Disputes occur in all sorts of companies for all sorts of reasons. In the HVAC Industry the dominant disputes stem from the shortage of skilled labor and discrepancies in the payment and invoicing process. However, with the Internet, advanced software means that the days spent chasing invoices and job details and trying to get ahold of remote workers are beginning to change - though faster in some parts of the world than others.

Richard Harries, CEO of Okappy argues that there are four compelling reasons why the HVAC industry should explore the emerging digital possibilities. “Traditional job management systems are costly for users; the systems are often very time consuming which means disputes can take a long time to resolve; information provided by paper job sheets can be unintelligible and out of step with modern internet society. Also, clients have a growing expectation that the services will be delivered digitally and in real-time.”

The most predominant problem is the piles of paperwork that clog up offices. Information is hard to reference and even harder for other parties to access. Many companies are ahead of the game with the e-job-management revolution and have already started using digital workflows to manage their employees. However, many companies are yet to make the leap.

One of the main issues stopping HVAC companies from on-boarding with digital workflows is training. Training can be an issue, as it requires managers and team members who may already be overstretched to take time out from their day-to-day work. Another issue is capacity, often there are only a few companies offering software training services to support professionals wanting to learn more about the practice and principles underpinning the delivery of e-job-management. As more HVAC companies start implementing digitised job management systems there will be a switch from a high touch to a low touch onboarding process. Face-to-face training sessions will be replaced with more online webinars and video tutorials to walk HVAC companies through the set-up process.

All Seasons Climate Control Ltd now uses Okappy’s online job management system to manage their operatives. Okappy’s communications and collaborations system allows jobs to be added on the go and updates to be sent and received in real-time. Since using the system they are able to access all relevant information and become aware of the job details without chasing up workers or clients by phone or in person.

Companies that lag behind in efforts to reach a more streamlined, accessible online job management system are often struggling not just with the costs of administration, but to hold onto their clients. All Seasons uses Okappy to record when a lead comes through by logging it initially as an enquiry and then updating it as it progresses through to the stage of the lead being won.

“It’s definitely a time-saver to say the least. I used to spend a lot of time tracing engineers and surveyors and trying to grab hold of different types of paperwork which may or may not be in their folders,” said Ellie Creay, climate control administrator, All Seasons. “Okappy has been a life-saver in terms of tracing information. It has definitely helped us out a great deal. I’d imagine if we worked it out we must save a whole lot of time each week compared to before.”

“All Season’s transformation of the data aspect of the job management system has resulted in a service that is faster, more transparent, and more cost efficient,” said Colin Owen, director of the company. The system has also created a virtually paperless working environment, so it is greener too.

Some of these innovative communications platforms are attempting to kickstart a more fundamental transformation of the way job management is delivered. Online systems developed by tech companies such as Okappy and Xero have inspired some companies not simply to substitute electronic documents for bundles of paper, but to replace the office with a decentralised service operated over the internet.

Operating through a decentralised network can help to resolve disputes surrounding shortages of labour in certain areas by making the best of the remote workers already in a location. This optimises productivity through avoiding the expenses of pricey and time consuming travel. The risks of a remote and decentralised network are that direct supervision of employees is not possible, with potential security or welfare concerns going unchecked.

Using a communications platform with real-time features means that clients and managers can access information, submit their documents and invoices can be sent straight away electronically on the completion of a job. The key benefits remain that the disputes surrounding discrepancies in payments and invoicing process will be avoided.

Publication date: 12/4/2017

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