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Field Service Software – A Captivating But Unheard of Technology

Time to spark a controversy: field service software isn’t sexy technology.  It doesn’t offer the glamorous aesthetics of Snapchat.  You can’t use it at home like virtual reality.  And its potential use isn’t nearly as widespread as autonomous vehicles.  In fact, chances are those outside of the industry haven’t even heard of it.

Yet, despite a lack of press and high-profile CEOs, field service software is shaping the world of tech as we know it.  You just don’t realize it yet.

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Field service software, sometimes called FSM software, facilitates the tasks of field service management.  Although your favorite companies may not be field service management providers, chances are some of your favorites use the technology.  Think of field service software in the context of car components.  When you think of what makes a car work, what do you think of first?  Probably the engine, brakes, battery, transmission, etc.

But what the average person may not think of is the alternator, which helps supply the battery, engine and other essential systems with power.  Field service software is basically the alternator of several new technology companies.  In other words, it’s the hidden driving force behind a more recognizable face.  For example, field service software is essential to the success of companies like Uber (you may have heard of it).

What is Field Service Software?

As we said earlier, field service software facilitates field service management.  But, we’ll be honest, that doesn’t really tell you a whole lot.  So let’s expand on that by turning to a company not as well known for its FSM software: Salesforce.  Salesforce describes it in its blog: “At its core, FSM is simply any system that is designed to keep track of the various components of field operations.  These components typically include inventory management, vehicle tracking, scheduling, customer portals and more.”  We have to add one more piece to the full power of a field service solution: back-office capabilities.  The best solutions also help with billing and other back-office systems.

As with most software today, there’s no separating mobile field service software from “non-mobile” FSM software.  Tracking a mobile workforce requires the devices using the software to be mobile — to go wherever your technicians go.  After all, how are your technicians going to be scheduled if they don’t have the scheduling software with them?

What FSM software should ultimately provide above all else, however, is better customer service and higher customer satisfaction.  You want all five of those stars on Google and Yelp, don’t you?

What Features are Typical of Field Service Software?

We’ve touched on some of the features of field service software earlier, but now it’s time for a closer view.  Here are the features you’ll find in your typical field service software vendor:

Workforce Management

Scheduling and dispatching your technicians is at the heart of what you do.  You can’t service your customers unless you have someone scheduled to do so, and that’s just what field service software does.  We’re probably preaching to the choir when we say that managing your technicians’ schedules is cumbersome.  That’s why FSM software automates the whole process, so that as soon as a new job opens up it can be assigned to the next available technician.  That way neither your customers nor your technicians are kept waiting.  We call that a win-win.

Inventory Management

Knowing how much of your inventory you have and where it is at all times is a must, especially with expensive equipment.  For companies in industries such as telecommunications, manufacturing, or property maintenance, that equipment is your livelihood.  Thanks to the internet of things and FSM software, you can keep track of each individual piece of equipment.  The inventory you can track even includes your vehicles, so you know where they are at all times.  Field service software gets rid of the questions of where something is or where it’ll be at the end of the day.  All you have to do is check your field service solution.

Billing

Part of keeping your customers happy is sending them the bill.  Well, maybe not actually sending them the bill, but doing so in a timely manner.  Customers can get annoyed if you take too long to send it.  They may also forget completely and end up surprised when a bill shows up months later.  Field service software helps you avoid the annoyance and the shock by automating the billing process.

Real-Time Analytics

All of the above is possible thanks to information collected in real time.  Field service software collects data of all kinds to run your field services at maximum efficiency.  For example, it uses your technicians’ current locations and job statuses to schedule and dispatch them once a new job opens up.  It also keeps your inventory lists up to date by updating them whenever a component is used on a job.  And lastly, real-time analytics help the software realize when a job is done and what was done on the job so it can send the bill quickly.  Basically, these real-time analytics provide you with the information you need to run smoothly.

How is Field Service Software Changing Because of Companies Like Uber?

Do you remember what we said way back about how companies like Uber are using field service software?  Have you figured out how yet?  We’ll give you a hint: start by thinking about how these ride share services assign drivers to passengers.  It all comes down to workforce management; specifically, automated dispatching.

When a passenger requests an Uber ride, the field service system processes the locations of all nearby drivers.  Once it finds the closest, it dispatches the trip to that driver.  At this point, the driver can either accept or decline the trip.  If they decline, the trip gets dispatched to the next closest driver, and so on.  Once a driver accepts, the passenger can track where the driver is, see the driver’s name and see an updated ETA.  Although your technicians probably can’t decline a job, the dispatching technology works the same.  It still uses real-time data to locate the nearest employee and assign them a job.

The main difference between Uber’s field service software and regular FSM software, however, is “crowdsourcing.”  As you probably know, Uber drivers aren’t full-time employees.  Rather, they work whenever they want to, oftentimes only a few hours a week.  This has become a massively successful business model, and traditional field service may follow suit.  In fact, some companies are already trying it out, with positive results so far.  It’s possible that the future of field service will be entirely crowdsourced.  We may soon be able to pull up an app and request a technician at the push of a button.

Although requesting a technician at the push of a button isn’t here yet, the transparency is already possible.  Boston-based Dispatch is a field-service platform that helps companies connect with their technicians and their customers better.  Similarly to Uber, the platform lets customers see the incoming technician and provides real-time updates on their arrival time.

This last part is especially important.  Today’s customer is fed up with the typical four-hour service window.  They want to get on with their day without waiting around for hours feeling helpless.  Keeping them up-to-date lets them carry on with their day, and they’ll be grateful for it.  Remember what we said earlier about improving customer satisfaction?  Transparency with your customers is what they’re seeking, and they’ll appreciate you all the more if you give it to them.

By improving customer service and customer satisfaction, field service software is helping to revolutionize the industry — and that’s not even hyperbole.  We admit that we were wrong.  Field service software is a pretty sexy modern technology.

What Field Service Software Vendors are Out There?

If you’re ready to start Googling “Field Service Software vendors,” first take a look at our curated list of some of the top field service solutions:

Astea

Astea’s field service software is an ideal solution for service companies who want to automate daily tasks and eliminate manual work.  This mobile field service management software enables field service technicians to complete more work orders and provide data to back-office administrators instantly.

SAP

SAP’s FSM software enables you to manage comprehensive field service processes, including billing, service order planning and resource scheduling.  Leverage optimized scheduling functions to make the best use of your resources and meet service-level agreements.  You can increase your productivity by offering your field engineers mobile access to real-time information.

ClickSoftware

ClickSoftware has been in the workforce management and service optimization business for years.  This experience translates into helping companies maximize their efficiency, utilization and productivity.  ClickSoftware is focused on how it can help you help your customers, by improving response times and customer satisfaction.

IFS

IFS is famous for its robust enterprise-level software applications.  Popular in all field service industries, IFS’ field service software helps companies streamline their complex business processes.  Improving efficiency is at the center of every aspect of the application, from its asset management module to its easy integration.

ServiceMax

ServiceMax offers a complete suite of cloud-based, collaborative and mobile field service applications.  Giving companies unprecedented capabilities in field service management, you can optimize operations and delight customers.  Companies use ServiceMax to handle everything from scheduling & workforce optimization to inventory & parts logistics.  Additionally, ServiceMax provides real-time customer and partner portal access.

Infor

Infor Workforce Management is a comprehensive solution that aligns labor management with corporate strategy.  Integrated modules address tasks like budgeting, scheduling, performance management and compliance.  Infor streamlines these processes to increase efficiency while encouraging employees to focus on activities that generate more value.

MHelpDesk

MHelpDesk prides itself on being an all-in-one solution.  No longer do field service companies have to juggle five different solutions to manage their business.  Offering seamless integration with QuickBooks for speedy data transfer, MHelpDesk wants to make everything simple for you.  Whether it’s tracking a job, dispatching a technician or integrating with your website, MHelpDesk’s solution is a great fit for any field service company.

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