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What is field service management software?

Field service management software automates the deployment and tracking of field service personnel, supports warranty or service contract/SLA management, and provides analytics or decision support to field technicians. Some solutions are tailored to the needs of field operations-oriented companies in industries such as HVAC, plumbing, telecommunications, and more.

Field service software solutions provide distinct features and capabilities, including apps and dashboards, for technicians, managers, and customer-service support personnel. Mobile apps and tools allow field personnel, usually via a portal accessible through the app, to report job progress to their managers, order parts while still in the field, or draft and present service reports and invoices to customers. Managerial controls should include advanced scheduling and resource allocation options, dispatch features, and workforce optimization capabilities such as matching job need or complexity with technician skill level or certification.

What are essential field service management capabilities?

1. Administrator dashboard

A centralized hub used to monitor resources, job, or task progress, control inventory usage, and approve orders, with data feeds and visualization for workforce optimization.

2. Geolocation

Ability to track and locate field technicians, vehicles, and other resources.

3. Job prioritization

The ordering of jobs based on their importance, urgency, or the need to comply with service level agreements (SLAs).

4. Skill matching

The ability to assign technicians and resources based on their appropriateness for the task—for example, certification, license, credentials, and more.

5. Technician portal

The technician dashboard allows the field tech to view or edit customer data relevant to the job.

6. Mobile device access

Supports access to a technician dashboard through a mobile device or tablet and allows the technician (either an employee or contingent worker) to update supervisors on job progress.

7. Inventory/parts ordering

Provide field service technicians appropriate access—through their portal—to inventory controls and requisition requests.

8. Customer and manager communication

Allows the field service technician to communicate arrival time, that a job has begun, that a job is finished, and to request feedback.

9. Mileage tracking

Record and report mileage

10. Mobile-delivered safety and policy guidance

Mobile apps can also provide policy and safety instructions to field technicians or guided walkthroughs for standardized service.

11. Job-specific measurement and analytics

Some apps support meter-reading, trend reading (and other job-specific measurements aids), and decision support to help field technicians.

Benefits of field service management software

Managing your field workers requires unique processes, tools, and considerations. But the investment in field service management software can provide some substantial benefits.

  • Coordinate and monitor employee schedules, customer appointments, and timelines.
  • Save time and gas with appointment optimization features
  • Automate dispatch, scheduling, and invoicing and reduce errors.
  • Proactively monitor inventory.
  • Increase communication and transparency between field workers, management, and customers.
  • Increased efficiency with tools and processes that replace manual systems, boosting operational efficiency and employee productivity.
  • Improved visibility with software to help collect, track, and analyze crucial data (like job completion times, expenses, and field notes.
  • Give field technicians more time with customers by removing repetitive, manual administrative processes, ease access to essential resources, improve communication, and organize schedules and updates (in one centralized place).

The benefits of field service management are certainly within reach for companies looking to optimize for installation, maintenance, and repair of products through solid solutions. However, it’s important to note that businesses looking to optimize their customer journey and scheduling process should consider mobile workforce management (MWM) software. While closely related, the two situations are different and should be considered before choosing a solution for your organization.

How field service management software helps businesses

Field service management software helps companies manage all the resources that go into field service operations and processes. Since field technicians must complete various tasks, field service management software can help them visualize goals daily and assist them with project management. The software helps techs connect and engage with customers, and allows customers to self-serve if desired (for example, locate the tech, confirm appointments/arrival times, etc.). All this helps boost the customer experience and customer loyalty.

Why use field service management software?

Agility (noun): The effective (rapid and adaptive) response to change.

Field service management software improves agility and efficiency. It schedules and dispatches technicians, tracks their location, and lets them access their work through a mobile app for better time management. You can also set key performance indicators (KPIs) within the software to help your field service team track and manage annual goals.

Who should use field service management software?

Field service management software is used by anyone working in field services, including construction workers, electricians, plumbers, landscapers, energy workers, security managers, technicians, and any hybrid worker who shifts between offsite and onsite locations. Field service management software streamlines the day-to-day operations by improving communication between field service workers, dispatch, management, and customers. In a field service-intensive industry, such as construction, a manager can deploy his field workers offsite and rack and manage his workers using the software.

Kinds of field service management software

Field service cloud

Cloud-based field service products store data remotely, allowing multiple users access at any given time. Cloud storage also prevents data loss due to a computer or device malfunctioning, which is beneficial to businesses with many field techs. Most cloud-based products are priced using a monthly subscription model.

On-premises field service

On-premises field service solutions are more customizable and sometimes offer more straightforward integrations with already established systems. These products can be less expensive over a lifetime of use because they are one-time purchases. They can be a good choice if customizations are needed to meet business processes.

What are potential issues with field service management software

Duplicate entries—Suppose field workers write their field reports manually. That can be tedious if they have to transfer them into the field service management software. There are also the issues around wasted time and extra paperwork.

Lack of face-to-face communication—Managing your field workers through field service management software can leave no time for actual face-to-face communication. While field managers might feel that they are managing their workers effectively through the software, communication problems may arise due to the lack of face-to-face communication. If you are implementing a field service management software, provide adequate time to address critical issues in person.

What are important field service software integrations

For enterprises, field service management platforms and application suites may integrate with HR systems (workforce management or time tracking and expense management software), inventory systems (for spare parts ordering), as well as knowledge management systems and self-service customer portals and support systems to reduce or eliminate needless deployments, and the costs of these.

What are some other software solutions that companies use with field service management software?

1

Accounting software

Field service management software often integrates with accounting software to streamline payment cycles. This usually includes invoicing payments, automating accounts payable, and giving quote estimates.

2

CRM software

Field service management software can integrate with CRM software for field managers to manage customer relationships. This can help field managers maintain relationships with recurring clients and gain leads on new clients who need field services.

3

PLM software

Product lifecycle management software helps field service managers manage data during the development of a product from inception through the manufacturing, servicing, and disposal processes. Having PLM software integrate with your field service management software can help improve your equipment development and maintenance.

4

GIS software

A geographic information system (GIS) gathers, analyzes, and displays geographical data to manage business operations. GIS helps field managers by tracking the location of fleets and locating where field technicians are in real time. It also helps managers find the next site that workers need to head to. If a project location changes, workers are immediately notified so they can make the necessary changes.

5

Internet of Things (IoT)

Companies can manage their assets and reduce maintenance costs. With IoT-enabled sensors, they can track in real time the location, health, and utilization rates of their assets on a dashboard. In the event of an issue, they can automate corrective actions, including contacting customer service and/or dispatching a field service technician.

For most organizations, efficiently managing a team of service technicians, or field force, is one of the most operationally complex tasks. Because it involves so many variables, which until recently had to be logged, monitored, and controlled by human labor, it took a significant amount of time and precision to keep track of all the unpredictable changes that could occur at any time. Miscommunications, delays, and incorrect or incomplete information inevitably plagued many companies in these situations. Electronic databases helped in many cases, but they were still prone to human error.

As the use of mobile devices increased and systems began to communicate with each other more easily, many software developers worked on solutions that would assist with the management of team of digitally connected, mobile field teams, relieving frustrated leaders of many of the inefficiencies inherent in the traditional process. The result was sophisticated field service management (FSM) technology.

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