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Published February 27, 2015

We will have access to AFSA forms that can be uploaded directly to either an iPad or an iPhone and will be completed on-site.

Over the last two months, we have been testing a new field service management software called FieldAware. We decided to purchase this software after an extensive review of many of the service software applications that are currently on the market. We also learned a lot from a software purchase we made more than 12 months ago that proved to be frustrating and ill-suited for our needs.

FieldAware allows us to monitor our service calls in one central location. All of our customer information, including service contracts, make and model of equipment to be serviced and special customer needs is centrally located. As we use the system, our service technicians will have access to historical information relating to a particular customer which will allow them to provide better service.

We will begin implementing the software with the specialty fire protection services we offer, including service contracts, testing and inspections and other types of service.

Because we are members of American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA), we will have access to AFSA forms that can be uploaded directly to either an iPad or an iPhone and will be completed on-site. The new software allows our technicians to take photos of deficiencies to help the customer determine what critical items need to be taken care of.

Once we are completely confident the software is performing as intended, we will be offering inspection contracts for all of our customers.

One of the lessons that I learned from this exercise is that no matter how simple software seems to be, training is key. Also, “making something work” does not always produce the results intended. While using the former software that we eventually abandoned, we had a false sense of security that it was working in the manner we expected. It was not until months later that we realized that some of the inspection reports we thought were being archived actually did not include all of the information the technician had recorded. As these errors have come to light, we have corrected the errors in the reports.

This time, we are leaving nothing to chance. We will be operating parallel systems—manually recording the information, as well as recording it electronically. We will then compare the two sets of records for accuracy.

Although this seems like a basic task, in some cases it is over-looked, which is what happened to us. Lesson learned!