Why management reporting begins and ends with Engineers – and how service businesses get it so wrong…

There’s two types of management reporting– the internal stuff you need to measure and the external data and analysis you send to customers. But, what if all of it is a bit sh*t!?

The short answer is; reporting often isn’t the problem. For most businesses, things go wrong at the point of data entry. Take a service business, and think about their Engineers in the field, most of the data you want to report on: Job by customer and contract, engineer skill and pay level, parts needed, on/ off-contract tasks completed and more – all of this data starts with the Engineer.

Before you think poor data, it’s down to Engineers being wayward with the very few admin tasks they need to complete. Consider if you give them the right tools for the job? Going paperless and switching to systems has in many cases set businesses back. Everyone: you, I and your Engineers take the path of least resistance. If you give Engineers a system that doesn’t make paperwork simple and easy (think about mandatory forms and pre-determined completion formats), you obviously risk incomplete and inaccurate data. This is when you will be wishing for the paperwork that used to be left in the van, even though that was terrible, it was something!

There’s no point complaining about poor quality, incomplete and untimely data when it’s highly likely that the business hasn’t given Engineers the right tool for the job. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been told no data was recorded because the client was using an online system that wouldn’t allow data to be entered offline. Never mind the number of online forms that can be bypassed or completed in 100s of different ways, so data accuracy goes out of the window. A proven service management system is no longer a luxury – it’s a required part of an Engineers toolkit, it’s how service businesses make more money. After all, that’s why you are reviewing reports to see how to make improvements and become more profitable.

Think about how much time is wasted when admin chases Engineers for information about a previous job and they can’t remember the details. Or the number of customers that ask for First Time Fix Reports and the time it can take for service businesses to gather this information which they often need to manipulate because the figures just don’t show a real picture, so they can’t back it up with evidence – and we’re back to it being sh*t.

However, perhaps the biggest wasted opportunity is the number of extra jobs Engineers get asked about in the field. If they can’t record these for the sales office to quote and follow-up on, then not only are you missing out on work, you are probably annoying the customer who will think you don’t want the work.

Service businesses that don’t blame the Engineers and give them the right tools for the job will start to see improvements including:

  • Never missing out on billing work
  • Quoting more off-contract work
  • Saving Engineer & administration time
  • Completing more jobs
  • Retaining more skilled Engineers

So, if you give your Engineers the right tools for the job, you capture accurate data and the management reporting you get out at the end makes better reading. You’ll be able to see how you are saving more and making more. Get this wrong and you’re letting both your Engineers and customers down.