Buying job management software is no easy task especially for service-based business owners strapped for time. By asking these four simple questions though, you can narrow down the field of choices much more quickly.

By Jay Crain

More field service business owners are switching from paper forms to digital solutions than ever before. Field Service News reported in 2016 that 36% of companies are already managing their jobs on cloud-based applications — a YOY increase of 8% compared to 2015. Plus, the rate at which companies are going paperless is increasing with almost one-third of those companies making the switch within the past year.

But it can be overwhelming to choose a job management application that will work for your business. There are a lot of choices, but it is possible to narrow down the field to just those that will suit you best.

As you’re considering which job management software or app might fit your company best, make sure you put prospects to the test. Here are some questions to help you do just that.

1) “Is your app as simple as paper?”

Sounds silly, but it’s a valid question. Paper has one thing going for it and that’s simplicity and ease of use (well, unless there’s no pen or pencil in sight). Knowing that’s where the industry is coming from, the best software and app designers have spent time making their technology friendly, intuitive and super simple—and in the best cases, even easier to use than paper. If the app you’re considering seems too confusing at first glance, it probably is.

Free Guide

If you feel you’d like a little more help, download our Free Field Guide to Quitting Paperwork. Useful wrote the book on going paperless. Regardless of which app you choose, this guide will help you determine key criteria you’ll need to select the right app for your business, how to get your team involved (and when) as well as outline some documents that will protect your business from liability.

3) “What do we get for the cost?”

From monthly subscriptions to annual contracts, the pricing models out there can be tricky. Understanding exactly what you’re getting for the money is a critical part of making the decision. “You get what you pay for” applies tenfold when it comes to software that makes big promises at a low or next-to-nothing price. Be aware of this. Ask exactly what is included. Consider how they bill as well. Seasonal work may require fluctuating crew sizes—do you pay the same amount during busy season as you do during slow season? Do you still need to pay if someone is sick and doesn’t use the app for a week?

2) “Why should we buy this software?”

There are about as many apps and pieces of software out there as there are lightbulbs. Choice is a good thing, but it can make an already tough decision feel daunting. Each app does things a little differently, so the choice you should make depends heavily on what you’re looking to gain from it.

  • Do you want more visibility into your crew’s work days?
  • Do you just want to track time digitally?
  • Do you want a system even your subcontractors can join?

Think about what you need first. And remember, you can ask for help. Enlist your trusted teammates and advisors to weigh in. Does your bookkeeper need an integration with QuickBooks?—better ask. Jot down those requirements. You will be better equipped to compare apps when you know exactly what your team needs.

4) “Do you offer human support?”

The best software support teams provide an experience that’s as close to one-on-one help as possible. If an option you’re considering gives you a 1-800 number to call for support, try it. See how long it takes to reach someone. And ask where they are. Are they available 24/7? Is there a language barrier? Will you have someone you can call who knows you by name, and not as a customer number? There is a learning curve for every team, even yours. Know who (or what robot) will be there to guide you through it.

This process is no different from buying any other large-scale tool—there’s a lot to consider, a lot to gain and a whole lot to learn. Save yourself the heartburn of a failed software launch. Questions like these will help you get it right the first time.


Jay Crain is Founder and CEO of Useful, the job management app for field service companies. He enjoys time with his family and dogs in the mountains of Boulder.

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