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How do you improve upon a paper forms-based business process? The electrical contractor, oil rig driller, plumber and appliance repair person has been using a clipboard with paper work orders and service tickets successfully for decades. How do you improve upon this tried and true process and convince them that moving to mobile handhelds and automated business processes are better? Let me provide some ideas for your consideration:

  1. The office can wirelessly dispatch new work orders directly to a handheld device
  2. Small service companies, with an owner/operator, can take calls from customers while on the road and enter new work orders on their mobile PDA phones. These work orders can be synchronized with the office and dispatched immediately to other service technicians
  3. Wireless work orders can be integrated straight into office database applications and accounting systems so there is no additional paperwork to be entered
  4. The wireless work orders can contain all the information on the customer, warranties, equipment type and model, history of the account, driving directions, etc. No need to call the service technician on the phone and dictate all the information.
  5. Re-prioritize work orders automatically from the office to the mobile handheld device
  6. Print invoices directly from the handheld using a mobile printer and give to the customer
  7. Get a digital signature from the customer on the electronic work order
  8. Take digital pictures of the work both before and after and integrate with the wireless work order
  9. Get an automatic date and time stamp on the work order when it is opened at the customer’s site
  10. Track the time it took to complete the work – record for job scheduling and cost analysis
  11. Wirelessly synchronize completed work orders directly to the office accounting system for instant invoicing.
  12. Send parts orders directly to the office via the mobile handheld for quick processing
  13. Parts and inventory can be queried from the field. Do we have the needed part in stock either in the office or another van? If it is available in another van, where is the van? Can you drive over and retrieve it?
  14. If you implement a GPS system on your handheld computers, the office can see the location of all service technicians and optimize job dispatch
  15. The service technician can schedule future service visits on his mobile handheld computer and synchronize back to the office
  16. The service technician can estimate a new job on the handheld computer and sync this information back to the office for reference and database integration
  17. The service technician can record parts, equipment and services sales on his handheld for immediate syncing with the office
  18. The service technician can view past work orders on his handheld device for improved customer service

I heard a story about why Sears Service Technicians implemented a wireless work order system (satellite connection) in their service vans. They wanted to be able to increase the sales of warranties, parts and other appliances while at the customer’s site. The results are said to be very impressive. There is no better time to sell additional services, parts, warranties and other products than when you are with a happy customer in their home. The wireless mobile computer enabled them to fill out product and service orders at the point of work, reference online product catalogs, check shipping status and a variety of other customer friendly activities.

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