We recently made the case for why Big Data should be a top priority for any field service operation — given how even the smallest amount of information, collected and analyzed correctly, can lead to higher profits. But where to begin? Joanna Pfahler, a contributor to Business 2 Community, identifies four ways field service operators can start turning data into dollars:

Ask Every Employee to Track & Input Information

Ensuring that all employees collect information that’s relevant to their role and deliver it to one centralized system is integral to making the most of the data — from project status to contracts to inventory to schedules. Service managers can then conduct what’s called a SWOT analysis, which is essentially a process that helps companies to identify what’s working and what’s not inside and outside of a company — and develop a team objective as to what needs changing.

Make the Most of Mobility

Use a mobile system to streamline data collection, says Pfahler. With a mobile data entry system, technicians can enter information onsite — when it’s still fresh in their minds and is more likely to be accurate. Pfahler says there are several benefits to real-time data entry, including quicker invoicing and, in return, faster customer payments. The constant input of information — from progress updates to hours worked to specific notes about projects — allows dispatchers to instantly know the results of a project, so they can schedule follow-ups and order necessary parts.

Use Benchmarking to Beat the Competition

All that data doesn’t do much good unless it can be compared — both to past jobs and to the competition, says Pfahler. By estimating, measuring and analyzing the actual costs of a project, companies can see where the opportunities for improvement are. It also helps companies to “identify trends, opportunities, and threats that force them to reexamine their assumptions,” she writes.

Give the Right People the Right Data

Every employee should be able to see the data and any resulting analyses. But some information means more to some employees than it does to others. So make sure the right teams have the right data. Here’s how different groups might use the information differently, according to Pfahler:

  • Service managers can increase efficiency by taking a broad view of overall results.
  • Service technicians can better prioritize by spending more time on, say, billable projects instead of data entry and travel.
  • Dispatchers can estimate with greater accuracy the time necessary to complete a job.
  • Stakeholders can adjust sales and production strategies.
  • Customers are happier when technicians arrive on time and they receive an invoice right away.