Visibility of data. Access to job information in real time. Regular readers of this blog will know that these are recurring themes for us here at APH.
Increasingly, our clients are seeking business systems that can provide both of these things. They know that if they don't have real-time visibility into project costs, many of their competitors will - and these competitors will be able to serve clients faster, more intelligently and much more profitably.
Recognising the need for this level of visibility is the first step, but actually making it happen can be challenging. The problem is not a lack of an appropriate or capable system - our job costing software powered by SAP Business One has all the tools you need to effectively monitor the profitability of a project throughout its lifetime.
For companies operating in industries like project engineering and contract services, the biggest obstacle to achieving the required visibility is often getting the data into the system in the first place. This is because these companies typically employ a large mobile workforce, with two or three engineers working on each job, and their methods of collecting job information from their staff are inefficient.
The challenge for engineering services
Visibility of data for this kind of business has always been a challenge - you can't just look out of the office window and see how people are working on the shop floor. JBC Industrial Services, a company that recently opted to expand its use of SAP B1 with the addition of job costing functionality, felt this pain acutely.
The company, which services and maintains industrial steam boilers for clients across the UK, realised it would need to achieve much tighter integration between its job management and accounting functions in order to meet the management team's ambitious plans for growth. Collecting data from engineers out in the field more effectively was high on the list of priorities.
"We have 60 guys out on the road and we always struggled to pull their data in," explained managing director Jamie Bashall. "To grow the business profitably and effectively we needed to manage our jobs, callouts and maintenance contracts in much more detail."
Web time sheets, one of the key features of the job costing solution powered by SAP Business One, make it possible for businesses to capture data from staff out in the field (i.e. time and expenses) quickly and efficiently. Accessible on any connected mobile device, they enable field engineers to enter information about the projects they're working on as soon as it becomes available.
For those of you back in the office, this means no waiting around for engineers' time sheets to be submitted at the end of the day - or even at the end of the week when a project is completed. It means that you get a real-time view of how a project is progressing, how much it is costing the business and how accurate this actual cost is compared to the estimate.
Web timesheets with the SAP Business One job costing solution are straightforward to implement and use - staff simply log in from a mobile device with a username and password to submit their data. The intuitive calendar interface means there is no need for extensive user training to get up and running.
An added benefit of web timesheets is the job sheet functionality, which can be used by field engineers to capture a customer signature whenever a job has been completed to their satisfaction. The sheet is then automatically attached to the invoice if necessary, resulting in a smoother and quicker billing process because the prospect of queries or disputes is greatly reduced.
In short, using web timesheets means greater visibility and accuracy of job-related costs, with additional benefits that improve your transactional processes and save time for the finance department. Click below for more information about job costing for service industries powered by SAP Business One ERP and how it could help your business.