Workflow management software is essential to any efficiently operating business, let alone those in the restoration field. But what exactly is it and what are some its other capabilities? We wanted to know, so we asked Garret Gray, President/CEO of Next Gear Solutions (DASH), Scott Severe, CEO of ClientRunner Software, Inc. Dan Long, President of Service Software and Michael Gallahan, President of Top Tier Software Solutions.

Here’s a look at what each of them had to say about workflow management software and some of its untapped potential that many business owners may not realize:

Restoration & Remediation: Describing this software as “workflow management” is somewhat vague as it’s able to do so much more than what the category implies. Tell us about some of the things that this type of software can do that many professionals might not realize.

Dan Long: Workforce management software does encompass many different functions from being a primary document management solution to managing contacts and correspondence.  Some of the things that a workforce management software does include managing your sales pipeline, helping you keep track of your best lead sources, notification of key performance indicators, vendor and job owner portals for collaboration and work order management.

Scott Severe: Good workflow software takes information that is scattered all over the place and pulls it into one secure location that is easily accessible to everyone in your company at the same instant. Think of the whiteboard scheduler, spreadsheets and manila folder systems on steroids and in the cloud, driving communication, documentation and information into one simple and easy to navigate system with notes, contacts, photos, budget info, etc., all in the palm of your hand.

Garret Gray: (Workforce management software) takes leads and turns them into jobs, and from those jobs is able to build reports that show companies where they are gaining the most business and where they have an opportunity to grow. It is the command center for everything that is happening on every job. You are able to update notes about jobs, store important documents and photos, keep in touch with contacts, track ROI on your marketing campaigns, keep up with your expensive equipment and (complete) many other important functions.

Michael Gallahan: Your first question is spot on. Workforce management is a vague term for the ability of companies to better manage their most valuable resource - people. The definition or meaning has evolved at the speed of technology and is allowing companies to morph workforce management software into workforce optimization software. The differences are significant not only for their ability to impact this industry beneficially but detrimentally as well.

R&R: What makes this software so essential to restoration professionals and business owners?

DL: You cannot improve your business if you are not tracking your performance.  Every company needs software tools to tell them where they have been and where they are going. A business owner told me he needed to improve his business and position it for sale, and his first priority was to implement a workforce management solution.

SS: Think “ON DEMAND”: Your employees, your customers and your customer’s customers want instant access, they want to know what is happening and they want to know right now (or maybe at 2 a.m., or while on vacation on the other side of the world). Netflix annihilated Blockbuster by giving the consumer instant access to movies and popular TV shows in their homes and on demand. Workflow software allows everyone connected to the system to have instant access to critical information from anywhere in the word at any time they choose.

GG: Technology has made the world smaller and communication more important than ever. The software allows you to communicate with your customers at the push of a button from either your desktop, laptop, phone or tablet. With “View Access” features, the property owner is able to see of-the-minute updates to what is being done at their loss including journal notes and photos of the progress. Mobile apps also allow crews to put in valuable journal notes and photos at the second they are happening. If you’re not ahead of the curve, you’ll quickly fall behind, and the trend toward greater efficiency and quickness doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon.

MG: Workforce management software was first used for calendar type scheduling. Now it is possible to run the gamut of human resource optimization from simple scheduling, to time tracking and demand forecasting, to scheduling and shift optimization, to evolving GPS real time visibility within building structures. Mobile workforce solutions along with ubiquitous internet have allowed a great deal more accessibility and reliability to these software solutions. 

R&R: Is there anything else you’d care to share with us?

DL: The key to workforce management software is portability and the ability to use the solution on mobile devices.  With travel costs rising, improving your field team’s productivity is critical.

SS: Three things: No. 1: Require input and hold everyone accountable (starting with yourself). If it is not in the system, it didn’t happen.  No. 2: Keep it simple - workflow software should be easy to learn and simple to use (use the “spouse” test – your spouse should be able to use the software after 15-20 minutes of overview instruction). No. 3: Pick something that fits your needs right now, which you will begin using today, and with no long-term contracts. Software should complement your processes and software companies should have to continue earning your business.

GG: Our software is designed to make contractors work smarter, not harder. By having a central location for all information, there is no reason there should be any confusion about who to call, what is going on with a job, where that piece of equipment is or what campaign is bringing you the most leads. This type of accountability and transparency can help you as a company save money and in the end can more than pay for the cost of investing in technology, and that’s a goal for every company we bring on as a new customer.  

MG: As access to this software becomes more affordable and more an integral part of the restoration worker’s toolkit, the more forces influencing the business will demand a higher level of accountability and efficiency from those in the business of providing these types of service optimizations. These efficiencies, while good for each customer and generally good for a company’s profitability, can have deleterious effect on the industry if prices aren’t allowed to reflect the indirect costs such efficiencies cause.

Talking Packout Software with iCAT’s Riaz Walji

Another popular software variety for restoration professionals is packout software. We chatted with Riaz Walji of iCAT Solutions for more insight:

On the importance of packout software: The first reason is obvious, protect your interests. Insureds often do not realize the extent of pre-existing damage to their property until five months later at the pack-back when the moving blanket and bubble wrap have been removed from the dining table. They are seeing that table as if for the first time. They do not realize the numerous nicks and scratches were actually caused by them. Without documentation to prove otherwise, they will want resolution - no - they will demand resolution.

The second reason, which is the main driver for restoration companies looking for a packout solution, is chaos. The catch 22 of having the adjuster’s confidence - a direct result of great work and customer service - is getting more work. As the contractor experiences growth and moves from famine to feast, now processing lots of claims simultaneously, the game changes. Implementing packout software will enable an organization to better handle the daily minutia of a contents operation with ease. 

The third reason, which generally serves as an “a-ha” moment for stable, good-to-great contents organizations, is increased revenue. Yes, good packout software should allow you to at least double your possible revenue.

The fourth reason, in my opinion, is marketing.  Having a good packout inventory software which provides transparency, leverages the latest cloud technology and focuses on your operations will actually pay for itself by simply being able to speak to it.