Handheld computing devices, like the smartphone and tablet, have seen a dramatic surge in the last decade—especially the ever-popular iPad. Their popularity comes from their convenience and the sheer potential that comes from having essentially a personal computer in the palm of your hand.
That potential has been put toward video games, various recreational apps, and methods of connecting with others, but handheld devices have quickly made their way into the business realm to improve efficiency and workflow as well. Let’s take a look at how an iPad or similar handheld/mobile device loaded with work order management software can create a more efficient business.
An Upgrade on the Handheld Concept
Handhelds aren’t an entirely new concept in work order management. They were a good way to automate processes and do away with much of the paperwork for a greener, eco-friendly workplace. In the past, handhelds were called data collection units and were available for all industries. You could customize them to work with your company’s CMMS (computerized maintenance management system).
However, most of these units were small and clunky for technicians who got their hands a little dirty in the field. Time-saving features, like simple dropdown menus, were mostly absent. Worst of all, the units were docking-type units. In order to download and upload data, you had to plug these handhelds into computers. It was near impossible to receive real-time data for reactive and emergency work. Technicians had to waste precious time plugging and docking their handheld units during the work shift just to get their work tickets.
Smartphones, tablets, and iPads are a much-needed upgrade on these handheld units. They can perform the same basic tasks plus so much more, and in a much more efficient way. Given the easy interface, your technicians can write work orders, perform preventative maintenance procedures, and review drawing and schematics in mere minutes, all from their iPads.
IPads and tablets have the added benefit of large screens on top of slick design. Your techs have plenty of room for looking at lists, drawings, and schematics, and the touchscreen gives them space for writing notes and comments and capturing customer approval signatures at the job site. With the built-in camera, your in-field technicians can take pictures for their records or send them to headquarters for advice or assistance.
Greater Speed, Accuracy, and Functionality
There’s no more waiting around when you have the power and convenience of an iPad in your hands. Dispatchers can send electronic work orders with the click of the button. From there, the technicians can locate and navigate to the work order destination using built-in maps and GPS. You can update the status of a job and ensure that everyone—client, dispatch, and technician—knows what has and hasn’t yet been completed.
The iPad and its many mobile apps offer a great deal of automation that extends to managing work orders. You can automatically calculate invoice totals, avoiding human math errors. Tracking and invoicing parts is simpler than ever, so you can stop losing money on lost parts that haven’t been invoiced. The digital format means your brand can save money on paper and paper goods as well.
All of the information your technicians collect in the field transfers into your work order system and can be directly siphoned into Quickbooks or other accounting software. The days of lost paperwork, delays with data entry, and messy handwriting are of the past.
With any business, it all comes down to quality. If your team isn’t exactly on par with producing quality documentation or work requests, you can’t expect an iPad and a bit of software to fix everything. After all, paperwork is as much a part of the process as getting into the field.
Before you even get the mobile devices into your technicians’ hands, make sure they are up to speed with proper procedures and are capable of producing good written work orders. From there, you can introduce them to the upgraded tech and help them understand the value of using mobile devices.
Mobile devices can do wonders to improve quality and efficiency. With the right set up and a knowledgeable team, you should have no problem finishing the day with better work orders and asset data.