Increase Visibility Across Your HVAC Operations

Increase Visibility Across Your HVAC Operations

Directing the focus of your team is vital to be efficient but if your staff can’t access the info they need, their focus gets diverted.

Increase Visibility Across Your HVAC Operations

Table of Content

    Automate Data Delivery to Internal Teams

    Directing the focus of your sales, service and accounting teams towards your customers and their HVAC systems is vital to operating your business more efficiently. But if your field and front office personnel can’t quickly access the information they need to make decisions and to service customer systems, their focus gets diverted.

    Executives and line of business managers also often struggle to access the information they need to promptly make decisions on corrective actions—which is vital to running the business efficiently and removing obstacles to business growth. For example, management needs to see the bid pipeline each morning and the status of jobs in progress along with other critical KPIs.

    If frontline and management personnel waste time—searching through multiple applications and spreadsheets, waiting for email responses, and making phone calls—customers are bound to get frustrated and key decisions will drag on. System installations get delayed while break-fix and maintenance tickets are left unresolved. And the more time your teams spend on resolving issues related to proposals, service and billing, the lower your margins.

    The Importance of Unifying Applications

    The key to solving this challenge is to first unify your sales and service applications with your financial processing platform. You then need to provide visibility into all the critical information those systems store. It’s also helpful to leverage an analysis tool that can collect sales, service and financial information in one place and generates reports that make it easier for management teams to make decisions.

    When trying to create this visibility, commercial HVAC firms sometimes struggle to unify their systems. That’s because they often rely on point solutions focused on one functional area—such as finances, sales, service, or field operations. But point solutions are difficult to integrate, and as commercial HVAC distributors grow, it’s a challenge to make sure all the point solutions scale to handle greater transaction volumes.

    In other cases, HVAC companies rely on spreadsheets. This approach can be effective, but the spreadsheets are usually stored in isolated user folders. No one else in the company can access the information.

    The Solution for Complete Visibility Across Company Operations

    A solution set that offers an answer to the system unification and visibility challenge is Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE (Customer Engagement). It offers modular functions that span sales, customer service, and field operations. The solution components can be deployed all at once or one at a time as an HVAC company grows and when it’s ready to automate different areas of the business.

    Dynamics 365 CE also easily integrates with accounting processes within any ERP system. This includes Dynamics 365 Business Central and Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations. Dynamics 365 CE can also connect with Epicor Profit 21 and other financial systems from technology vendors such as Oracle, SAP, and NetSuite.

    Just as important, your end-users in sales and service can access information stored inside of Dynamics 365 CE through the application they primarily use—such as Microsoft Outlook email, the Microsoft Teams collaboration platform, or a web browser. The same holds true for your accounting team. They can access Dynamics 365 CE data through your ERP platform.

    Additionally, if your integrated application architecture includes Microsoft PowerBI, you can further enhance the information your end-users access and the analysis they perform. That’s because PowerBI connects Outlook and Teams to reports that merge data between your ERP and Dynamics 365 CE systems.

    Benefits from the End-User Perspective

    As your end-users interact with Outlook and Teams and automatically access information when these tools are integrated with Dynamics CE, your ERP platform, and PowerBI, here’s a rundown of what the different roles within your company will experience:

    Field Technicians

    Technicians are the face of every commercial HVAC company, interacting with customers in person more often than anyone else. The information they have access to has a major impact on customer satisfaction.

    Using the D365 Field Service mobile app on a phone or tablet, field technicians can check for emails they receive in Outlook or quickly launch a Teams session when they need to participate in meetings with their manager, dispatcher or other technicians. They can also see their assigned work orders and submit reports as they complete new installations, perform maintenance, or handle repairs on an HVAC system at a customer site.

    Technicians also have access to standard company processes for how to resolve common work orders. And as they interact with customers, they can see specific information on each customer’s environment—the deployed HVAC systems and their service history. With this information, technicians can provide answers to customer questions more efficiently and offer consultations on how best to resolve any issues.

    Another key benefit for technicians is access to system and parts inventory. This helps them manage their truck stocks and make sure they have everything they need to properly fulfill each work order. They can also check on system and part returns to keep customers informed as to when to expect follow-up action on open work orders.

    Dispatchers

    Perhaps more than any other role at an HVAC distributor, dispatchers have their fingertips on the pulse of daily operations. Giving them quick access to all information pertaining to customers, technician availability, inventory, and jobs status is critical to running a smooth operation.

    When working in Outlook, Teams, or through a web browser, dispatchers can access scheduling and dispatch tools to manage technician schedules and the equipment and parts needed for new installations, system maintenance, and repairs. When a new work order comes in, dispatchers can quickly determine which technician is best able to handle the task based on location, availability, skillset, and the inventory on their truck.

    And as technicians mark work orders as complete or requiring follow-up, the dispatcher immediately sees the change in status on the technician schedule board. They can also see system service history and inventory levels, which update automatically after each technician visit. This allows dispatchers to manage and track inventory as well as the movement of parts from orders to inventory to onsite installations.

    As dispatchers track the performance metrics of field technicians and oversee service delivery, they can also collaborate with service managers to find ways to increase efficiency and standardize processes. This enables the company to increase the utilization rate of technicians so more customer requests per day can be fulfilled.

    Accounting

    As your accounting teams go through their daily routines in your ERP platform, they need to know about HVAC services that have been delivered. This could be for new construction installations, break-fix work, or maintenance subscription contracts. While continuing to work in the ERP application, they can access views into D365 Field Service or Sales that show them completed work that needs to be billed.

    Accounting teams can also see what’s expected to close in the next week, month and quarter. So if a maintenance contract renewal is about to close, for example, they can prepare for when that invoice will be sent to the customer.

    It’s also helpful for accounting to see the sales commissions that Dynamics 365 tracks. They can easily calculate what each salesperson will get paid based on the various deals they closed to streamline the payroll process. Accounting quickly gets the information they need without having to pour through spreadsheets or hassling the sales manager. And the sales team gets commission payments on time.

    With Dynamics 365tying ERP to sales and service activities, accounting can also easily communicate with sales and service teams when there is an issue relating to credit or payments on a customer account. This makes it possible to act before a deal is closed to make sure the proper terms are in place. No more scrambling on getting the terms right after a deal closes—and possibly risking the deal will fall through.

    Service Management

    A service manager working in Teams can keep working in that application and access KPIs that are stored in Dynamics 365or the ERP platform. They can also access KPI analysis generated by PowerBI reports and look holistically across all accounts to identify patterns in projected workloads and identify satisfied vs. dissatisfied customers.

    With access to KPI information, managers see which new construction installations are scheduled to make sure they have enough resources. In today’s economy, where skilled technicians are in short supply, it’s particularly important to gain visibility into proposals about to close so that’s there’s plenty of time to recruit new technicians or contractors.

    Service managers can also stay in Teams to analyze current activities, such as the break-fix caseload. They can see how many cases remain open, the resolution rate, and how quickly technicians are closing cases. Is the field team achieving sufficient customer satisfaction ratings?

    With Teams integrated with Field Service and the ERP platform, managers also get a heads up on the expiration dates of maintenance subscriptions, which play a critical role in establishing a consistent revenue base. Managers can view case histories to make sure these accounts are in good standing and that customers are satisfied.

    And if necessary, service managers can intervene in advance with corrective action plans to resolve any issues so that the sales team has a better chance of renewing maintenance contracts. Service can also alert the sales team when it’s time to replace an HVAC unit to make sure the company gets the new sale.

    Sales Management

    As sales managers start their day checking emails in Outlook, they almost always find fires they need to put out immediately. Perhaps there’s a message from a customer or an executive looking for an update on the status of a bid. After a simple click right within Outlook, the sales manager can access proposal information stored in Dynamics 365. Within a minute or two, they can let the customer or the company president know what to expect next and when the deal will be finalized.

    Managers can also quickly gain visibility into the overall status of bids across the company. Perhaps there are multiple bids pertaining to the same job site. Within Outlook or Teams, the manager sees whether bids look like they will close or if one or two are running into issues.

    With tight integration to Dynamics 365, Outlook and Teams also offer views into whether the sales team is on target to hit their quota for the month, the quarter, or the year. In addition, managers can check to make sure each sales team member is reporting their KPIs according to standard procedures. Changes to reporting procedures and how they are submitted are often necessary after an HVAC company acquires another firm and needs to on board a new sales team. Perhaps an adjustment is required for how to measure the likelihood percentage that a deal will close.

    Another important aspect sales managers can look at from within Outlook and Teams is which business partners most often win on joint bids. By knowing the close rate of each partner, sales managers can determine which general contractor relationships to focus on.

    The Staying Power of Microsoft Dynamics 365

    Point solutions for sales, service, dispatching, accounting, and inventory functions can be effective for their teams in their focused area operations. But because these solutions are also difficult to integrate, they make it challenging to provide visibility to personnel from other teams across the company.

    For example, the sales team may be able to use a CRM solution to close new business, but they find it difficult to stay informed as to whether the customer is happy following the implementation of their HVAC systems. Or, accounting might efficiently cut invoices and collect payments, but they tend to find out about billable incidents a week after work is complete, thus slowing down cash flow.

    Dynamics 365 CE integrated with your ERP platform offers all the operational functionality a commercial HVAC company requires. And you don’t have to deploy all the functionality all at once. You can consume each module at a pace that makes sense for your business. As your business grows, it’s easy to addon new functions without disrupting the functionality you already deployed.

    Perhaps, for example, it makes sense to centralize your sales process first. Once your sales team has adapted you can then look at streamlining maintenance service subscriptions and then case management. Under the Dynamics365 umbrella, you can go in any order—slowly or all at once.

    In the end, you benefit from a unified solution that gives your internal teams complete visibility across all your operations.

    To learn more about unifying your commercial HVAC operations with Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE or to schedule a free demo, reach out to our experts.

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