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Avoid these common mistakes when choosing a work order management solution

Tania Piunno
Tania Piunno
August 3, 2022
6 min. min.

For field service technicians, time is a finite resource. Across every service industry, there’s more work that needs to be done than there are people to do it. Every field service company is needing new pathways to optimize efficiencies. Having the right tools to automate operational processes helps improve service quality, secure cash flow, build customer loyalty and grow the business.

That’s why one of your most strategic investments will be your work order management solution. Instead of relying on fragmented instructions or guesswork, the idea is to give field technicians the information that they need, in one centrally managed system. With work order management software, field teams can operate with a higher level of coordinated focus and productivity.

Here at Praxedo, we’ve helped more than 1000 field service organizations transition to using new work order management systems with our field service management (FSM) software. We recognize that every decision counts. We know that technicians need a platform to create, approve, and close work orders. One that is mobile, and easy to use.

Based on our experiences, we recommend looking out for the following common mistakes:

Mistake #1: Choosing technology with generic functionality

Work order management needs to be simple, easy to understand, and integrated into everyday routines and workflows. After all, the goal of FSM software is to empower employees rather than the other way around. For this reason, your team might be tempted to choose a solution based on ease of use alone.

However, simple functionality is often more than meets the eye. That’s because ‘ease of use’ is a subjective concept. What’s straightforward to one organization may be difficult for another. Every field service organization is unique, with its own challenges and constraints. So one company’s ‘easy’ may be challenging to another.

For this reason, ‘ease of use’ alone isn’t enough of a convincing value proposition. Software needs to be simple and adapt to your team’s current workflows.

As an example, Praxedo provides both ease of use and advanced functionality. Our software’s work order report forms are configurable to a wide range of business specifications. With this capability, teams can build their own standardized forms and reporting frameworks. The software conforms to the needs of the team instead of the team needing to learn new processes. In other words, advanced functionality is what enables simplicity for the person using it.

Best-of-breed FSM software like Praxedo integrates seamlessly with any third-party information system, facilitating the transformation. We’ve learned that keeping current business processes that work well in place and simply plugging in the FSM software is what most service companies are looking for.

Mistake #2: Ignoring mobile-first solutions

For technicians who are out in the field, there’s a need to juggle many cognitive processes and operations. It’s easy for people to become overloaded — especially if you’re placing the responsibility of new software on everyone.

That’s why technology needs to support natural human workflows. In the case of field service, teams are likely working with their hands, concentrating for extended periods of time, and focused on making safe decisions. Often, people may be servicing equipment in dangerous settings like maintaining electricity transmission lines or cleaning wastewater tanks. For these reasons, software for utilities or telecommunication service providers needs to fit into routines rather than creating extra work for people.

One solution is to opt for mobile-first technology.

The term mobile-first refers to a user experience and design process that starts with a smartphone or tablet rather than a desktop computer. The concept dates back to 2010 when Eric Schmidt, then CEO of Google, shared the company’s strategy to focus more on mobile environments.

“The reasoning behind this is simple: Mobile design is more limited,” writes Tony Ho Tran for the InVision blog. “After all, you’re designing for a smaller screen and can only fit so many elements into it. That means you choose only what’s most important—what your users need the most—while ignoring everything else.”

In other words, mobile-first is about prioritizing essential functionality. With this approach, field techs are less likely to become distracted with non-essential bells and whistles. Moreover, mobile devices tend to be more intuitive than desktop environments, especially for field service technicians who may not be accustomed to using technology on a regular basis.

Mobile interfaces have the potential to simplify processes in straightforward ways. As an example, one feature that Praxedo prioritizes is the ability to view work order history. While on site, field technicians can quickly access a record of past jobs, issues, and recommendations.

A mobile-first interface makes these processes simple.

Mistake #3: Taking up too much time

Time is invaluable for field teams. After all, there’s more work to be done than there is people-power. At Praxedo, we come across countless organizations that are experiencing talent shortages. Driven by the Great Resignation, retirement, the pandemic, and budget cuts, organizations are running into staffing challenges. That means everyone on the team is under pressure to do more with less. Nobody has time to waste.

Given this context, you want to steer clear from software that creates extra and unnecessary work for people. With everyone working so hard, morale, productivity, and safety are all at risk. When choosing work order management software it’s important to choose solutions that make life easier for people in the field and in the office. Time-saving features will be a part of the platform’s core design.

At Praxedo, we focus on helping field teams save time and conserve brainpower. Our user research has led us to prioritizing the following features within our work order report solution:

  • The ability to view work order histories and access a site’s long-term data
  • Straightforward information-sharing capabilities, such as the ability to provide step-by-step guidance for service calls
  • Visibility of inventory stock, or spare parts in real-time
  • A platform to keep field personnel connected in offline environments in remote locations
  • Real-time scheduling synchronization capabilities
  • Embedded navigation functionality to help technicians get from point A to point B safely
  • Before and after photo functionality to better diagnose equipment problems

Our technology focuses on providing support rather than taking away attention. We understand that time management is crucial since field techs need to get the job done right, the first time.

The right time-saving tools will augment workflows. The idea is to equip field techs with a foundational base of tools to save time and operate with more efficiency.

Final thoughts

The right software has the potential to be transformative to your organization. Work order management software, in particular, can improve the performance of your field team, on multiple levels.

The idea is to implement software that can adapt to the unique needs of your team. It’s about keeping operations human and tailored to the individual.

If you’re looking for more recommendations for selecting software, take a look at our guide to choosing best-of-breed software. You’ll learn best practices for driving efficiencies and results.

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