field service management software

The Improving Technology Behind Field Service Management Software

When one considers the archetypal business, what comes to mind? For many, it’s images of cubicle-lined office buildings or brick-and-mortar retail establishments. However, not every organization fits this mold. For a large number of organizations, company resources are much more mobile. This is particularly true for field service providers, who often have a significant portion of their workforce and equipment deployed away from company property.

Which Industries Use Field Service Management?

Field service industries include property maintenance, residential and commercial cleaning services, civil engineering, home healthcare, as well as others, and they rely on their ability to coordinate and direct their resources remotely. Of course, when dealing with a large fleet deployed in the field, keeping track of work orders, schedules, and availability becomes a difficult task — one made even harder by the constantly changing demands of customers. In order to succeed under these conditions, many organizations are beginning to rely on the mobility and computing power afforded by mobile smart devices. However, simply having access to smartphones and tablets may not be enough; in order to achieve peak efficiency, these industries benefit most from adopting field service management software solutions.

What is Field Service Management Software?

Field service management software describes any tools, systems, or platforms that are designed to increase efficiency and accuracy in field service industries.

How Did Field Service Management Software Come About?

The idea of field service management software grew from the analog tools, calendars, and printed information files and work orders that field agents would use to plan their schedules. These tools had little capacity for those agents to coordinate among each other or with the home office while in the field. The eventual introduction and proliferation of pagers and mobile telephones made it possible for agents to remain in touch with their managers and their customers, but this still relied on direct, two-way communication; in order for a schedule change to be implemented, one would have to contact the agent by phone, and relay that change verbally, which could lead to missed calls or miscommunications.

As computers became more prevalent, digital organizational tools replaced analog ones, allowing for more accurate record keeping. The advent of the internet then made it possible for more detailed information to be shared almost instantaneously with a large number of agents.

However, these advances did little to address the issue of mobility among field agents. After all, how advantageous is it to be able to make up-to-the minute changes to schedules if the agent in question can only access those changes from the home office? The real game changer for field service industries arrived with the introduction of mobile, internet-enabled devices and field service management software.

Basic Benefits of Mobile Field Service Management Software

Today, the best field service management software is built on the cloud, and allows users to keep in touch with all of the most important data in real time. This means that when schedules are updated, new information becomes available, or new work orders are issued, field agents know about it instantly. And also thanks to the cloud, all authorized users are able to access the same dynamic system, so any changes made to any part (such as a schedule update) are viewable by all users in real time. The end result of good field service software is a completely unified workforce, capable of adapting to unforeseen developments as they arise. This provides for a better customer experience and a more efficient use of time, talent, and equipment, and as an added bonus, also makes it possible for businesses to track their agents, so that they always know who’s doing what, and when. But while most web-based field service management software can help improve field agent effectiveness, the leading field service management software options are those that take things a step further.

Choosing a Field Management Software Solution

Before committing to a specific field management solution, you should be aware not only of your organization’s specific needs, but also the particulars of what is being offered. For example, if you have a smaller operation, you might want to look into field service management software for small business. You should also ask yourself which features you’ll need. For instance, some service businesses need a software solution that makes scheduling technicians simple, while others need to track inventory or new customer acquisition. Maybe you’d like to compare the performance of different technicians in order to learn who your top performers are.
Whether your business is mostly concerned with scheduling, logging customer demos, or keeping track of inventory, research is critical. Researching various options, reading field service management software reviews, and taking advantage of any free trials offered are all vital steps to finding the right field service software solution to fit your needs. That said, here are our top four features, benefits, and functionalities that a user must understand in order to compare software solutions and make an informed purchasing decision.

Added Mobility Allows Ultimate Flexibility

Smartphones are used in everyday situations, but especially in business. Given that the world’s number of smartphone users is expected to reach 2.7 billion in 2019, forcing agents to rely on other devices for important business communication doesn’t make much sense. The convenience of being able to use personal portable devices benefits not only the agent, but also the customer, who can enjoy up to-the-minute service updates that come from mobile device-based communication. But while many field management software options are accessible on mobile devices, only those that are designed to offer full functionality on mobile devices (rather than the limited functionality of interfaces borrowed directly from desktop platforms) provide all the benefits associated with mobility. As such, user reviews and trial usage periods are the best way to get a feel for how optimized for mobile-specific field service software options are.

Cloud Storage Is Now Commonplace

Although the cloud has become industry standard for the best field service providers, there are some that still rely on outdated batch processing methods and in-house computer servers. The cloud provides not only real-time updating across all devices, but also allows organizations to save money on expensive hardware installation. At the same time, cloud data is automatically backed up and stored offsite, so that no local threats (such as fires, floods, and so on) can endanger the system. And for field service management software, cloud-based systems are generally better able to integrate with existing company CRM and related systems, for a more streamlined overall process.

Ensure Scalability for Future Conquests

Your business isn’t stagnant, and neither should our field service management software be. A field management solution that can be customized — to fit your organization’s unique needs not only for today, but also for years to come — helps ensure that you have the room you need to grow. And should your company’s focus shift or its processes change along the way, a superior, scalable service management software solution can easily shift along with it. Likewise, a scalable solution can be used to benefit businesses both large and small, so whether you are looking for something for a small business that operates out of your garage or you need a field service solution fit for an enterprise-level organization, a scalable solution that can handle massive amounts of data and integrate into existing systems is a must. Scalability may also factor into cost, with some providers preferring pay-as-you-go pricing models so that you won’t have to worry about being charged for features you don’t use.

Work Order Management Made Easy

Before an agent can complete an assignment, a work order must be created. Work orders provide the instructions and other details needed for fulfilling a particular job, but even more than that, work orders are used to assign personnel and manage the scope of the agent’s responsibilities. Because of this, work orders are supremely important. Field service software increases work order effectiveness by instantly creating work orders as job details are acquired, assigning jobs based upon availability and skill set, providing customers with invoices to help keep them informed and up to date, and tracking job progress. In fact, work orders are so important that work order management is the most sought-after feature by customers of field service software solutions.

Taking the Office With You

The archetypal office, with its desktops, cubicles, and stationary workforce, doesn’t have much need for mobile field service software. However, those businesses that want to be able to track and coordinate a mobile workforce are finding it increasingly difficult to function without field service management software. As technology progresses, customers are becoming less forgiving of missed appointments and miscommunications. Despite this trend, approximately 52% of companies still use manual methods for the bulk of their field service tasks.

Field Service Management Software and Your Business

What does this mean for your organization? The answer all depends on the direction you decide to go. By applying the benefits of advanced field service software, your business will gain a competitive advantage over those competitors who are not. On the other hand, if you choose to continue viewing your mobile workforce as something that needs to be maintained in the office, then you’ll likely end up left behind. With advanced field service software, agents can receive work orders, coordinate with decision makers and other agents, schedule appointments, and access relevant data, all in real time, for service that customers and agents can get excited about. After all, when agents need to go where the customers are, then it only makes sense that they take the office with them.