This technical analysis of field service technology is intended for IT professionals or organizations supporting field service software buying decisions in small businesses.
If a field service management software implementation project fails, it’s likely because of poor planning and execution, rather than the software itself. The field service management software market is mature; the technology is robust and constantly developing to accommodate advances such as the internet of things and artificial intelligence.
Despite the large range of field service management software for specific industries such as HVAC, pest control, and manufacturing, many prospective field service management software buyers fall into the trap of overcustomizing a solution to suit their unique needs.
Field service management software definition
Field service software is designed specifically for organizations that employ service technicians who visit on-site customers. This includes larger industries, such as energy, utilities, manufacturing, construction, and HVAC, and smaller businesses providing pest control, plumbing, and electrician services. These organizations can all use field service management software to manage both their remote employees and general operations.
Features such as job scheduling, tracking, and routing help managers organize their on-site field technicians, while features providing easy access to customer information, parts information, and visit schedules benefit technicians.
Within cloud-based solutions, these functions can usually be automated and used across mobile devices. This frees up time spent on highly manual tasks, reducing labor costs. However, according to original data we collected from small to midsize businesses seeking to invest in field service software, 46 percent of organizations are still using manual methods to manage operations.
Field service management software features
Billing and invoicing
Manages customer balances and sends invoices for payments. Some systems enable mobile payments, eliminating the need for invoices, which can add days to receival of final payment.
PDF invoicing in Commusoft (Source)
Optimizes appointment scheduling and the management of employee calendars. Dispatch management also makes real-time schedule adjustments to account for emergency jobs and clashes. Schedules can also be made by using optimal routing features that account for where each job site on the schedule is located, and jobs can be matched to the most qualified or relevant technician.
Drag-and-drop dispatch and scheduling in ServiceTrade Commercial (Source)
Work order management
Tracks and monitors the progress of a job from scheduling, to assignment, and throughout the work to completion and payment.
Work order management in mHelpDesk (Source)
Records, tracks, and analyzes customer job histories as well as valuable customer and payment information. Some systems also feature a marketing component for reminding customers about routine maintenance.
Customer management in Kickserv (Source)
Leverages customer contact information for job reminders and notifications. Also enables contact between back offices and mobile employees in the field
Contact management in FieldEZ (Source)
Tracks and manages the quantity of products and tools used for service. Some systems even account for inventory on a vehicle-by-vehicle basis, so mobile employees know what parts and tools are stocked in their vehicle.
Inventory management in Synchroteam (Source)
Field service management software goals and objectives
Many organizations will buy field service management software without considering what it will help them achieve. Without knowing what you want to result out of the purchase, you’ll never push the software to its full potential.
The following are 4 of the core and common goals that field service management software can help you achieve:
1. Identify areas for business improvement with analytics features
Field service management software can help identify areas of inefficiency. It can eliminate routes that have cheaper alternatives or find quicker access to parts inventory, ensuring that technicians arrive with everything they need.
2. Manage a spatially diverse workforce
One of the biggest challenges to any field service business is managing a dynamic working environment. Field service software helps both your office and mobile field staff to maintain contact, update schedules, and update work orders in real time.
3. Drive ability to generate profit
Investing in field service management software can help organizations generate the level of profit that they’re not currently attaining. Field service software can help planning and forecasting efforts, and it provides opportunities for cost reductions.
4. Enhance workforce mobility
Mobile access to schedules, expenses, billing, timesheets, and customer information is crucial for the modern field service workforce. Mobile field service software connects directly back to your back-end operations and increases the visibility and accountability of decision making.
Field service management software benefits and risks
Implementing field service management software can help organizations not only become more efficient but also grow and scale. Here are the main benefits and risks of field service software.
Reductions in scheduling costs and mistakes
Field service management software takes the headache out of scheduling decision-making through forecasting and prioritization. Unlike manual systems, cloud-based software enables a much larger overview of the big picture, prevents appointment clashing, improves travel times with intelligent routing, and reduces the impact of human errors.
Increased customer satisfaction
Field service software gives technicians access to diagnostic tools, equipment information, manuals, parts prediction, while also improving the overall accuracy of scheduling. These features can improve technician arrival times and first-time fix rates, and in turn, customer satisfaction rates.
Reduction in fuel and maintenance costs
Data-driven route planning and optimization determine the most efficient routes for technicians to take, which can have a huge effect on vehicle mileage, vehicle maintenance, and fuel consumption.
Improved employee and contractor management
Field service management software tracks vehicles, locations, and job statuses, and therefore provides a huge amount of visibility into the organization as a whole. Additionally, with a widening skills gap and an aging workforce, more organizations are employing third-party and outsourced contractors. Cloud-based software also helps to manage this side of the workforce with real-time scheduling and time tracking.
Field service software is unlikely to be a panacea for all of the challenges you face as a business, and in some cases it can lead businesses to overcomplicate certain tasks. The following are a few issues that you’ll need to be mindful of when implementing a new field service tool:
Overcustomization of field service tools
Organizations can be hesitant to accept the standard cookie-cutter field service tools, knowing that the functions may not perfectly match their processes. Businesses would rather adapt software to their processes, rather than the other way around. However, this can lead to an eagerness to customize their solution in a way that doesn’t always fit the bill.
Businesses can be tempted to customize field software tools to suit their every process and business goal. However, there are always extra programming and implementation costs tied to unique customizations, not to mention any ongoing tailored maintenance. There’s also a risk that these customizations may not be compatible with any future software upgrades.
Save your customization budget for where it’s most needed. Before seeking customization, ask yourself: Are our current processes only borne out of previous technological constraints? Even though it’ll require an adjustment period, how could this software actually improve these processes?
Overscheduling your technicians
Field service software is designed to make your scheduling decisions easier, but there’s also a risk of using every scheduling application feature. This can result in overscheduling your technicians. This can affect efficiency, customer satisfaction, and first-time fix rates.
Keep track of everything you used to do before you implemented new field service software. Though it’s designed to help you make decisions more easily, it still doesn’t know the ins and outs of your organization. For example, if the software indicates that your technician can make 10 on-site visits per day, but you know that five visits is their historical maximum, make manual adjustments where necessary.
Field service and the internet of things
Gartner predicts that by 2021, 10 percent of customer-reported issues won’t require an on-site technician visit because of the enhanced connectivity of the internet of things (IoT) (full content available to clients). Through the IoT, devices can remotely send their status, meaning that technicians may not necessarily need to be dispatched to diagnose the issue.
Not only does this mean that your technicians will need to become skilled in reacting to a different type of service request, it also means that you’ll need to adopt a data collection strategy and a training plan for the whole organization.
Field service management software leaders
If you’re ready to start evaluating field service software, you’ll be faced with many options from a wide range of vendors. To help you begin, take a look at the following applications: They’re the top seven solutions on GetApp’s field service Category Leaders, a ranking of the top 15 cloud-based field service applications in Q3 2018.
Field service software selection criteria
When recommending a field service solution to your team or to your client, remember to bear in mind the following 6 field service solution selection considerations:
Your field service management software must integrate with your other applications—and most importantly, your CRM.
Both systems handle different but essential information relevant to your customers. While your CRM handles all information related to your customers, your field service management tool manages the jobs that your technicians undertake for your clients. Both systems need to work in harmony in order to meet effectively meet customer needs.
However, many field service management products also have their own built-in CRM system. You’ll need to decide whether to integrate two systems or implement a new field service system and import your existing data.
2. Staff training
If this is the first time that your organization is employing cloud-based field service software, the vast majority of your staff will need training in how to use it effectively. Many vendors will offer extensive training, either as part of the software package cost or at an additional.
Vendors may also offer change management assistance at an extra cost. You’ll need to consider whether your organization will benefit from these offers and how much it’ll increase your overall spend.
The following GetApp resources are designed to help guide your field service software search. Start browsing field service tools here.
3. GetApp features
Summaries and detailed product feature descriptions help you to align your business needs with the right applications.
4. GetApp alternatives
The alternatives tab provides a quick side-by-side view of similar options to a specific product.
5. GetApp comparisons
Compare up to four different field service products, with side-by-side comparisons of supported platforms, pricing, reviews, etc.
6. GetApp integrations
Discover which essential apps integrate with each field service app.
Field service software implementation plan
Read on to discover more about field service:
Products identified in this article were shortlisted based on inclusion in GetApp’s Field Service Category Leaders Q3 2018. GetApp’s quarterly ranking showcases the top 15 Field Service apps based in the cloud. Each app is scored using five factors, worth 20 points each, for total possible score out of 100. These factors include user reviews, integrations, mobile app availability, functionality, and security. Each app’s score is independent of commercial interests and existing relationships that GetApp has with app vendors.