Q: Is anyone using tablet PCs or e-signature capture pads for their service techs and contracts?
A: Although several members have purchased tablet PCs and/or blackberry devices for their service techs, I don’t know of any who are using the e-signature feature. There has been a lot of discussion and interest with contractors and integrators looking into this type of thing for years now, but I haven’t run across anyone actually doing the signature scanning like UPS or FedEx does. There are several integrated service department software modules and packages that support interactivity with accounting software, but most of our members have found them to be too costly. The cost is not in the initial purchase and set-up, but in the training and getting staff to utilize and complete the tasks necessary to make it cost-effective. Not only would you need electronic signature pads, but you also need remote printing capability so you can leave a “copy” with the client. It seems like an all-or-nothing type of implementation.
However, tablet PCs and/or blackberry devices simplify the service operation greatly with a much more familiar interface for technicians and clients. They send emails upon arrival and departure, enter their hours, mileage, drive time, etc. I can see further integration of these tools becoming more affordable and easier to use in the near future. It’s easy to see benefits that could speed up receivables, such as uploading electronic service tickets directly into the accounting software as they are completed or from home at night. Time stamping will synchronize invoiced billable times to actual billable time for the client to reduce conflicts. It’s also beneficial to require a name and signature for verification and authority for having the work done. I’m guessing that, if these systems can be proven to be cost-effective for our members, we will see more of this technology deployed fairly soon. — CW