Elevating Small Business Tech Stacks with Digital Work Order Software

You know what they say is the best part of entrepreneurship? You get to choose the 80 hours per week you work. 

Small businesses know a thing or two about constantly managing various roles. As the owner of one of the millions of small businesses worldwide, you are the C-suite, plus the employees on the ground keeping your production rolling.

Part of working smarter, not harder, is implementing the right tools to optimize your team’s efforts. Enter technology. From automation tools to AI and project management software, small enterprises are increasingly turning to tech solutions to boost efficiency.

As many businesses return from fully remote workforces to hybrid or fully in-office teams, maintaining an efficient physical work environment becomes just as important as managing a digital system.     

Adopting a digital work order solution can improve efficiency, productivity, customer satisfaction, and overall operational effectiveness.

Why you need digital work order software

Keeping facilities well-maintained and delegating any issues to a building service manager is one of the many hats entrepreneurs need to wear. Like any other software or tech tool, digital work order software helps make this task much easier.

Handling service requests via text message, email, or paper forms might serve you well for some time, but you need to consider if this approach will be efficient enough as your needs and responsibilities grow.

A digital work order software in your tech stack could be the solution. By transitioning from manual or paper-based processes to digital platforms, small businesses can easily create, manage, and track work orders in real time.

This results in faster response, better organization, and, ultimately, increased productivity and profitability.  

Real-time updates about the status of tasks can help you track progress, monitor completion times, and identify any roadblocks or delays. This means you can make more informed decisions.

Digital work order solutions enable small businesses to respond to maintenance requests or service issues without having to invest too much time. Automated workflows and notifications ensure that tasks are assigned promptly. Workers can even access requests on their mobile devices, which allows rapid response and issue resolution.

When budgets are tight, and cash flow is limited, businesses can more effectively optimize resource allocation by digitizing work order management. Managers can assign tasks based on employee availability, skillsets, and proximity to the job site, minimizing downtime.

Digital work order systems also help businesses maintain compliance with regulatory requirements and industry standards and reduce the risk of violations. They automatically generate audit trails, track maintenance activities, and store documentation electronically.

Using this technology to digitize important tasks offers a scalable, adaptable solution that can meet your changing business needs. Whether you’re managing a few work orders per month or you grow to require hundreds of requests daily, these systems can scale accordingly and accommodate growth without breaking the bank.

Unifying teams with work order management software

Work order management systems encourage better communication, which is a common challenge in any business. Everyone can easily collaborate, share updates, and resolve issues on time. This fosters a culture of teamwork in your business and ensures that everyone is on the same page.

The right work order software will include collaboration features like:

Centralized communication channels

Instant notifications in a centralized platform allow for quick information, updates, and feedback exchanges, creating a sense of unity and understanding among team members, regardless of their physical location.

Collaborative project management

Having a single source of truth for work orders allows teams to coordinate and track tasks, timelines, and deliverables in a centralized workspace.

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These tools facilitate alignment among team members working toward common goals by providing visibility into project progress and task dependencies.

Shared document repositories

Cloud-based document management systems housed within, or integrated with, your work order management software provide a centralized repository for storing and accessing important documents related to your facilities, such as forms, receipts, and photos.

This ensures everyone has access to the latest versions of critical information.

Task assignment and automation

Automation features streamline routine tasks and processes. For example, by automating workflows with preventive maintenance scheduling, teams can work more efficiently and focus on value-added activities.

They know exactly what’s coming down the pipeline and what is expected of them and their teammates.

How integrated digital tools boost efficiency 

Integrating digital tools into all business departments enables them to benefit from one unified system.

  • Enhances collaboration: These systems enhance collaboration on projects and tasks, so be sure to look for a digital work order tool that can integrate with both your existing systems and new tools that you may adopt as your needs shift and business expands. 
    For example, project management software enables cross-functional teams to coordinate efforts, share resources, and track progress in a centralized workspace. 
    This approach promotes synergy and accelerates project delivery.
  • Streamlines routine processes: You’ve got enough to worry about on any given day, and integrating existing tools will allow you to automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks. 
    The right digital work order tools can streamline routine processes such as approvals, notifications, and data entry, freeing up employees to focus on higher-value activities. 
    Automation also reduces human error, speeds up workflows, and increases productivity.
  • Provides actionable insights: Unified systems consolidate data from various sources, which helps with comprehensive reporting and analytics. Gaining actionable insights into performance metrics, trends, and opportunities equips decision-makers with the right data to make their next moves.
  • Improves accessibility: Integrated technology extends benefits beyond office walls to remote and field workers as well. 
    Mobile-friendly apps and tools enable field technicians, sales representatives, and service personnel to access necessary information, update records, and communicate with colleagues on the go. 
    This accessibility enhances productivity and responsiveness, regardless of location.

Your digital work order tools shouldn’t exist on their isolated island. Finding a tool that either incorporates other features your business needs or seamlessly integrates without clunky add-ons or extra fees will keep things running smoothly so you can focus on running your business well.

Key factors in choosing digital work order software 

When selecting a digital work order tool, it’s important to find a solution that offers an implementation timeline that aligns with your business goals and won’t cause any unforeseen hurdles.

Ongoing support, not just from initial signup and adoption but through your team’s entire lifecycle with the software, is also important.

While implementing a full-featured digital work order solution always requires an initial investment, the long-term benefits often outweigh the costs. Small businesses can achieve cost savings through improved operational efficiency, reduced maintenance downtime, optimized resource utilization, and better decision-making based on data insights.

Let’s look at some implementation requirements that you should consider when looking for digital work order software.

Clear objectives and goals

Your provider should communicate clearly defined objectives and goals for the software’s implementation. Software implementation timelines and details should align with your business needs and strategic priorities.

Uncertainty of scope and undefined requirements can lead to scope creep, with unexpected requirements you may not have authorized, causing roadblocks.

Strong project management

A dedicated project manager should be assigned to oversee the implementation process. Well-defined project scope, timeline, and milestones should be communicated early and frequently.

Poor project management may lead to missed deadlines, inadequate resource allocation, and ineffective risk management.

User involvement and training

End-users from different departments should be encouraged to participate in the planning and testing phases. Comprehensive training and onboarding programs should also be available for all employees.

Inadequate training and support for users can result in low adoption rates.

Effective change management

Proactive change management strategies should be in place to address any resistance and facilitate adoption. Clear communication of the software’s benefits and impact to stakeholders is essential.

Inadequate change management may lead to skepticism among users.

Customization and configuration

You should be able to customize the software, its settings, and its features to optimize usability and efficiency and align with specific business processes and workflows. 

Data migration and integration

Your provider should facilitate the smooth transition of data from existing systems to the new software. Seamless integration with other business-critical applications and databases is crucial to maintain operational efficiency and avoid data loss, duplication, or corruption.

Ineffective integration with existing systems may also cause data silos and resulting inefficiencies.

Testing and quality assurance

A plan should be in place for thorough testing of the software for functionality, performance, and usability. Deployment of unstable software may disrupt business operations.

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Establish clear timelines to identify and resolve any issues or bugs before full deployment and avoid functionality gaps. 

Continuous support and updates

Seek out a solution that offers ongoing technical support and maintenance after implementation. Regular updates and improvements based on user feedback and evolving business requirements are key.  

Defined success metrics

Measurable success criteria and performance metrics are crucial in understanding how the business performs. Ensure your provider monitors and evaluates the impact of the software on your business outcomes.

Cost-effective software solutions for small business

Small businesses can leverage cost-effective digital task management solutions without compromising on the functionality and effectiveness of their tech infrastructure.

Finding an ideal tool can give them a competitive edge that levels the playing field, with ، enterprises likely spending more on larger, possibly extraneous systems.

Cost-effective software solutions for small businesses prioritize affordability, scalability, and simplicity. Overly expensive solutions may offer advanced features and capabilities that exceed business needs, leading to unnecessary costs and complexity. 

A small business owner should carefully evaluate software options based on their specific requirements and budget constraints to achieve optimal value and ROI.

These are some features to look out for:

Affordable subscription plans

The software should offer flexible pricing models with affordable subscription plans suitable for small budgets.

Businesses on a budget can also look for options that offer free plans with basic features to start out with. It should also provide options for monthly or annual payments, allowing businesses to scale according to their needs.

Scalability

The software must provide essential features required for business operations without unnecessary add-ons. This allows businesses to start with basic functionalities and upgrade to more advanced features as they grow.

Cloud-based deployment

Utilizing cloud-based infrastructure eliminates the need for on-premise hardware and maintenance, reducing overall costs. It also reduces the upfront investment in IT infrastructure and supports remote access for distributed teams.

User-friendly interface

An intuitive and easy-to-use interface minimizes training and onboarding costs. It reduces employees’ learning curve, enabling quick adoption and increased productivity.

Customer support

The software should offer responsive customer support through email, chat, or knowledge base. Ensure that it provides sufficient assistance for troubleshooting and resolving issues without additional fees.

Integration capabilities

It is crucial that the software supports integration with other essential business applications, like accounting software, through cost-effective connectors or APIs. This enables seamless data exchange and workflow automation across different systems.

Transparent pricing structure

The software must clearly define the pricing tiers and features to avoid any hidden costs or unexpected charges. It should also provide transparent billing and upgrade options based on business growth and requirements. You can also look for solutions that don’t charge per seat and offer unlimited users in every paid plan.

Sometimes, it’s easiest to spot red flags or know what to look out for so you don’t overspend on a digital work order solution. The following aspects of certain existing solutions aren’t going to serve your needs now or in the future.

High upfront costs

Certain software require substantial upfront investment in licenses, implementation, and customization. They also include additional costs for hardware, infrastructure upgrades, or specialized IT resources.

Complex features

These solutions offer extensive features and functionalities that exceed business requirements, making them confusing and overwhelming for your team.

They include complex tools or modules that are not essential for small business operations and can lead to wasted resources.

Hidden costs

Some solutions charge extra fees for support, training, or ongoing maintenance services. They require annual contracts with high renewal costs or constantly raise prices once you are locked in.

Enterprise-grade infrastructure

Certain solutions deploy on-premise or enterprise-grade infrastructure that exceeds the scalability needs of small businesses. This incurs higher operational costs for hardware maintenance, upgrades, and data center management.

Limited flexibility

Certain tools impose rigid licensing models or restrictive usage terms that hinder scalability and flexibility. They end up penalizing small businesses for user growth or usage spikes with steep pricing tiers or overage charges.

Complex pricing

These solutions feature complex pricing structures with complicated terms, tiered pricing models, or per-user licenses. This makes it difficult to calculate the total cost of ownership or predict ongoing expenses.

Evaluating the right digital work order system for your needs

Choosing the right digital work order system is like picking the perfect tool for a job. It’s about finding a solution that aligns with your workflow, industry, budget, and long-term goals.

By evaluating different options and considering factors like cost, features, support, and user-friendliness, you can feel confident that the digital work order system you choose will become a valuable asset for your team and take a few items off your never-ending to-do list. 

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Real-world example 1: Senior care center

When the facility director of a retirement home in Penticton, Canada, needed to find a better system for his team to complete repair tasks, he searched for an innovative solution that allowed workers to complete jobs without being tied to a desk.

In senior care, keeping facilities clean, safe, and compliant cannot be overlooked or overstated. A digital work order tool helped a small business save time and facilitate their work through a mobile app.

“I love that I can use my iPhone and pick up all my day-to-day stuff. (My team) can fill in all the reports basically from their phone. It’s a big time saver for us.”

Facility Director
Retirement Home, Canada

He said finding a cost-effective system with a reasonable month-to-month fee that includes innovative features, such as asset tracking and equipment scanning, has helped his team streamline their process without going over budget.

“The tracking of assets has been huge for us in that we can monitor costs in our equipment and project forward the replacement costs versus repairs for all our equipment,” he said. “We can scan a piece of equipment; it takes us right to that file, and we can add or take away anything we need off of our phone to update each file.”

Real-world example 2: Small nonprofit 

The director of a small nonprofit in Virginia said she has been able to free up her time since implementing a digital work order system. Each morning, her team logs in and sees what needs to be done that day, what parts they need to order, and what is a priority.

She said ease of use is key.

She and her team needed an intuitive tool to log in every day. This tool would save them time and alert them to what needs to be done next. Automation is also a major benefit.

“In our previous system, when anyone put in a request, somebody had to assign that job to one of the staff to carry out, to complete. That’s all well and good if I’m sitting at my computer, but if I’m not… A lot of things would slip through the cracks.”

“As long as the user picks the correct category for the requested task at hand, it automatically assigns it to the right person to complete the job. This is one feature that makes life much smoother for those in charge of smaller or emerging businesses.”

Director
Non-profit org, Virginia.

“So that’s off my plate, and I don’t have to worry about it. It makes my day a lot easier,” she said.

Future trends in work order management

Emerging trends in work order management technology are shaping how businesses handle maintenance, service requests, and operational workflows. These trends are driven by advancements in digital tools, automation, and data analytics.

As your business grows, consider choosing a digital work order solution that keeps its finger on the pulse of upcoming advancements and routinely updates its offerings to meet evolving customer wants and needs. 

Here are some key emerging trends in work order management technology to keep an eye on:

Automation and IoT

Work order management is being transformed by the internet of things (IoT), which enables connected devices to generate work orders based on triggers automatically.

Additionally, artificial intelligence (AI) is being used to automate routine tasks, categorize requests based on urgency, and handle basic inquiries. You can even find digital work order solutions that integrate with virtual voice assistants like Amazon Alexa to create new work orders, check status, or see what’s coming up on your preventive maintenance calendars.

Predictive maintenance

Preventive maintenance is a bit more hands-on but can be triggered with automation tools to schedule tasks according to the lifespan and repair history of certain items in your building.

Predictive maintenance models can predict when assets are likely to fail by leveraging data analytics and machine learning. Enhanced reporting and analytics developments and integrations enable continuous improvement and informed decision-making beyond just the physical assets in your office or business locations. 

Augmented and virtual reality support

AR and VR technology provides remote assistance for field technicians by displaying interactive models of your facilities so they can assess what needs to be done while away. For example, this technology can be used to see inside the walls when electrical issues need to be addressed.

Lighten your workload with digital tools 

With the right technology and tools, small business owners can free up their time to focus on ،-picture goals.

Digitizing operations that were once handled offline will bring your business into the modern age and set you up for future success.

Process automation can help your small business reach new heights. Learn how

Edited by Supanna Das

منبع: https://learn.g2.com/digital-work-order