Field Service Management Software is a digital tool designed to optimise the management of mobile workforces. It is utilised by supervisors, managers, and staff to enhance the delivery of in-person and remote services to customers. FSM enables service providers to improve contact between office-based staff and field workers. As well as automating tasks such as scheduling, work order management, invoicing, and inventory management. With the right tools, service companies can maximise their job management efforts. Helping to improve the output of field engineers and technicians. Whilst reducing challenges such as scheduling conflicts and unplanned maintenance downtime.
What Is Field Service Management?
Field service management (FSM) ensures the delivery of services by field workers to customers. It refers to managing and tracking the jobs performed off-site by engineers. Including installations, repairs, and routine maintenance across sectors like utilities and construction. Field service management provides a platform for businesses to effectively manage their field employees. Whilst seamlessly connected them with on-site staff back in the offices.
FSM consists of several components that help businesses maximise their delivery of services. Including:
Job management provides visibility for everyone involved in the job management cycle. From worker dispatch to job scheduling to achieving KPIs. This workflow not only streamlines service operations but also improves job efficiency. Enabling managers to make informed decisions based on data.
Job scheduling is the initial process of assigning an engineer to a job. The job scheduling process consists of setting service appointments and arranging employee schedules. As well as generating job completion times.
Assigning and Dispatching Engineers
The next step in the job scheduling process is assigning and dispatching workers. To achieve customer satisfaction targets, managers need to dispatch the right engineer to the right job. This means taking into account the worker’s skill level and travel time. Getting this right reduces operating costs and increases the likelihood of a first-time fix.
Office-based staff have an overview of each contract a business has with its customers. This ensures service level agreements (SLAs) are being met.
What Does Field Service Management Software Do?
Field Service Management Software enables companies to automate their otherwise manual field service tasks. Using service management tools allows businesses to speed up their service delivery jobs. As well as improving the level of service that engineers and technicians provide to customers. Field Service Management Software provides several benefits, including:
- Increased job completion percentages
- Improved communication between off-site employees and offices
- Reduced job delays
- Increased first-time fix rates
- Improved customer retention rates
- Reduced fuel costs with route optimisation
Field service managers can also perform tasks via cloud-based mobile apps. Including assigning engineers, optimising vehicle routes, and tracking work orders. After all, it seems only fitting that an industry synonymous with mobile working should require mobile field service tools to enhance its operations.
Service management tools are common in large mobile operations. Including waste management, healthcare, and telecommunications. But, now, they’ve become an attainable tool for smaller organisations. Such as plumbing, landscaping, pest control, and window cleaning.
The use of Field Service Management Software is on the rise. Most notably due to the increase of SaaS packages and affordable pricing models. Although 52% of service companies still use spreadsheets and whiteboards.
Field Service Management Software provides service companies with efficient automation. This helps to improve how a business and its engineers deliver services to customers. There are several benefits of using digital service management tools to automate tasks.
Dynamic Job Scheduling
Field Service Management Software allows managers to be more dynamic and flexible with job scheduling. Managers can load data into a system and automate the tasks of dispatching engineers. Looking at skills, location, and workload to assign the right worker to the right job. Job scheduling tools include:
- Real-time calendar view to know which technicians are available and when
- GPS tracking and route planning to calculate a worker’s proximity to a job
- Access to a worker’s labour rate and job knowledge
Work Order Alerts
Managers can track jobs from planning to completion with the right service management tools. They can gain visibility of each job and work order from a centralised dashboard. This lets them know when a job is complete or if a job will be delayed. Work orders can be updated by an engineer at the job on a mobile app. Resulting in a live job status update for managers.
Real-Time Workforce Tracking
Real-time tracking is a key feature of any service management tool. It allows companies to track workers and vehicles with the use of GPS. This helps managers to assign workers who’re located near to the next job. It can also be used with a fleet management tool to give updates on driver behaviour. As well as optimise routes and saving on fuel costs.
Using mobile apps allows office-based staff to easily connect with workers in the field. Mobile access allows workers to have access to data anywhere at any time. Meaning they don’t have to travel back to the on-site office. Engineers can remotely access calendars, work orders, inventory, and resources. All of which can assist them in completing a job without delays. Effectively improving first-time fix rates and delivering good service to customers.
Digitised Invoicing and Payments
Mobile devices allow field workers to receive payments as soon as a job is complete. This helps reduce the time-consuming process of chasing customer payments. A team of mobile workers can also create professional invoices on-demand. Either printing or emailing them to customers. As well as having the capability to collect a customer’s digital signature.
Real-Time Inventory Management
Real-time inventory management lets field workers know what spare parts are available. Making sure they have the equipment required to complete a job. If a part is not available, workers can place an order and track its delivery.
Digital Job Sheets
FSM tools allow managers to store all job information on digital job sheets. Enabling workers to have all of the information they need on their mobile. As opposed to using whiteboards and spreadsheets, which are time-consuming and error-prone.
Common Challenges of Service Management
Service companies face various challenges with their field service processes. Particularly when managing large workforces across multiple locations. Three common risks include miscommunication, lack of data, and scheduling conflicts.
Miscommunication Between On-Site and Off-Site Employees
With cloud-based Field Service Management Software, all employees have access to a shared dashboard. This includes information that both on-site and off-site workers need. Such as job requirements and customer information. But, without a single point of access, workers rely on job details being sent via email or over the phone. This means information can be delayed or even false.
Scheduling Conflicts with Field Workers
With 52% of service companies using manual methods, scheduling and dispatch conflicts are a common occurrence. This can result in multiple workers being sent to the same job location and a drop in productivity. As well as a rise in expenditures such as fuel costs and job expenses.
Lack of Real-Time Field Service Management Data
For field service management tasks to run smoothly, data needs to be correct and regularly updated. This allows field workers to see what spare parts are available for jobs. As well as enabling managers to know the location of all staff when assigning jobs.
Who Benefits from Using Field Service Software?
Field Service Management Software is used to connect, assign, and dispatch workers in the most efficient way possible. The features found in an FSM solution allows it to be used by anyone working in the field service sector. Particularly those businesses that find themselves regularly moving from on-site to off-site locations. including:
- Energy providers
- Pest control
Field Service Software can also be utilised by numerous personnel within a business. It is used by managers, engineers, office staff, customers, and fleet managers.
Managers use it to assign workers to job sites. Office staff use it to provide customers with real-time location updates. Accounting teams use it for invoicing and payments. Field workers use it to access information such as resources and inventory updates.
Managers and Supervisors
Real-time tracking and speedy communication have propelled the efficiency of assigning jobs. Managers can assign workers in the proximity of a job request and schedule jobs with advanced warning. As well as dispatch their more qualified workers to a particular job. This helps to increase the chances of a first-time fix as well as improve customer service levels.
With the right FSM tools, on-site staff are easily able to connect with workers in the field. This helps to improve the collaboration between both teams and increase the speed of data input. Including hours logged, work order status, job completions, and payments processed.
Workers have access to a shared dashboard that provides them with real-time updates. Including job locations, inventory management, and work order details. This helps to accelerate job completions and ensures that each worker is prepared when going to a job. Without service management tools, workers are more reliant on office staff relayed job information. Resulting in a delay to job completions and unsatisfied customers.
Businesses have the option to share certain details regarding a job and their workers with their customers. This provides customers with real-time location updates to know exactly when a technician will be arriving.
What's the Difference Between FSM and Mobile Workforce Management?
Although often used interchangeably, the terms ‘mobile worker’ and ‘field worker’ are fundamentally different. A mobile worker is someone whose core job function does not take place on-site. Whereas a field worker is a mobile worker enlisted to deliver a type of service to a customer.
Understanding the difference between each type of worker is important. Especially when it comes to selecting the right tool. Field Service Management Software or mobile workforce management (MWM).
If a business intends to focus on improving the customer experience and in-field productivity, then mobile workforce management is the intended choice. Whereas, if they wish to improve installation and deployment tasks, field service management would be the best option.
How to Find the Best Field Service Management Software
Highlight Your Current Field Service Management Processes
The level of understanding of your current processes has a direct impact on how efficiently you choose and implement Field Service Management Software.
Whilst most field service managers have a visual image of their services, we highly recommend mapping out all your field service management processes and responsibilities. To have a greater understanding of the processes you’re responsible for, ask yourself:
- How do your customers log service requests?
- Are service requests converted into work orders for your field-based workers?
- How do you plan and schedule field jobs? Is it by priority, technical availability, spares availability, or completion time?
- How are you relaying information regarding your field service tasks to your field-based technicians and engineers?
- How do you know the status of each work order? Is it by the customer, job status, or billing?
- How does your office-based team process service requests and information?
To state the obvious, an FSM solution is only going to improve and automate your current field service process. Therefore, if you only have a loose understanding of your current field service processes, it will be difficult to envisage how Field Service Management Software is going to enhance your services.
Once you have identified your current field service process, the next step is to outline any gaps or challenges in activities. We recommend that you categorise these gaps into three groups:
Logical Service Management Gaps
- You may not be setting clear service level and completion expectations when requests are logged by customers. For example, most companies tend to set a completion time for their services. But, setting a shorter and more accurate first-time fix rate can result in greater customer satisfaction
- You may not be assigning technicians and engineers to the right job based on availability, availability of spare parts and inventory, expertise, and hourly rates
Informational Service Management Gaps
- You’re not collecting comprehensive information about the location of a job and your services
- You may not be collecting the identifiable unique asset identification number of assets that need to be serviced
Ease of Service Delivery Gaps
- You may not have a single data access point for your office-based employees and in-field workers. Instead, you’re providing information through email, on a mobile app, and a spreadsheet. Which can make life difficult for your service team
- A less structured approval process to start, progress, and complete service jobs
List Your Required Field Service, Workforce, and Commercial Outcomes
Being able to quantify the outcomes that you want from a field service management solution is beneficial for both you and your service teams. For instance, it can help you to:
- Amplify your confidence and clarity in buying a new tool
- Help you relay the outcomes of investing in a Field Service Management Software to your management
- Define milestones to monitor the deliverables of your FSM tool
Most leading field service businesses will set clear goals for their services and in-field workers. For example, if you receive 300 requests per month, your total service management costs will be £400,000. The average service time would be 90 minutes. But, with a field service management system in place, you may set a target to reduce your field service costs to £300,000. You may also want the average service time to come down to 60 minutes.
Setting Your Field Service Management Goals
|Field Service Management Parameters||Current System||Targets for New Field Service Management Software|
|Number of Service Requests Per Month||300||300|
|Service Cost Per Equipment||5.5% of the total equipment cost per annum||4 to 4.5% per annum|
|Equipment Life||6 Years||7.5 Years|
|Total Service Costs||£400,000||£300,000 to £320,000|
As you have decided to implement a new way of delivering your field services, we strongly recommend using this milestone in your team to understand what type of behavioural changes and team enhancements you need to focus on to amplify your service delivery.
Your team is going to exchange information differently with a field service management tool. They’re also going to communicate differently with a field service management system.
So, before embarking on any system changes, it is highly recommended that you have clarity on what level of training and coaching your field service team will require. Allowing employees and in-field workers to adapt to working with the new software.
Identify FSM Features Needed to Meet Your Service Management Requirements
All field service management tools will be packed full of various features and capabilities. But, there may be some features that you want to prioritise above others to reach your field service goals. Because of this, it’s useful to have clarity on both the generic and process level features that you want from your new solution.
Ideally, having an understanding of your current field service processes and the gaps you need to rectify should act as a foundation for the features you require. It’s also important to identify what your core requirements are. For example:
- What data do you plan to import data into your Field Service Management Software?
- Do you need to integrate your FSM software with an existing in-house tool?
- Do you need data feed from your accounts software or any external feed?
- Are you wanting to improve collaboration between in-office employees and in-field workers?
- Do you need to improve your work order and service request management?
Here’re some typical functions that field service managers and businesses require from a field service management tool:
Cloud-Based Service With Mobile Access for Technicians
Typically, cloud-based software refers to data being hosted on an external server that can be public, private, or a hybrid between the two. In this model, you rent the software and the space to hold your service data.
Most businesses opt for cloud-based software due to low upfront costs. This Software as a Service (SaaS) model allows you to access field service data at any time, anywhere, from a mobile device. This is crucial for allowing in-field workers and technicians to access data in real-time when on a job.
Most mobile field service engineers and teams have access to devices such as tablets, mobiles, and laptops. But, whilst the job and work order information is available on mobile devices, getting the balance right between information overload, concise information, and type ability/readability needs to be constantly revisited. Listed below are key parameters that you may want to consider when deciding on the features for your mobile service technicians:
- Job access on tablets, mobiles, and laptops
- Health and safety checks
- Job progress and completion features
- Spare parts traceability, return, and shipment
- Job completion reports
Easily Log Field Service Requests
How you log service requests depends on both the nature of your business and your customers. For example, consumer service requests tend to be volume-driven, with low-average service costs. With Business-to-Business (B2B) services, the level of information you need to capture to plan and schedule field services can be complex.
Here are a few conditions that are likely to help you define your service request features:
- Effectively organise service requests logged by customers
- Filter jobs logged by condition and time-based parameters
- Identify jobs logged due to service level agreements (SLAs)
- Identify jobs logged due to condition monitoring
- Being able to issue service certificates and reports
Planning and Scheduling Service Jobs
Here are a few typical service management conditions that allow you to define your features list:
- Jobs planning and scheduling by availability, expertise, and service type
- Calendar layout options to review plans and schedule
- Calendar options to book technicians based on availability and hourly rates
- Incorporating the availability of external technicians
- Planning based on spare parts availability
- Scheduling parts delivery
- Route planning
- Fleet management
Having Visibility and Control of Your Office-Based Teams
Service coordination, cooperation, audits, and inspections are just some of the key areas that office-based service teams lead. Here are some of the key tasks of office-based service teams that may help you to define your features list:
- Accessing service information and technician information
- Assigning and reassigning jobs
- Ordering spare parts
- Calendar scheduling
- Logging calls and service notes
Reporting, Analytics, and Work Order Management
Leading service teams leverage Field Service Management Software by using it as a common repository for their entire team. They set it up to capture and relay data effectively, then use the service data to draw insights and trends. Ultimately making transformational service level decisions on data.
Here are some of the typical areas that may help you to refine your service reporting requirements:
- Service incidents and status by each customer
- Job completion metrics by each technician
- Profitable service jobs
- Loss-making service calls
- Adherence to service level agreement
- Threshold ordering for parts
- Spare parts management
- Vehicle servicing management
Shortlist & Compare Field Service Management Software Options
Whilst most field service management tools look and feel the same, there are nuances in them that can make a big difference. For example, some systems will prioritise ease of logging service information, while some will focus more on mobile planning and scheduling.
We recommend reviewing the entire Field Service Management Software marketplace and shortlist at least five tools that match your core requirements.
Once you have your tools shortlisted, it’s then vital to develop a granular understanding of each system. Ask yourself:
- Does the product match your core requirements?
- Is the product used within your industry and would it be a good industry fit?
- Will it be easily implemented within your current workflow?
- Do your team, employees, and in-field workers need to be trained to use the system?
At this point, we recommend cross-referencing the deliverables you want from the tool with the price of the tool (use a budget calculator) and project the return on investment period.
Ideally, you’ll want to reach clear value statements. For example, you know that you can spend up to £23,000 per year on Field Service Management Software because it will save you £38,000 per year and you’ll recover your investment in nine months.
This type of clarified thinking helps to drive confidence and speed of decision making on purchasing and deployment.
Getting Buy-In from Decision-Makers
After you have seen an initial overview of each shortlisted system, you should then arrange an in-depth product demonstration for each field service tool.
It’s highly recommended that you collaborate, communicate, and involve all decision-makers during each product demo. Here are some key points that may help you to evaluate the fit with your requirements:
- Is the tool easy to use?
- Can the field service tool hold your data and replicate the desired service workflows with minimal training?
- Review each feature that you have listed from Step 4 during the demo
- How well is the service management system used in your industry?
As buying decisions are emotional, quantifying the logic to buy a tool that is going to be used in your organisation for the next three to five years is important.
Field Service Management Software is an automation factor to deliver your field service processes. It will amplify good data and well-thought-out processes. But if the data is not accurate and the processes are not well thought out, then it will just be another software tool that acts as a junk data collector.
Implementation, in many ways, is much more important than the solution you choose. A well-implemented, average service software will easily beat a poorly implemented, good service tool.
Key Factors to Consider When Purchasing an FSM Solution
Most field service software buyers make the mistake of not speaking with existing customers of their chosen software product. Speaking with a couple of customers is always recommended, as it can give you validation on the product, implementation and support.
Licensing conditions need to be clearly understood. If you are buying cloud-based software, you are renting the software and the space to hold your data. You’ll want to make sure you know what happens to your service data after you stop paying the rent, or what happens if you decide to switch software at a later stage.
Most UK-based products come with support included in the pricing, yet it might be an idea to cross-check support terms (technically known as a service level agreement) with the selected vendor.
If you are considering an open-source field service management product, you’ll have to have a clear understanding of how you are going to install the product, how you are going to configure it and how you are going to get support.
What Are The Best UK Field Service Management Software Products?
IFS Field Service Management Software
IFS Field Service Software offers a best-in-class service management system with capabilities that include work order management, spare parts management, service contract management, and more. IFS service software is a true end-to-end solution that improves business efficiency, ensuring fast response times and real-time reactivity.
MOST SUITABLE FOR
Organisations with 20+ Users
On-premise, Web-Based, SaaS, and Cloud-based
Clockwork IT Service Management Software
Clockwork IT offers a service management solution with powerful tools to help businesses take control of their service quotes, stock, and billing processes. Clockwork’s platform also provides strong mobile capabilities designed for field-based operatives to complete all ‘paperwork’ and compliance processes whilst on the job.
MOST SUITABLE FOR
Organisations with 10+ field-based operatives
On-premise and Web-Based
Totalmobile’s service management solution aims to drive improvement and increase control across all aspects related to the delivery of field-based services. By enabling service companies to manage upcoming tasks, schedule work, and collect data, Totalmobile aims to deliver a tool that improves both mobile workforce management and cloud-based job management.
MOST SUITABLE FOR
Organisations with 10+ field-based operatives
Infor Field Service and Workforce Management
Providing service management solutions for the public sector, hospitality, energy and gas, and consumer industries, Infro empowers field technicians with their data-driven approach. Infor Field Service Management Software delivers service-focused functionality and company-wide access to data with effective scheduling and dispatch tools, work order management, and warranty and claims management.
SimPRO delivers an all-in-one Field Service Management Software that provides next-level solutions for service jobs, project work, and maintenance. SimPRO service software's capabilities including job scheduling and inventory management that are aimed at field service teams in the electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and security industries.
MOST SUITABLE FOR
Organisations with 10+ field-based engineers or active contractors