Oct. 31, 2013 William and Patti Feldman
Smartphone software can provide anything from nuts-and-bolts field service management to an at-the-ready beacon to help you find your way in the dark or provide a spotlight on the work at hand.
Bella web-based field service management software, Bella FSM, is designed to manage a small or medium sized field service business from any computer, laptop, iPad and Android tablet, iPhone and Android smartphones, with real time updating of data from any device.
The solution includes job/work order management, scheduling optimization, and customer relationship, and employee relationship (field technicians, sales, and office staff) with the ability to track company equipment assigned to each employee and track labor hours for up-to-date payroll information, and vendor management. Bella also handles estimates, billing, invoicing, and accounting, and can easily import and export your data for use with QuickBooks, Outlook and other commonly used software applications using a standard spreadsheet format.
Job/Work Order Management capabilities enable users to track job progress from estimate to invoice in the office and in the field. Users can e-mail estimates, work orders, and invoices directly to customers and maintain and display job cost and expenses for partial invoicing, outstanding invoices, and paid invoices from any device.
Scheduling capabilities include calendar views by one day, five days, seven days, or month and include the ability to assign color codes to field resources and see the job status for each project on the calendar. The software supports scheduling by a specific field resource’s availability or by an open time slot on the scheduling calendar and the sending of text alerts to assigned technicians for emergency dispatch. Schedulers can drag-and-drop recurring job appointments on a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis. Users can assign color codes to field resources and job status which will display on the calendar. The program integrates with Google Maps for directions and route optimization.
The solution, which supports uploading of photos, contracts, and other documents in the field as attachments, has the ability to manage multiple contacts and multiple locations for each customer and details on each customer’s specific equipment and price levels.
The accounting tools enable users to create estimates, work orders, and partial and completed invoices for customers on any device. Items in the item list include service, inventory parts, non-inventory parts, other charges, discounts and sales tax. Users can customize terms and forms, and can create custom data fields for each customer and job/work order page. For example, a check list can be created for the service tech to fill in while onsite either electronically on a mobile device or on a printed work order PDF.
The software supports import and export of data for use with QuickBooks, Outlook and other commonly used software applications using a standard spreadsheet format. Reporting capabilities include job reports, customer reports, marketing reports, payroll, time sheets and accounting reports.
Data is continually backed up and protected with the latest in firewall, encryption and intrusion detection technologies. Management can set up multiple levels of access limiting the rights and permissions of each employee, vendor, and standard user to view and access data, with administrator user access enabling access to all areas of the software.
Nifty apps for smartphones
Super Bright Flashlight by Intellectual Flame Co. supports all android devices. It offers very bright illumination and can also be used in strobe mode with sensitive frequency controller. Requires Android 1.6 and up.
Flashlight for iPhone V. 2.1.2includes a built-in Compass Mini Map, strobe mode with 10 different frequencies, and an SOS signal.
iHandy Carpenter 2.2.1 offers a kit of five tools that could come in handy in a pinch. They include a plumb bob, a surface level, a bubble level bar, a steel protractor that measures angles from 0 to 180 degrees, and a steel rule that supports both inches and centimeters and that, by swiping left and right, can measure things much longer than your iPhone.
Your Magnifying Glass v220.127.116.11 magnifier with light for Android phones (Your Apps, available free at the Google store, requires Android 2.1 and up) magnifies text and anything else. The user chooses the zoom level with a slider or by using the phone’s volume up and down, or via pinch and zoom gestures. The image can be frozen using the camera button.
Producteev 6.0.5 task manager for IOS and Android phones is designed for managing tasks on web, mobile, desktop or via e-mail. The app enables the user to assign tasks, and add due dates, labels, and notes, track progress, and measure results for an unlimited number of projects.
Bill and Patti Feldman write articles and web content for trade magazines and manufacturers of building products. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.