When it comes to tech tools, field service managers can take their pick from a growing array of fleet management software, mobile apps and devices designed for techs on the go. Many of these tools can prove to be invaluable. But just buying the software or equipment in question is no panacea — and many tools are worthless if managers don’t take the time to properly train their employees.

Take basic number-crunching, for instance. According to Guy Allen, vice president of global procurement at Fujitsu, software promising to take a company’s data “where no data has ever gone before” can help organize complicated data into easy-to-digest charts and graphs. However, “I like my staff to understand the numbers, how they interact with each other and the difference between various options,” Allen writes on the CPO Agenda Blog.

All too often, companies that rely heavily on software solutions or other shortcuts, or neglect to train their employees find that thoughtful critical thinking falls by the wayside. And data analyzed solely by an app can be deceptive, Allen points out.

Excel and the like are fantastically useful tools and should be used to take the burden out of calculations. They enable quick and complex ‘what if’ scenarios to be explored. But they should never be used as a substitute for really understanding the numbers.

Making sure your staff is familiar with the nuances of any new tool they’re working with is crucial. As is providing them with a basic, high-level understanding of the business’s finances, advises Mike Moore, founder and director of training at HVAC Learning Solutions.

“They don’t have to understand the whole operation, but they need to see how they fit into the operation, and how they affect the bottom line,” says Moore.

ABOUT Sara Suddes

San Francisco-based contributor Sara Suddes writes frequently about small business, the economy and technology.