by Rakesh Sharma
Published on 28 January 2013
Mobile devices can fragment and assimilate, in equal measure. For example, most mobile solutions for field service companies are piecemeal applications that integrate with other, on-premise solutions for project management. In some cases, this approach solves problems. More often than not, however, the approach causes integration complications and problems.
This week, we will look at Jobber - a solution that integrates multiple elements of business management for service companies with field personnel into a cohesive project management solution. We will look at its interface, features, and see how it can be of use to you.
Sam Pillar and Forrest Zeisler, software developers and founders of the solution, identified the potential for a solution like Jobber during a project with a client who had several field services personnel out in the field. "We realized that the potential was there to help these businesses get more organized, more efficient, and more profitable," says Pillar, marketing manager at the company. Further competition analysis yielded a slew of expensive and complicated solutions, which caused more problems instead of solving them.
Pillar and Ziesler incorporated a company in October 2010 and developed a solution in heavy consultation with field service companies across several industries. After intensively testing a beta version of the software, they launched Jobber officially in September 2011. Along the way, they also attracted venture funding from well-known names in the industry. "Since then, we have put every ounce of our energy into evolving our product and building strong relations with our customers," says Pillar.
Although it is scalable, Pillar says the product is ideally suited for small- to medium-sized field service companies. "Typically, anything from a sole operator to a business with up to 25 or 30 employees during several million a year in revenue," he says.
Pillar emphasizes Jobber's "modern" approach to product development as the key differentiator between their solution and other, similar ones in the market. This approach combines an experiential feature set that is universal yet highly customizable.
"While experience taken from the field is really important, most businesses tend to build products that service only their own business challenges, needs, and workflows," says Pillar. This causes problems when the product is put out in the market. "Trying to force the system to work differently just ends up confusing users, and often times results in buggy, unreliable software," he says. "It is similar to putting a square peg into a round hole."
Hence, Jobber's development team extensively consults with several companies in the field services space before rolling out new features. This approach has paid dividends in maintenance for the software as well: It has resulted in an application that has simple workflows and user interfaces, which are highly customizable.
Jobber is an assortment of feature sets and workflows. For example, you can organize your calendar using the solution or you can assign and track work or, even, manage quotes and workflows using the solution. However, at its base, the solution's features are designed around a simple and universal workflow.
It begins with potential customers calling up to inquire about your services. Using the Quotes tab in the solution, you can enter customer details and schedule a visit from field personnel. Customer information entered in this step is associated with all further tasks, correspondence, or notes details. What's more, this information is also easily available with a global search. To get back to the process, however, your field services personnel can immediately access the customer's details (and their scheduled visit) as a task, after it has been entered.
Based on an analysis by field staff, you can, then, send quotes for jobs or services. The system allows you to configure two types of jobs: one-off or recurring jobs. While preparing the quote, you can create work items that detail the quantity and units required to process the task. Finally, you can also assign field staff to service the job and create invoices.
Underlying the simple workflow is complexity. Thus, you can create different types of jobs, schedules, automate several functions related to the job or combine multiple jobs to create a single job. Jobber is high on mobility and has several built in features to sync schedules and contacts while out on the field. Customization is available through the system's Add-On feature. This feature enables Jobber to work on optional additional functionality, including industry-specific verticals. For example, the solution has recently developed a Chemical/Pesticide tracking facility that makes it easy for customers to capture and store this information in a convenient and easy-to-use format for regulatory compliance. Jobber also integrates with popular industry solutions such as PayPal, Calendar Integration, and QuickBooks.
Personally speaking, though, my favorite feature was the solution's integration with Google Maps. This feature enables you to combine real-time tracking with rich reporting capabilities. "The decision to integrate with Google Maps was a no-brainer for us," says Pillar. He says their target demographic - the field staff - and their lifestyle - being out on the field most of the time - led to a "strong core support for managing this location-based work." The emergence of a mobile-connected workforce provided further impetus for this feature.
As Pillar mentioned earlier, the underlying complexity, in the solution, is masked by a simple interface. Five tabs on the interface enable you to navigate between multiple menu items and perform various actions or tasks associated with your field work. You can also perform important functions under each tab. For example, the work tab enables you to generate quotes, configure workflows, and also process jobs and generate invoices.
Jobber has a comprehensive support page on its site. Support channels include help documentation, an updated blog that not only provides new feature information about the application but, also, provides tips on managing your business. You can also contact them or use "good old-fashioned email" to get help.
The most interesting aspect of Jobber, according to me, is its seamless integration of multiple tasks and features. Thus, the solution combines resource scheduling with finance and project management. Of course, Jobber's focus and approach on providing a comprehensive and mobile solution for an often-neglected target market is, also, a big plus. Definitely recommended.