The Lowe’s IMS portal: is it everything an installer needs to run their business?

 

As Lowe’s rolls out exciting new digital capabilities with its IMS portal, installers are asking questions like:

Why would I need other field service software in addition to the portal?

Isn’t IMS supposed to give me all the automation I need?

IMS provides great new functionality that allows installers and Lowe’s to share job information and schedule dates. It brings automation that eliminates the emailed and faxed jobs that can be subject to human error from either side. So yeah, Lowe’s IMS portal is a good thing!  But it’s not a solution to fix business issues faced by most installation companies.

What is missing?

Installers need additional tools to run their companies effectively for things like managing their non-Lowe’s business, communicating with their field personnel, scheduling efficiently, completing paperwork in the field, and much more.

Here are a few reasons you’ll need additional software paired with IMS:

  • Scheduling jobs:
    • You have non-Lowe’s work too? If you install work for more than just Lowe’s, you need to see ALL your work in ONE place, so you can make better decisions when scheduling the team. You need to be able to clearly see and manage work from any source – Lowe’s or other – and see it on one calendar.
    • When scheduling jobs, you need to know where your crew is already scheduled, and what other work is nearby, all in one clean view. The ideal tool should let you easily assign the right crew to the right job without digging thru PO’s or paperwork to understand what the job entails.
  • Crew communication and payment:
    • The crew in the field needs job specifics and paperwork to ensure the job goes smoothly. You need a tool that puts job notes, documents, photos, and the work schedule all in one place so your team has the info they need before and after they arrive at the job site.
    • You may even want to track and auto-calculate a field tech’s pay to make weekly payroll easier. You’ll need a tool that allows you capture this information and feed it into your payroll system.
  • Completing Paperwork:
    • Measures: Most measurements are jotted down on paper and then drawn up and sent sometime later. This causes delays and often eats up an estimator’s evening. It would be great to have a tool with electronic forms that can be pre-populated with customer/job information automatically. Then your field personnel can add measurements, drawings and photos to it.
    • COC: Chasing your crews for paperwork often delays closing out a job. Again, with a separate tool, you could upload COCs (or other documents, such as a Change Order) and provide your crew with mobile access that allows them to fill out this paperwork on the fly, capture signatures, and automatically.  This requires far less effort and time than manually collecting, scanning, and uploading completion paperwork.
  • Financial integration (QuickBooks):
    • Many companies use their own accounting software to manage their finances. IMS portal doesn’t capture the level of financial detail installers need for their own financial management and it doesn’t integrate with QuickBooks or other financial software. A more comprehensive software product will capture all your job information and costs and automatically send your financial software the appropriate information.
  • Visibility:
    • IMS alone will not provide you with broad views of where every job stands in one view for your business. You may want a tool that features reporting capabilities to analyze time-in-phase, profitability, and all the metrics that are important to successfully run an installation business.

 

Filling the gaps with CiO field service software for installers

Cilio CiO is an online application that allows installers to manage all their jobs in one system that their whole team can access. When integrated with the IMS portal, CiO provides all the necessary tools to manage your company and exchange the job info to keep IMS updated.

We’ve worked with Lowe’s to provide integration with CiO so that newly sold Lowe’s work will auto-populate in the CiO system, where you can see customer and job information, documents, etc. You can schedule the job in the CiO system, which will automatically update to the IMS portal. In short, Lowe’s gets exactly what they need, while you manage the whole end-to-end job in one system that caters to your specific business process.