In Part I and Part II of this blog series, we covered how to introduce a new technology to your field-based workforce, how to roll out that new technology and how to train your team with as little kick back as possible.
A critical part to owning a new system is that you have a plan for disseminating information in-house, but it's also essential that you can depend on ongoing support from the software provider when questions or issues arise about the product’s functioning or your company’s unique user needs.
The following are a four steps to successfully introducing a new technology to your employees, including a few tips on how to take advantage of the help your software provider offers:
1. Ongoing training
When you purchase software, you should do so only with a pledge from the provider that ongoing instruction will be readily available, beyond a series of introductory training sessions. This will come into play if and when there is turnover in your company, particularly if it’s a position that relies on the product heavily or represents your in-house expert. Additional training can also be helpful when new products or features are released.
Ongoing training on products and services should be available in both Web-based training documents and videos, and through personnel at the software company, via phone, live chat, or both, in case you have questions that fall outside of the standard script.
2. Full utilization
As your team grows more comfortable with your new software install, you will want to start taking advantage of more and more facets of the product. For example, with time and labor tracking software, you might not start out trying a digital field notes feature, or it might take a while before you see the advantages of weekly review of all jobsite hours and labor costs using the software’s built-in reporting tool. But, once you’ve got the basics down, you will want to check out how these features can help you.
You may even need to request a minor adjustment in the product’s configuration to better suit your business. For example, you may want a report that shows exceptions, such as employees who did not clock in on a given day or week. Or you may need a custom mobile form for your workers in the field. With a software developer that understands your needs and has the right resources, you will be able to see the product simplify operations and advance your goals faster.
3. Solid customer service
Some software companies have U.S.-based customer support with great hours and some don’t. Many companies will try to funnel you into a chat before you call, which can be fine, as long as calling is still an option. Online-only support is difficult because some things are better explained in a conversation, and offshore support can also be difficult if they are in a different time zone.
With a foundation of good customer service and hours that at least attempt to accommodate all time zones, you know you can call and speak to a real, live human being about any issues or obstacles you might encounter while trying to take full advantage of the software—and you can count on those issues being resolved, ideally within the same working day.
4. Subbing in and odd jobs
Many contractors face the necessary task of folding subcontractors’ work into their overall budgeting and reporting. This can be challenging if subcontractors aren’t using the same software. A software company worth their salt will have suggestions for how to tackle this, including treating a subcontractor as an additional employee, as well as possibly purchasing an app or software license for the sole use of the subcontractor.
Another challenge your business might face with a new workforce management system for field employees is how to handle tracking time on jobs that fall under particular federal or state regulations. For example, you may have Davis Bacon jobs that require certified payroll. The software should have a way for you to classify a jobsite as a “certified payroll” location. You should also be able to set up job costing for the various union positions on the job, to ensure the prevailing wage for each person is correctly entered into your system.
The upshot is that you want to see how far your new investment can take the company. You’re probably hoping it will meet your expectations in some ways, and exceed them in others—even surprise you—or you would not have purchased it in the first place.
Support along the way, and wiggle room for your business’s individuality, is essential to taking full advantage of features and functioning that will wow you and your team, save time and make tasks in the office and communication with the field easier than ever.