Mitigating the risks of automation

Published on October 21, 2021

Time and Material processing occurs after the technician(s) has completed a service order.  Once triggered, Shepherd code will analyze the service order and move any time and/or materials to the sales order at the correct prices so that you may invoice your customer.  Getting those items to the sales order automatically saves your accounts department the hassle of having to interview service staff in order to identify any potential billing.  They need no more than hours of labor to identify the correct price to charge for each of possibly many time entries or parts used while executing the service.  Shepherd handles this automatically.  Its code identifies the appropriate price for all the time and materials and then automates the entry of that pricing onto the sales order.  In Shepherd sales meetings, its sales reps often state that the customer may have their invoice on their screen before your technician starts his engine to move on to the next job.

Less haste, more speed

The automation of time and materials processing, however, should not be instant in most cases.  As stated above, Shepherd code will handle all of the necessary price identification and math, but is it not often the case that the data that the technicians entered requires a pair of eyes on it?  Did he mean to enter 10 hours on site?  Or was it not really just 1 hour?  Did he mean to record the use of 33 liters of oil or just 3?  Feed bad data into any system and the resultant calculation will be wrong.  Here Shepherd is no exception.

For that reason Shepherd has introduced the option to make the trigger for time and materials processing manual at the request of one of its HVAC customers.  The manual process publishes an alert to the service manager’s dashboard each time a technician completes a service order. Typically, service managers will batch these orders and process them all at day’s end.  The T&M processing screen summarizes all time and part usage for each service and allows various degrees of intervention in the calculation depending on your preferences.  One may allow or prohibit the editing of time duration, start & end timestamps, labor, parts rate, and even move time from one service order to another or switch the service item.  The field service manager may even see and edit the contents of all the text the technician entered on-site to make it clearer or eliminate typos, which are all too easy to make when typing on a phone in the field.

Broaden your choices when sourcing information

Furthermore, the T&M processing page allows the user to bring in items from purchase orders and expense reports associated with the service order.  The idea is to preview all costs and write them to the sales order at their appropriate price.  The calculation is automatic, but it is prudent to have a human review the data first.

Shepherd has also just released the ability to auto-create bills from subcontractors and vendors who report time to the service order.  How often is it that subcontractors are not too swift in sending their bills to you, which can often slow your own invoicing.

Service managers who approve the T&M data will be relieved to allow Shepherd to do the math. 

Shepherd constantly considers ways to reduce lost time, and increase efficiency but never loses sight of the human element, ensuring it reinforces your operations, rather than undermine them. 

For more information on how Shepherd can help your company, get in touch with your regional Shepherd sales manager.

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