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How to choose a paperless work orders system

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To understand what a paperless work order system or inspection management system looks like, let’s consider a possible scenario.

A customer calls in to report a broken heating/cooling system. The office staff can immediately view the customer’s information including pending and previous activities, enter the relevant information into the work order system, and create a new work order. Depending on specific internal approval processes, the work order can be immediately scheduled and assigned to the appropriate technician. 

If the business deploys a wireless mobile devices system, the work order is dispatched electronically to the mobile device used by the desired service technician such as a smart phone, tablet, PDA or laptop. The electronic work order contains all the required information for the technician to execute the work such as customer information, address for the task, description of the problem, instructions, required actions and safety requirements among others.

On‐site, the technician can view the information on their mobile device, make modifications, and record results, parts, effort (labour), observations, recommendations, and any other information pertaining to the work performed. Barcodes, RFID, capturing automatic date/time/GPS stamps and electronic signatures, as well as taking pictures (and even ‘doodling’ on the images to highlight problem areas) can be enabled in the mobile device. A speech to text function is available on most smartphones and tablets running an Android or iOS operating systems.

Once the paperless work order is completed, information is sent back to the database using 3G, 4G or Wi-Fi. The database is updated with all the appropriate information so that management can review the work, issue an invoice and automatically email a report. Querying data and producing operational and management reports is easy, since the information is homogeneous, timely, accurate, and can be easily accessed.

Distinguishing factors when selecting a vendor

While every business incorporates specific business processes, automation and use of paperless work order systems can quickly adjust, improve, and address specific processes by:

Applying experience gained from other customers using similar business processes: This may include proposing and incorporating adjustments to manual processes to accommodate automation and paperless work orders.

Providing a healthy balance between technology, human intervention, and common sense: Proper implementations combine human decision‐making with automation, resulting in improved efficiency and reduced costs.

Tailoring a solution to accommodate unique business processes: Systems that offer cost‐effective tailoring and configurations to accommodate specific business environments will fit an organisation much better than solutions that promote ‘one size fits all’.

Scalability and flexibility: A single system that can automate a variety of activities including work orders, inspections, PMs, audits, QA questionnaires, etc., delivers greater value for money.

Information is power: Information capture and knowledge management are fast becoming true competitive advantages for any company, especially in these economic circumstances.

Spending money to save money

It is important to address the issue of the cost of paperless work orders and inspections, and the ROI.

New systems that automate field activities should be able to demonstrate ROI within six to twelve months. Financing or monthly payment plans from vendors can demonstrate an immediate return on investment for the business.

Quick visible paybacks affirm investment in electronic field activity solutions. These decisions also minimise and eliminate inefficiencies such as insufficient information availability, too much paperwork, large administrative costs, missed opportunities, poor scheduling, and poor cash management, therefore generating a competitive advantage and better customer service.

With proper implementation, all of the above attributes can create very appealing means for the business to ‘spend money to save money’.

Techs4Biz Australia offers Pervidi products, which combine service management, asset management, maintenance management and inspection management functionalities to improve operational efficiencies and reduce costs. Pervidi Paperless Inspections solution covers inspection management, field service, asset management, property assessments, safety audits and pre-start checks. 

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