To provide services for assets (machinery, for example) owned by their customers, service organizations often use outdated systems that force them to deliver, install, repair, and/or provide parts for those assets using separate tools or spreadsheets. From computer software or hardware to machinery, electronics, swimming pools, restaurant equipment, trucks, or other heavy-duty equipment, customer assets span a wide range of types and involve quantities or changes that may fluctuate frequently. The ability for a service provider to accurately track those assets directly affects delivering efficient and profitable services that the customer has paid for and ensures that assets not covered under a contract aren’t serviced inadvertently, leading to a loss.
When the project system managing the service delivery doesn’t track your customer’s assets and you use disconnected systems or spreadsheets to do so, you are at a disadvantage providing the customer service levels that customers expect.
Modern Project Management Systems Track Assets
Feature/function improvements in modern project management systems, including asset management improvements, are available today, eliminating the need for multiple systems. With these systems, any customer purchase is a trackable asset and, as a result, managing those assets (e.g., hardware, software, equipment, etc.) to deliver the appropriate services can be done cost-effectively.
By inputting or importing the asset’s data, you can track purchase data in great depth. For example, data on a piece of equipment or hardware may include the hardware type, manufacturer, model number, serial number, shelf number, site location, manufacturing date, and more – all likely to be very important to someone providing services for that asset.
If the asset is in the project system, you can manage it even if a field person discovers it was sold to another company they service within the same industry. Therefore, when the asset needs servicing, the project manager can find it in the system, schedule the repair, determine if the repair is billable or covered under a service warranty, and even identify that the machine has changed hands or was moved between locations. When the repair history of the machine/equipment is available to service staff in the field, technicians can offer better customer service and ensure that work is profitable for their employer. Once the service is complete, the technician should be able to update the asset’s attributes in the system using a mobile device, providing an up-to-date view of the asset’s technical or repair history for the next service call.
Managing Assets with CRM and ERP Integrations
Some modern project management systems now integrate with CRM and ERP systems to provide complete tracking – from marketing to invoicing – without a process gap. This allows you to fully automate the storage of an asset’s historical data by pulling data either from the products quoted and sold in your CRM’s sales opportunity module or from a billing system that contains the actual purchase records. By automating the flow of that storage, you now have your customer’s assets in the project system immediately available to provide support or requested follow-on services to the customer.
And because nearly every CRM on the market has the capability to allow pinpoint customizations to manage unique relationship demographics, a design to allow storage of important information about each asset is easy to accommodate within the CRM. With different asset types having different properties (for example, the speed rating of an engine vs. the capacity or flow rate of a pump), storing asset information in an ERP system doesn’t make any sense as it isn’t relevant to financial transactions. It is, however, critical knowledge for the service and support teams who use it. For an ERP system to manage that, you have to “bend” the ERP’s design to accommodate a purpose for which it wasn’t designed, while a CRM is the perfect home due to the flexibility and visibility of that data.
Imagine the “junk” data built up in an ERP system when the equipment data changes but has no financial impact. Should your costly accounting staff be managing the upkeep of that information?
Best Practice for Project Management-based Asset Management
As with any information-based system, capturing and updating data on a timely basis is a best practice; otherwise, critical information is useless when needed unexpectedly.
When you have your customer’s purchase history at the fingertips of everyone in your company within your CRM system – including salespeople who can upsell and cross-sell and know when the service life of a piece of equipment is expiring, and service and support staff who have the repair history, parts, and manufacturer warranty data immediately within reach – you’ll have a giant leap forward in providing the best customer service possible while increasing your sales revenues and profits.
And isn’t that the point?
To learn more about managing your assets using your CRM and project systems, contact us today.
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TimeLinx delivers innovative project & service management software as a complete solution that perfects the sell-track-manage-support-bill cycle that services organizations must have to delight their customers; TimeLinx brings the cycle together in a single application that offers less frustration, better project management, complete reporting, and improved profitability – all specially designed for Infor and Sage.