How Johnson Controls achieved digital transformation for remote field technicians

Johnson Controls talks digital transformation

Working remotely is central to executing field service technicians’ core job responsibilities.

Unlike a lot of other industries now scrambling for technologies and tools to make it easier for their workforces to work apart from the office, during these unprecedented times, field service organizations have had years, decades even, to hone the tools and technology needed to make reliable remote field work a reality.

Few field organizations have leveraged tools and technologies to empower remote field work as much as HVAC giant, Johnson Controls.

Paper is the enemy

Johnson Controls is a global HVAC, Fire, and Security equipment organization that employs over 100,000 people who collectively generate over $30B from operations in 150 countries. They are one of the largest install bases in the world in terms of equipment and systems, with an even bigger field service arm. Johnson Controls wanted to give technicians all the digital tools possible to provide consistent remote service for their customers to increase customer loyalty and improve service operations.  

Before ProntoForms, when a Johnson Controls field technician arrived at a customer site to perform a preventative maintenance inspection, they referred to a tasking sheet. That tasking sheet referenced all the different steps and inspection points the technician need to complete.

“Paper was the enemy,” reflects David Bishop, Director of Service Operations. Not just the elimination of paperwork orders, but the whole workflow paper trail. “We wanted to make a direct connection back to the ERP and our service platform… The more that you can standardize, the more that you can sort and run analytics and be able to turn data into information, it’s extremely valuable.”

ProntoForms emerged as a solution for standardized data collection and service workflows.

Supporting over 7000 remote technicians

When the team decided to implement ProntoForms and brought the mobile forms solution to their IT department, it met their integration and security requirements. Better still, the very first forms that Johnson Controls deployed took between five to ten minutes to develop.

According to Buddy Saucier, VP HVAC Service, “In the past if I had to have IT build a form without that very adjustable, flexible technology, it would take months and would cost me at a minimum $300,000. But because of the applications today we’re able to do things at a much faster pace, which is important for the field as well as the customer.”

“What I find is when you do it right it shouldn’t take more than five minutes of training. The technology that you launch today,” Saucier emphasizes, “has to be very intuitive and easy for the user to use.”

This is perhaps one of the most defining features a solution needs to have in order to empower remote field workers — in addition to offline capabilities. If a solution requires painful onboarding or technicians to contact the office throughout a service call for contextual information or instructions, remote work and digital transformation at large comes to a standstill.

ProntoForms has had a direct impact on those out in the field. “The app helps me do preventative maintenance because it spells out every check that I need to go through,” reports Mark Spaduna, Technical Team Lead. “When I pull up the ProntoForms app, I have checkboxes. I can indicate completed, not completed, or N/A. I just go down the list and then can add additional comments or photos if I feel they’re needed.”

“Using this tool,” adds Cecily Stelly, Field Operations Analyst, “we’re able to guide technicians through a specific workflow that we think is most efficient, works best, and helps them problem solve.”

Think about your own technicians working to resolve a problem in front of the customer. They need information to be able to troubleshoot an asset repair. If they have asset-contextual information at their fingertips (on their mobile device right there in front of them), they’re able to make that resolution that much quicker and come across that much more professional — all without contacting the office.


In the wake of the global “new norm” with COVID-19, field technicians need to operate more independently than ever. Between baking health and safety regulations directly into apps and giving technicians the right digital tools that empower them to work step-by-step through custom workflows, digital transformation is the way forward for field service organizations.

If you want to learn more about how ProntoForms empowers remote field workers, accelerates digital transformation, and improves operations, check out ProntoForms’ hosted expert panel with Johnson Control’s Buddy Saucier, VP HVAC Service and Service Council’s CEO, John Carroll.

Or, if you’re currently responding to the pandemic, be sure to watch the “Responding to the pandemic: 5 guiding principles for field service leaders” with Purell’s Field Service Director, Lenny Cumberledge.

Related articles
ProntoForms and The 8 Essentials of Innovation
Keep field work safe with job safety analysis
Managing field service during the pandemic and in the new normal