This is the first of a two-part blog series.  Stay tuned for the second and final blog where we describe the final three industry specific areas; quoting and estimating, contract management and project management.

With over 40 MEP and HVAC projects, Jolt Consulting is well versed in assisting MEP and HVAC service organizations navigate their business and technology challenges.  For more information on we have helped others in your industry, visit our case studies and client results or contact us today.

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The famed science fiction writer Sir Arthur C. Clarke once proclaimed, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is equivalent to magic.”

Perhaps banking on “magic” isn’t the best strategy for your mechanical, electrical, plumbing (“MEP”) or HVAC company, but implementing technology that meets your industry specific needs just might be.

Most service software solutions meet basic service requirements of work order creation, scheduling/dispatch and field technician activity, however, these are only “table stakes”.  When it comes to the MEP and HVAC industry, software companies may indicate they meet industry specific requirements, but in reality, most fall short.  This causes challenges for service organizations to find and implement solutions that will enable their specific business objectives.

Let’s consider how Best-in-Class MEP and HVAC service organizations should evaluate, integrate, and leverage technology to solve their specific industry challenges.  These service organizations must “dig deeper” into the technology company’s capabilities and examine how these providers solve their MEP and HVAC specific business needs.  Let’s examine the first 2 of these 5 key areas.

Mobility

The industry has a number of unique field technician and mobility requirements and service companies must carefully evaluate how/if software will meet these requirements.

  • First, there is an extensive use of technician checklists for both break/fix and preventative maintenance (“PM”) work and these checklists can be widely varied and quite lengthy.
  • Second, technicians often request purchase order (“PO”) authorization while in the field and require PO approval and deliver of the associated PO number immediately to their mobile device.
  • Common technician events are customer Not to Exceed (“NTE”) thresholds and additional work found while on-site which both require customer approved quotations.  For additional work that will be performed while the technician is on-site, the field quotation process should allow easy quote creation and immediate customer signature or acknowledgement.  Visual price books are also key, as they provide a more complete and thus comfortable picture for the customer when reviewing the quote.
  • The fourth industry specific area is the Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA”) set of regulations requiring MEP and HVAC companies to track refrigerant and demonstrate compliance with EPA regulations.
  • Lastly, although wide-spread across many industries, MEP and HVAC customers have a strong desire for an “Uber” like experience.

Subcontractor Management

Engineering News Report lists the shortage of skilled labor in the “trades” as the #1 issue facing the industry.[1]  As a result, the use of third party networks for field service support is now greater than ever.[2]  Not only do MEP and HVAC companies need visibility into the 3rd party field activity but also require interactive technology to manage their subcontractors’ contractual terms (pricing, insurance coverage, etc.) and quoting with service company review/approval.  Software should provide support for 3rd party checklist completion and functionality that provides 3rd party invoicing upload and reconciliation with work orders.

Best-in-Breed versus Platform

The MEP and HVAC industry traditionally has approached technology via a platform approach, that is, a single software solution runs most facets of their business; financials, purchasing, construction, service, etc.  However, often the service “module” of the platform is limited and not robust enough to support the organization’s goals, drive operational efficiencies and create a differentiated customer experience.  As service becomes increasingly important to companies as a larger percent of their revenues and at higher profit margins, more and more MEP and HVAC companies are transitioning to best-in-breed service software solutions that are integrated to the back-end financials.  This is critical strategic decision and much thought must be given to determine the right approach for your company.

Conclusion

The MEP and HVAC industry has many industry specific needs that service software technology companies struggle to meet as part of their core solution.  This causes challenges for service organizations to find and implement solutions that will enable their specific business objectives.

Service organizations must “dig deeper” into the technology company’s capabilities and examine how these providers solve their MEP and HVAC specific business needs.

With over 40 MEP and HVAC projects, Jolt Consulting is well versed in assisting MEP and HVAC service organizations navigate their business and technology challenges.  For more information on we have helped others in your industry, visit our case studies and client results or contact us today.

 

[1] Engineering News Report, enr.com, October 24, 2016

[2] The Service Council Blog Post – “Not my Problem: Talk to my 3rd Party Partner”, January 30, 2017 http://servicecouncil.com/not-problem-talk-3rd-party-partner/