The not so secret weapon to providing great customer service.

Field service relies heavily on so many factors, but is enough emphasis placed on building a strong foundation using Field Service Management ERP software?


Over the last few days my family has found itself surrounded with repair issues; from our refrigerator to our family vehicle it appears that in this given week anything that can breakdown will. While scheduling repairs with various companies, I found myself thinking about the importance of customer satisfaction. For example, would I buy another product from this manufacturer? Did I feel satisfied with the attention provided to my issue? Will my item be promptly repaired?

Customer satisfaction is far more than polite service representatives reassuring a customer that all will be well. It is providing the necessary tools for service workers to have access to client, purchase and product information, whenever and wherever they need it, to provide intelligent responses and actions to client service issues. In two of the three service calls I placed so far this week, I was surprised to find the limited information my first points of contact had in dealing with simple call logging and service initiation.

Although this should be no big secret, comprehensive Field Service Management (ERP) software is the key to empowering service workers by delivering critical information while also providing a mechanism to track performance against SLAs. When reviewing the many articles citing keys to successful customer service, ERP is infrequently ranked as the most important key to successful customer service, but here is why it should be.

A comprehensive ERP system for field service management delivers real-time queues to build consumer confidence and satisfaction:

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) for prompt reference to client detail and sales history.
  • Service Call Management modules can provide:
    • Efficient and organized service call logging, lookup and historical tracking.
    • Call escalation and monitoring to ensure a client issue is efficiently and effectively handled.
    • Service history by item serial number or product class plus knowledge base article logging for training and troubleshooting efficiencies.
    • Optimized technician assignment (by skill level and/or location) and service scheduler to effectively assign and triage calls for quicker handling.
    • Self-Service client portals for added convenience in 24/7 call review and updates.
    • SLA contract management.
  • Product Management provides product model lookup by lot or serial number and detailed BOM for full part listings.
  • Inventory for real-time availability of replacement service parts and integrated Procurement for ordering out-of-stock items.
  • Mobile Service for technician real-time connectivity to ticket, troubleshooting and spare part inventory inquiries from any location.
  • Maintenance to apply proactive and preventative maintenance scheduling to impress clients with high reliability rates.
  • Business Intelligence reporting and dashboards to measure key customer satisfaction performance indicators (KPIs) like first time fix rate, SLA compliance rates, average response times and more.

These benefits focus on improving customer satisfaction, yet there are many additional areas where service management software delivers – such as cost reduction, productivity, service-to-cash turnaround, utilization, and resource visibility to name just a few.

My personal experience suggests that customers can forgive the fact that a product may fail. What they will not tolerate in a society where ‘customer is king’ is failure of a company to react with the utmost attention to servicing their issues. Social media has proven this with enlightened customers using their voice to resonate their service experiences across mainstream media outlets.

When fighting for repeat and referral business, field service organizations recognize that customer satisfaction is the most important influencer – field service management software plays a tremendous role in providing the foundation for great service to thrive. As for my fridge, car and other numerous breakdowns, once I get to the repair phase of my service experience perhaps it will be the makings of my next field service blog.


Ann Fry
Marketing Manager

As well as assisting with ERP implementation and business process mapping, Ann has been providing ERP software insight to field service, mining, distribution and manufacturing industries for over ten years.




Does your mining ERP software include full job costing functionality?

The most essential module in any ERP system that is focused on mining is the Job Costing module. It is arguable that most ERP systems have generic efficiencies built into most of the common modules like General Ledger or Fixed Assets. However, with respect to Job Costing functionality there is a significant variation across ERP software solutions that requires further investigation for those looking to invest in a proven mining solution.

The primary requirement is that the job costing system can handle multiple types of projects simultaneously allowing a company to explore, construct, and operate all at the same time, if required. The common perception of job costing is that it simply provides the ability to track costs for each specific job or project. While this may be the case in a limited ERP, job costing must have a select list of features to truly benefit a mining organization.

Our mining expert, Jarrad Sonnenberg details these additional benefits in a comprehensive white paper that not only discusses the intricacies of job costing, but also provides detailed information on planned maintenance, full integration and real-time analytics; the foundation of mining ERP software.

Avoid the need for third-party add-ons in your ERP software implementation, and get the complete list of job costing requirements for mining prior to your search. To download our white paper, ERP Software for Mining: Essential Elements, simply follow this link.


Pronto Xi | How to run an application service for only part of the day

 

When you have a process that you need to run on a scheduled basis throughout the day, there are 2 options in Pronto Xi ERP Software:

  • use a Linux crontab entry
  • use an Application Service

Application Services is the preferred method, and much easier to administer, with its wizard-based interface.

However, a client recently asked if they could have an application service that only runs between certain hours of the day. At first glance, this looked like the only advantage cron had over app services. An Application Service has a start date and a frequency, but no way to enter a stop time.

But, what most people don’t know is that there is an undocumented feature of Application Services that can accomplish this.

The client wanted to run a couple of application services (1013 and 1014 below), only during the day. So I created 2 additional services for each, one to start the original service, and one to stop it.

Pronto Xi Application Services List

Taking service 1013 as an example, service 1015 is set up like this, to start service 1013 in the morning. Frequency for this service needs to be ‘Daily’:

Pronto Xi Application Service Wizard

Indicate the time you want the main service to be started, and whether you want it to run on weekends:

Pronto Xi Application Service Settings

Here’s the trick – the program to run is ‘appservice’, with the parameters -start-service and the service number we want to start:

Pronto Xi appservice -start-service

This will start service 1013 at the indicated time in the morning.

Service 1016, to stop the main service 1013, is set up to run daily at the required stop time, and executes appservice with parameters -stop-service, and 1013:

Pronto Xi appservice -stop-service

To summarize:

  • Service 1015 starts service 1013 at 07:25 in the morning
  • Service 1016 stops service 1013 at 19:30 in the evening

In this way, you can have a service that runs only during a specific window during the day.

 

 

Kevin Schell
Senior Solutions Consultant

Kevin Schell has over 30 years’ experience in helping clients excel through effective use of information technology. Kevin has assisted clients in several industries, including Mining, Manufacturing, Distribution, and Financial Services.

 

 


Why do mining industry leaders select Pronto Xi ERP software to manage their operations?

With so many enterprise resource planning software packages available, we often get asked why so many mining companies select Pronto Xi ERP Software to run their operations. Pronto Xi is currently running in hundreds of mining organizations worldwide – from junior mining to large-scale producing mines that are on a global scale. Our mining clients cite many benefits as to why they chose Pronto Xi and PSA consulting for their implementation, but most frequently we hear the following:

Pronto Xi is proven in meeting the needs of the mining industry.

Pronto Xi ERP Software has been meeting the operational needs of mining companies for decades through strength in financial, project and asset management. Today over 450 mining and mining suppliers use Pronto Xi which is a testament to the quality and comprehensive functionality that Pronto Xi offers. Recognized as a mining industry leader Pronto Xi continues to be developed using direct industry feedback which boasts an edge over its competitors.

Quick Return-on-Investment

A rapid deployment and low total cost of ownership (TCO) allow Pronto Xi to deliver a quicker ROI without compromising functionality. Comparable to Tier 1 and Tier 2 ERP software Pronto Xi provides a rich feature set with deep functionality, while being available at a lower overall cost. This is a significant benefit for up and coming mines with shareholder commitments.

A single fully integrated solution with flexible deployment

Pronto Xi is a fully integrated solution with modules that seamlessly manage corporate, exploration, mining and operations activities. Modular functionality can be implemented all at once or gradually as mining production develops; and with extensive core functionality there is no need for add-ons or interfaces for other areas such as tenement and equipment maintenance management.

Reliable Remote Connectivity to Mine Sites

Pronto Xi works well in low bandwidth, high latency connectivity allowing remote mine sites to continue to benefit from real-time ERP connectivity with head office locations.

Global Mine Operations Management

Mining organizations need software that can support international transactions. Pronto Xi functionality includes multi-currency, consolidations and advanced financial reporting that is suitable for geographically diverse mining operations.

World-class Asset Management | Predictive and Preventative Maintenance

Pronto Xi helps to maximize utilization and productivity of mining equipment through comprehensive asset tracking and management. This entails tracking, usage, cost, and maintenance of mining assets that increases up-time through structured predictive and preventative maintenance planning.

Accurate mining project management and costing

Detailed project management and costing allows mining organizations to make proactive and informed decisions. Pronto Xi manages project details with accurate resource, expense and income tracking to ensure projects are on time and on budget. Pronto Xi project costing can handle project hierarchies, multiple cost centres, multi-customer invoicing against projects, charge out by cost category, profit take-up and release and more.

Business Intelligence with IBM Cognos

A strong business intelligence platform is critical for mining organizations. Pronto Xi has built-in business intelligence tools running on IBM Cognos for real-time reporting of mine performance. IBM Cognos reports are available both in the office and via mobile device for real-time performance updates.

SOX, IFRS and US GAAP Compliance

Pronto Xi ERP Software meets SOX, IFRS, and US GAAP compliance requirements to ensure that corporate regulatory obligations are satisfied.

Mining Industry Experience

Choosing an ERP software partner, is as critical as selecting the ERP software itself. Mining companies seek out ERP consulting teams with deep mining industry knowledge that will add value to the business processes that will be supported by their software implementation.

Although many industries are complex, the mining industry offers unique challenges where only experience can provide an advantage. Pronto Xi ERP Software proves time and time again that it is the best choice among competitors for mining by providing the tools to reduce operating costs and improve production efficiencies to achieve profitability. Mining companies worldwide continue to choose Pronto Xi based on decades of industry success and its ability to continue to develop to meet the evolving needs of the mining community.

For more information about Pronto Xi ERP Software for Mining, visit our mining industry page.


Improving ERP for Mining | Part 1: Planned Maintenance Forecasting

As the mining industry matures around the use of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and users become more efficient in operating an integrated solution, it is often difficult to utilize all the functionality a mining-dedicated ERP software solution offers. In researching what mining organizations are doing around the world to manage their operations through intelligent ERP solutions, there are trends available that set best practice operators above the rest. In this series, PSA will explore important business processes that are commonly overlooked in the mining industry.

Any producing mine site should be running an ERP that has an integrated Planned Maintenance module for complete cost visibility, since the maintenance module touches more transactions than any other module, through:

  • Creation and management of work orders
  • Issuing of inventory to work orders
  • Allocation of timesheets to work orders
  • Equipment cost accumulation
  • General ledger integration
  • Rotation of critical spares

Due to high transactional volumes within maintenance, an appropriate forecasting methodology is critical in improving the visibility over costs and operational efficiency. Any ERP system has the ability to use commitments of purchases to track cost-to-complete at project levels or forecast expenditure against budgets. Even though the purchase order commitment functionality is a commonly used and important metric for measuring expected costs, it only accounts for a small portion of transactions. On the other hand, a module generating between 50% – 80% of transactions should garner a more significant focus.

A common reality for a lot of organizations is the lack of readiness or comfort in the information required to forecast accurately. When forecasting planned work over a 1, 3, 6, or 12 month period, it is possible to develop detailed forecasts for:

  • Equipment downtime, leading to accurate availability and utilization estimates
  • Materials requirements
  • Labour scheduling
  • Workshop capacity

There are obvious benefits in being able to predict any of these items with accuracy, and an integrated Planned Maintenance solution makes this possible. If every planned task that is due to be performed on the mobile and fixed plant is logged within the system as a planned task, then any of these items can be successfully forecast.

 

Equipment Downtime

Registering estimated downtime on a planned task allows the production team to plan around equipment delays when scheduling production. Any task that would trigger downtime on a piece of equipment should be tracked. That way, as work is forecast in advance for maintenance, operations can see the equipment’s availability and reduce the impact of maintenance on production. Through registering all expected downtime for each task within a maintenance solution, it is possible to visualize and forecast downtime for the operation.

 

Material Requirements

Inventory replenishment should be automated based upon min/max and commitments within the organization. To assist in the automated process, planned tasks should include material checklists.

This is commonly skipped by mining companies due to the resources it takes for setup, but the benefit is significant enough to warrant the initial effort. Once inventory is linked to planned tasks, the forecast creates internal demand for the inventory against the warehouse, which prompts the procurement team to ensure inventory needs are met for all planned work.

If 60% – 80% of inventory usage transactions are related to maintenance, the significance of material forecasting from an accounting perspective is that the expected cash flow requirements become increasingly apparent. Potential budget discrepancies can then be managed proactively.

The benefit of providing procurement advanced information on their expected replenishment objectives, notwithstanding the benefit from an accounting and finance perspective, is that the largest component of inventory costing becomes manageable and predictable, and rejecting this level of insight into future periods is an oversight that can be easily overcome by allocating resources to the maintenance planning process.

 

Labour Scheduling

Planning maintenance properly allows planners to attach labour types to every task and forecast the labour requirements of maintaining a plant. This is useful primarily because the process allows for the forecasting of labour costs and analyzing labour shortages/overages. Developing a labour schedule makes it possible to visualize where labour is being underutilized and understand how changing the size of a maintenance crew would impact upon budgeted values. In forecasting labour, it is possible to budget a headcount and a maintenance activity based budget and then measure actual hours against this budget to refine the planning process moving forward.

There is significant value in developing an accurate Planned Maintenance plan. As such, the initial efforts required will provide benefit beyond just the planning process. Forecasting costs and managing cash flow are closely related and the accuracy of a maintenance plan have a direct impact on how to manage budgets. Implementing a proper maintenance planning process not only benefits the organization from an operational perspective, but provides relevant information that will help shape the financial analysis process and structure budgets in a meaningful and accurate manner. This is seen as an area of improvement for all mining organizations. The gap between organizations who allocate budget to preparing a detailed maintenance methodology and those that do not is clearly visible.

 

Jarrad Sonnenberg
Manager, Business Development & Advisory

Jarrad is a Pronto Xi ERP software expert with over 10 years of experience in providing ERP implementation and support services to mining, distribution, field service and manufacturing industries.

 

 


New Features! Pronto Xi 730.3 Service Release

The latest Pronto Xi ERP Software Service Pack, 730.3 was released earlier this year which included some significant enhancements. Some of the highlights included in this service pack are:

Two Factor Authentication (2FA)
Two factor authentication helps to confirm the user’s identity by verifying multiple pieces of information to validate the user before granting access. When accessing Pronto Xi mobile applications such as Mobile Service or Employee Portal, users will be authenticated using a 6-digit, one-time passcode (OTP) issued at login stage. With users away from the office, 2FA provides the peace of mind that your data is secure.

KPI Library (Beta)
The KPI Library provides a pre-configured set of industry standard measures with a focus on fast performance. Included in this enhancement is 65 pre-configured KPIs with a combined total of 1096 metrics. The built in library allows users to gain quick access to a portfolio of business intelligence for sales and inventory, GL, accounts receivable, accounts payable, service management and project management.

New Version: TrueForm Neo 1.2
Pronto Xi 730.3 also includes a new version of TrueForm Neo. This new version provides an extensive list of new features:

  • Spellcheck function added to the Output Designer
  • Ability to send emails in HTML format
  • Improved management of design components that are shared between allqueue, preview, email and fax
  • Template optimization
  • Streamlined email process for multiple process
  • Enhancements to improve overall formatting and alignment when designing output forms

Maintenance Management | Rotable and Repair Processing
Rotable and repair processing provides for better accountability and tracking of asset components. By adding a new workflow for management of rotable tracking and repairs existing inventory management capabilities are now tied together to deliver a comprehensive repair and replacement process – for both in-house or external service providers.

Inventory Management | Stocktake Update enhancement
Pronto development has updated the Stocktake Update process to deliver considerable efficiencies in processing time. Stocktake as a whole is now faster and more efficient.

Distribution Requirements Planning | New options at order release
Pronto Xi users are now provided the option to trigger either Purchase Orders (P) of Transfer Orders (T) at DRP order release. In the past, both reports were created simultaneously. This enhancement provides increased flexibility for users.

For more information about Pronto Xi 730.3, contact PSA Inc. or download the 730.3 Marketing Advisory.