Of the various routine documents a business generates, few are more important to get right the first time, every time than the client invoice. Because, except in the rarest of cases, there’s no going back once an invoice is in the customer’s hand.
To the client, the invoice represents the official, itemized statement of products delivered and services rendered; the presented bill is considered the complete, ironclad tally of what is owed. So, a sure way for a business to lose credibility ― if not customers ― is to say “do-over” after an invoice is delivered.
The solution is consistently accurate and correct invoicing. But that’s not always achievable, especially in the service sector. In businesses that revolve around work performed in the field, like electrical services and contracting, opportunities for oversights, miscalculations, and other billing errors abound.
Billing is often a fluid process, changing as projects unfold. The scope of work orders can change depending on what’s discovered on site; jobs may require more time than estimated; the list of products needed to complete a project may expand; the number of workers and man hours needed may change. Workers deployed to jobs ― solo technicians or supervisors overseeing crews ― must be able to assess and bring to bear what’s needed to complete a project, and at the end of the day accurately account for time spent, products used and tasks performed. That data, in turn, must somehow find its way into the customer invoice.
In other words, electrical services providers and their trade counterparts ultimately must place a lot of faith in their field personnel. In one sense, of course, that’s a given. Service personnel are the face of the company on every job, and they get the work done. First and foremost, though, their focus is on performing or overseeing the work, not accounting for it. To some degree, however, they must also accomplish that task as well. And that’s where field service management (FSM) software and related technologies come into play.
FSM digital solutions are giving companies with mobile workforces the ability to monitor, assist and communicate with employees at levels that render physical separation almost irrelevant. Built around telematics, a digital ecosystem that incorporates near real-time GPS-based monitoring and tracking of mobile assets and personnel, data collection and transmission, real-time communications and hyper connectivity, FSM is becoming essential for businesses defined by their ability to send teams of skilled workers out to job sites and customers’ doorsteps every day.
Aggressively pursued and perfected, FSM can effectively extend management’s reach, improving the odds that field work is done competently and efficiently. But it can also address the equally important, but often complex mission of ensuring that a business’s accounts receivable operation produces accurate and timely customer bills, operates smoothly and efficiently and avoids bottlenecks.
FSM solutions with a robust billing and invoicing component can produce a wide range of valuable benefits for field services-centric businesses. Attained with cloud-based apps accessible by field workers with mobile devices, they span improved data collection and recordkeeping, task verification, mobile payments, detailed time tracking, paperwork reduction and easy integration with back-office accounting functions. Customer billing, a task susceptible to human error and often riddled with inefficiencies, especially in a fleet-based services environment, can be fundamentally transformed using FSM with extensive AR-linked features:
- GPS tracking can be used to document exactly how much time workers spend on job sites, information critical to accurate billing.
- Data on job particulars can be entered directly into the system from a mobile device, reducing or eliminating the need to deliver paper records back to the office. That saves time and reduces the chances of paperwork critical for invoicing getting misplaced.
- Fields in invoices or paperwork needed to prepare them can be set up to be easily and automatically populated, impacting the need for multiple data entry activities.
- Where and when applicable, bills/invoices can be generated, submitted and paid on-site, improving cash flow and excising the need for back-office involvement.
- Field workers have ready access to product and service pricing data, improving the ability to prepare quotes on site and generate accurate invoices.
- Client and job history details stored in the cloud can be readily accessible, allowing workers to account for provisions that could affect billing.
- Field workers can have near-complete autonomy to handle issues that could affect customer billing, eliminating the need for direct communication with the office.
Indeed, today’s cutting-edge FSM solutions, such as that provided by Verizon’s new Verizon Connect business unit, are poised to transform outmoded billing and invoicing processes that may no longer work well for “on-the-move” businesses. Leveraging expertise from partners expert in mobile communications, GPS tracking, cloud-based apps and other maturing connectivity and sensoring technologies, Verizon Connect has the solution to an extensive range of needs in the developing FSM space, few more critical than helping to ensure that companies don’t let the hectic pace and extreme variability of service and contracting work cause money to slip through their fingers. Learn more about how Verizon Connect can modernize and improve customer billing here!