Service Management Systems

In many classes I’m often asked “what’s the best service management system?”. My answer is always “there isn’t one”. Not to be mean to those software companies that provide us with the means to write RO’s, track numbers, maintain a database of customers, manage parts, etc. but the cold truth is that I have never seen one that every person using it loved. They all have their strong points and there weaknesses. If you don’t have one currently, you need one! No matter how bad the system is, they are all a heck of a lot better than not having one. What you want to do with it will determine which one works for you. If you’re exploring obtaining a system, or considering a move to a different system, the most important thing to me is that it does what you expect it to. Make a list of the reasons you want to change, or to implement one to begin with. Try out as many of them as you can. One really important factor is whether your current employees will find it intuitive or not. If they struggle with using it the transition will be even harder. Mind you, there will always be a learning curve, but if the curve is too steep you’ll only fall backwards! I believe that other than the usual capacity to create RO’s, store customer data, etc. you want an SMS that can track a customer referral program, measure technician productivity in real time, and become an electronic dispatch system (along with handling electronic inspection forms). These things are all accomplished in different ways by different software companies. Talk to other shops who have worked with the system previously. Find out what they used before, what they like, what they don’t like, and what customer service is like. If you have the need to manage parts inventory with your SMS you’ll want to make sure an have that conversation with the vendor. Most parts distributors can link their inventory systems to modern SMS’s but if you need your own inventory to be managed that will narrow the pool of prospective vendors. Take your time and don’t rush into an specific product until you are sure you, and your people, are comfortable.

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