The aim of effective field service management is to empower your employees to deliver excellent service in every customer interaction. What can be considered ‘traditional’ field service management is evolving, and gaining a deeper understanding of the current and future landscape can help your mobile workers succeed.
What Is Field Service?
“Field service” refers to any service performed out in the field, as opposed to on company property. Field service typically involves dispatching workers or contractors to specific locations (often to a customer location) to install, repair, or maintain equipment or systems.
Field service practitioners, or field workers, are often technicians who deliver skilled, specialized, or even proprietary services to commercial or industrial clients.
When most people think of field service, they think of setting up cable TV or seeing an electrician work on a downed power line. But the field service landscape is quickly evolving to include a broader range of deskless employees. In fact, 80% of the world’s workforce is now deskless, and field service has expanded into education, healthcare, hospitality, and beyond.
What Is Field Service Management (FSM)?
“Field service management (FSM)” is the umbrella term for managing an organization’s field resources, including employees and equipment in the field.
Field service management touches every part of the field operation, including:
- Assigning and scheduling work orders
- Dispatching employees to new work assignments
- Communicating with employees in the field
- Collecting field data (such as time of arrival, job completion, and requests for information)
- Sharing job data or customer history with field employees
- Routing employees to different jobs
- Managing product inventory and availability
Field service management isn’t what it used to be. As field service continues to evolve, it encompasses more lines of work, making field service management more challenging.
Even the workday itself continues to change. Managing technicians in the field was a much simpler process when it only encompassed those who worked 9-to-5, everyone was full-time, and administrators could keep track of schedules on pen and paper, desktop calendars, or simple spreadsheets.
These days, a field service operation commonly includes a blended workforce, with full-time employees, part-time employees, and contractors working independent schedules. This adds a layer of complexity when trying to schedule appointments and manage the needs of mobile workers—and customers—effectively.
The Benefits of Field Service Management
Managing your field workers requires unique processes, tools, and considerations. But the investment can be well worth it, as your field workers—and overall business—can reap some key benefits:
- Increased efficiency – Modern field service management offers tools and processes that replace manual systems, boosting both operational efficiency and employee productivity.
- Improved visibility – With software to help collect, track, and analyze crucial data (like job completion times, expenses, and field notes), you’re empowered to make better business decisions.
- More time spent servicing customers – When field workers are relieved of administrative burdens, can easily access essential resources, communicate effectively, and receive schedules and updates (in one centralized place), they can spend more time focusing on what really matters: Customers.
The benefits of field service management are certainly within reach for companies looking to optimize for installation, maintenance, and repair of products by way of strong solutions. It’s important to note, however, that businesses looking to optimize their customer journey and scheduling process should consider mobile workforce management (MWM) software. While closely related, the two use cases do, indeed, differ, and should be closely considered before choosing a solution for your organization.
What is Field Service Management Software?
Because field service management requires a balancing act of so many essential operations, modern organizations turn to FSM software to stay ahead of the curve. FSM software and mobile apps are designed to streamline communication, scheduling, dispatching, and general information-sharing between field workers and the back office.
Modern FSM tools need dynamic functionality—like real-time communication with field employees plus seamless scheduling and dispatching for new assignments—to keep up with the shifting landscape of field service.
What Does a Successful Field Service Operation Look Like?
In today’s dynamic business environment, competition is stiffer and customer expectations are higher. Field service operations have to be nimble so your workers can provide outstanding service at a moment’s notice and your customers know exactly what to expect from employees in the field.
A successful field service operation should be:
- Mobile-first. Deskless workers should be able to accomplish their tasks without jumping through hoops. Make sure your FSM tools are accessible (and compatible) with the tools your employees use in the field, including their own mobile devices.
- Integrated with other systems. Whatever your FSM solution, it should work seamlessly with the other systems you use. Make sure your field service operation works in tandem with your CRM, HR system of record, IT system, payroll software, etc.
- Proactively capturing data. Back in the day, administrators were in the dark until field workers came back at the end of the day with a stack of signed paperwork. A modern FSM system should help you share data back and forth in real-time so your back office is always equipped with up-to-the-minute information.
Successful field service management looks different for different industries and business models. Some components of FSM, such as tracking the location of company equipment, are critical for certain organizations but are a lower priority for others. Meet with your stakeholders—both internal and external—to determine your company’s priorities and make sure your FSM solution has the tools you need most.
FSM vs. Mobile Workforce Management: What’s the Difference?
The difference between mobile workforce management) and field service management software is best summarized by this question:
Are you trying to optimize your business for human inputs or physical products?
If you want to optimize the customer journey, the scheduling process, or the execution of your workers in the field, you need a mobile workforce management solution. MWM software puts your customers and employees at the center of the process because they are the key variables in the equation that you are looking to solve.
If you want to optimize the installation, maintenance, repair, and deployment of physical products you own or have sold, you need a field service management solution. FSM systems are designed to prioritize physical assets, helping you coordinate the cadence and timing of your jobs to keep equipment in optimal shape.
Software to Help Boost Your Field Service Management
If you’re looking to better manage your field service operations, you’ll need field service management software that provides the right tools for your deskless workers. A great field service management solution can create schedules, improve communication, increase efficiency, and more—all in one centralized location.