly help with this endeavor and so much more.
Here are some of the possible use cases for HVAC companies:
Incoming jobs are allocated to your entire team at the click of a button at the beginning of the day or week
Visible time gaps can be seen in every field workers schedule where reactive calls from customers can be easily slotted in
Field workers can see the detail on all their jobs as well as all the jobs close by so they can take control of these
Work documentation is clear and signed off by clients and can never be lost as saved to the Client file automatically and/or emailed directly in real-time
Invoices are accurate and issued promptly
Feedback and complaints could be incorporated real-time
Timesheets can be kept up to the minute automatically for payroll. Leaves could be tracked or sanctioned
Technician stock can be tracked so they don’t land to a job without the tools they need to perform the job
How would a digital tools help the company?
Understandably, workflow automation digital tools are way better than using Excel sheets or Pen/Paper alternatives. Some of the benefits that might be available include:
Access information on the go
An automated two-way flow of communications between the office & the field employee
Improve operational efficiencies
Ensure compliance with documentation and forms
Store all your customer history in one place
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.
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