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Smart devices revolutionise the SME field service business model

By Matthew McGann,

Sales manager, software house SmartTrade Ltd

May 2014

Matthew McGann from SmartTrade talks about the impact affordable consumer grade smart devices and improved mobile internet connectivity are having on the world of SME field service providers. The field service sector includes a host of business types offering installation and/or maintenance services. Statistics in the table below illustrate the growth in the smart device market.

There would be few if any business models with more to gain from the smart device phenomenon than the SME field service providers.

Until relatively recently sophisticated field service mobility solutions were largely the preserve of the larger corporations who could afford expensive IT solutions. Mobile phones didn’t have sufficient smarts to allow the smaller players to effectively manage their workflow from the field. As a result they were pretty much limited to using the voice and text functionalities on their mobile phones to communicate with their customers and suppliers.

The emergence of affordable consumer grade smart devices with reasonable processor capacity and vastly improved internet connectivity is revolutionising the way SME field service providers manage their businesses. It helps if the smart devices come with a ruggedized case!


Job management solutions hosted on smart devices expand the growth opportunities for the SME field service providers by enabling them to compete more effectively in the marketplace. This in turn is an enabler for progressive SMEs navigating the chasm of death from being small to big businesses.

There are a number of simple job management apps appearing in the market. An effective job management solution needs to be feature rich plus have excellent help desk support, the field service providers are using it every working day all day! Simple apps lacking a help desk don’t cut the ice!

A contributing factor is societal change. The first of the Gen Y’ers , the generation brought up with computers, are now in their early 30’s. They will increasingly make their presence felt in terms business ownership and management, plus in the field service game the techs tend to be young, mobile and computer savvy. A state-of-the-art smart device will often be an important part of the Gen Y’er’s persona! They will often happily employ their personal smart devices at work (the BYOD factor).

It doesn’t take an Einstein to work out that if your employees are linked at the hip with a productivity tool one would be foolish not to catch the wave!

In response job management software developers such as SmartTrade are increasingly tailoring our software products to work on smart devices. SmartTrade has superseded our earlier PDA based mobile products with solutions specifically designed for the Android and iOS platforms.

We have also developed Smeedi®, a document exchange platform, offering increased office productivity by automating the exchange of invoices between supplier and customer.

Smart device statistics

For the statistically inclined the following data demonstrates why smart devices are becoming truly ubiquitous.

  • 2013 was the first year smartphone sales exceeded 50% of all mobile phones sold!
  • 2013 was the first year the number of internet connection instances from smart devices exceeded those from desktop PCs!
  • More than 1.5 billion smart devices were shipped in 2013, dominated by 1 billion smartphones!
Smart connected device market by product category
(shipments in millions)
Types of device 2013 sales 2013 share 2017 sales 2017 share
Desktop PC 134.4 9% 123.1 5%
Portable PC 180.9 12% 196.6 8%
Tablet 227.3 15% 406.8 16.50%
Smartphone 1013.20 65% 1733.90 70.50%
Total 1556 100% 2460.50 100%
Source: © IDC (Sept 2013)

The trends are clear to see:

➤ Consumers are moving to smart devices at the expense of desktop PCs (and fixed landlines).
➤ Consumers are increasingly using their smart devices to surf the net.

This is far from a first world phenomenon. Some indicative estimates:

  • The International Telecommunications Union (May 2014) estimates there are nearly 7 billion mobile phone subscriptions worldwide.
  • Ericsson (February 2014) estimates 6.7 billion subscriptions worldwide with 4.5 billion unique mobile phone users once customers with more than one subscription and inactive accounts are factored out.
  • Ericsson estimates there will be 5.6 billion smartphone subscriptions by 2019 with most of the market growth coming from the developing nations.

By all measures the worldwide uptake of smart devices is extraordinary!

About SmartTrade

SmartTrade is an Auckland based software house, we began developing job management software for SMEs in 1999, starting with back office solutions designed primarily for tradees.

While SmartTrade’s office solution is now used by a wide range of SME’s the most common user is a field service business with two or three administrative staff receiving and scheduling jobs on our office solution. They then dispatch the jobs to a team of technicians in the field via our mobile solutions for smart devices, the techs return the job to the office once completed.

Our largest New Zealand customer has more than 150 staff using SmartTrade in the office and the field to manage their workflows.

Cyber Attack Alert


Many of our customers around the world and the critical systems they depend on have been victims of malicious “WannaCrypt” software. We are using the MSRC blog - Customer Guidance for WannaCrypt attacks to post information and resources in one place, to help customers respond to this latest threat.

The first and most important piece of guidance is to immediately deploy the security update associated with Microsoft Security Bulletin MS17-010, if you have not done so already. Customers that have automatic updates enabled or have deployed this update are already protected from the vulnerability these attacks are trying to exploit.

Malware Detection

Windows Defender, System Center Endpoint Protection, and Forefront Endpoint Protection detect this threat family as Ransom:Win32/WannaCrypt.

In addition, the free Microsoft Safety Scanner is designed to detect this threat as well as many others.


Review the Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC) blog at Customer Guidance for WannaCrypt Attacks for an overview of the issue, details of the malware, suggested actions, and links to additional resources.

Keep systems up-to-date. Specifically, for this issue, ensure Microsoft Security Bulletin MS17-010 Security Update for Microsoft Windows SMB Server is installed.

Customers who believe they are affected can contact Customer Service and Support by using any method found at this location:

Microsoft Malware Detection and Removal Tools

Use the following free Microsoft tools to detect and remove this threat:

Additional Resources

Regarding Information Consistency

We strive to provide you with accurate information in static (this mail) and dynamic (web-based) content. Microsoft’s security content posted to the web is occasionally updated to reflect late-breaking information. If this results in an inconsistency between the information here and the information in Microsoft’s web-based security content, the information in Microsoft’s web-based security content is authoritative.

How to streamline your payroll operation using SmartTrade Mobile’s timesheet feature together with SmartTrade Essential or Ultimate’s payroll export feature!

Many SmartTrade users already use SmartTrade’s payroll export feature to export their employee timesheet data directly to their payroll package.

Employees using SmartTrade Mobile can enter timesheets easily on their mobile device using SmartTrade Mobile, or the simpler SmartTime timesheet app, and return the timesheet data to SmartTrade in the office.

It’s then a simple step to export the timesheet data from SmartTrade into your payroll package making it a seamless operation! Even if you manually enter your timesheet data into SmartTrade there are significant benefits in exporting the data to your payroll system.

SmartTrade currently supports the following payroll packages:

  • IMS Payroll
  • iPayroll
  • MYOB 
  • Ace Payroll

If you have another payroll system provided it allows data to be imported then it’s very likely we can design an Advanced Report to enable timesheet information captured in SmartTrade to be exported to your payroll package

Just imagine the time and double data entry saved by having your field staff enter their own timesheets and then being able to export the data from SmartTrade into your payroll package!

Lee Sarson of Rhino Fire & Security Ltd summed up the benefits:

“We used to get technicians into the office on Wednesday morning to hand-in hand written jobs sheets
           and timesheets!”

“We used to have 30-45 minutes down time per tech each Wednesday filling out bits of paper and trying
           to find the ones they lost!”

“We then manually transferred the hours to large project job sheets and tried to decipher the technicians’
           hand writing!”

“The process took admin staff the entire day!”

“We now have the job done by 9.30am!"

“Time sheets are filled out by techs as they go from job to job, no more problems with techs trying to
           recall what they did a few days ago becausethey lost some paper work!”

"Job information is loaded into the system as soon as a job is completed, allowing the invoice to be
          generated and sent same day, this improves cash flow!"

"Now time spent returning job information is billed to clients!"

"Filing in the office has dropped 95%!"

"I can’t believe we used to work with such outdated systems, the change was dramatic and instant!"

Please don’t hesitate to call our support team to discuss what’s possible in terms of streamlining your timesheet and payroll workflow activity!

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Asset Management – working with SmartTrade Mobile and SmartForms to manage assets in the field

Asset Management is a SmartTrade Ultimate feature, using it with SmartTrade Mobile and SmartForms makes managing assets in the field a lot easier. 

You need to have at least one SmartTrade Ultimate licence to be able to be able to utilise the Asset Management functionality

Other functionalities that come with SmartTrade Ultimate:

  • Work Orders – an important feature for Asset Management, work orders for assets can be initiated from a SmartForm;
  • SmartGate portal – you can set up your clients so they can log jobs and/or see their SmartForm results;
  • Project cost control – this feature is primarily a cost control tool which enables users to:

• Create and track claims and retentions for quote jobs;

• Project variations can be entered and tracked separately but reported together;

• Create invoices;

• Consolidate multiple “draft” invoices into a single invoice for a single customer;

• Create project reports:

  1. Job Profitability report
  2. Project Summary Report
  3. WIP Report

Here's your chance to find out how Asset Management and SmartForms work together!

If you would like to evaluate how Asset Management works with SmartForms on SmartTrade Mobile give our support team a call!

Here’s how they will set you up to evaluate Asset Management and SmartForms:

✔ If you don’t have a SmartTrade Ultimate licence and/or aren’t using SmartTrade Mobile we will set you up with trial licences.

✔ We’ve also prepared a short user guide explaining how Asset Management and SmartForms work together.

✔ You can then experiment with a demonstration SmartForm, we’ve chosen the A6 Boilers demo SmartForm because it shows a number of the available SmartForms features. There’s also a short user guide to help you navigate your way through the demo SmartForm.

✔ And as always don’t hesitate to call our support team if you need some help!

✔ If after evaluating Asset Management working with SmartForms you think it might help your business you only have to call our sales team to get set up. We’ll then schedule some online training to make sure you are up to speed with Assets and SmartForms.

Working in the office with SmartTrade Ultimate


✔ Enter Asset details

✔ Attach applicable SmartForms

✔ Create Job + Asset + SmartForms

✔ Dispatch Job + Asset + SmartForms to SmartTrade Mobile

✔ Clients can be given permission to see SmartForm results in the SmartGate portal

Working in the field with SmartTrade Mobile + Asset + SmartForms

✔ Open Job -> Asset -> SmartForms

✔ Complete SmartForms

✔ Sign-off SmartForms

✔ Return Job + Asset + SmartForms to Office

SmartTrade Ultimate + Assets + SmartForms, a great way to manage assets in the field!

We’ve recently released a software upgrade – here’s the new stuff in SmartTrade!

SmartTrade Mobile - in the Field

Ordering on SmartTrade Mobile is now available!

Mobile users will now be able to:

✔ Generate orders, previously you have been able to create an order number on SmartTrade Mobile to give to you supplier. NOW you can add MyData line items from the job sheet to an order and email it straight to your supplier, the order details are returned to the office with the job.

✔ New security privileges for SmartTrade Mobile to:

  • see or not to see the Client pop-up notes;
  • choose what job card fields are mandatory or not (Job Category; Accounting Group, Job List 1, Job List 2).

The feature additions allow you to undertake a comprehensive job workflow on SmartTrade Mobile:

✔ Create a new customer and site;

✔ Create a new job;

✔ Create a quote and email it to the customer;

✔ Accept a quote;

✔ Add materials, including MyData kitsets;

✔ Create an order and email it to your supplier – NEW!

✔ Download a SmartForm, complete the form, email a PDF copy to the customer;

✔ Attach photos to the job or SmartForm;

✔ Update assets (Assets is a SmartTrade Ultimate feature);

✔ Raise order numbers;

✔ Complete and return timesheets; and

✔ Create an invoice, preview it, get the customer’s signature and email the invoice to the customer.

There's also a number of minor upgrades and bug fixes for SmartTrade v6.

These are covered off in the Release Notes.

SmartTrade Mobile data is encrypted!

Given the increasing threat from hackers we thought we should point out that SmartTrade Mobile’s data is encrypted making it very difficult for hackers to get hold of the information.

We aren’t aware of any successful attempt to hack into SmartTrade Mobile data.