Mental Health in the Construction Industry

ALARMING STATISTICS

When you think about the hazards of the construction industry, physical risks probably top the list- an unprotected fall, an unmarked restricted zone, etc. But what about the dangers you can’t see? Anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts are as dangerous to worker safety as any tangible jobsite threat, but these can’t be mitigated with caution tape.

The frequency of mental health issues within the construction industry is alarming- with one in five construction workers reporting struggles with mental health issues. According to the CDC, the construction and extraction industries have the second-highest rate of suicide – 53.3 per 100,000 workers. As such, it is an industry imperative for contractors, unions, project owners, and industry service providers to address suicide prevention in construction as a safety and health priority. While regulations and monitoring for physical safety have increased dramatically over the years, mental healthcare lags behind.

RISK FACTORS

Working in construction is tough, and there is no denying it. But, is there a direct correlation between working in this industry and mental health issues? The CDC study found that the construction industry exhibits many common risk factors that are associated with feelings of helplessness:

  • Competitive, high-pressure work environment
  • End-of-season layoffs
  • High prevalence of alcohol and substance abuse
  • Physical strain and chronic pain caused by manual labor
  • Travel which may separate workers from families and friends

All of the above issues are only compounded by a work culture which valorizes “toughness.” As such, many workers feel forced to “deal with it,” not seeking out the help they need. Of course, an undeniable cause of the high suicide rate is the stigma surrounding mental health in the industry, and with men generally. Construction is a male dominated industry, and men have higher rates of suicide. In fact, for men between the ages of 25 and 54, suicide is the second biggest cause of death. A ‘tough guy’ culture is damaging to people’s mental well-being and safety because employees don’t feel comfortable discussing mental health. They may shame themselves for experiencing anxiety, distress, depressive and suicidal feelings because it contradicts the idea ingrained in them that males should not be affected by their emotions. 

PRODUCTIVITY AND SAFETY

Every good employer cares about the wellbeing of their employees. It’s hard, however, to justify spending money on benefits packages or offering mental health days just because you care. Did you know that caring for employee mental health is actually better for your business? Employee mental health impacts productivity and workplace safety- two major factors in how much money your business is making. 

Missed days is a big way that mental illness and mental health impacts productivity. One study found that employees with depression miss the equivalent of 27 work days a year though time off, lowered productivity, sick and personal days. Other impacts to productivity include social anxiety and depression. Fear of uncomfortable social interactions can stop an employee from reporting any mistakes or problems on site.  Lowered communication abilities can impact understanding between an employee and supervisor. The result could be higher rates of miscommunication, incorrectly completed projects, and general confusion on site.

Mental illness can impact a person’s ability to be fully present in the workplace, which results in an increased risk of injury. Depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses can lower awareness, cause sleep loss, impact decision making abilities and reaction time. Construction is an industry more prone to accidents as a whole because of the nature of the jobs; working around equipment, at heights, around electricity, and using tools all increase the chance of an accident happening. In 2010 workplace injuries for construction workers which resulted in 6 or more days off work cost the industry over $50 billion. General 2017 workplace injuries cost U.S. companies $161.5 billion in workers comp, medical bills, missed time, and administration efforts allocated to injuries.

By caring about the wellbeing of your employees and striving to create a physically and mentally safe work environment, you can make your business more productive and safe.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

To counteract this long-standing challenge, the mental health of your workforce needs to be prioritized at the same level as wearing safety goggles and tagging out live circuits. The key is to create a supportive environment where people aren’t afraid of being reprimanded or judged.

The best way to help employees who are suffering from a mental illness is to help them get the resources they need. This can be done through benefits programs, education of supervisors for how to speak about mental health, and creating a workplace culture which takes mental health seriously. Listen, show that you care, and make sure your business has the resources to make it easy for them to get the help they need. You can do this by:

  • Provide mental health days separate from sick days, and encourage employees to take them
  • Providing employee benefits which cover counselling, medication, and other medical resources
  • Train supervisors and company leaders in mental health first aid so they are equipped to help employees 
  • Encourage conversations about mental health and include mental health awareness in safety training
  • Make sure all employees know that their jobs will be there for them if they take time to seek treatment for mental illness 

One of the most powerful tools in your toolbox to fight against mental health issues is education. No progress can be made without a culture change, and every educated worker is a step closer to quashing the stigma that keeps workers from facing their inner demons. Research mental health outreach programs, and make these resources readily available to workers. Something like the Suicide Prevention Hotline is a proven resource that could save a worker’s life.

FIELDBOSS helps you manage your business so that you can reduce the stress and increase the efficiency of your organization. Our focus is to help you get the most out of your labour resources and deliver the information you and your staff need to run your business

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FIELDBOSS Version 4.0

OVERVIEW

We continuously update our FIELDBOSS software introducing new features, bug fixes, and performance enhancements. We also plan major new releases based on feature and technology improvements from our customers as well as to take advantage of new capabilities in the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Platform. Microsoft is now upgrading Dynamics 365 with two major, mandatory releases or “waves” per year.

Our newest release, FIELDBOSS 4.0 is now in development and testing. We anticipate it will be available for previews by March 30 2020. It is a mandatory upgrade for existing clients, to be completed no later than September 28, 2020, which is the date Microsoft has notified customers worldwide that certain features will no longer be supported. For example, the Service Calendar will be replaced by a new Universal Resource Scheduler.

FIELDBOSS VERSION 4.0

Version 4.0 is a substantive upgrade to the underlying Microsoft platform. The new user interface is a more efficient design and the new service calendar is a material improvement over the current one used today. Here are some exciting new features coming to FIELDBOSS 4.0:

  • Support the new Service Scheduling in D365.  This will replace the Service Calendar and provide scheduling/dispatch a substantial improvement in flexibility, ease of use and automation.
  • New Maintenance Contract Parent Entity and automation for setting up new contracts.
  • New Safety Testing functionality for quoting and scheduling regulated safety testing.
  • Convert sub-grid associated views to editable grids.
  • New Utilities Tool to help automate installations, upgrades and data migration.

FIELDBOSS VERSION 4.5

After we complete the upgrade of our client base, we are planning to release FIELDBOSS 4.5, which will focus on features and functionality. The FIELDBOSS 4.5 release is being planned prioritizing the following features: 

  • Enhanced Job Costing and Estimating for large projects / jobs using a more granular Work Breakdown Structure (WBS).
  • Improvements in Purchasing automation including adding to existing PO’s and the ability to create PO’s in the field.
  • Enable “Point-in-time” historical Job Cost/WIP reporting.
  • The ability to handle Truck Stock (inventory in field).
  • Improvement in Expense Tracking with the ability to manage expenses from the field to the job and and/or use Excel Online D365 feature for inputting expenses.
  • Improvements to Service Activities and Time Cards including automation, data migration, budgeting, variances, banked time, mileage and Time Card approval.
  • Enhanced Billing Automation for best practices and to standardize emailing, printing, voiding, deposits and overall document generation.
  • Review and optimization of Integration with Dynamics GP including vendor integration fields, balance owing for account, building location and project.
  • Performance improvements for application functionality and workflows.
  • Many additional features focused on enhanced capability, ease of use and automation.

As a single, integrated system, FIELDBOSS provides you with the tools you need to run your business more efficiently, and leverage the resources you already have. Click here to watch our new videos, and be sure to subscribe to stay up to date with our latest features and functionality.

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7 Ways to Stay Mentally Healthy as a Contractor

Running any business is challenging, but the uncertainties of contracting make it tougher than most. A limited supply of skilled labor, late payments, online reviews allowing unscrupulous customers to hold you hostage, ever-mounting regulations, rising costs, high customer expectations and more. The pressure hangs heavy like an impending storm while the terror of total business and financial risk are all part of the game. You know what it’s like to be worried not just about your own family, but the families your business supports as well. Even when you’re home, your thoughts are on the business. Your sense of self-worth might be wrapped up in how the business performs and it’s hard to remember that your worth is more than your current net worth.

If this feels familiar, you are not alone. Far from it. A few years ago, a team from the University of California at San Francisco, UC Berkeley, and Stanford University announced research findings that showed entrepreneurs were twice as likely as a control group to be depressed.

At some point, everyone struggles. Every successful contractor fought through the same moments of trial and uncertainty that seem so insurmountable. Before they became successful, most of the leaders in our industry failed — and failed more than once. To make matters worse, hardly anybody talks about it because talking about it is admitting a weakness none of us think we are supposed to have.

Here are 7 ways to stay mentally healthy as a contractor business owner:

  1. Put Your Mental Health Above All Else: To run a successful business, you need to be at your best mentally, physically and emotionally. Mental health issues can have debilitating side effects on your business, not to mention your life: We don’t make good decisions when we’re burnt out or stressed out. Finding at least a small amount of time for yourself every day is an important part of self-care. 
  2. Healthy Eating: Eating right helps. Under stress, we eat the wrong foods and consume too much alcohol. Avoid lots of sugar. Avoid alcohol. Do not binge, and do not skip meals. Eat lean. Eat healthy. This will raise your serotonin levels, which helps regulate mood.
  3. Exercising: When the darkness closes in, exercise is the last thing you want, but need the most. Exercise stimulates the release of endorphins, which is your body’s happy drug. Endorphins, which cause “runner’s high,” give you energy and make insurmountable problems solvable.
  4. Gratitude: Make a list of the things you still have in your life, the things that were important before you went into business. Give thanks for them. Gratitude crowds out depression.
  5. Getting Sufficient Sleep: Getting between 7-8 hours of sleep every night is crucial for your brain and body to reset, and will leave you feeling less on edge. Try to find a sleep routine that will promote a good night’s sleep, such as shutting off all your electronics as early as possible.
  6. Be Social: It may feel like the last thing you want to do, but spending time with friends or family is incredibly important for your wellbeing. If you’re comfortable, share your struggles and feelings with those closest to you.
  7. Don’t be afraid of therapy: If the stress of being an entrepreneur becomes overwhelming, get professional help from your family doctor, counselor, psychologist, or other mental help expert as soon as possible. You’ve hired accountants, lawyers, and other professionals for things you can’t tackle on your own, so what makes this any different? Think of it as the most important investment you could make.

Running a business can take its toll, and feelings of anxiousness, depression or stress are signs that you’re neglecting your mental health. Practicing self-care as an business owner is beneficial to your personal well-being and makes good business sense. Remember to follow these steps so that you can run a successful business without worrying about letting your happiness or well-being fall by the wayside.

FIELDBOSS helps you manage your business so that you can reduce your stress and increase your efficiency. Our focus is to help you get the most out of your labour resources and deliver the information you and your staff need to run your business.

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New Software is Only Part of the Equation

Technology adoption

Business owners want their company to run smoothly, like a well-oiled machine. An organization that works efficiently is one of the primary goals of implementing new software, but often technology improvements don’t yield the intended results. Why is this?

Technology changes are not always done in conjunction with business process enhancements. Technology changes will not bring value if they do not work together with people and process changes, just like parts in a machine.

Where things can go wrong

When organizations move toward modernization and improvement, their main goals are usually to increase automation in an effort to improve efficiency, increase flexibility, cut costs, and keep up with ever-present, ever-changing market and customer demands.

Technology on its own is generally not the magic potion for all these challenges. It requires a concerted effort between technology, process and people. Without a focused effort on these key elements, projects generally fail to achieve the expected results.

Technology

 “We just need software that is really easy for everyone to use.” When it comes to software, there is no such thing. The only way to make software simple to use is to take away features, preferences, and choices. Simple software is inflexible and weak. That’s the secret to making software easy to use. Most companies don’t follow any kind of established business model. The way they do things is a hybrid of the company they once worked for, their own ideas, and the ideas of the various employees that have worked there over the years. That means you need flexible software that offers a wide array of options, methods, and possibilities. Flexible software is going to take more time to learn than it would “simple” software that forces you to do things their way.

Process and Procedure Management

Process and Procedure Management is the hardest part and is the cornerstone to user adoption success. Organizational leaders who can explain, motivate and continually drive standardized processes will ensure staff buy in and project success. Organizations who back away will find that the staff may return to their old ways of working – negating any system replacement objectives.

People

Begin by getting buy-in from a small group of experienced employees in each user role—planners, dispatchers, technicians, and supervisors. Having been in field service for a while, they know the business and have experienced the pains more than anybody. They might even be more willing than newer employees to accept changes if they understand how the new technology will make their jobs easier. Make sure this group has good communication and networking skills. These influencers can become ‘power users’ who will be the software experts. They will come to know the product inside-out and be the go-to people for anyone in your company who has questions about it.

FIELDBOSS is a flexible and configurable platform that allows you to work the way you want to work, now and in the future. Our focus is to help you get the most out of your labour resources and deliver the information you and your staff need to run your business more efficiently, profitably, and with lower risk. If you are considering implementing field service management software, working with a knowledgeable experienced partner like FIELDBOSS can help ensure a successful transition and user adoption. Contact us for more information.

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Meet Bill: Win New Business, Keep Customers Happy and Increase Revenue

With all the functionality FIELDBOSS has to offer, it is often hard to explain to potential customers all the ways they can benefit from ditching their paper process. Our Meet Bill video offers a quick look at how our customers benefit from using FIELDBOSS. As a single, integrated system, FIELDBOSS provides you with the tools you need to connect to your customers, field staff, equipment and data. It also automates your business processes, cuts down on your paperwork and streamlines inefficient operations both in the back office and the field.

Click below to Meet Bill and learn how to win new business, keep customers happy and increase revenue.

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7 Simple Ways to Avoid Customer Disputes

There’s a lot to say about the human race and how we’ve changed over thousands of years, but there’s one thing that we have always been throughout history: committed to complaining. The oldest complaint known to history can be found in a cuneiform tablet from ancient Mesopotamia. Ideally, your organization will always run smoothly, without a single customer complaint. Unfortunately, it’s rare that this is a reality. Luckily, there is a simple way to avoid customer disputes. The digital trail is the most basic feature provided by an end-to-end field service management software, but it’s also one of the most powerful functions that keeps businesses and their employees safe from customer disputes and legal liability in a number of ways.

Here are 7 simple ways to avoid customer disputes with an end-to-end field service contractor management software:

  • Technicians can attach photos, videos, inspection forms and more to the work order – visual proof of the work completed.
  • Customers can sign off on-site for approval of work done.
  • Create detailed reports that can be sent to customers as attachment of the invoice. The customer can review the service report, and dispute any charges right then and there on the spot, before a formal invoice is sent out. This means less back and forth with the customer, along with direct proof of the services provided, materials used, and their agreement to the above.
  • Technicians can let customers know upfront if they are eligible for free service or if they will need to pay for the service, based on the level of their service contract and the status of their warranty.
  • Managers can use geo-tracking for mobile devices to see where their technicians are throughout the course of the day.
  • Business owners can review an audit log for work orders and customer records to see a full history of how a work order has been edited.
  • Technicians can complete digital forms, such as an inspection report or installation checklist. These steps ensure that procedures and protocol are followed.

This level of transparency provided by a comprehensive field service software protects good customers, good employees, and business owners – allowing owners to minimize their risk and improve their reputation. They can also use their software as a tool for selling – showing customers that they will have transparency throughout the process of working on their home or business.

By providing specific workflows, detailed documentation, and making it simple to share information, field service management software can help you avoid customer disputes.

Contact FIELDBOSS and learn how to keep your customers happy!

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6 KPIs You Should Be Tracking

KPI

Field service business owners want to know one thing: where exactly they need to make improvements in order to achieve more profitability, provide better service, make technicians more productive, and lower business expenses. But you can’t improve what you can’t measure, and KPIs allow service organizations to define, measure, monitor, and track performance to achieve their organizational goals.

A comprehensive field service management software can help you analyze your KPIs and optimize your productivity. Here are 6 KPIs you can use to measure your performance against your strategic plan:

1.First-Time Fix Rate (FTFR)

First-time fix rate is the percentage of repairs that are resolved on the first customer site visit. Being a leader in this regard indicates your field service processes are streamlined and your techs are enabled with the mobile tools they need. Research shows leaders have an average FTFR of 86 percent. This goes together with another important KPI, callback percentage. A good service department should have less than 2% of its service calls result in a callback.

2. Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Rate

Knowing how satisfied your customers are is critical for a field service organization. CSAT, a critical KPI, drives customer loyalty over the long-term and is directly linked to profitability. Loyal customers buy more from you,stay longer, refer business to you, and recommend your organization- all of which drive the top and bottom line. Which leads us to our next point.

3. Customer Retention

How good is your company at inspiring loyalty among its customers? Existing customers are worth more than new ones, as the revenue a company generates from loyal customers can sustain a business. Customer acquisition is often expensive due to the time, resources, and efforts that need to be put into finding new clients. Retaining clients means having ready-to-go word-of-mouth marketing that can help you acquire new customers. Similarly, if you provide great service and your technicians use their power to offer customers new products and services, you will be able to increase customer retention. 

4. Field Technician Utilization Rate

What percentage of appointments do our techs arrive to on time? How long does it take them to complete a service appointment? How much time are they spending on job sites? Breaks? Overtime? Do they frequently upsell additional maintenance, products, or services? How many jobs are they completing each day? Who are our best performing technicians, and why? Knowing how productive your employees are can show you where their skill strengths and weaknesses lie. It can also show you whether more training is required, new techs are needed, or if you need to restructure your current team.

5. Average SLA Compliance Rate

This KPI is crucial to both customer retention and service profitability. As the main contract between the field organization and the customer, SLA compliance rates have far-reaching implications. Did we make money on that job? Are our maintenance contracts profitable? Are we giving away free service? How many customers are on service contracts? If your service organization is routinely being penalized for missing SLAs, you are incurring financial penalties, not to mention providing less than stellar service to your customers. Industry research shows that top performing companies have a 90 percent SLA compliance rate while average companies are at 80 percent. It is crucial for field service companies to measure how much revenue is being made from services so that business processes can be adjusted and improved.

6. Completed vs. Invoiced Jobs

If a technician has completed a job, but the customer has not been invoiced, you would want to know, right? The clock for service-to-cash starts ticking the moment the job is done, not when the customer is invoiced. That’s why it’s so important to stay on top of your company’s invoicing and billing cycle. The longer the lag time between the service and invoice dates, the greater the cash flow crunch you will have to deal with. An unsent invoice after completed work means missing revenue for your business.

KPIs help provide a snapshot into how your company is performing overall- which is critical for the success of your field service company. Does the thought of measuring all these KPI’s seem overwhelming? With a comprehensive field service software, all of this information can be automated and analyzed in easy to read charts and graphs any time, any place. If you can measure these aspects of your business, you can identify what you’re doing well and what needs improvement – and make better-informed business decisions based on the real-time data your business is already generating.

Contact FIELDBOSS to learn how to better serve your customers – and to help your business thrive.

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5 Steps to Get Your Field Technicians On Board with Mobile Software

You have finally made the move and upgraded to a field service management software. You have spent a lot of time and money choosing the right software, working with your solution provider to make the implementation and transition a smooth one, and testing your software before going live. Your technicians in the field can now access and log real-time information on their mobile device from wherever they are working. Unfortunately, just because updating field service information can be done from anywhere doesn’t mean it is being done. Overcoming poor technology adoption can be a major hurdle for many companies in the field service business. In order to get the most value from your field service software, you must get your field technicians on board with mobile software.

 

Here are 5 steps to create a team of eager, tech-savvy field technicians:

 

1.      Open communication and transparency:

When implementing software across an organization, one of the biggest roadblocks to adoption and success is the lack of transparency. Therefore, the first step is to make sure that mobile field service system selection and implementation isn’t a surprise to anyone. It is critical that you explain the value – the reasons why you need this software and how it benefits them. This will encourage them to invest the time and energy into becoming tech savvy.

2.      Include your techs in the process:

While it’s tempting to include only the IT department in choosing a mobile field service system, you need to include the actual people who will be using the system – the field techs. Ask your service manager or a senior technician to sit in on software demos. He will have valuable insight into what the technicians need on a day-to-day basis. Also, consider allowing your field technicians to be part of the implementation phase. Letting them see the software in action and raise any questions or concerns they have before you go live will help them feel like they were part of the process. By making sure that you understand the concerns and requirements of your mobile field service personnel, you’ll stand a much better chance of choosing a system that they look forward to with anticipation rather than trepidation.

3.      Get influencers on board:

In the early stages of the launch, focus on getting a few influencers fully invested in the new technology, so they can coach and encourage others on how to use the tools properly. Make sure this group has good communication and networking skills. These influencers can become ‘power users’ who will be the software experts. They will come to know the product inside-out and be the go-to people for anyone in your company who has questions about it.

4.      Schedule training often:

In addition to including the team in the selection and getting them on board early, make sure you schedule frequent training sessions. Weak training leads to weak adoption since your field staff won’t know what to do with the mobile field service system.  Schedule training and make sure you have several experts trained who can troubleshoot problems and provide on-the-spot training as needed.

5.    Incentivize:

Incentives to succeed are proven to work in every industry, even field service. Whether it’s a party, a bonus, an extra day off – if you offer them an incentive to use the software, they will be more inclined to do so. For example, “If we document every job with photos during April, we’ll all go to a ball game with an open bar”.

There’s no magic potion for turning your field techs into software wizards. Most of your veteran technicians have been doing their job a certain way for their entire career. Introducing a new system without the proper preparation can create a steep learning curve and a lot of frustration. While some techs might be tech-savvy, others may not. And in order to really get the full value from your field service management solution, you need everyone on board – all technicians using all the features, allowing management full visibility across the organization and empowering them to make better decisions.

Ultimately, what makes someone tech savvy is a willingness to put in the effort to learn. If you can demonstrate the value of the new technology and back that up with training, support and an incentive – your company will soon be filled with not only service experts, but software experts as well.

If you are considering implementing field service management software, working with a knowledgeable experienced partner like FIELDBOSS can help ensure a successful transition and user adoption. Contact us for more information.

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3 Ways to Stay Profitable in an Unstable Economy

Failure to plan is planning to fail. While you can’t predict the future, you can certainly prepare for it. Tariffs, trade wars, technician shortages, interest rate hikes…… how can your field service company stay profitable in an unstable economy? You have to be prepared. A comprehensive field service management software can help your company mitigate risk to stay profitable in challenging times.

Here are 3 ways FIELDBOSS field service management software can help contracting business owners stay profitable in an unstable and uncertain economy:

  1. Real-time visibility and reporting: A comprehensive field service management software offers an in-depth understanding of your business. If you know how many service calls you need per day for your service department to stay profitable, then you know in real-time if you are short on calls. If you are short on calls, you can advise your team to follow up on open repair quotes and see if the customer is ready to schedule. Real-time reporting also offers:
  • A detailed, real-time view of the whole business
  • Intelligence to recognise emerging trends
  • Potential to seek and respond to new opportunities or threats
  • Power to understand key areas delivering profit and loss
  • Make fast, informed decisions based on accurate and live information

 

  1. Maintenance Agreements: Maintenance agreements are the key to off-season profitability and economic downturn stability. They ensure companies stay busy and profitable. As well, many field service industries such as HVAC and Elevator Service are somewhat recession proof: people still need their equipment to work, so they opt for repairs over replacement. This creates more work, and, eventually, that client will still need a replacement. FIELDBOSS can help automate and efficiently manage your maintenance contracts and also alert you to which clients are not signed up yet.

 

  1. Manage unbillable time: During times of economic instability, some contractors become more aggressive in their pricing in order to attract more clients. However, rather than lower your rates, look at what you can do to lower your overhead and expenses. Think about managing unbillable time — time between calls, organizing and inputting paperwork, or any labor you pay that does not have revenue associated with it. An end to end field service software can help decrease unbillable time by:
  • pinpointing which technicians aren’t pulling in any revenue
  • creating the need for fewer dispatchers, schedulers and back-office personnel
  • invoicing more quickly
  • eliminating duplicate data entry
  • reducing technician paper-work
  • increasing first-time fix rates
  • decreasing technician drive-time

 

An unstable economy doesn’t have to mean the end of your business. With a little lateral thinking and the help of a comprehensive field service management software, your company can sail through the hard times and come out stronger than before.

Contact our client services team to set up an online demo or to learn more about FIELDBOSS.

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5 Ways Blockchain Can Be Applied to the Field Service Industry

The field service industry has changed significantly in the last five years. Field service management technology has transformed the industry in so many ways, from using mobile devices, to having real-time data, to being connected to your customer 24/7. How different do you think things are going to be in another five years? Keeping up with the industry trends is the only way to stay competitive. The latest buzz is blockchain. What is a blockchain and how can it be applied to the field service industry?

What is a blockchain?

Blockchain is a transparent and verifiable system that will change the way people think about exchanging value and assets, enforcing contracts, and sharing data. The technology is a shared, secure ledger of transactions distributed among a network of computers, rather than resting with a single provider. As it’s not in one place, the information can be encrypted and split across everyone in the network. Doing this means that there is no central location for someone to hack and steal from or alter. In theory, this makes it safer than a centralized ledger.

If someone were to hack into one of these computers and change the information on the blockchain, the software would recognize it as a glitch (as it doesn’t match every other record on all the other computers) and remove it or rectify the issue.

Blockchain has this name because, at scheduled intervals, information on transactions is recorded and added to the chain as a block. This ‘blockchain’ is a continuously growing link of information records, giving you complete historical transaction transparency.

Here are 5 ways blockchain can be applied to the field service industry:

1.Smart Maintenance Contracts

Field service projects can be incredibly complex with lots of things going on and many parties involved. That means multiple contracts, with some that are multi-faceted or last for a different stretch of time than others. It’s not always straightforward on what the conditions are for payment and whether they’ve been met. That’s when costly disputes arise, setting your project back and just generally giving you headaches. A smart contract is a contract stored in the blockchain without any possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third party interference. Accordingly, both building owners and contractors can enter into ‘smart contracts’ to ensure payments are made when the contract terms are fulfilled. Ideally, the blockchain could help you avoid payment disputes by allowing you to create contracts that force the parties involved to move through a certain checklist before being paid, giving you control over the payment process so everyone is on the same page.

2. Supply Chain Communications and Proof of Fulfillment

Most of the equipment and parts that contractors use aren’t made or supplied by a single source but by a chain of suppliers who sell components up the ladder to the company that assembles and markets the final product. The difficulty with the system is that if one of the companies fail to deliver, the final supplier, often the contractor, takes the brunt of the backlash from the customer. Using blockchain technology would allow the contractor to provide digitally permanent, auditable records that show the customer the state of the deliverable at each value-added step.

3. Equipment Service and Operating Performance Records 

Using a private blockchain to keep track of regular maintenance and service visits from contractors would provide traceability and accountability. A process of executing smart contracts to release payment once work has been verified as completed can be developed to handle and record transactions and the work involved. For example, most HVAC equipment comes with the option of on-board smart interfaces, sensors and controls which can verify once regular maintenance and servicing work has been completed as these tasks are specific and have an established sequence of steps. Once the specific set of tasks have been completed by the contractor, smart contracts can be initiated to automatically release payment and document and update the record.

4. Verifying the Qualifications of Job Candidates

With the shortage of technicians in field service industries such as the elevator and HVAC industries, any advantage HR personnel can have in recruiting candidates is welcome. HR can use blockchain technology to assist with the recruitment duties of sourcing and managing the talent pool. Blockchain technology can help assess the accuracy and verify the validity of a candidate’s qualifications, credentials, and certifications. During the resume authentication process, verification is mainly conducted through reference checks. A blockchain-centric verification process could allow employers to develop databases of comprehensive employee profiles that compile authenticated data related to their work history. This system could significantly cut down the time it takes to select candidates for an open position. Assessments would be made based on the skills a candidate has been verified to have, not just the skills they chose to highlight in their resume, thus eliminating the need for extensive skill checks during the interview stage. Instead, talent professionals can focus their efforts on the critical factors of evaluation during hiring, such as assessing for cultural fit and goals alignment, ultimately saving time and money.

5. Using FIELDBOSS and Microsoft’s Blockchain as a Service using Azure

Because FIELDBOSS is built with Microsoft Dynamics 365, our customers get to leverage the entire Microsoft Platform when running their business. Microsoft now offers an easy and quick way to create and deploy a Blockchain and test if the Blockchain technology is capable of making your current business more transparent. Learn more about it here.

Contact us for a free demo and learn how FIELDBOSS keeps up with all the latest industry trends.

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