In industries where field workers are essential to getting jobs done, real-time data collection can be a challenge. Too often, the organizations rely on field workers and contractors collecting data from various projects manually, taking it back to the office, and then logging it for analysis. In today’s data-driven world, businesses that rely on field workers can’t wait around for mission-critical data.
That was the issue HD Supply faced.
As a leading distributor of supplies and services needed to maintain commercial facilities, HD Supply employes contractors and project managers to keep tabs on important building equipment. Bogged down by spreadsheets with handwritten data input on them, HD Supply needed a new, dynamic approach towards project management. Through their use of Quickbase and FastField, the company sped up data entry processes that took weeks to complete, giving stakeholders access to data within seconds, creating new efficiencies along the way.
We’re in a time where businesses cannot afford to lose productivity. A recent survey by Quickbase found that 70% of workers lose 20 hours a week in productivity simply because they’re hunting down key pieces of information siloed away in systems. For businesses with field workers, the real-time status of projects and equipment is essential. There are numerous stakeholders in the field and at the office who rely on that information to make real-time decisions and give customers the best possible experience. This isn’t always so easy.
“When you have 35-50 people controlling over 150 contractors doing many things at once, it’s very difficult to capture that data,” says Rich Phelan, Renovations National Account Manager at HD Supply. “Quickbase and FastField have made all the difference.”
Managing these teams of contractors and project managers (who themselves are overseeing multiple projects) can create headaches for business leaders. For HD Supply, a disconnected and slow data collection process meant that critical information from projects, like completion status of a job or the status of a customer’s warranty, could take some time to be input into their systems. Data collection took place over 150 different areas in their systems, and was severely fragmented.
Prior to Quickbase and FastField, the team had been doing data collection in disconnected spreadsheets. Project managers would take handwritten notes from the field and then manually input them into spreadsheets when they got back. This process could take days, even weeks. This approach not only meant that sales reps weren’t able to easily keep tabs on which customers were up for renewal, but created instances where Gray Work – or the slow, manual ways people do work “just to get by” – began cropping up. Field workers would lose precious hours of productivity just having to hunt down the data they need.
The team needed more efficient processes and communication. With over 150 customers, they discovered digging up that information in spreadsheets is just not effective.
As existing Quickbase customers, HD Supply turned to the company’s integration with FastField after seeing a demonstration of the integrated functionality.
Quickbase and FastField’s approach
The demo the team saw helped them see their goals of an effective, holistic project management system were not pipe dreams, but easily attainable.
“In five minutes, they showed us something we had spent some time really trying to figure out,” says Jerry Swanner, Senior Manager of Installation Compliance at HD Supply. “It showed us data collection could happen just on a phone, in the field. How simple is that?”
HD Supply is now leveraging FastField forms throughout their Quickbase architecture, enabling real-time data capture. Rather than logging information on handwritten notes, field workers enter project status and data directly on their phones, and the information is instantly logged in the internal database. Instead of a slew of hurdles to find data like service records or warranty information, everything they needed was available at the touch of a button.
“If I want to sort customers by highest number of equipment replacements this year, I can get that data in seconds now,” says Swanner. “We’ve never had that before. We would have to go through operations, who would have to pull specific data from specific orders and it would take a long time. I can learn all of that in about ten seconds now.”
The deployment of FastField and Quickbase also has given HD Supply the ability to make future sales projections easier. Rather than manually sorting through customers to try and find which are up for renewals and new warranties, the data can easily be called up through Quickbase.
“This platform has allowed us to see buying patterns and trends like we hadn’t before,” says Swanner. “If I see that some customers aren’t re-upping, I can give that data to sales reps, and use it as an opportunity to make a call.”
HD Supply is continuing to build and improve upon the system they’ve built with Quickbase and FastField, incorporating more service fields for it to be used.
“Without FastField, operations could be clunky,” says Swanner. “We decided to be more aggressive with Quickbase and FastField, discovering new use cases for them and truly unlocking the value of these tools.”