The field service industry is in a state of rapid growth. By 2024 the global field service management market is expected to be valued at $5.9 billion dollars, with more than 75% of field service organizations deploying complex mobile apps to help technicians excel at their job.
Field Service Management or Mobile Workforce Management?
Technology is continually developing, with new terms to go with it. Mobile workforce management is a newer category compared to FSM, and its development reflects the way delivering service to businesses and consumers alike has changed with innovations in technology, like smartphones, and changing customer preferences.
FSM is similar to mobile workforce management, but there are important differences. Mobile workforce management is an all-encompassing, general term that includes oversight of any employee who works outside of the office such as consultants, sales people, home healthcare providers, and construction workers. FSM applies specifically to the optimization of delivery, maintenance, and repair of physical products, and management of technicians out in the field who perform these tasks.
Put another way, the global mobile workforce is expected to reach 1.87 billion workers by 2022. Only a small percentage — less than ten percent — of these workers will be traditional field service technicians while the remainder fall under the much broader category of deskless workers.
Field Service Management Features Checklist
Managing the deployment of systems and equipment, workers out in the field installing and maintaining the equipment, all while responding to customer requests in real-time is no easy task. It requires a system that’s powerful enough to handle many different types of requests, but intuitive enough for managers and field workers to use in their everyday work.
Look for the following key features in your FSM system:
Technician and Contractor Management
- Manages your contractors as well as your employees.
According to analyst firm Gartner, by the year 2020, over 40% of field service work will be performed by technicians who are not employees of the organization that owns the customer relationship. In other words, field service will be largely performed by contractors. When choosing an FSM solution, consider whether it can manage outside contractors who are doing work on your company’s behalf. Those workers and their availability, skills, costs and overtime all play a part in scheduling and dispatch decisions. Ideally, your FSM should incorporate those workers easily.
- Manages dynamic skills easily.
Field service teams are as varied as the individuals that make them. Your FSM system needs to ensure you have the right mix of skills, certifications, and capabilities to complete service and fulfill SLAs correctly. Look for an FSM system that makes it easy to add skills and attributes to workers’ profiles and make adjustments to skills required to jobs as requests come in.
- Improves visibility into the relevant customer history.
The more prepared your field service workers are, the happier your customers will be. Your field service solution should keep customer data front and center at every step of the process, even when you are managing workers. Look for a solution that makes it simple to connect data about workers to customers so you can optimize scheduling and dispatch decisions to meet customer preferences, not just their needs.
Scheduling and Dispatch
- Schedules and dispatches technicians in real-time.
The scheduling and dispatch engine should be able to handle complex scheduling needs, like matching technicians to jobs based on multiple skills, real-time location, irregular availability, and customer preferences. The scheduling capabilities should be scalable enough to support your business as you grow and add new customers or services. Your FSM system should reduce the need for customers to call in due to missed appointments, delays, and customer frustration.Your ideal field service management system should have the flexibility to handle schedule changes in real-time, which intelligent automation, and with manual intervention when desired. If an employee is unable to make an appointment, or a customer requests a new time, the FSM system can handle updates in real-time, send notifications immediately to the right people, and adjust schedules as needed.
- Provides an intuitive scheduling console for your operations team.
The FSM solution should be intuitive and easy for the operations team to use. With a scheduling console that makes viewing the queue of jobs and their statuses simple, the operations team can more easily navigate work assignments, customer requests, and real-time developments. Scheduling long queues of jobs against large, dynamic teams requires synthesizing lots of visual information, so a FSM that has key usability features like intelligent recommendations, clean visuals, and overall flexibility is ideal.
- Can quickly find the most-qualified technician for the job.
With dozens (or even hundreds or thousands!) of workers out in the field at any given time, an operations team needs to be able to match the most qualified technician with the job on hand right away.
This feature takes into account all of your technicians’ experience, qualifications, and location, as well as important customer preferences, to find the right person to send at the right time. Simple but effective filtering, attribute tags, and saved preferences make this task easier–all before leveraging intelligent automation.
- Intelligent scheduling engines.
The best FSM tools are already delivering on the promise of intelligent automation and can help you optimize for different business goals, including customer retention, employee retention and development, or cost savings. Using advanced algorithms, often supported by artificial intelligence, companies can use their FSM software to target specific business outcomes.
Field Work Execution
- Offers a mobile app for your field workers.
Whatever FSM software you choose, it should provide an intuitive mobile app that will work on any smartphone (Android, iOS) or mobile device (iPad, Google Nexus, etc.). Your employees out in the field can then access the system at any time, and receive notifications and updates automatically via SMS or push notifications. Field service technicians can send service updates, customer feedback, and other real-time information while out on the job back to the office.
- Optimizes travel routes.
A strong FSM system offers precise appointment times, not “estimated service windows,” so customers know exactly when to expect you. FSM software should help technicians move quickly from job to job by providing the best possible route and syncing with preferred mapping solutions. When the cost and time savings of optimized travel are applied across your entire mobile workforce, the ROI of effective management is multiplied.
- Provides on-the-job guidance.
When technicians show up on site to customers, they have the opportunity to get the job done right the first time, or create more problems that have to be solved later. Your FSM should provide tools to help technicians do quality work. An app with task lists and customer details specific to that job gives your mobile employees the power to create a personalized experience while making work easier.
- Tracks job progress and mobile workers in real-time.
An effective FSM solution gives mobile workers the tools to check in and out of jobs and eliminates traditional timesheets. With this real-time information, the team at the office can provide status updates to customers, managers, and other mobile workers to keep things running smoothly. The most advanced FSM solutions include GPS tracking that allows you to monitor where your field workers are and where they are headed next for maximum visibility into your workforce.
- Enables communication and problem-solving.
Real-time communication allows technicians out on the job to report status updates as they are working. With the right FSM system, they can notify the operations team of job updates and ask for expert assistance in solving an unexpected problem—in real-time, as it happens—enabling faster, more comprehensive service. It gives visibility of the work in progress and gives technicians the tools they need to do their jobs well, boosting overall workforce morale.
Have a FSM software vendor give a demo of this process in action, using different scenarios with various work requirements, to make sure it can handle the unique, complex needs of your business.
Platform Connections and Integrations
- Collects important field data and securely shares with the back office.
Relying on paper forms and manual data entry leads to lost time, errors, and overall inefficiency for the back office. As your field operation grows, make sure your data collection evolves with it.Your field service management system should make it easy for mobile workers to collect data on the go. Rather than carrying paperwork to and from appointments—and bringing back a large stack at the end of the day for processing—your field workers should be able to capture photos, e-signatures, digital forms, and other paperwork in the field, then automatically sync that data with your system of record. Make sure the system you choose can work offline on the mobile device so data is not lost and business is not slowed down.
- Integrates seamlessly with other systems.
Any FSM software solution you choose should be able to work seamlessly with any other system in use, especially CRM systems. It should be able to access and connect data from your systems of record, regardless of platform. It should be able to scale with your company, giving you the tools to provide best-in-class service as you grow.
By connecting your FSM software to your system of record, you can also enable visibility into the customer’s history with your company. Mobile workers should be able to securely pull customer information for their next job, giving them instant insight into how your company has engaged with the customer in the past. With this information, they are prepared to provide great service before they even knock on the door. Make sure the field service tool you choose enables connectivity through integrations with Salesforce, ServiceNow, or another system of record.
The right field service software can make all the difference for your technicians, your customers, and your business. Schedule a demo today to learn more about Skedulo for field service management.