When Planned Lighting Maintenance (PLM) decided that its field service management system needed to be as smart as its lighting solutions, Asolvi came to light the way. Now Asolvi’s leading-edge solution, Tesseract, is brightening PLM’s days with super-fast scheduling and dispatch, instantaneous invoicing, and an end to coffee-stained job sheets.
A big change before a big birthday
Established in 1968, PLM is a family business that designs, installs and maintains lighting solutions for commercial premises and leading UK retailers. This year, finding itself approaching the big 50 in an increasingly service-oriented economy, PLM realised it was time for a change. Specifically, an overhaul of its long-winded, labour-intensive service management system.
The software PLM had before Tesseract was very limited in what it could do. Over the years PLM built an intranet to try and fill in the gaps, but there was no automation and everything took a lot of time.
Tracey Hughes, Business Support Services Director for PLM, says, “Our intranet reduced some of the data entry, but increased the checks we had to do. And it was slow, manual processes every step of the way. Dispatchers had to select an appropriate engineer for a job by remembering who was doing what, and which engineers were allocated to which postcode. Engineers would have to phone the office to let us know what stock they’d used, and to request more. And the whole system was heavily reliant on paper — handwritten job sheets from engineers that were sometimes unreadable or covered in coffee stains!”
These manual processes became increasingly onerous as PLM tried to keep up with the demands of the modern customer and stay profitable. It was losing revenue because of paperwork-related delays, and had to employ more people each time it took on a new contract. The trigger was losing confidence in its financial reporting. PLM’s admin teams would be gathering information from two, three or four different places — normally a slew of human error-prone Excel spreadsheets — and would have to decide which source was accurate. They eventually lost faith in what the data was telling them.
PLM decided it needed something with more automation, more accuracy and more efficiency — and far less reliance on paper.
The search for a new solution
To investigate options, PLM’s IT manager went to the annual Field Service Management Expo in London and met with five different software providers. These five were whittled down to three, one of which was Asolvi. PLM received a series of presentations about Tesseract from Asolvi’s Kevin McNally, which were attended by a team of eight from PLM, including several of its engineers.
Hughes explains, “We really liked Kevin. His presentations were simple and easy to follow and we were impressed by how quickly he understood our business. We then met with one of Asolvi’s clients, Artic Building Services. We were completely bowled over by how well they were doing and how much they’d grown thanks to the Tesseract system. They were very, very enthusiastic and literally all of their issues and problems prior to implementation were gone. We felt like they were exactly the same as us, but five years on.”
Convinced, PLM took a phased approach to implementing the full suite of programs that make up Tesseract, including Call Control, Customer Assets, Parts Centre, Invoice Centre, and Remote Engineer Access (REA).
More control, more visibility, more time to spare
Tesseract has provided PLM with an end-to-end workflow that is automated, integrated and optimised. As soon as a call is logged, the system sources the contact information for that customer and tells you what you can and can’t do. Then the information is transmitted automatically to the phone of the engineer who is closest to the customer’s site. With REA, engineers can log in remotely using their smartphones, input service reports directly onto the system, and obtain electronic sign-off from customers in order to close down jobs. Use and replenishment of stock is also managed directly through the Tesseract system.
Hughes explains, “With Tesseract, there’s far less admin and data entry and we’ve managed to reduce the number of staff doing admin from seven to four. We have much better visibility of our engineers and their workloads, and can see what’s been completed and billed and what hasn’t without having to make a ton of phone calls. This lets us answer customer queries faster and easier because we’re able to see exactly what stage a job is at.”
Hughes adds, “We also have much faster turnaround on our invoicing. On the old system, it could take up to ten days because we had to wait for paperwork to come in from our engineers. Now that all the information we need is right there on the system, same-day invoicing is the new normal.”