For companies that manage field service personnel, fleets or a mobile workforce, a reliable dispatch management strategy is an integral part of their success.
Without an efficient system in place, dispatch managers would be forced to spend the majority of their time manually tracking field vehicles, planning routes, taking service calls and organizing technician schedules.
Luckily, today there are tools available that can help automate most of these processes. These tools allow managers to focus on the strategic aspects of dispatch management and develop new, more efficient ways to provide service.
With the help of the right transportation and logistics management solution, companies can not only make their dispatch management processes run smoother but help the entire mobile workforce operate more productively.
What is Dispatch Software?
Businesses that provide field services need to find a way to manage scheduling and dispatching effectively. After all, handling them manually takes up a lot of time and often results in costly errors.
That’s why dispatch software can be so beneficial. It was designed to help automate routing and scheduling processes, providing a simpler way to coordinate routes and deliveries efficiently.
When supply chain management software is used together with transportation and logistics solutions, organizations can even improve the processes of sourcing raw components. This cuts the time it takes to make products and, subsequently, deliver them to the customers.
With dispatch software, companies can manage a wide range of transportation types such as shipping, buses, moving companies, airlines and much more.
The leading software vendors often offer a logistics module which helps with vehicle maintenance, warehousing, routing/mapping, fuel costing and EDI integrations.
It’s not hard to see that dispatch software can have a huge impact on the way that an organization operates. But here are some of the biggest benefits it provides:
One of the most significant benefits of dispatch management software is the ability to take complete control of every transportation and mobile workforce process.
It allows you to track your field team’s location and status with GPS and other powerful tools, giving you complete control over when and where to dispatch your personnel.
This results in the optimization of your team’s routes. It’s also a more reliable method for dispatching your staff and providing a consistent quality of services.
Quick Response Capabilities
Thousands of things can go wrong when providing services on the road and there isn’t a full-proof way to ensure that everything always runs smoothly.
However, if something does go wrong, dispatch software can help ensure that the damage of the error is reduced to a minimum.
Real-time data about the location and status of each worker allows you to immediately spot the problem. You can then make the necessary adjustments to ensure that the quality of service doesn’t suffer.
As companies grow bigger, their dispatch management processes become more complicated as well. This can result in errors if there isn’t a reliable system in place to prevent them.
Luckily, today’s dispatch software solutions are designed to be as flexible and scalable as necessary. The leading solutions can comfortably manage scheduling and dispatching, and ensuring that each client is reached on time.
The software can also adapt to meet any unique needs that your business might have, which can be very important since each industry has its own unique challenges.
Here are some of the most important features that must be present in a dispatch management software solution:
GPS Tracking & Mapping
Since such a large part of dispatch software functionality comes from tracking the location and status of the staff, it’s no surprise that the most essential component is intuitive and reliable GPS tracking and mapping functionality.
This feature uses traffic predictions and advanced routing to ensure that your field service personnel arrive on time. Real-time access to the current traffic conditions makes it much easier to adapt and give your mobile workforce the best possible routes.
GPS tracking brings many benefits to companies, but it all boils down to having real-time control over your fleet. This creates a much more effective approach to mapping. And with the integration of Google Maps, even unknown urban or rural areas can be navigated with ease.
For a field service organization to run effectively, it needs to automate the tasks that require manual labor.
Dispatch software allows you to comfortably handle growth while tracking your scheduled jobs, available technicians and customers that need to be serviced.
You can easily manage schedules of both your personnel and partner-employed ones. These systems provide partially or even fully-automated scheduling, assigning multiple work orders and visits in an instant.
This allows it to identify the right technician for each job, significantly increasing the number of first-time fixes. At the same time, the software provides your technicians with as much information as necessary, which significantly reduces the time it takes to make the repairs.
For a mobile workforce, accessibility and a convenient communications channel is essential.
That’s why mobile apps play a huge role with dispatch software, as they allow the workforce to both receive any necessary information and quickly report their progress to the office.
This way, a reliable two-way communications channel is established, which allows staff to inform drivers and technicians of any issues. In addition, you can share information on travel routes, clients or anything else that might be relevant.
A mobile app can give drivers complete control of their trips, providing relevant route information while automatically collecting and storing data about their progress. This reduces the time it would otherwise take to fill out the necessary paperwork. In this case, the data is instantly visible to managers so the chance of errors is reduced.
When operating a larger mobile workforce, it’s difficult to track all of their progress in real time. This is where automated notifications can be very beneficial.
Some dispatch software vendors provide tools that automatically notify dispatchers about trips that may miss their scheduled delivery. Some can even spot scheduling issues days in advance. With this information, managers can quickly solve the issue with a few clicks instead of scrambling to fix it as the problem occurs.
And since the software automatically tracks the performance of each driver and technician, it enables companies to gain insights into areas where performance could be improved.
Invoicing in the field can be a time-consuming process, but today’s dispatch software offers tools that can help streamline it and substantially reduce the time that it takes.
The software can track all expenses, labor, equipment and parts of each job while providing an effective way to quickly sort out rates and any possible discounts for each customer.
For those technicians that generate invoices in the field, the software even provides the ability to collect payment from credit cards. After all, a convenient system for billing and payment is essential for customer satisfaction.
According to Fiserv’s Boosting Satisfaction and Loyalty with Billing Payments research paper, billing and payments have become key drivers of customer satisfaction and engagement. For companies to remain competitive, it’s essential to optimize the way that billing and payments are handled.
How to Choose Dispatch Software
While many of the leading dispatch software solutions come with a long list of features, it can be challenging to choose the right one for your individual needs.
So how do you find the best fit for your company?
Well, that depends on what your priorities are. For smaller fleets that are new to dispatch software, the price is often one of the most important deciding factors. When this is the case, budget limitations often eliminate some vendors, so the company has to choose a cheaper option that still provides core functionality.
But those with more experience or with larger operations often look beyond budget to see the real value of a software solution.
Even though the initial expenses might be lower when choosing a cheaper solution, it won’t be worth much if the dispatch software doesn’t meet the needs of the company or isn’t scalable as the company grows.
Switching systems and starting from scratch can be much more expensive in the long run. And that’s not to mention the losses that could be suffered if the initial system wasn’t meeting expectations.
But of course, even if a system is more expensive, there’s no guarantee that it’ll work for your organization. Even some top-tier solutions have problems with reliability, poor support or lack essential functionality that your company requires.
So to maximize your return on investment, here are a few questions that need to be answered before narrowing down your list:
What Features are Most Important for your Company?
There is a wide range of features available in today’s leading dispatch management software solutions, but some of them are exclusive to specific vendors.
That’s why it’s important to figure out which features provide the most value to your company. This process helps you instantly narrow down the list of vendors by eliminating those that don’t have essential functionality.
Some of these features might include mobile app availability, remote monitoring, integrated Google Maps or emergency management.
Does it Offer Comprehensive Training?
In order to reap the most benefits from a software solution, it needs to have a thorough training program that helps your staff use the software to fullest extent.
The provider should be interested in ensuring that their customers get the most out of the software by offering a variety of trainings. These trainings should not only help you learn the different aspects of operating the software, but also include extensive support for additional features that may be available later on.
Sometimes it’s a good idea to try the demo version to see if the system is easy to integrate and if it’s a good fit.
How Does Pricing Structure Compare with Functionality?
Different transportation software vendors use different pricing structures, so it’s important to take into consideration which ones meet your budget requirements.
For instance, if the software provider offers a flat price for the software, it suggests a lack of flexibility and customization. This could be problematic for a smaller company that doesn’t plan to use many of the advanced features.
On the other hand, if the vendor offers flexible pricing based on the company’s size and the features required, it’s much easier to find the right balance between your needs and your financial constraints.
Top Dispatch Software Solutions
Here are a few of the top dispatch management software solutions that offer versatile options for organizations of all sizes.
FieldAware is a dispatch management software solution that helps take complete control of all field operations.
It was developed with medium and larger field organizations in mind, but its intuitive design makes it nimble and easy to use. The software is completely cloud-based and easily accessible with mobile devices, which is ideal for field personnel that needs constant access to the system.
It helps you manage scheduling, dispatching, invoicing and reporting. Additionally, you can manage your customer relationships, as it helps automate and streamline numerous processes that increase efficiency.
FieldAware’s pricing structure is built around the SaaS model, which allows companies to start reaping the benefits without a significant upfront investment.
Some of the more impressive features of the software include great accessibility, a wide range of industry compatibility and real-time data access to both managers and field personnel.
High Point GPS is another comprehensive dispatch management solution with powerful GPS tracking features. It provides fleet managers with complete control over their drivers and technicians, allowing them to track where each vehicle is.
The software also provides insights into driver performance, which can help find ways to improve routing, driving habits and reduce idling. All of the information about each driver’s current and past behavior is automatically logged and can be reviewed at any time.
The GPS tracker has robust dispatching functionality which quickly locates the address and assigns the closest and best-suited technician.
With High Point GPS, the communication between managers and drivers is seamless. The platform enables managers to quickly send optimal routes and updates to your drivers. The driver’s progress is logged automatically, so they don’t have to waste time manually updating their progress.
ServiceM8 is a nimble and flexible field service management app that’s designed specifically for businesses of less than 30 people. But while it may be best suited for SMBs, the features it offers can easily match up with some of the more prominent vendors.
With ServiceM8, you can expect the perfect blend of the most cutting-edge technology, the flexibility and accessibility of the cloud and smart management systems to help automate a range of tasks.
The system makes job quoting, invoicing, dispatching and progress reporting easy, providing the necessary tools in a convenient interface. The software is easy to use with mobile devices, and it’s accessible by every employee, from field personnel to management.
As you would expect with a modern cloud-based solution, ServiceM8 comes with real-time tracking capabilities and extensive scheduling customization. These features make it easy to make changes on the go.
ServiceM8 also comes with all of these tools at an affordable price, as pricing starts at just $0.50 per month.