Businesses across the world are digitizing their services and workflows. According to Foundry’s 2021 Digital Business Study, 91% of businesses are in the process of digitization. It is true across all sectors, yet field service companies have often been the most reluctant to embrace digital transformation.
While it is easy to see why, for example, tech or online sales companies might rush to adopt digitization, the benefits of digital transformation have been less apparent to managers who work in the field. They have tended to stick rigidly to traditional means of workforce organization, customer relations, and documentation.
However, digitization offers a greater degree of efficiency and agility that is necessary for any growing field service business.
What’s Wrong With Traditional Methods in Field Service?
Non-digital field service has worked for decades, so why should companies begin to move to a digital workflow? The most obvious answer is to eradicate the inefficiencies that seem inherent to field service companies.
In a non-digital environment, connecting office employees with teams in the field is challenging and unreliable. Printed instructions or specifications are resource-heavy and can’t be adapted by the office if changes need to be made during a project.
Similarly, traditional paperwork is often time-consuming. How often have you spent a good chunk of your working day filling out printed invoices or other forms of paperwork? In any business, wasted time means wasted money, so filling out the paperwork can be an inefficiency with a substantial cost.
Non-digital data collection is also an inefficiency that can threaten your business. It can be challenging for office workers to access data when it is physically stored across pages and pages of information. As well as this, it is easy to make mistakes when inputting data by hand.
How Can Digital Transformation Overcome These Inefficiencies?
Digitization can benefit your field service company by providing a way around these costly inefficiencies.
More dynamic and agile services can be offered if your business moves to virtual PBX phone systems, for instance. By hosting your phone systems on a unified online service, office employees can easily connect with clients, access their information, and then reach a field team - all through one easy-to-use online system.
Employee productivity will be improved in a digital workplace. The software can automatically track and log specific data points that would otherwise have to be physically written out and filled in by employees.
Digitization can also assist office workers by storing data on an integrated system of software that can cover a range of processes such as accounting, customer relationship services, and field service management.
You’ll no longer have to rely on resource-heavy processes such as printing multiple copies of invoices. For example, digitizing professional roofing contracts can save money on multiple pages of paper and ink.
At the same time, customers are beginning to expect digitized services. Many will prefer contracts and invoices to be sent by email rather than having to store a physical copy. In today’s world, digital transformation is also an important tool in improving customer experience.
How Can You Implement Digital Transformation in Your Field Service Business?
The reasons to move to a digital workflow, from the office to the field, are apparent. So how can you best embrace digital transformation?
1. Build a Digital Strategy
Like all the significant changes you’ll make to your business, you’ll need to make sure that digitization is planned and part of a coherent strategy. Management should devise a digital strategy that includes time frames, costing, and an overarching vision as to how you want your field service business to look in a digital world.
2. Get Employees on Board
Often, the reluctance of field service businesses to embrace digital transformation is due to hesitant employees. You should clarify that digitization is not a threat to their jobs but will instead allow them to be freed from irritating administrative duties.
For office workers, talk them through how digitization will bring upsides such as softphone benefits, which will make customer service and workforce management easier and more agile.
3. Assign Digital Experts
You may need to appoint employees with expertise in digital transformation to oversee the implementation of your digital strategy. Depending on your workforce, these can be an external hire or a reallocation of existing resources within your employee pool.
These digital experts can be invaluable in streamlining digitization and helping the rest of your team adapt to the new digital workflow. Training your employees may be imperative, and these digital experts will be valuable in assisting to deliver this training.
However, digital transformation doesn’t mean the introduction of complex and difficult-to-use software. For instance, using Excel forecasting templates can be a simple, but effective way to forecast and store data from across your company.
4. Use Field Service Software
Digital transformation does not mean starting from scratch. Rather than adopting a range of different software and transitioning to a digital work environment on your own, it is helpful to find an external provider to undertake much of this process.
Specific field service digitization software is tailored for the requirements of a field service business. It means that your business's needs, such as wanting digital solutions for quoting jobs, crew visibility, and accounting and invoices - are already established.
This software can be plugged into the systems in your company and allows your employees to adapt to working digitally with relative ease. Field service software is specifically designed to tackle the inefficiencies of traditional, non-digital field service companies meaning that it may be the best option for your business.
Time to Embrace Digital Field Service
It is clear that field service companies can’t continue to avoid digitization as the world becomes more reliant on digital communication, organization, and delivery.
Rather than continuing to lose time and money as your employees work their way through mountains of physical paperwork and unreliable data collection, digital transformation can free your company to reach the next level of growth.