Almost everyone agrees that electronic inspection and dispatch is the way to go these days. The challenge is that paper makes us feel confident. Paper is the way we’ve done things for years. We’re good at it. Paper gives us something to write on, something to physically move around, something to look at, something to touch, and something to go look for. Electronics aren’t nearly as “in your face”. Yet electronic systems are much more efficient, are less prone to losing a job, and can be quickly adapted. The best shops went electronic a few years ago and have been constantly working to improve processes and systems since. I don’t want to get into what system for electronic inspection is best, or how to dispatch electronically in this installment. In my humble opinion, there is no great system out there. They all have their strong points, and they all have some miserable challenges. The trick is not to let any of the challenges deter you from implementing an electronic inspection or dispatch system. If you haven’t purchased software yet, demo it before you. Make sure technicians, service advisors, and anyone else who will be using the software is present during the demo. The more questions that get asked the better! When you decide on software, make sure you understand what platform it runs best on. Trying to save money on a tablet often results in serious performance problems. Remember, this software is a production tool and customer satisfaction tool. You wouldn’t buy the cheapest scan tool on the market to perform ECU re-flash procedures all day every day! Ask the software developer what tablet platform they recommend. Speak with other shops who run the same service management software that you do. Integration of inspection and dispatch software can be a challenge. As time goes on more and more SMS software providers are creating their own inspection components. Although not as well developed yet at the early adopters of the idea, it may be worth looking into just for the integration aspect alone. If other shops tell you the inspection software integrated well, still be ready for some challenges. As the industry has begun to take to the electronic inspection idea, many companies have suddenly found themselves inundated with orders and implementations. This has created some customer dissatisfaction among clients. Callbacks, customer support, and bug fixes have slowed considerably in the last 12 months in my experience. I have no doubt the reputable companies will fix this challenge, but be aware of it before jumping in with both feet. My last piece of advice, speaking of jumping in with both feet, is to ‘jump in with both feet’. Scrap the paper system! Go cold turkey into electronics. Keeping paper around will actually slow your integration, create less efficiency, and delay the benefits of going electronic. Of the shops who have gone electronic, they will all tell you that this is the best thing you can do. Yes, there will be a learning curve, but it will be sped up by ditching paper. In the end, electronic inspection and dispatch systems are great production tools, impressive customer relation tools, and fantastic efficiency generators.