One of the keys to a successful field services business is the ability to produce highly informative, accurate, and comprehensive reports, guides, invoices, and other documentation that represents the work provided. The challenges are: 1) automating the production of a varying set of services reports and documents, and 2) producing all the documentation needed for all the associated stakeholders. Also, the complexity of the documentation can vary from simple weekly progress updates with a few line items, to detailed reports and/or design guides with hundreds of line items, including pictures, drawings, charts and graphs. The types of documents/reports produced and/or supported by a project management system includes:
- narratives/project descriptions
- progress reports
- workflow descriptions
- design/installation guides
- performance statistics/graphs/diagrams
- executive summaries
and other collections of information gathered or derived from the requested services. Given each project and associated stakeholder drives differing requirements and points-of-interest, customization of reports and documents is necessary to satisfy a diverse and growing clientele.
There are stakeholders who need information from the project management system. The stakeholders, and related documentation, commonly associated with field service projects are as follows (Note – most project types have similar stakeholders and related documentation):
- Project Management Team – Progress reports are needed for tracking of project phases, milestones, spending, representative assignments, work-orders, inventory, inquiries, permits, sub-contractors, etc. Reports that provide statistics on service delivery performance across work-orders and projects, including pending, active and completed projects will be important as well.
- Executive Team – Reports providing insights on scheduling/milestones actuals-vs-planned, spending actuals-vs-planned, projected activities, workforce allocation, project revenue/profit, and other performance metrics are needed to support decision making at the executive level. Reports on the performance of the project managers and representatives may also be of interest to the executive team.
- Field Service Representatives – The project management system should provide each representative information into their respective work record and performance. It also can provide insight into pending and/or future work assignments.
- Clients – Reports and documentation for a field service client often must include work-order completion and findings, design guides, list of repairs, cost of repairs, work-order response/completion time, and statistics showing weekly, quarterly and year-to-date performance. Potential clients and “Request for Quotes/Proposals” often require data on past performance and present capacities that should be available from the project management system.
- Suppliers/Distributors – Most of the documentation and reports needed for suppliers is in support of tracking inventory changes, deliveries, orders, and future needs.
- Marketing/Sales – The marketing and sales teams will need information to support interactions for present and potential clients. This information may include several projects/work orders in process, completed and pending, client list, location of project actives, and project performance in specific areas of service delivery.
The project management system must be able to generate automated reports using an interface that allows the project management team to select the content and format of a report. This will be key for reports that are periodic, e.g., weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc. Standardized report frameworks may also be created to support high level insights into operational effectiveness and identify potential issues and/or areas of improvement. While the project management system may be able to automate creation of most field service reports and documentation, it will need to also provide tools and facilities to create custom reports and/or guides that require the integration of information from outside data sources. For example, the creation and integration of a CAD drawing to show a floor layout and proposed object placement may need to be completed by a separate application, but the project management system will need to support the file type, placement, and conversion to the target report format. Finally, the project management system must provide APIs to allow stakeholders to import and export data and documentation from field service work.
In closing, efficient and user-friendly report and document creation will be necessary in a sustainable and effective project management system.