From XU Magazine, 
Issue 16

Why is software integration essential?

In today’s business world, software is key, see how you can make the most of it...
This article originated from the Xero blog. The XU Hub is an independent news and media platform - for Xero users, by Xero users. Any content, imagery and associated links below are directly from Xero and not produced by the XU Hub.
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Software integration is nowadays the inevitable path forward for any software provider. Job and asset management software Loc8 has made integrations one of its major selling points, offering its users multiple integration options, including Xero. The integration with Xero was one of the first projects to be implemented by the Loc8 Team. To have effective and profitable operations, service businesses can no longer treat field work, assets life cycles and financials as three separate entities. The data gathered from those three aspects of a business have to be correlated in real-time in order to draw an accurate diagnostic of the health and sustainability of the company’s operations.

Be one step ahead of the game!

Loc8 was launched in 2011, with the ambition to provide a cloud-based asset and maintenance management platform for large and small businesses.  Initially, the focus was centered around providing operational solutions for some larger businesses in the mining & resources and facilities management industries.

Once these solutions were delivered, we decided to focus on the opportunities to help smaller businesses with a trades focus and new customers were soon brought on across different industries where field service management was a requirement. This includes many tradies and businesses working in the trades space as well as fire safety & prevention, security, construction and facilities maintenance.

Many smaller trades-based businesses were still running on pen and paper. Some had implemented financial systems such as Xero, however, no field service solution was in place. Loc8’s Sales and Support teams regularly encountered this common scenario and business owners regularly communicated their frustrations with keeping accurate records and linking work carried out in the field to associated financial records. In some cases, payment wasn’t reconciled until three months after completion of the work. The obvious answer to this was to provide a solution that offered a seamless integration with Xero.

Many software vendors, such as Xero and Loc8, specialise and provide value in one particular area. For Xero, that’s cloud-based financial software. It’s easy to access and use for a wide group of businesses. Likewise, Loc8 provides class-leading asset, maintenance and field service software. System integration between the two platforms offers users all of the features of both systems.

In a real-world scenario, a Loc8 Lite or Pro user would go about completing their normal field service activities which include dispatching job details to field-based workers, who then complete the work whilst simultaneously capturing key data points such as time, inventory and cost. Users record data via the Loc8 mobile app for smartphones and when the job is completed, they capture the customer’s signature on the spot.

The data updates the main Loc8 system back in the office in real-time and the user can then simply select the job in question and initiate the Xero integration in Loc8. In one click, all of the necessary financial data is posted into the users Xero system for immediate invoicing. Records are stored for as long as they are needed in Loc8 as another point of reference.

In summary, Loc8 makes it easy for small service businesses to streamline their operations by providing easy to use desktop and mobile applications that link with other cloud-based systems to share important data.

How can you choose the right app for your service business?

Selecting the right application comes down to identifying your business’ requirements as well as the operational proficiency of the app. As expressed above, the ability to integrate with other cloud-based applications should be a priority.

When using a platform like Loc8 for instance, our users can create and generate quotes straight from the app. Once approved, the quote is converted straight into a work order. Having this automated process in place allows service business owners and their workers to increase productivity, as there is no need for them to be focusing as much on the administrative side of things.

The same applies to invoices. After a job is complete, technicians can generate invoices to their clients on the spot, thanks to the Xero integration, thus allowing the business to be paid on time and to maintain a healthy cash flow. With this data being automatically added to the system, it then becomes very straightforward to create insightful reports.

The two examples above are essentially relevant to small businesses, however, once your business grows it’s important that the tools you use also grow with you. Being able to keep the same systems allows a much safer and quicker growth. It reduces the chances of data being lost or hacked and there is no need to allocate time to train your staff to use a new application.

Small businesses don’t always stay small!

Expanding on that last comment, it is true that not all small service business owners think about the potential expansion of their operations straight from the start. Their main focus is often to keep the business afloat and to get more customers on board.

However, Loc8 has partnered with many businesses that have outgrown their previous systems. It is important for business owners to think about the implications of growing quickly and the importance of being able to scale accordingly. Identifying a system that will support such a journey should be high on the list of considerations. In the long run, it will reduce the chance of a growing business wasting quite a considerable amount of time and money.

Beyond the scalability factor, usability is another important component. Loc8 is designed to be an out of the box, ready to use solution, with intuitive features that don’t require intensive training. For small service businesses, it is even more important to be able to use an application on the go. Most don’t have the time or resources to spend weeks implementing new solutions for their operations. It’s often the main reason why some businesses don’t feel ready to move away from paper. We created Loc8, and particularly the Lite edition, with that aspect in mind; therefore, making our product a very good option for people with limited time and resources.

Why leave it there?

To find out more about Loc8

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