Over the last several years we have seen the scalability of modern cloud software bring significant gains to small and medium sized businesses.
Organizations are updating their traditional operating software and in turn increasing the efficiency of their operations by displacing manual processes and leveraging more accurate data through broader and deeper ERP operational software, such as NetSuite. They are managing customer orders, service, inventory, scheduling, billing, and reporting better than ever before.
Frequently, these same organizations focus on operational improvements within their walls but fail to bring the same level of focus to their field operations. They are still following manual processes for scheduling work, fulfilling orders, invoicing the customer, and more.
Disconnected systems cause delays in service
As an example, we will use a fictitious company, Clean Water, Inc, but reference real operational practices we see all too often.
Clean Water is the leader in their geographic market for providing consumables, equipment, and services for water systems used in manufacturing.
On any given day, here are Clean Water’s daily field related operations:
- A morning crew goes through every van. The crew checks the shelves and boxes and takes a count of standard consumables and frequently used equipment, then loads them up to a defined minimum amount. They also load unique items for specific work orders. As business grows, they add more members to this team.
- The service reps work within a defined territory. They are provided a list of work orders each day. The service reps review the customer addresses and plan the order of their visits. The location planning is relatively effective, although little consideration is applied for the time needed for various customer visits. Often, customers farther from the facility are put off for several days, as the drivers tend to start with the closest customers first.
- In the field, service reps frequently find technical issues that require special parts. The reps call the home office, where they confirm the needed part is “in stock.” Unfortunately, the inventory system doesn’t note a location, which means someone has it in their van. This begins a series of calls to track down the missing part.
- Service reps fill out job sheets for every customer visit. They document their labor and parts that were used. At the end of the day, the job sheets are handed in at the office. An administrative staff goes through all job sheets, enters labor time, updates inventory, and produces invoicing for the customer.
- Invoices are frequently challenged, as the person who initiated the service doesn’t know who authorized additional parts or services.
Do any of these situations apply to your organization?
If so, it is time to modernize your field-related operations by extending your ERP functionality into the field with an integrated Field Services application.
There are many opportunities for improvement, including:
- Reduce manual inventory review and counting.
- Increase inventory and location accuracy, including within vehicles.
- More accurately plan routes and timeframes.
- Capture time, parts, and labor on the job site.
- Receive customer sign off on order changes.
- Automatically produce and update invoices.
- Reduce manual data entry.
It is easy for an organization to lose sight of their field efficiencies and instead focus solely on internal business processes. If using an ERP such as NetSuite, you can extend your operational insights into the field with MSI’s NetSuite field service management integration, and therefore fully utilize your ERP system to the best of its ability.
It’s imperative to determine whether your ERP software addresses your business needs holistically. That way, you can ensure that your company is operating at peak efficiency levels, both inside and out.
If you have questions about how your business can best modernize your field practices, our team at BerganKDV can help. Contact us or consider checking out this free product tour of NetSuite, so you can experience for yourself why it’s the #1 preferred cloud-based ERP system.
About the Author
Tim Ernst, ERP Solution Leader, BerganKDV
With 27 years of experience in information technology and operational consulting, Tim successfully leads the ERP solution team at BerganKDV. He brings creative and sound solutions to clients in technology consulting, business process consulting, technology operation alignment, cloud solutions & ERP software and strategic leadership.