Colin Yates, Chief Support officer at WorkMobile, an award-winning data capture solution, offers his advice to electricians.
From quotes and invoices, to inventory logs and job sheets, few professions have as much essential paperwork to complete on a regular basis as electricians. Physical paperwork can be difficult to file and store safely at the best of times, but this becomes much harder when workers aren’t office-based.
Little surprise, then, that more and more electrical contracting businesses are embracing digital transformation – that is, replacing cumbersome manual processes with streamlined digital ones. By going paperless, electricians can not only improve workflow management and save themselves time and money, but also improve their compliance, protecting themselves against complaints and legal issues.
Let’s take a closer look at how.
Paperless technology…enhanced productivity
Paper-based processes generally take more time to complete than digital ones. Forms need to be designed, filled in, returned to the office, copied over to a computer database and manually filed. Digitise those processes and you can use, say, drag-and-drop form designers to speed up the initial design processes, mobile signature captures to get customer sign-off via a tablet or smartphone and import that data directly to a cloud-based database, and even capture information like photographs and videos on the move which area automatically filed and stored.
In practice, this means that electrical contractors can complete and file all their necessary paperwork on the move and without the extra administrative burden of duplicating information back at the office. And because all data is stored in the cloud, they can access and fill out key information and documents on their mobile devices. In turn, this enables them to move more efficiently between appointments, and complete more jobs. Everyone is a winner.
Meanwhile, using digital job dispatching tools can enable electrical contracting businesses to create and schedule jobs, and send real-time updates and notifications to contractors whilst jobs are being completed, enabling a far more dynamic and responsive approach to allocating resource.
Paperless technology…improves accuracy
Reducing errors and inaccuracies is a key challenge for any business, but particularly for compliance-heavy businesses which rely on mobile workers moving from job to job – like electrical contractors. There is always a risk of paper documents completed on a job being incomplete or lost – and in turn, this could contravene professional standards, health and safety regulations and even put customers in danger.
These risks can be dramatically alleviated by replicating forms and reports digitally, enabling electricians to complete them in real-time via an app on a mobile device. With the information captured stored automatically on a central cloud-based platform, files cannot be saved incorrectly or lost on the way back to the office. Barcode and QR code scanning can be incorporated for automatic data capture and cross-referencing with your own database, if you need to look up product or asset information.
Paperless technology…enhances compliance
Regulatory compliance and health and safety requirements are key considerations for any electrician, but can require cumbersome forms and checklists to maintain. By digitising these processes, electrical contractors can not only speed up and streamline compliance processes; they can also reduce incidences of error. Meanwhile, health and safety checklists and handbooks can be saved digitally and centrally, enabling them to be updated and rolled out to all contractors rapidly. Furthermore, problems and ‘near misses’ can be easily reported, enabling the business to learn from mistakes in a streamlined way.
Paperless technology…reduces costs
The costs associated with printing and storing paper documents can be surprisingly high – and of course, the more your business grows, the more space you need. Shifting to paperless processes is a simple and straightforward means of slashing your filing and your stationery requirements.
Then there’s cashflow to consider. Paperless processes enable real-time notifications when jobs are completed, and automatic generation of digital invoices. All of this encourages faster payment, and reduces the risk of missed or inaccurate invoices.
Paperless technology…increases intelligence
Business intelligence, that is! Because paperless processes consolidate your business data into seamless digital formats, they open up new possibilities for feeding your information into tools such as Microsoft’s Power BI, Qkliview and other business intelligence tools. From there, you can create dynamic dashboards, tracking the performance of different areas of your business and ultimately enabling smarter, more strategic decisions.
With such a raft of benefits available to electrical contracting businesses which embrace paperless working, it is no wonder that more and more are taking the plunge. Are you ready?
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