Improve Time Tracking With Mobile Timesheets: Lose The Paper…And The Sloppy Handwriting

TechniciansTechnicians have a lot on their plates. Traveling from site to site, working out of a van or truck, sometimes in terrible weather, making sure they have all the right materials, their lunch, their paperwork, their schedule for the day and countless other things. They’ve got a lot on their minds. So it’s understandable that the occasional timesheet gets lost, rained on, covered in food, crumpled up, ripped, scribbled on unintelligibly or forgotten completely.

But wouldn’t it be nice to never have to deal with those kinds of timesheets? Just let your techs use their smart phones to remedy some of those problems. High 5 Software is preparing to launch their new mobile app, Time Tracker for SME. It lets your smart devices save your time while saving you time.  Plus it’s more difficult to confuse a digital timesheet on your iPhone with an old napkin and throw it out at the end of the day. Even if it has a little bit of the leftovers from lunch on it.

Paperless (…and stainless, crumple-less and sloppy-writing-less)
Say goodbye to the bits of lunch, rips, crinkles and unintelligible writing that used to come standard with all the timesheets you process.

Connect Anywhere
Time Tracker can be accessed on any device, anywhere with an internet connection. Log your hours from the field or from the office.

Sync with SME & QuickBooks
Eliminate double entry of hours with automatic syncing to your Service Management Enterprise database and QuickBooks.

Track Time Automatically
Let the app do the thinking for you. Time Tracker will clock you in and out and automatically record your hours for the day.

Automatic Payments and Billing
Time Tracker isn’t just a stopwatch. It automatically calculates payments, invoices and billable service hours.

DOL and DCAA Compliant
Time Tracker ensures that your timesheets are in compliance with government regulations so you can focus on your business.

Service Business Specific
Since it’s coming from High 5 Software you know Time Tracker is backed up by over 25 years of service industry experience.

Stop worrying about deciphering soggy, unintelligible time sheets. Step into the mobile era with Time Tracker. See how it works at http://m.high5software.com/Timesheet.html

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Why Field Service Management Software Is Like Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Why Field Service Management Software Is Like Goldilocks and the Three Bears

It’s a stretch, but bear with me (pun intended).

Goldilocks and the Three Bears: Brooke

If you can overlook the part of the fairytale where Goldilocks commits some pretty dubious breaking and entering, the argument can be made that she would be a pretty shrewd business manager. Let’s imagine her breaking and entering was actually a business venture; Goldilocks was just looking for some field service management software.

Goldilocks steals finds some porridge software that is just a little bit too hot unwieldy and expensive.

This porridge is way too hot! Goldilocks really can’t even bear (pun intended) to sample it.

In the same way, sometimes software is more advanced than what the user needs. A lot of software is meant for businesses that need robust solutions and can track inventory in multiple warehouses, generate tickets when emails are received and can be customized extensively upon the request of the user. However, they generally come with large start-up costs, on the order of tens of thousands of dollars if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, especially if there are no in house servers and infrastructure in place already. Goldilocks doesn’t need all the functionality of an expensive, unnecessarily complex solution like this; she’d be paying for utility that she will never use.

She’s looking for some software that will help her manage her field technicians, create jobs and work orders, send invoices, email reports, track customers and job sites and sync everything to her favorite accounting software.

Goldilocks tries another bowl of porridge software solution. But it is far too cold basic.

 Cold porridge won’t do. Neither will software that doesn’t supply the user with the functionality that they need. Some software mainly provides field technicians with job details and helps them navigate to the job site. Goldilocks needs more than this; she’s looking for help managing her field technicians, creating jobs and work orders, sending invoices, emailing reports, tracking customers and job sites, syncing everything to her favorite accounting software and customizing her software herself to tailor it to her needs without calling tech support.

Goldilocks is willing to eat a family of bears out of house and home to find porridge that is just right.

 Goldilocks didn’t settle for porridge that was too hot or cold. Neither should you. Search for different service management software and try free trials; most providers issue free trial versions of their software. You don’t want to end up paying exorbitantly for software that has capabilities you don’t need, and you definitely can’t use something that doesn’t fulfill your needs.

The Solution

 High 5 Software has just released the beta version of Service Management Online (SMO), a fully Software as a Solution tool that automates a huge amount of the business process of field service management and help desk businesses.

  • Designed as the perfect medium between expensive, unwieldy on-premise software and solutions that are too basic for many companies.
  • Hosted online, in the cloud so there is no equipment start up cost, plus it can be used on any device, anywhere, as long as there is internet access.
  • Service Management Online can be easily customized for specific tasks and businesses by the user without any help from our tech support
  • Provides all of the functionality that more robust software provides but without some of the capabilities oriented towards businesses with warehouses that track inventory
  • Automatic invoicing and payment processing that syncs with QuickBooks
  • Subscription is on a per user per month basis, so your usage can be scaled up or down based on the growth of your business and your future needs

Service Management Online is a highly versatile tool that is designed with all types of businesses in mind: HVAC contractors, plumbing contractors, building and property maintenance, security and alarm, fire and safety, carpet cleaning, lighting and more. If you’re looking for software for your service business, give Service Management Online a try for free!

Go to http://h5sw.herokuapp.com/ and click “Sign Up” to try SMO for free!

For more information on SMO http://high5software.com/mediawiki/index.php?title=SMO

Email High 5 Software at smo@h5sw.com

Visit High 5 Software online at http://high5software.com/

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What Buyers are Looking For in Field Service Software

What Buyers are Looking For in Field Service Software

When you were first in the market for field service, did you know which functionalities you needed or the best deployment model for your business? A recent data analysis from Software Advice identifies what buyers look for in a field service solution, with most of their sample (70 percent) being first-time buyers. Here’s a quick look at some of their findings:

 

More than 80 percent of buyers requested a system that improves efficiency

Reasons First-Time Buyers are Buying

You’ll see in the charts above and below, first-time buyers and seasoned field service users alike were both looking for systems that offered better efficiency than current methods. Most cited specific capabilities that would improve overall productivity, such as a dispatching tool that tracks workers in the field as well as asset resources. By deploying a system that executes these day-to-day tasks with more efficiency, organizations are likely aiming to improve bottom-line objectives such as reducing processing time or shortening the time to fulfill service.  SME from High 5 Software achieves these goals and empowers companies to “Run a Better Service Business”.

Reasons Existing Field Service Users are Replacing

 

The top 3 most-requested field service software features: scheduling, work order management and dispatching.  SME is one of the few service management solutions addressing all of these needs.

Ninety percent of buyers requested at least one of the top three functionalities – scheduling, work order management and dispatching – while 76 percent requested two. Among other top must-have features were invoice, customer management and mobile communications applications.

Most companies were unsure of the best deployment model for their business
The research suggests that deployment model is actually not a significant determining factor, with 67 percent of buyers not committed to a Web-based or on-premise offering. However, this could be due to the large pool of first-time buyers that might not be familiar with the benefits of web-based applications, such as customer portals that provide easy access to work order status. Of those that did have a deployment model preference, 89 percent wanted to evaluate web-based systems. This is likely because most surveyed were SMBs with 20 users or less, since cloud-based solutions typically have a lower cost to entry.  High 5 Software offers on-premise and hosted options with SME and fully web-based cloud solution with SMO.

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Field Service Management Software: Online vs. On-Premise

The past decade has witnessed an explosion of cloud-based computing and internet hosting that has forever changed the way that businesses store information, conduct transactions and manage the technology they rely on every day. Many small service management businesses are turning to Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions, hosted in the cloud. Other businesses rely on more traditional, on-premise solutions run from their own in house or hosted servers. A fledgling service management business might be wondering, what is the difference between the solutions and what unique advantages do they offer? Experienced business owners are probably curious about the benefits that these software solutions offer to their business process.

The Problem
Service management and help desk style businesses are hard to run without the proper organizational tools. If you’ve ever tried keeping track of your own finances using an eclectic assortment of spreadsheets, saved emails and receipts you know that it can get out of hand. Even if you can manage that, keeping track of the financial interactions of dozens of customers using a similar, home-brewed system is exponentially more difficult and expensive to maintain and update. Receiving and logging requests for maintenance or repairs, assigning technicians to those duties, issuing estimates and invoices to customers, receiving payments and tracking income. It can be a lot to deal with. Take a minute and reflect on how much time you might be spending on processes that could be automated. Without a good system in place it can be impossible to expand your business or even keep up with your current customers.

Do you want to keep trying to make your spreadsheets play nicely with your email account and hard copy receipts? If you’re experiencing problems in any of the following areas, you might want to look into service management software.
• Double entry of data
• Automatic invoicing
• Automatic messaging
• Customer information storage
• Automatic payment processing
• Work order creation and distribution
• Expense and income tracking

The Solution
You need a tool that automates as much of the service management process as possible, stores information in a single place, automatically shares information between platforms and generates invoices with a single button.
• Increase productivity by spending less time entering information in multiple places
• Boost revenue by sending more technicians into the field rather than wasting time with back office activities and paperwork
• Optimize turnover time with automatic invoicing, payment processing and interfacing with QuickBooks or QuickBooks Online

You could invest in on-premise software, installed on your own computers. These solutions are very robust and typically have a greater capacity for complex tasks and vast amounts of inventory. This type of software is excellent for larger service businesses that have their own servers and infrastructure in place. If you are a small business looking for service management software, be aware that the initial start up cost is only part of the expense of on-premise software. You should also be aware of future expenditures like:
• Upgrading hardware and software
• Keeping licenses up to date
• Moving hardware in the event of relocating your business
• Repairs
• Insurance and maintenance for hardware
• Replacement or expansion to allow for scalability

Many smaller service management businesses without on-premise servers are taking advantage of new, cloud-hosted Software as a Service solutions. Many of the expenditures above can be alleviated using online service management tools rather than in-house software. With new Software as a Service solutions hosted online in the cloud, software is made available to businesses in the most convenient way. The benefits are:
• No in-house servers or hardware required, so no big start up investments
• Software can be run on any device (iPad, iPhone, Mac, PC, Tablets, Android, etc) so that if you have internet access, you have your software accessible anywhere, anytime
• There is no long term commitment to the software. You pay per month, so you can scale your usage up or down based on your current needs

The Bottom Line
Your business is service management. Ours is service management software. Let us take care of solutions for keeping you organized, efficient and focused on what you’re best at with our software solutions. When you run into problems with your homegrown jumble of spreadsheets the only tech support you’re going to get is the “Help” feature in Excel. We’ll personally guide you through any confusion you have, on site or over the phone.

If you’re not sure about using a software package for your service business, why not try out a free trial? Most service management software is offered as a free trial, including High 5 Software’s on premise software, Service Management Enterprise (SME) and our online, hosted software, Service Management Online (SMO). If you need more advice on what product is right for you, contact us at sales@h5sw.com and we’ll help you determine which package will work best for your specific business needs.

To try a free trial of SMO, go to http://h5sw.herokuapp.com/ and click sign up!

To try out SME for free, go to http://www.high5software.com/request

For a more complete comparison of High 5 Software’s on-premise software versus our Software as a Service solution, hosted online, visit the following link:

http://high5software.com/mediawiki/index.php?title=SMO_versus_SME

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Your Competition Is Doing It…So Why Aren’t You?

In the current economic climate we are all looking to find ways to stay one step ahead of the competition.  Using technology to improve your productivity and efficiency seems like a logical solution but many service companies are not taking advantage of this.  Companies that use High 5 Software found some of the more compelling reasons were:

  • Happier Customers: Have happier Customers by providing for efficient and timely service that keeps them informed through automatic emails. A happy customer is a repeat customer.

  • More Billable Hours Equals More Revenue: Not only will you never miss a billable opportunity again with the use of automated features, but with less people needed for back office activities you can send more workers to the field to generate revenue on billable hours.  One High5 customer increased billing 35%.

  • Increased Productivity & Efficiency: Increase your company’s productivity and efficiency by eliminating double entry and having all information available to you in a single all inclusive package. How many times have you lost a job because the request from a customer that was written down on a piece of paper was lost or had incorrect information? One High5 customer reassigned 3 office staff.

  • Grow Faster Than Your Competition – Expand Your Service Area: Increase your client base with top notch customer service and expand your work region using subcontractors all of which is easily managed within SME to help boost revenue.

  • Professional & Incisive Messaging: Build enterprise ready forms, reports, contracts, proposals, with all of your data and information readily available to you to compose whatever you need.

  • Get Paid Faster – Reduce Back Office Processing Time: Shorten the cycle between getting paid and servicing your customers as well as proposal turnover, order/service fulfillment, & invoicing.  Your customers actually love when they get invoices right away so they can budget.

Providing a quality service to your customers is an important part of staying ahead in a competitive economic climate. Using software should be thought of as a tool to to help you run a better service company and provide that quality service that keeps your customers coming back. If you are looking to stay one step ahead of the competition, become more efficient with less office staff, and increase revenue & billing then contact High 5 Software by…clicking here.

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Being Covered By Support Is Like Having An Umbrella…Without One You Will Get Soaked If It Rains

As a business owner or manager you are always looking for ways to streamline and increase efficiencies in regard to the processes involved in running your business. A lot of time and effort went into your research for the right solution. Your decision to invest in your business by utilizing the solution offered by High 5 Software was made because you saw a definite return on investment (ROI). Some of the things that you discovered were:

  • More Billable Hours: You will never miss a billable opportunity again with the use of automated features. With less people needed for back office activities you can free up time for technicians to generate revenue with billable hours in the field.
  • Expand Your Service Area: Increase your client base with top notch customer service and expand your work region using streamlined subcontractor management.
  • Get Paid Up Front & Faster: Save money everyday by being paid earlier using our prepaid services feature. Invoice with ease using our diverse billing options; combined, partial, progress, & recurring.
  • Cash Flow Management: With streamlined inventory, invoicing, subcontractor, delivery & service you will better manage your cash flow and always be notified which what accounts are outstanding.
  • Sales Force Automation: Boost revenue through service industry best practices with complete customer relationship management features. You can provide follow up activities and easily create & deliver proposals.
  • Build Profitable Maintenance Contracts: Set recurring billing and service level agreements (SLA) to get better support retention rates and generate more revenue.
  • After you have made the investment in your business the question is how do you optimize and protect that investment? Or, to say it another way, how do I make sure that I am covered? That is where High 5 Software’s commitment to your success comes into play thru support.

If in your service business you run a fleet of service trucks to get your techs to the customer’s location, how much does it cost you in lost revenue or wasted labor costs when your trucks are broken down and your techs are idle as you scramble to find someone that can fix your trucks? Do you take on the expense of having a full time mechanic on the payroll along with the necessary equipment that they would need? Or do you look for a reliable solution (support) outside of your business so that you do not have to incur the overhead costs yourself? I think we all know the answer to that.

Having current support for your Service Management Enterprise software gives you access to a first class development and support team that is specifically dedicated to your success in regards to the benefits that attracted you to High 5 Software in the first place. All this is accomplished without you having to add to your payroll by hiring additional staff. The other option would be incurring the expense of having to train existing personnel which would most likely have a negative effect on their other duties…particularly if they are directly involved in the generation of revenue for your company.

You talk and we listen. One of the key ingredients in the enhancements and upgrades that go into the SME software comes from the feedback that we get from you. Our expert development and support team puts in many hours listening to customers and enhancing products to improve your business processes and drive efficiency. The only way to reap the benefits of this is by being on an active support plan. I am sure that you would want to ensure the success of your investment now and into the future…Click here to learn more.

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First Time Successful Service

There are a number of business solutions for managing work orders and field service companies.  A number of these solutions emphasize Routing and Mapping as the most important feature.  For companies dealing with critical equipment,  high tech repair, or regular inspection service, this is far from the most important aspect of service management.  Routing and mapping is only important for delivery businesses and high volume or rapid low tech service.

Companies that use High 5 Software solutions are dealing with high end equipment like satellite systems, hot water & solar systems, security, fire safety, elevators, audio/visual equipment, IT, and others.  The techs hired are pretty smart and capable.  These techs know how to “route” to the job site, that is the very least of their worries and definitely don’t need people in the back office telling them how to follow a map or directions on their GPS device.

THE most important aspects for the smart technicians working in these industries are the following:

  • Customer & Equipment:  Fully understand the customer and all the equipment and details about the job site.
  • Parts: Know exactly what parts will be needed for the service work.
  • People: Send the RIGHT tech to do the job.  The closest tech may not have the necessary skills or compliance certifications.

Let me explain each of these.  First and foremost is Customer & Equipment.  Both the people in the office and the techs in the field need to fully understand details about the customer and specifically their equipment or systems that need to be serviced.  If a customer has a gas water heater and you send an electrical tech to the job site, you have failed for first time service success.  If the customer has a Linux server and you send the closest tech that has only Windows experience, it will be a complete failure. If a customer calls for service and you know that another piece of equipment is coming due for scheduled maintenance, you can add that to the job and save an extra trip.

Secondly is Parts.  By knowing the equipment on site all the parts and replacement equipment can be made available for the technician.  In some cases specialized equipment is drop shipped directly to the customer site.  Sometimes the tech needs to go to the warehouse and pickup a load of parts & equipment for the job, sometimes the tech needs to go to the supplier to get some parts, and the rest of the time the techs truck has the parts tracked and available on their truck as a “rolling warehouse”.  The worst thing to happen when doing service is to realize part way through that you don’t have the necessary parts to complete the job.  Then you have to stop, go to the supplier or back to main warehouse, then back to the job site to complete the job.  During this time, the customer equipment may be out of service even longer causing customer dissatisfaction.  You can have the best routing in the world, but if the tech doesn’t have the right parts, it’s a complete waste of time.

Finally are the People or Techs.  Getting the right or best tech to the job site is equally important.  If you are doing work for Home Depot and they require that all technicians have up to the date background checks and that they are certified for specific type of work, then if you send the wrong tech, you could be in violation of the agreement and lose this customer.  Not only do you need to know the tech’s that are certified for the work, but you need to send the tech or tech’s that have the best chance to succeed in the shortest time frame.  In some cases this might be subcontractors that can be scheduled for the work.  For sophisticated service companies, it’s rarely the closest tech who would be the best for the job.

Once you know the Customer & Equipment, have the right Parts for the job, and assign the correct Techs then this will provide the best chance for first time successful service.  Then send the address to the tech, they are smart enough to “route” and find the best way to get to the job site!

Pyramid

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The Hidden Cost of Custom Software

Although it looks easy, developing custom software for your business is very hard.  Custom business software is ten times more expensive than off the shelf software.  Full Article

Instead of taking the path of custom development or continuing to hang on to your existing custom solution (which includes a bunch of excel files all over the place!), search for an off-the-shelf solution in your industry.  It’s critical that you look for a solution within your industry, there are many companies that have been around for many years honing their solutions for your industry.  If you feel that you will need custom elements or that you have custom business processes, find an off-the-shelf solution or a company that is willing do custom development around their standard solution.

If you have any inclination about developing your own custom business solution, STOP.  Find an industry specific off-the-shelf solution.  This will allow you to focus on your business, and let the business software companies get you up and going on the off-the-shelf solution.  If you have a field service company dealing with higher end equipment, inventory, or subcontractors contact High 5 Software or email sales to see if our software fits your needs.  If our software doesn’t fit your needs, keep looking, in fact our sales people will recommend other solutions if ours is not a fit.

Full Article

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High 5 Software ranked #11 Top Field Service Management Software

High 5 Software has been ranked #11 in the list of top field service management software!  Thanks to our customers, employees and partners of making this happen!

Top Field Service Software

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Business Equipment Deduction Section 179

This is a great time to purchase capital equipment and software for your business.  2012 still has the Section 179 deduction up to $139K for new and used equipment and software like SME from High 5 Software or $560K total.  See this link for a simplified explanation: Section179.org  or go to the IRS site for the unreadable version :)  IRS 179 Deduction

While congress farts around on the fiscal cliff, it’s not clear if this will continue next year so take advantage of this deduction this year, especially if you have profits in your business.  Of course, if you don’t have profits in your business, maybe you should buy software to improve your profitability!

Mention this blog and your salesperson can provide up to 5% discount on your High 5 Software purchases for Dec 2012 only.

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