The Ascent Field Service Blog

Field Service Tips and Information

Ascent Business Systems, Inc. is a leading provider of mobile software for the field service industry with over 25 years of experience helping small to medium sized businesses overcome operational inefficiencies. Ascent is currently in use by a wide range of businesses with revenues of $250,000 to $500,000,000 comprised of a multitude of service providers within the Trade, Technology and Capital Equipment industries. Ascent now services clients in every major service vertical and metro area in North America.

The Service Glossary: First Time Part Fill Rate

Christopher Esselborn - Wednesday, September 02, 2015

The Field Service Glossary

Earlier in this series, we covered First Time Fix Rate, one of the leading metrics in the service industry. Today, we are reviewing First Time Part Fill Rate, a number which provides greater insight into the impact your inventory management has on your ability to complete the job.


Week 8: First Time Part Fill Rate, Do your technicians have the right parts to get the job done? 


How to Calculate:  Add the total number of service calls for a given period (month) with parts transactions that did not require a return or repeat trip to complete. Divide that number by the total number of calls with parts transactions for the same time period to better understand what percentage of your service calls with parts transactions are completed in the first trip. Factors that affect First Time Part Fill Rate include improper truck and/or main office inventory stocking. After an understanding is gained into the First Time Fix rate, look for part usage patterns in your 'return/repeat' calls. 


Ascent Business Systems is a Sage 100 Development Partner with over 30 years experience developing service management solutions designed to work seamlessly with Sage accounting solutions. The Ascent product line provides clients with a wide range of world class service management tools, superb reporting capability and scalability for growing businesses. These products include AS Office for the back office, AS Mobile and AS Cloud for your customers and workforce.

Windows 10, Is it Sage 100 Compatible?

Christopher Esselborn - Monday, July 27, 2015

     

      Windows 10


      In less than a day, Microsoft is set to release their latest operating system release, Microsoft Windows 10.  The new version is a hybrid of legacy and Windows 8 features and is being advertised as Free for Windows 7 and Windows 8 users, but before investing in a Windows 10 operating system or new computers with Windows 10, you should consider the following.


      •    • Sage has not yet tested the Windows 10 software so we are unable to determine Sage 100’s compatibility with Microsoft's new OS.

      •    • Sage will officially certify the product, but this usually occurs after the product has had some time with the general public so that any ‘buggy’ issues are ironed out.

      •    • Older versions of AutomatedService (prior to v.2014) will not be compatible with Windows 10


      We advise, in the meantime, that all users continue to use Windows 7 or 8 and to also stay tuned. Ascent Business Systems will keep you updated on the compatibility of Sage 100 with Windows 10. Its simple, either visit our news web page or continue to follow this blog.


      Ascent Business Systems is a Sage Development Partner with over 30 years experience developing service management solutions designed to work seamlessly with Sage accounting solutions. The Ascent product line provides clients with a wide range of world class service management tools, superb reporting capability and scalability for growing businesses. These products include AS Office for the back office, AS Mobile and the AS Cloud for your customers and workforce. It is recommended that you continue using Windows 7 and Windows 8 until Sage officially certifies the product.

The Service Glossary: Number of Touches/Closure

Christopher Esselborn - Tuesday, June 30, 2015

 

    The Field Service Glossary

     

     

    This week we are highlighting another important KPI for the back office. When you take the time to learn how to calculate and interpret the number of touches/closure per call in your business, you are enabling your company to overcome operational deficiencies and to also speed up routine processes.


    Week 6: Number of Touches/Closure


    How to Calculate: Collect the number of employees who interact with the service call-from the initial phone call-through completion. It is also extremely important to take note of the number of times each employee engages with a service call. A simple chart is helpful in visualizing the process so that you can more easily identify and eliminate repetitive processes.

     

    If Call has no problems:

    Call Received 

    Work order processed 

    Work Scheduled 

    Customer called to schedule

    Technician scheduled

    Technician Called

    Job Performed 

    Paperwork Submitted 

     

     

     

    Mindy

    Harry

    Harry

    Mindy

    Harry

    Mindy

    Technician

    Technician

     

     

    If Call has issues:

    Customer reschedule

    Tech reschedule

    Technician called

    Job needs parts

    Pick-up parts

    Incorrect parts

    Parts need ordering

    Pick-up new parts

    Job Performed 

    Paperwork Submitted

     

    Mindy

    Harry

    Mindy

    Wiseman's Son

    Technician

    Technician

    Wiseman's Son

    Technician

    Technician

    Mindy


    Use the visualization to help you identify and eliminate the repetitive processes. 


    Quick Tip: Establish procedures to enhance you workflow. By automating your manual processes, you can greatly reduce the amount of time required to gather documentation (ie installed equipment, whether covered under maintenance agreement/warranty, priority level, service address and A/R records)


    Ascent Business Systems is a Sage Development Partner with over 30 years experience developing service management solutions designed to work seamlessly with Sage accounting solutions. The Ascent product line provides clients with a wide range of world class service management tools, superb reporting capability and scalability for growing businesses. These products include AS Office for the back office, AS Mobile and the AS Cloud for your customers and workforce.

The Service Glossary: Average Time to Invoice

Christopher Esselborn - Wednesday, June 10, 2015

 

    The Field Service Glossary

     

     

    We have been focused on KPIs that demonstrate how your company performs during field operations, but this week, we’d like to highlight a KPI that is vital to your back office operations. By utilizing Average Time to Invoice, your company gains a greater understanding of how efficiently your service and office workforce perform in completing service call invoices.


     

    Week 4: Average Time to Invoice


     

    How to Calculate: Collect the count for each separate invoice.  For each invoice, collect the  number of days passed to bill (invoice date) a service job, once it is received back from the technician (service job complete date). Summarize the number of total number of days between service jobs completion and invoice date, and then divide your total by the number of invoices in your sample batch.  Factors that affect Average Time to Invoice include: customer service; service administration; service logistics; service ticket transcription and the service close out processing.


     

    Quick Tip: Automation will increase productivity while decreasing the amount of time to collection. Be aware of common bottlenecks associated with manual processes like document verification-installed equipment, labor rates,etc-and deciphering handwritten tickets. All of these factor into and affect your cash flow.


     

    Ascent Business Systems is a Sage Development Partner with over 30 years experience developing service management solutions designed to work seamlessly with Sage accounting solutions. The Ascent product line provides clients with a wide range of world class service management tools, superb reporting capability and scalability for growing businesses. These products include AS Office for the back office, AS Mobile and the AS Cloud for your customers and workforce.

The Service Glossary: Average Daily Work Orders Completed per Tech

Christopher Esselborn - Monday, April 20, 2015

 

    The Field Service Glossary

    This is the second installment in a series of short definitions for over 30 industry KPIs and how they are calculated. This particular KPI is very simple, but it is important to start with the basics. Over the upcoming weeks, the KPIs will become more complex, more meaningful and more beneficial.

     

     

    Key performance Indicators are measurements that evaluate how effectively an organization is achieving a particular activity or business objective. To select the right KPIs for your business, you need to know your business goals and you need to understand how to measure your progress toward them. 

     

    Week 2: Average Daily Work Orders Completed per Tech

     

    Definition: The total number of work orders closed by a technician per day.

     

    How to Calculate: Collect the count for each separate technician and divide their total by the number of days (weekly, monthly, quarterly) to better understand technician productivity. 

     

    Ascent Business Systems is a Sage Development Partner with over 30 years experience developing service management solutions designed to work seamlessly with Sage accounting solutions. The Ascent product line provides clients with a wide range of world class service management tools, superb reporting capability and scalability for growing businesses. These products include AS Office for the back office, AS Mobile and the AS Cloud for your customers and workforce.

Spring to the Next Level: 25% Off All Mobile Products!

Christopher Esselborn - Wednesday, April 01, 2015

    Mobile Field Service

     

    HURRY, THIS OFFER IS ONLY AVAILABLE UNTIL APRIL 30TH.

     

    Join the service industry's mobile revolution! It’s your turn to realize the significant ROI that other business owners are having by optimizing your operational performance and reducing your overhead costs with an Ascent mobile service solution.

     

    Ascent Business Systems, a leading provider of Sage 100 mobile service solutions with a perfect 11 year track record of successful deployments, now proudly offers two best of class mobile solutions: AS Mobile, a powerful app that is fully integrated into America's number one personal information management system, Microsoft Office Outlook; and AS Cloud, the real-time, web-based (cloud) app that securely transacts service information from any web browser device. Exceed your customers' expectations by providing your workforce with all the business critical information-customer, inventory, asset and warranty details-to transact and present service work in the most efficient method possible!

     

    It's 2015 and mobile devices are clearly here to stay. Its true and business owners world wide are trading in their whiteboards and paper-based systems for smart devices and software. Don't get left behind; contact us today to get 25% off your next mobile solution!

    Ascent Business Systems is a Sage Development Partner with over 30 years experience developing service management solutions designed to work seamlessly with Sage accounting solutions. The Ascent product line provides clients with a wide range of world class service management tools, superb reporting capability and scalability for growing businesses. These products include AS Office for the back office, AS Mobile and AS Cloud for your customers and workforce.

     

    This promotional offer is valid until April 30th, 2015. Promotional pricing is for new license purchases only. For additional details please contact us at sales@ascent-sys.com.

Your 5 Step Guide to Improving Mobile Solution Adoption

Christopher Esselborn - Monday, November 24, 2014

    Technician Acceptance

     

    The number of technicians that any one field service business employs ranges greatly; one common characteristic common to all is the workforce resistance to change. As managers we have to be sensitive to a lot of different personalities and if you’re like most, you know that it can be very difficult to transition a large workforce away from something they are very comfortable with; regardless of how good or bad it is! So how do you get your staff to adopt a new mobile solution?

     

    1. 1. Work with Familiar Solutions
    1.  

    2. It’s no surprise that the majority of the enterprise work force today has a high level of familiarity with Microsoft products. Back offices across the world have been using Windows and Windows-related products for decades and with the recent/upcoming release of products like Office 365 and Windows 8, it’s easy to see why businesses are faithfully sticking with Microsoft. By adopting a product like, SvcForce which integrates directly into Microsoft Office Outlook, you’ll be removing the fear of an unfamiliar solution by leveraging a common user interface that your workforce is already used to using on a daily basis.

    1.  

  1. 2. Ensure that Your New Provider has a Good Pilot Program
    1.  

    2. You would be surprised at the number of companies who jump headlong into a new solution. It’s good to be enthusiastic about moving forward, but one misplaced step can easily sidetrack the best of intentions. By making sure that your provider has a sound pilot program, you make it possible for a small team of your senior techs to construct workflows that improve efficiency by removing operational redundancies. And with the senior techs on board, you can expect higher rates of adoption from your less experienced staff members.

    3.  

    4. 3. Choose a Device Your Workforce can Depend Upon

    5.  

    6. When I ask people to think about popular mobile devices today, they usually mention the iPad or sometimes they’ll mention an Android based Tablet, but the reality is that even though these are great consumer devices, they don’t always meet the business requirements of your field techs. Remember, solutions drive devices and not the other way around. Using a device like a Dell Venue 11, on the other hand, gives your techs more than a glorified browser based tablet; it gives them a device with powerful desktop computer capabilities—something that our old laptop using techs are used to using on the road.

 

4. Give Them the Ability to Customize the User Interface

 

As simple as that sounds, there are several mobile solution providers that give you the option of having just one set of views with just one set of colors, etc. So what happens when your company thinks that a tech needs to see the estimated hours for a job more than they need to know the equipment ID? Or maybe your company uses purple instead of green to show open jobs? Customizing your mobile solution should be easy. In AS Mobile, there are user interface tools available to show techs as much or as little content as necessary, have the ability to re-column content, views or even change display colors to meet alerting needs.

 

5. Choose a Product that Works Offline

 

The one aspect of a paper-based company that technicians miss is the ability to work without the internet. But having the power of mobile field service automation shouldn’t prevent your team from doing their job whether or not they have a broadband connection to the internet. A sound mobile solution will give your techs the ability to transact job details, finish the job offline and have the solution automatically synchronize to the back office when the internet connection becomes available. Remember, a mobile solution should be designed to do more than just get rid of paper; it should be designed to improve the lives of your techs, operations staff and most importantly, your customers.

 

Ascent Business Systems, Inc. is a leading provider of mobile software for the field service industry with over 30 years of experience helping small to medium sized businesses overcome operational inefficiencies. Ascent is currently in use by a wide range of businesses with revenues of $250,000 to $500,000,000 comprised of a multitude of service providers within the Trade, Technology and Capital Equipment industries. Founded in 1988, Ascent now services clients in every major service vertical and metro area in North America. For additional information.

 

 

Mobile Field Service Software: Getting the Job Done, Offline

Christopher Esselborn - Monday, November 24, 2014

Mobile Field Service 


By definition, field technicians’ work remotely in a wide variety of settings and at times a site is not conducive to internet connectivity. Techs are now able to access vital information that can make the difference between a repeat visit or a first time fix, but what happens to a tech when they arrive on site and there isn’t an available internet connection?

 

Nothing!


  • Applications like AS Mobile have been designed to keep the workforce operating regardless of internet connectivity. With AS Mobile, techs not only retain the ability to view jobs and other important information, they also have the ability to continue processing their work. Here are some ways that SvcForce enhances the offline experience:
  •  
    • AS Mobile is built within Microsoft Office Outlook which already optimizes the offline experience with ‘Microsoft Cached Exchange Mode.’ You can simply toggle it on and start caching emails ‘locally’ rather than on your server.

  • All jobs enter AS Mobile via email. After you receive a job, you never have to worry about losing any of the details. It’s stored on the system, just like the rest of your emails.

  • Job Details include site information, equipment history, warranty information, service level agreements and more.

  • Tech’s can still enter all of their important details: Job Notes, Repair Details, Labor Time, Inventory, Purchases, Materials, Signatures and Payment. 

  • Data is stored on the Tech’s device until an internet connection is reestablished at which point it is communicated back to the office.
  • AS Mobile Calendars are available at all times so you’re always in sync with the back office even if your internet connection isn’t.
  •  

Mobile Field Service - 3 Tips for Improving First Time Fix Rates

Christopher Esselborn - Friday, November 21, 2014

First Time Fix Rate


Field service has come a long way since its traditional ‘break-fix’ model, but customers are still demanding more from their service providers. It is no longer enough to just send out a technician, clients expect resolution right away. So how can you take advantage of this trend in your operational efforts? Here are 3 tips to improving your first call resolution rates.


1. Use All Your Resources

When business is booming, it can be nearly impossible to get a technician who has the right set of skills to the job site. Service centers, however, can overcome this dilemma by using an appropriate mobile software solution.

By using a mobile solution like, AS Mobile, field technicians are able to troubleshoot problems in real time with experts in their back office or with their peers in the field via video conferencing technology.

This ability to communicate information ‘visually’ greatly expedites resolution by allowing techs to show-not just ‘describe’-the root of the problem, to an expert. In today’s world, there is no more room for miscommunication or for waiting on an email, results are needed immediately.

 

2. Calendars Aren't Just an Asset for Your Back Office

It’s no surprise that calendars are a business-critical aspect of scheduling for dispatchers, in any service organization. They are used to help the back office track and guide the flow of service workforce resources in relation to demand in order to be as efficient as possible.

Field technicians can reap those same benefits and more when given access to the same information. Improved arrival time on site and route optimization quickly come to mind, but let’s not forget about the time saved avoiding phone bottlenecks and office visits.

Techs that use AS Mobile have access to their daily, weekly and monthly schedules. New jobs enter the system as ‘alerts’ and are automatically queued into the system so you never have to worry about missing another job.

 

3. Information, Information and More Information

Technicians are now expected to know everything about their client and their machines - even if they have never personally worked with the customer before. This means equipment history, service level agreements, new regulations and more are imperative for success.

Mobile software provides the proper framework and information to take advantage of the ever changing landscape of competitive field service.

3 Steps to Jump-Start Your Mobile Service Strategy

Christopher Esselborn - Friday, November 21, 2014

Mobile Field Service

 

Mobility for service organizations is becoming necessity rather than a luxury in today’s quickly evolving mobile workforce environment. The idea of doing more with less is attractive for those companies looking to maximize revenues while also reducing costs, but service manager’s must keep in mind that mobile adoption is about more than just IT expenditure—there must be a strategy in place. So how do you plan for mobile success? We’ve come up with a few tips to help you jump-start you mobile field service strategy.

 

1. Plan on Reducing Your Touch Points

Overlooking something as simple as system integration is easy with all the bells and whistles-like GPS routing & video conferencing-being marketed today, but it could be the biggest mistake you make. The number of employees that ‘touch’ or interact with a service request influences cost, accuracy, timeliness of service and cash flow. Service related data that is re-keyed multiple times creates areas of redundancy within an organization and also provides inconsistent results. By planning ahead and using mobile software that automatically communicates and integrates field details to the back office, there is no need to worry about data reentry or even worse, data reentry mistakes which can dramatically increase operational costs.

 

2. Ensure Access to Mission Critical Information

Just because your remote technicians are able to receive jobs and transmit work details back to the office does not mean they are equipped to compete in today’s market. Customers expect fast service which often requires more than just a prompt arrival. In order to wow your clients and improve first time fix rates, you need a system that empowers your field technicians with all your customer information: SLA; Equipment History; Job Notes: Purchase History; Warranties and more. Not only will your techs be better positioned to give top level customer service, you’ll also notice that your phone lines have less incoming traffic from information seeking techs.

 

3. Keep Your Customers in The Loop

Your field techs are up to date, but what about your customers? Utilizing cloud based portals-like Ascent’s AS Cloud-will dramatically improve your mobile strategy by allowing your customers to place and track service jobs in ‘real-time’ without needing to waste their or your valuable time on a phone call. All information is immediately and automatically transmitted to and from the back office without ever needing to reenter information. You’ll not only delight your customers, you’ll also be reducing your administration time in the process.


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    Ascent Business Systems, Inc. is a provider of enterprise automated service management software with a solution portfolio with office , mobile and cloud offerings.  With 30 years of experience solving operational business challenges, our offering of solutions and best practice business knowledge will provide you with a competitive edge, increased profitability and overall service enterprise productivity.