The following article was first published on Field Technologies Online, and is excerpted here with permission.

McKinley Equipment improves technician efficiency and expedites parts orders using cloud-based software and iPads.

The face of field-service automation technology is rapidly changing, and the solution recently deployed at McKinley Equipment is a good example. The company has streamlined its work-order management operations using a cloud-based software solution integrated with a new CRM system and extended the software to its technicians via Apple iPads.

McKinley operates two companies: McKinley Elevator sells, installs, and repairs home elevators, wheelchair lifts, and stair chairs, while McKinley Equipment sells, installs, and repairs loading dock, warehouse, and commercial doors. Prior to going live with its solution in March 2012, the company “chased a lot of paper,” according to CFO Kevin Rusin. “We had paper work tickets, and we weren’t tracking a lot of customer information.”

When service calls came in, the company would generate a work ticket and then send a paper invoice based on the information the technician filled out on the ticket. There was no asset or expense tracking, except in the case of a few large customers that required it. Even then, the information was manually entered into a spreadsheet. With 45 technicians and installers handling up to four jobs per day, the company processed a significant amount of paperwork, which delayed invoicing. “We couldn’t grow,” Rusin adds. “It was a bandwidth issue. You have to hire so many different admin people to grow the business, because we were processing so much paperwork, and we had to manually keep track of contracts and special pricing.”

Ease Of Integration Leads To Cloud-Based Solution

When McKinley decided to simultaneously deploy a CRM solution and a field service automation system, Rusin says management knew the two systems would need to be closely integrated to allow for the type of data collection the service and sales teams would require. On the CRM side, the company deployed, which, in turn, recommended ServiceMax, a service management solution that is built on the platform and tightly integrated with the hosted software.

According to Rusin, the company chose because of the ease of integration with its Sage ERP system, as well as tight integration between ServiceMax and the CRM solution. Using a cloud solution also was less expensive, but “at the end of the day, cost wasn’t the deciding factor,” Rusin says. “We have the ability to add or change fields and workflows in the system internally and not have to go back to a consultant to get that work done, and once I have my customer data in, I have it in real time in ServiceMax.”

The company wanted to put mobile devices in the hands of technicians as well and made the decision to deploy the Apple iPad3 based on the unit’s relatively low cost and the built-in signature capture functionality. “We could have gone with rugged laptops or other devices, but to get signature capture we had to have a plug-in USB device, which would get broken in the field,” Rusin says. “The iPad is less than $1,000, so even if we have to replace one, the costs are lower.”

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