At Squeegee HQ, we have often discussed the hot topic of paper worksheets for mobile service providers. Having been a teacher in a past life, I have been one that has sworn by a paper diary and shelves filled with neatly labelled lever arch folders (that were mostly never reopened).
Although I used to write development plans about 'working smarter, not harder' I would then go on to spend a huge amount of time duplicating information to tick all the boxes and jump through all the hoops that I had simply become accustomed to.
For almost every mobile service worker, simply having the job details written in a diary isn't the end of the paper trail. There are worksheets, quotes, invoices, customer statements, payment requests, expense receipts and the all important financial reports. The same details are often duplicated in several different places which takes up time, time that could be used to plough back into the business, or more time at home.
Searching through paper records can be like swimming in tar. It's exhausting, frustrating and you often don't find what you set out to in the first place. Without impeccable filing, a proper indexing system, and a discipline to keep everything up to date on a daily basis, searching is unfortunately inevitable to be able to manage a small business.
Re-entry of data, for example from a work sheet, back into a computer at the end of each day is a huge wasted effort when not necessary with today's technology. Re-entry of future appointments that are part of a schedule rather than having a system that generates appointments according to the schedule automatically also takes up valuable time and leaves room for human error.
When people change their minds (which they often do) say to move their appointments from a 2 weekly to 3 weekly cycle, or from Wednesdays to Mondays, this requires a lot of crossing out to remove the previous schedule, arrows or new entries to show where they are moving to and a head ache to make sense of the new appointments. If you work as a part of a team, this can mean multiple people all having to do the same in meetings which can be confusing and time consuming. What a world of difference using a system makes, where at the click of a button, the schedule can change as often as your customers change their minds.
These are just some of the ways in which your could improve your workflow. There are countless other ways that good software can also improve the way admin is dealt with in your business.