In field service, spreadsheets can cost you customers and profits. I’ve seen it happen, specifically when a business becomes reliant on spreadsheets to manage their field service operation.

So, what’s wrong with spreadsheets?

  1. No native business rule or regulation enforcement. In order to provide consistent and reliable field service, an organization must maintain regulatory compliance when handling transactions. Spreadsheets don’t offer any built-in support to track these requirements. Staff members must maintain calculations, which is time-consuming. Furthermore, simple spreadsheets don’t indicate when a calculation is out of date. Finding the offending issue can be a nightmare.
  2. No audit trail of changes. Any person with access to the network can change every cell in a spreadsheet. Identifying a training issue may be the difference between maintaining a profitable contract and losing it. Business applications, however, are configurable to support module access by group or by user. Changes are tracked so that your customers and your profits are protected.
  3. Significant potential for corruption and data loss. Modern database products, such as SQL, offer significant safeguards to prevent corruption and data loss. Spreadsheets don’t. If there is an issue that survives the preventive measures in a modern database system, data recovery is possible through a step-by-step process. Spreadsheets offer no such protections, and a lot of time can be lost in the reset.
  4. Difficulty navigating complexity. Field service is a complex undertaking. Customers, contracts, warranties, personnel, inventory and payroll appear on every work order. To maintain long-term business value, it’s important to ensure accurate billing data and access to all relevant customer intelligence. Don’t sink valuable time into maintaining spreadsheets. Instead, focus on building customer relationships and on selling new contracts. Let your application handle the data.

If you’re a field service provider using spreadsheets to support your field service, consider converting to a business application to handle the data. In most cases, the conversion cost is more than justified within 18 months.

ABOUT Chris O'Neill

Chris O’Neill is an expert in the area of field service sales and operations. With experience in logistics, medical equipment, commercial electronics, office equipment, technical infrastructure, ERP and SCM, Chris provides his customers and industry partners unparalleled support and guidance on matters of field service delivery and resource management.