A Guide to Field Services Business Software and Resources

Whether you are in the oil and gas industry, appliance installation and repair, or installation of security or lighting systems, GoCanvas has everything you need for your employees to get the job done right. Regardless of your field service specialty, if you want to run your business more efficiently, it starts by ditching all those torn and tattered papers in that file cabinet. The information on those papers is what you need, and storing and tracking it digitally is the best way to stay competitive in today's market.

GoCanvas recognizes that keeping track of team members, dispatching work orders, submitting daily logs, and completing field reports can be difficult to balance. That is why they developed a suite of apps targeted to the field service industry, so you can work smarter, not harder. The multitude of resources available for field service businesses can help you streamline your processes, and when coupled with the right software packages, you have more time to focus on your business.

Field Service Automation

After a chaotic day in the field dealing with an ever-changing schedule, calling the office support person to order a part for a service call, running by the office to drop off a report, then losing a favorite pen and having to borrow one from the customer to complete the service order, your service tech worker is left wondering if there is an easier way. We are here to tell you that yes, there is. Field service technicians who work for companies that make the move to mobile apps can perform their tasks much more efficiently than their counterparts who are still burdened with paper forms.

From technicians and the sales force to office support personnel and management, digital solutions bring a variety of benefits and allow staff to spend more time with their clients and less time shuffling through papers.

Imagine using an app to sign a customer up for a warranty program, getting signatures for approval of a pest control job (no pen needed for that!), or emailing a quote to a customer before you walk out the door. Customers and your staff want this - so what is holding you back from taking your business paperless and going mobile?

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Mobile Solutions

Once you have made the switch to a paperless work flow, you will be able to come up with a million reasons why it is better, faster, and easier. But if you still need convincing, consider these reasons: no more stained, crumpled paper forms littering your trucks; no more lost invoices or work orders; no more trips to the office for a stack of checklists, and no more file cabinets of forms to sort through in the office. Best of all, no more drives back to the office at the end of the day to have your team turn in all their invoices.

Nearly everyone has their cell phones with them 24/7 these days, why not let it work for you and your team? Ultimately, your improved efficiency leads to faster turnaround which means more work, and that means more money in the bank.

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Common Forms for Field Service Professionals

GoCanvas can ease the burden of paperwork for field service company owners through its suite of mobile apps. You can choose from field service reports, daily scheduling and dispatch forms, safety inspections, work order forms, warranty documents, and sales proposals, as well as cost estimates and employee timesheets. GoCanvas apps are useful for all employees, regardless of their job.

The best thing about going digital is that your customers and vendors probably are too. You can send them everything they need to approve your work order and get your team engaged in another job, without even having to lick a stamp! Capture photographs and signatures digitally, compile everything into a PDF document and email the invoice from the field or your office.

GoCanvas manages your data securely via their Cloud or web-hosting services, freeing you up from worrying about the challenges of IT management.

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Work Orders / Service Orders

When you create a work order you let your customer know exactly what you intend to do and how much it will cost, be it replace broken parts, drill holes in a baseboard for termite control, rewire lighting fixtures, or whatever other work will be done based on their unique needs and requirements, you can ensure a smooth engagement.

Use GoCanvas apps so you and your employees can build online work orders that include time and materials information, employee assignment, job site, start date, total costs and approval signatures. You can also include photos which will help the customer visualize the work that needs to be done. Then automatically generate an invoice at completion of the work.

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Reports & Logs

You might be hard pressed to find an industry with as many pieces of paper or information that has to be tracked as the field service industry. All of your team members in the field must keep detailed logs, including timetracking, mileage and expenses, but being able to read them is another thing. Don't rely on trying to figure out whether that number is a 5 or 8 - enable your team to enter their data through their phone or tablet using a log app.

Also, give them the power of field service reporting apps so they can enter the corresponding field service information. The log may not be any good if you don't know what clients were serviced.

Keep track of your team's productivity and activity by having access to real-time data - when they enter an address into their log book, you can see it. All of this information is stored securely through GoCanvas host services.

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Inspections

Before creating a work order proposal, you need to know what work is involved, and conducting an inspection or consultation is often the first step. Ensuring that your team has the proper tool to capture all the information they gather from the job site is critical for creating that proposal. For example, not all technicians are artists! Instead of trying to draw the front porch where the pest control work will be done, have them take a picture using their Smartphone and upload the picture directly into the app. Then have the customer digitally sign the work order so everyone can move on to the next step.

GoCanvas has a variety of inspection apps. All information entered in the apps can be saved securely as a PDF in the GoCanvas Cloud, making the retrieval and submission of any or all of the data simple and quick.

Field Service Industry

The Field Service Industry comprises a wide variety of businesses. Teams in energy and utility, oil and gas, HVAC, appliance or pest control all have unique needs, but they all also have a lot of similarities when it comes to doing business. Creating estimates, proposals, work orders and contracts are key components of each business, and each type of business can benefit by going paperless.

Keep work delays, misunderstandings and reworks to a minimum by easily tracking and monitoring each step of the process electronically. Transfer proposals to contracts, and contracts into work orders, and work orders into invoices -- all from your phone, iPad or PC.

When you run your operations from a paperless platform and use mobile apps and computer programs you can keep your business running smoothly.

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Technician Jobs

Technicians are the nuts and bolts of your business - so give them the tools they need to stay productive and to complete their jobs right the first time. HVAC and electricians, for example, are certified and often need to closely follow industry-specific, OSHA and EPA standards using checklists and installation guidelines that need to be readily available. All technicians are bound to need a checklist and the ability to finalize work order at some point, if not every day.

When all that information, as well as quick access to any information related to the component being serviced, and client history, is readily accessible the technician will be much more productive. They can quickly complete each job, create an invoice, gather signatures and move on to the next job without having to swing by the office.

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Engineer Jobs

Field service engineers often have the same knowledge as field service technicians, but they also have an in-depth scientific and theoretical knowledge of their field. They can be critical to your businesses profitability and the company's client satisfaction by offering valuable information during the design process by using their problem-solving skills to find the best solution. During an emergency, such as a gas-line leak or water-main break, their quick thinking can limit damage.

They still need the right tools to do their job, though, whether it is access to inspection checklists, OSHA requirements or the field service technicians work order logs. When your company makes the switch to electronic data storage, your engineers are better equipped to do their job.

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Oil & Gas Jobs

The oil and gas industry is a highly regulated market, and employees should be aware of regulations, guidelines and safety requirements. Expecting your employees to memorize all of them is not reasonable. However, ensuring they can quickly and easily access information will keep your company compliant and your employees and customers safe.

Whether filling a backyard propane tank, filling the gas tanks at the local gas station, or inspecting an oil rig, the work may require permits, approvals, checklists and supporting documentation showing compliance with OSHA and EPA requirements. Managing all of this is nearly impossible without the use of automation. Easy access to digital forms that can collect photos, GPS location, signatures and a lot more are all part of the many mobile apps available from GoCanvas.

Field Services Management

According to the latest statistics, over half of all field service companies still coordinate work and perform functions manually. That is changing quickly, and the data shows that in just a few years mobile apps will be used by the majority of field service organizations. Regardless of the size of your business, you do not want to be left behind. It is important to be on the leading edge and to take advantage of the new technologies.

When you dispatch your team member to service printers and copiers, or packaging and shipping equipment, you are confident they are trained on the latest specifications. However, ensuring they have all the latest paperwork including invoices and work orders and the latest inventory counts readily available at their fingertips will make them even more proficient at their job.

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Popular Software and Apps

Field Service Management (FSM) software is becoming much more popular as the field service industry moves from manual to automated processes. When looking for a software product that will work for you and your business make sure it meets your business needs. If you only service HVAC equipment, you will want to find an HVAC specific product; but more than likely you will want to find one that handles all types of service technicians.

At the minimum, you will want a product that meets the following criteria: available for use on mobile products; is user-friendly; integrates with a variety of accounting software programs; and, has a good technical and customer support team. A software package that allows for knowledge capture can also be helpful for retaining knowledge of your experienced technicians.

It goes without saying that you will need scheduling, dispatch & request, and change order functionality. See below to find out more information related to these primary field service management software functions.

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Scheduling Software

Scheduling is more than likely the most important aspect of your company. Installations, warranty work, repair work and upgrades must be scheduled quickly and accurately to keep your customers and your employees happy. What can be more important for field service technicians than ensuring they make it to the right place at the right time?

Assign the job to the right technician, using software that has customer/technician history, knows the technicians' skillset, and knows the service techs workload. Once a tech is scheduled he or she should be able to easily see their complete schedule and find all the necessary details such as customer contact information, work orders and all associated paperwork.

GoCanvas Apps for Scheduling Software

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Dispatch & Requests

Whether you need to dispatch a field service technician for plumbing, HVAC, pest control or electrician work, you want your dispatcher to have ready access to your workers availability, skillset, location and travel time, and, even whether the needed parts are available or accessible.

With digital solutions, once a request comes in you can easily see which technician is available and best suited for the job and send them on their way. With dispatch mobile apps, your technicians can receive alerts for new jobs in real-time out in the field and be provided with all the necessary information. No more need to stop by the office to pick up the service order!

Without the use of technology, this can be overwhelming and stressful. By giving your dispatchers access to the right software to do their job you can significantly enhance their effectiveness while increasing your first-time fix rate. Get the right person on the job more often by turning to GoCanvas and its toolbox of apps for your field service business.

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Change Orders

No matter how many times you dot your i's and cross your t's on your latest proposal for installing or upgrading an HVAC unit, dishwasher, refrigerator or security system, something is going to change. Regardless of whether it is the costs submitted from a sub-contractor, or a customer change in type of appliance, a change order must be issued and agreed to by all parties. Change orders serve to protect everyone in the case an issue arises later.

Project managers, customers, vendors, and on-the-job field service technicians are all likely to need to create a change order at some point, and you want it to be generated and approved quickly to keep the customer happy and to keep the job on schedule.

Keep work delays and misunderstandings to a minimum by electronically tracking materials, costs, labor, etc. You may need to turn to a lawyer for an idea of what to include in your company's change order to keep it legal and viable. Finding an app that allows you to generate a change order and get digital approval is important.

GoCanvas Apps for Change Orders

Accounting Software

Accounting can often be complicated and stressful, especially for companies that offer a variety of products and services. It is also one of the more critical aspects of running a successful field service company. Keeping proper financial records is the only way to ensure you make payments and bill your clients in a timely manner, pay your workers for their time, and file taxes quickly and accurately.

Finding a suitable accounting software package is critical for staying on top of invoices, payments and payroll, but you may want to contact a certified public accountant, who is familiar with the field service industry, before investing in a product. A CPA can help you better determine your needs, so you can match them to a software package that will work for you.

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Popular software and apps

There are no shortage of accounting packages on the market today, but finding one to meet your needs may take time and research. To support growth while also managing the key aspects of your current needs, look for a product that is robust yet targets small businesses.

PC Magazine reviewed many of the accounting software packages on the market. Many of these software packages manage all aspects of your financials, so when considering how to handle invoices, inventory, receipts, estimates and quotes make sure to evaluate your how your business processes work within an accounting package.

Resources / Links:

Top Field Service Industry Accounting Software

Intuit QuickBooks

Monthly pricing structure to meet your needs.

Track expenses
Be tax ready
Create custom invoices
Receive customer payments
Run payroll, and more

AccountingEdge Pro

Purchase software with option for add-ons such as credit card processing.

Run and report on all aspects of your business
Sales and Invoicing
Purchases
Payroll
Inventory
Time billing, and more.

Wave Support

Free software with pay-as-you-go services.

All-in-one accounting
Invoicing
Payroll
Payments & receipt management
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Invoices

When it is time to create an invoice, offer one where customers can see a clear breakdown of the cost including labor, parts, and price. Provide your customers with an easy-to-read, professional invoice that can be instantly generated from a mobile app - and that connects to your software.

With the appropriate GoCanvas app, your technicians can email the invoice to the client when they complete their job, and not have to worry about any follow-up paperwork.

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Inventory Forms

Your field service techs can only do their job if the proper parts are available when they need them. Keep track of your inventory through an inventory app that allows you to itemize parts. You can then link your records to estimates and work orders, so you know when inventory becomes available or when it is time to restock. Using a mobile inventory app can save you lots of headaches and stress down the road and will keep your service techs busy and productive.

GoCanvas Apps for Inventory

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Order Forms

Ordering equipment or parts is critical to ensuring your field service techs stay busy and have the tools they need to do their job. Regardless of where you purchase your goods from, make sure that you create the appropriate order form to protect both the buyer and the seller. Handshake agreements are not the way to run a business and could leave you shortchanged in the end.

Use a GoCanvas app to build a binding contract indicating part number, model number, quantity, sale price, shipping and payment requirements, and any other key information to ensure the correct item is ordered and received. As soon as you complete the form you will be able to send it off for approval and processing with the click of a button!

GoCanvas Apps for Inventory

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Receipts

Did your technician need to stop by Home Depot to get the right valve for his job? Or perhaps your windshield repair rep had to travel farther than he thought and needed to fill up his gas tank. What are they going to do with these receipts? It is critical that your field service technicians, and anyone in your business, has an easy, efficient way to track their purchases in general, as well as back to a specific job. Keeping every receipt is the only way to track those daily expenditures that can easily get lost. With a Smartphone or tablet, taking a picture of the receipt is now one of the best ways to keep all of them handy.

Or maybe you handle point-of-sale deliveries or delivery receipts for gas and propane. In these cases, you will need to generate receipts for your customers while on-site. Again, turn to a digital app so you can generate receipts and email them to your customer before getting back in your truck.

And don't forget to update that inventory list at the same time!

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Estimates/Quotes

Clients are savvier, competition is stiffer and word-of-mouth referrals are more widespread than ever with social media. When it comes time to provide a potential customer with an estimate or quote, it may not be the least expensive one that wins, rather it is the most accurate, complete, and transparent one that will land you the job.

When it comes time to build an estimate, don't have your field workers fumbling around with a calculator, parts catalog, and ruler - provide them with an automated cost estimator and any other tools and apps that will build and generate a complete and accurate estimate. Whether the estimate is for HVAC installation, utility work, a telecomm repair, or pest control service you can customize GoCanvas apps so the information meets your needs. Of course, going paperless also gives you the capability to accept electronic signatures and to send estimates electronically.

Sales

Closing a sale is one of the most challenging aspects of businesses for many companies, especially those in the Field Services industry. Large contracts and a remote sales team can create communication challenges that may result in lost work if not managed properly. From the initial contact, to creating a sales proposal to walking the customer through the options, the length of the sales cycle can get out of hand.

Expand your sales by using a GoCanvas sales app that makes going digital convenient, effective and inexpensive. For easy access and sharing of the disparate documentation needed to bring in that next project, give your sales force the tools they can carry with them on their smartphone or tablets. The bonus in all of this is that those working back in the office can track the progress and provide input efficiently and easily.

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Popular software and apps

You never leave your home anymore without your cell phone, so why not use it for more than looking at your social media apps? You and your company can work smarter and more efficiently when you work together and share the same information - in real-time! Using the appropriate sales apps and software lets you assign or be assigned calls and meetings; send or be sent updated pricing; change a proposal, generate a PDF file and send it off for approval - all while sitting in front of your client.

Don't let your sales team walk out that door with a promise to the client of "I'll get that information to you tomorrow." Make sure instead that they say, "I have that information right here." Everything can be right at their fingertips when you choose to go paperless and rely on technology and the right software to grow your business.

Software packages and mobile apps allow you to speed up your sales cycle and integrate with your backend system, so you can generate those work orders as soon as the contract is signed. You don't need to wait for the ink to dry when you go digital.

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Contracts

Your sales team pulled off a coup and got that big deal to handle installing the network cables in the new subdivision, now, make sure you quickly generate that contract. When your sales process is electronic, building the contract can be fast and accurate. Using the sales proposal as the basis, prepare the contract seamlessly by uploading the timeline, scope, and other terms and conditions discussed during the sale by supporting it with the most current inventory, pricing and scheduling parameters available.

Make sure to have your lawyer help build all the appropriate legalese to protect both you and the client. You may want to work with your lawyer prior to making an investment to develop a contract template that contains the key information you will need such as bond information, warranty, penalty clauses, damage protection clauses, etc. GoCanvas has contract app templates for the field service industry that allows you to customize the contract with information that meets your needs.

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Estimates

In the field service industry, the type and range of estimates can vary widely. Whether you need to provide a quick estimate to a customer who needs new outdoor lighting around their house or a larger project to light up the new soccer field, it is important that it is as accurate as possible.

You don't want to overstate or understate anything, especially labor and/or material costs. With so many estimating products available via apps or as part of software packages, you can rely on your field employees and sales force to develop an estimate in which you can be confident.

Find out more about automated cost estimators and other tools and apps that help your team generate a complete and accurate estimate. With a paperless system you will also have the capability to accept electronic signatures and to send estimates electronically.

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Proposals & Contracts

When you submit that roofing proposal, don't start wringing your hands with worry that the customer will come back with questions about the shingles or weather contingency. Instead, be confident that the one you sent has detailed estimates and clearly explains the job scope and timeline.

Using available GoCanvas apps throughout your sales cycle will give you the confidence that all the information you carefully collected and stored electronically regarding the project, including the estimate and specifications, will be rolled into the proposal, and ultimately the contract, to minimize disputes or re-dos.

GoCanvas Apps for Proposals & Contracts

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Repair and Service Orders

When your customer is already upset because they have to drag their clothes to the laundromat because their washing machine needs to be fixed, don't give them a reason to complain about poor service. There is nothing more frustrating than having to schedule a return visit to finish the repair.

For any type of repair work, when you create that field service order, make sure everything the field service tech needs is included and is accurate, such as the make, model and serial number, the address of the customer, and any parts needed are available in the warehouse. Keep an eye on that first-time fix rate.

Using a GoCanvas service order app removes the guess-work for your technician and lets them focus on the job so they can have the customer back up and running - and giving a 5-star rating!

Human Resources

The lifeblood of a good field service company is its employees. Hiring them is a big step but retaining them can be very challenging. With an excellent human resources program, the right tools and highly skilled employees you can keep your business competitive and your employees around for a long time.

While offering fair wages is a big component of an employee package, other areas for consideration include reasonable work hours for the crew, a safe work environment, proper gear and tools, and supportive management.

To ensure you handle your human resource issues properly consider hiring an HR consultant. Whether you consult with them to understand basic HR guidelines, or for help in managing employee complaints, the right HR expert can be invaluable.

The right HR software and mobile apps are also invaluable. Finding the right technology that manages time tracking, employee evaluations, employee certifications and skills, and payroll can make management much easier.

To stay informed about HR practices, software apps and all other field service industry related information consider attending conferences, such as the annual Field Service USA conference, or field industry trade shows. These events provide you a place to build your network, learn new skills, and bring ideas back for keeping your employees happy.

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Popular software and apps

More than likely all your staff has access to either a computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone, so it is easy to reduce your paperwork and rely on software and mobile apps to quickly, and securely, record and access key HR information. Whether talking with a client, reviewing data to build a contract or proposal, or managing an employee issue, you will quickly become adept in electronically accessing your data, and those file cabinets in your office will just gather dust.

When determining the right software for your business make sure you find a solution that is designed for the field service industry, but also provides you the ability to customize it to meet your needs. Whatever your specialty - utilities, HVAC, plumbing, oil and gas - your software should work for you and help keep your employees productive and accountable.

Top Field Service Industry HR Software

BizMerlin HR

Monthly or annual subscription pricing per user.

Centralized employee database
Performance reviews
Payroll integration
Leave management/time tracking
Training
Recruitment, and more

ZoHo People

Monthly pricing structure to meet your needs.

Centralized employee data
Time and attendance
Performance reviews
Custom forms

Gusto

Monthly subscription based on features and per user.

Payroll
Time tracking
Leave management
Health benefits
Syncs with QuickBooks
New hires, etc.
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Evaluations

Just because your field service team is out-of-sight, don't let them be out-of-mind. Staying informed of what they do and giving them timely feedback is imperative for keeping your staff and clients satisfied. Staff evaluations should not be a once a year process, and there are apps designed specifically for giving feedback and for employee evaluations that can be done on a regular basis.

Use an app that can be customized to capture your employee metrics such as first-time fix rate, on-time arrivals, customer satisfaction, return business, and even up sale success. Allowing your staff to give and receive feedback on their performance allows you to capture information so you can reward your good workers, and correct issues with poor performers before they negatively affect your bottom-line. When you can't meet face-to-face, smartphone apps allow you to conduct evaluations anytime, anyplace with your field service staff.

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Time Tracking

Field service employees are on-the-job and on-the-road so tracking their hours can be challenging. Requiring them to call-in or come by the office to clock-in is not efficient and can lead to a feeling of distrust among the team. Make it easy for you and your staff by giving them a practical, secure time tracking tool that easily allows you to track labor, travel time and overtime.

Using GoCanvas time tracking mobile apps designed to track daily/monthly hours, project hours, leave, and staff pay that ties directly into your accounting system lets your team stay productive and compliant by checking-in at each site simply by pulling out their cell phone or tablet. Electronic signature capability lets them know hours are viewed and accepted.

GoCanvas Apps for Time Tracking

Safety

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the government watchdog for workers' safety, there are approximately 14 on-the-job deaths in the U.S. every day. Ensuring that your employees are safe, and that they know how to safely do their work, is vital for your business. A good safety and health track record can add value to your business by bringing in customers and skilled employees.

How do you create a safe work environment? Evaluating your workplace operations, establishing proper job procedures, and giving workers the tools they need is how - and there are apps to help you do this. Making sure your workers and worksites comply with local, state and federal guidelines is one of the most important workplace safety steps. Using technology to collect and disseminate information such as inspection forms, safety checklists, equipment maintenance forms, unsafe job condition reports and incident reports gives you and your employees immediate access and reporting capabilities from the field or a desk.

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Popular Software and Apps

Many field service business owners and their employees must comply with OSHA, EPA and other local and state safety and environmental requirements. Whether you have employees conducting inspections to ensure work with propane tanks meet the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code; a pest control team that must follow the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act; or electricians are following the proper National Fire Protection Association's standards, it is obvious that documentation is critical for protecting your staff and your company in the case of an incident or inspection.

Tracking the vast number of documents supporting your compliance can be daunting and inconvenient if the documentation is not where you need it, like onsite. When your project managers and technicians are out on the job they need to get their hands-on safety protocol documentation. If they can't, they may need to stop work until they have it. When you have all the forms digitally available, though, that shouldn't be an issue.

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Incidents

Even with the best of intentions and strict adherence to safety protocol, accidents are bound to happen. And when one does, inspectors are going to descend upon you to assess the situation and to gather as much information as they can to close the investigation.

They will want to see a lot of documentation about your employees, business, job site, permits, compliance, training and more. By implementing GoCanvas apps not only will you avoid growing piles of paperwork, but you can more easily respond to any audit or incident investigation quickly and confidently. When your information is stored safely and securely through GoCanvas, you can better protect your business and your employees.

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Contact GoCanvas To Build Your Electronic Field Service Toolbox

gocanvas solutions

Each GoCanvas field service app was built with the goal to help you and your employees become more self-sufficient, productive and organized. Knowing the benefits of moving from a paper-based operation to paperless, and actually doing it are very different. Making that transition to digital forms is easier than you think, and that’s why we developed this Toolbox of resources to help you think through how broadly you can use mobile apps to improve your business operations.

We know there is always something new and improved that will come along to make your life easier, and we design our apps with that in mind. We update our forms as new regulations and requirements come out, and we give you the flexibility to customize the forms to meet your needs.

We also want to offer useful information that will help you succeed. Let us know of any additional resources that would be beneficial to you - is something missing or outdated? - and we will do our best to add it. Contact us so we can help you.

We're here to help. Contact Us

GoCanvas wants to be your business partner in helping you build and grow a paperless and highly efficient business.