Your service technicians are busy, and that’s exactly how you want it. You’re a technology service provider after all, and having busy techs means profit. But heavy workloads mean more job details to keep track of, and failure to capture tech utilization data can really hurt long-term ROI and profitability.
Collecting tech utilization data and time logs used to mean keeping track of lots of paper and turning them in back at the office to be entered into a rudimentary system or filed away. That kind of handoff and manual entry left a lot of room for error and waiting for data.
Today, the industry best practice is to have a professional services automation (PSA) software or business automation platform that pulls together business proposals and quotes, service ticketing, billing/invoicing, inventory and asset tracking, project management and more so that everyone in the company has insight into each account in order to do their specific job. For techs, this means having instant access to all of the tools and documentation needed to complete a job. For you as a business leader, that means having access to all of the data you need to calculate profitability.
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How does that work? We asked two business leaders and users of business automation software to provide insight on their daily operations and used that information to put together this in-depth look at three ways a PSA software improves tech time-tracking and utilization and increases profitability.
Integrate time logs
With a PSA software, techs don’t have to wait to turn in a time log at the end of a pay period well after they’ve forgotten what they spent time working on during a specific job or on a specific day.
Instead, techs can enter the time spent on each service order into the desktop or cloud platform (depending on which business automation software you have). Most PSA software solutions also offer a mobile app that allows techs to keep track on-the-go of travel time, time spent on each ticket and parts used. And apps usually include a timer function so the tech doesn’t have to do any math. (We’re not judging).
“(The mobile app) has been a game changer for us,” says Mike Meldrum, CEO/President of Complete Interactive Technologies, Inc. in Clinton Township, Mich. “The techs like it and find it easier than logging in from a computer. When you make things easier, people are more apt to do the things they should have been doing all along.”
But if you have some techs not quite comfortable with mobile apps (again, no judgement here), time logs still are available and easy to access via the main application.
“Every tech enters his time into the software after each ticket is worked,” says Jeff Borello, CEO of Andromeda Technology Solutions in Lockport, Ill. “Most techs do this directly into the software. Some field techs use mobile, but most do not. We have a few techs that submit their time to the office and their service coordinator enters their time for them.”
Once you know how much time each tech spends on a specific job, you can use that data to make sure that you are maximizing tech utilization and billable hours.
Different techs often have different strengths. Maybe John is quicker on certain service tickets and Rick is better at others. Your service manager and/or dispatcher can access to that data in the PSA software and can use it to try to send the best guy for the job or know to allow less or more time for a resolution. This will help eliminate downtime.
“Clearly,” Borello says, “if a tech is sitting around with nothing to do — that is a problem.”
Plus, if techs are entering information into the mobile app, the dispatcher can monitor progress of the entire fleet and anticipate early or late arrivals, assign new jobs or re-arrange schedules as needed without calling any of the techs. All the while, the data is being collected in the business automation software for analysis.
"We were missing too much time on our projects,” Meldrum says. “We have never had more accurate job tracking than we have today with mobile.”
Now that you have data for tech time logs and utilization, you have all the information in the PSA software you need to calculate profitability, which is really the true measurement of how effectively you are using your techs. Simply add up tech time, including travel, overtime and on-call costs, and compare that to the payment you collected or the client’s contracted fee.
“For break-fix type shops, 100 percent for sure you want to be tracking (time and utilization) on a daily and weekly basis,” Borello says. “Hourly work is all about utilization. However, for fixed-fee work, it tends to be more about the client contracts and their profit.”
With a business automation software, you can also break down profitability based on different factors, including per project, by account or even on a specific contract.
“This is a no brainer,” Meldrum says. “If you want to track project time more effectively and accurately so you can really look at project profitability, you need to track time efficiently. Otherwise, you’re just hoping you’re doing OK, and, as we all know, hope is not a business strategy.”
Take the next step
Want to see how a business automation software can help your business improve tech utilization and increase profitability? Start your search for the right solution by downloading our PSA Checklist for Technology Service SMBs.