What is field service?

Field service refers to any work performed on your products at a customer’s site instead of your company site. Prevalent in manufacturing, high tech, healthcare technologies fields, field service typically involves dispatching employees or contractors to specific locations to install, repair, or maintain equipment or systems.

Field service workers often provide skilled, specialized, or even proprietary services to commercial or industrial clients. They can be employees or contractors.

When most people think of field service, they think of a technician who comes into a home to set up cable TV or Wi-Fi or a utilities worker trying to get a downed power line back online. But the field service landscape is quickly evolving to include a broader range of deskless employees. Eight out of 10 of the world’s workers are now deskless, and field service has expanded into new industries, such as education, healthcare services, hospitality, and more.

What are the different types of field service activities?


Once a customer purchases equipment, they will need it expertly installed at their location.


Maintenance can be divided into three categories—corrective, preventive, and proactive—and is what most people think of when defining field service.


Field service workers can provide customers with advice on how customers can maximize equipment usage to achieve any/all desired outcomes.

Difference between field service management and field service providers

Field service management is the umbrella term for managing field resources, including field employees and equipment. It is a discrete market within the broader customer service software market. Field service providers (FSPs) typically dispatch technicians to remote locations to install, repair, or maintain equipment or systems. They may manage, maintain, and monitor these assets under a predefined service or maintenance contract.

Field service management touches every part of the field operation, including:

  • Assigning and scheduling of work orders
  • Dispatching employees or technicians to new work assignments
  • Communicating with workers while in the field
  • Collecting field service data (such as time of arrival, job completion, and customer feedback)
  • Sharing job data or customer data/history with field employees
  • Routing employees to different jobs
  • Managing product inventory and availability

Field service management isn’t what it used to be. As field service continues to evolve, it encompasses more lines of work, making field service management more challenging.

Even the workday itself continues to change. Managing technicians in the field was a much simpler process when it only encompassed those who worked 9-to-5, everyone was full-time, and administrators could keep track of schedules on pen and paper, desktop calendars, or simple spreadsheets.

These days, a field service operation commonly includes a blended workforce, with full-time employees, part-time employees, and contractors working independent schedules. This adds a layer of complexity when trying to schedule appointments and effectively manage mobile workers' needs—and customers.

What is field service management software?

Because field service management requires balancing so many essential operations, many companies turn to field service management (FSM) software to stay ahead of the curve. FSM software and mobile apps streamline communication, scheduling, dispatching, and general information-sharing between field workers and the back office.

Field service management software needs dynamic functionality—like real-time communication with field employees plus trigger-based scheduling and dispatching for new assignments—to keep up with the shifting landscape of field service.

What do successful field service operations look like?

In today’s dynamic business environment, competition is stiff, and customers expect more. Field service operations must be agile so your workers can provide outstanding service at a moment's notice and your customers know what to expect.


Mobile-first field operations

Deskless workers should be able to accomplish their tasks without jumping through hoops. Make sure your field service management tools are accessible (and compatible) with the mobile devices your employees use in the field, including their personal mobile devices (in the case of contingent workers or to support BYOD policies).


Service integrated to other systems

No matter what field service management solution you use, it should work seamlessly with your other systems. Make sure your field service management software works in tandem with your CRM, HR, order management, ecommerce, customer service, payroll, and ERP (to name just a few).


Proactively capturing service data

Not too long ago, back-office/administrative staff and managers had no visibility until field service workers returned to the office with a stack of signed paperwork. A field service management system should share data back and forth in real time so your back-office staff has access to up-to-the-minute information and field workers can close out their tickets while still in the field.

Successful field service management organizations look different for different industries and business models. Some components of field service management, such as tracking the location of company equipment, are critical for some teams but are a lower priority for others. Meet with your internal and external stakeholders to determine your company’s priorities and make sure your field service management solution has the functionality you need.

Field service management vs. mobile workforce management: What’s the difference?

Field service management (PDF) and mobile workforce management (MWM) are closely related. Still, there are differences to consider when choosing a solution, and those can be best summarized by a question:

Do you want to optimize your business for human inputs (i.e., the customer journey) or physical products?

If you want to optimize the customer journey, the scheduling process, or the deployment of your field workers, you need a mobile workforce management solution. MWM software puts your customers and field workers at the center of the process because they are the variables to any field service equation that needs to be solved.

If you want to optimize the installation, maintenance, repair, and deployment of the physical products you own or have sold, you need a field service management software solution. FSM systems are designed to prioritize physical assets, helping you coordinate the cadence and timing of your jobs to keep equipment in optimal shape.

Learn more about Oracle Field Service