Overcoming Field Agents’ Defiance While Implementing Inspection Software
Any organizational change faces resistance. Even if the change is supposed to bring in positive outcomes, people may not prefer to welcome anything that upsets the status quo. However, businesses that focus on long-term success should be ready to convince their employees that any short-term pain will be worth it. It’s no different when it comes to implementing an audit/inspection management software in your field service company.
Audits and inspections are among the key services offered by any field business. Using traditional paper-based forms is often time-consuming, error-prone, and a drain on resources. Audit software, one of the fruits of digitalization, improves the process.
An audit and inspection software offers dynamic forms and collects data automatically. The audit software will have the ability to read from IoT sensors and populate the form fields. The inspector may store photos within the form, rather than mess around with attachments. During COVID-19, automated digital forms have widely enabled contactless collection of data, and dissemination of reports via email.
Such benefits notwithstanding, implementing audit/inspection software faces significant resistance from the field technicians. How can you overcome the change resistance to using a service software for your audit management and inspection management purposes? This piece attempts to take a look.
1. Shake up of entrenched status quo
Implementing inspection management software delivers efficiency improvements, but disrupts the status quo. It forces new ways of work, which may unsettle field agents. Many agents have emotional connections to their job, and thoughts of change will disengage them. Others, even when convinced, opt to resist owing to peer pressure.
How can you overcome this?
- Train field agents on the new software: Give adequate time for employees to get accustomed to the audit software. Factor in the learning curve when making productivity assessments. Do not count mistakes or slow work during the initial days of using the software against the agent. Consider such losses as part of the investment on the inspection software.
- Try to get the software on track with minimal disruption: Make sure the workflow of the software resembles the way field agents conduct inspections. Most workflows result from years of trial-and-error. Disrupting such accustomed-to-workflows is a major cause for resistance. If there is no workaround to abandoning incumbent workflows, make the changes customer-centric. Reorient processes in a way that speeds up things for the customer. Do not reorient processes to make it convenient for the software developer.
- Communicate the benefits with employees: Convince field agents how the change-over to inspection software will benefit them. Some benefits include improved productivity, free time, work-life balance, and skill development.
2. Fear of job loss
Inspection management software automates the process. Dynamic forms capture information electronically and generate reports automatically. The field agent does not waste time on manual form fill-up, duplicate data-entry, or re-entering information in an Excel sheet. Inspection management software allows field agents to cover more audits in a day. But this may also mean that the industry needs fewer field agents. When field agents find their jobs under threat, resistance is natural.
How to overcome change-resistance caused by fear of job loss?
- Convince field agents: Educate field agents that digitization does not equate to job loss. Rather, digitization enriches the value of their jobs. Digitization frees them up from mundane, low-level tasks, and enables them to undertake more cognitive tasks. It is also an opportunity for them to upgrade their tech skills and be part of the decision-making process, when situation demands.
- Implement software along with a job enrichment exercise: Talk to each employee, and have a plan for them. Gain their confidence. Convince them the software is to improve efficiency and do more while retaining the existing resources.
Case Study: Running a Backflow Testing business with ReachOut! How ReachOut’s customizable digital forms and service scheduling features transformed a backflow testing business in Idaho?
3. Poor experiences with a legacy software
“Once bitten, twice shy”, goes the adage.
Experience of botched-up changes, false promises, or software not living up to claims make the workforce resist change. If nothing else, earlier changes may have affected the employee adversely.
How can you convince your employees on the long-term advantages of an inspection software built on latest technologies?
- Work hard to gain credibility and trust: Managers and supervisors who lead from the front earn the confidence of their field agents. The best leaders take up ownership of the inspection software and resolve challenges heads-on.
- Be transparent: Share details about the new software with your field techs. Have formal training sessions. Supplement it with awareness sessions where business leaders clarify doubts and answer questions.
- Curate internal champions: Identify field agents who support the change, and give them ownership of the change initiative. Facilitate them as influencers.
4. Poor implementation planning
Often, resistance to inspection management software is because of implementing it at the wrong time. Change always disrupts. Implementing a new software during peak season, when field agents are busy in their job, is a recipe for disaster. Field agents would prefer to do their job in an accustomed way rather than stop doing their jobs and learn uncertain software. To make matters worse, many enterprises roll-out half-baked software, with incomplete features or inadequate testing.
Implement new software during off-peak season, when employees have free time on their hands.
- Testing: Roll-out the inspection software after thorough testing, with bugs removed.
- Timing: Run the new software with the old manual system side-by-side for some months, to iron out the chinks.
- Access: Offer field agents the infrastructure to access the software. When field agents have to use their outdated mobiles to access enterprise software, they do not cooperate. Offer field agents company smartphones to access the field inspection software or institute a clear BYOD policy. Give away incentives for employees to use their phones.
Audit management software gives a big fillip to improving field service efficiency. But the advantages are realized only if the field agents support it. Non-cooperating field agents subvert the best of software, and the digitization ends up doing more harm than good. Overcoming resistance to change is as critical as developing the software itself.
Need help implementing an audit/inspection software for your business? Get in touch with our expert and streamline your audit management with ReachOut.
ReachOut: Inspection & Work Order Management Software
Do you still use paper or Excel spreadsheets to manage your service business? ReachOut is a web and mobile solution for companies to schedule, dispatch and deliver inspections, work orders, ticketing and more.