With the rise of smartphones and near universal internet and wireless access, there’s been an explosion of apps and cloud-based software that can purportedly do everything from improve your marriage to predict the stock market. Far from being just another million rabbit holes into which every smartphone owner can lose the bulk of their time, however, many of these new apps have made it possible for businesses of all stripes to increase productivity, gather data, reduce employee churn, open up new revenue streams, streamline marketing and improve customer satisfaction — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
For many equipment-based companies, however, the old adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” has dampened enthusiasm for seeking out new cloud-based tools. The last software-driven revolution they adopted — email, word processing and Excel spreadsheets — still gets the job done, more or less. But with economic growth slated to grow more sluggish in the coming year and margins growing thinner by the hour, it’s high time companies that make their money with Yellow Iron and other gear jump on the tech bandwagon.
Yes, Excel can be used for reports, auditing, checklists, accounting and the like, but as a tool of analysis or data-gathering on the job, it’s usefulness is nil. Worse, employees likely view it as a dinosaur. Here are seven warning signs that sticking with Excel when more sophisticated and powerful tools abound just might be holding your machinery-centered business back.
1. You Can’t Find Anything
The most straightforward sign that you need to upgrade from Excel to a more robust reporting tool is that you struggle to find much-needed files or you lose precious time hunting across hard drives or leafing through filing cabinets. From maintenance records and hiring data to tax audits and inspection records, a gear-centered company generates a lot of valuable information, but if that information isn’t easy to access when you need it, it’s value decreases significantly. If you’ve got information that you need scattered across spreadsheets and computers, it’s time to find a better solution
2. Maintenance History Is Spotty
How well do you know your fleet’s maintenance history? Is it easy to access and reference? Can you use it to build out actionable preventive maintenance schedules that will save your company money and protect against downtime? If you don’t know where to find — or worse, you don’t reliably keep — the maintenance records of every piece of gear in your fleet, you need a tool that will help you do that, and you need it STAT.
3. You’re Not Collecting Data
Every piece of new machinery made by Caterpillar, Komatsu, John Deere and the rest comes equipped with powerful telematics hardware so businesses can gather company-, project-, operator- and machine-specific data (called big data), and it’s been that way for years. Even older machinery can be outfitted with hardware that’s neither too costly nor too tricky to use. Still, many construction, mining and agribusiness firms don’t bother to collect data. If you’re one of them, rest assured your competitors are gathering data and analyzing it for market advantage.
For those companies still-dependent on Excel and similar software programs, collecting data can feel like venturing far beyond the known world, but it’s time to step out into the unknown. Sign up for an app that makes it easy to gather and download telematics data, and set out to discover where your weaknesses and strengths really lie.
4. You’re Collecting Data — But You’re Not Using It
For many firms — because they have telematics hardware and software — collecting data is the beginning and the end of the story. But data collection without analysis is meaningless. More often than not, the reason there’s no analysis is because the tools currently being utilized just can’t do it. When you don’t have the proper tools, it can be difficult to do a proper job. If your firm relies on Excel to make reports, conduct inspections and, in general, track progress, data might as well be a grilled cheese sandwich. Don’t miss out on all data is trying to tell you. Ditch the spreadsheets and go with a tool that can turn your data into gold.
5. Preventive Maintenance Doesn’t Always Happen
A rigorous preventive maintenance program will extend the life of your gear, lower total cost of ownership, increase re-sell value and boost uptime. In other words, its importance cannot be overstated. If your company struggles with preventive maintenance and rarely takes care of oil changes on time, it might not be willpower or calendar issues. Your antiquated software might be to blame.
Like it or not, most humans in the developed world have become almost wholly dependent on technology to remember to do just about anything. From Google Calendar reminders and automated texts from the dentist to apps that make sure we all took our medicine, fed our pets and emailed grandma when we were supposed to, most people use — and therefore need — a pre-set, automatic reminder to perform basic and routine tasks. If your workers don’t have an app on their smartphone that reminds them when it’s time to perform duties associated with your preventive maintenance plan, uptime and your bottom line will suffer.
6. Employees Don’t Follow — or Complain About — Protocols
Do your employees and operators gripe about filing reports or filling out paperwork? Worse, do they often fail to do it at all? It can be frustrating when employees don’t follow protocol, but it isn’t always due to insubordination or laziness. Imagine if, in order to dig to break ground on a new project, you handed your team a dozen shovels. There would be no end to the bellyaching, and for good reason — better tools exist. If you can’t get your team to do their due diligence in reporting and other administrative duties, it could be because, in their lives away from work, they’re used to better tools.
7. You Need a Solid Visual
Excel and other first-generation spreadsheet and reporting tool software products aren’t able to showcase information in a way that’s accurate and visual. The result is that the information can be hard to digest. One of the most helpful features about many new apps is that they present information in a way that makes it easy to understand. From activity feeds that mimic popular social media apps to dashboards that offer up beautiful charts, it’s now possible to see at a glance everything that’s happening with a business, job site, piece of gear or employee. If you’re struggling to see the forest or the trees, it’s time to get an app that can transform it all for you.
Don’t lag behind your competitors just because things seem to be working okay. If you’re still relying on Excel and other 20th century software to do 21st century work, you’re missing out. Find out how GearJot’s Forms tools can move your company’s reporting and auditing forward with ease. Schedule a demo today.