Use our 9-step framework to find the best Field Service Management Software (FSM):
- Map out your current field service management processes.
- Define service level, operational level and commercial outcomes that your field service management needs to deliver.
- Identify what level of behavioural changes and team enhancements you need for introducing a new way of field service management.
- Make a list of features and capabilities you want from your field service management software.
- Research different FSM tools – shortlist for features, price and industry fit. Use information from Step 2 and Step 4 to calculate your budget and ROI of your FSM.
- Collaborate, communicate and involve users, decision makers, sceptics and your management at every step (an example of this could be arranging product demos).
- Discuss your implementation plan in depth; both internally and with your shortlisted vendors.
- Speak with existing customers of your chosen product.
- Check licensing conditions thoroughly before you buy the software.
1. Map out your current field service management processes.
Whilst most field service managers have a visual image of their field service processes, we highly recommend mapping out all existing field service management processes. Here are some of the key service areas that we recommend mapping:
- How do your customers log service requests?
- How are the service requests converted to jobs for your field service team?
- How do you currently plan and schedule field jobs? Is it by priority, technical availability, spares availability, or completion time?
- How are you relaying information about your field service jobs to your field based technicians?
- How do you know the status of each service request? Is it by customer, job status, or billing?
- How does your office based team process service requests and information?
The level of understanding of your current processes has a direct impact on how efficiently you choose and implement your field service management software.
Once you map out your current field service process, the next step is to outline the gaps in your service processes. We recommend that you categorise your service gaps into:
- Logical Service Management Gaps.
Not setting clear service level and completion expectations when service requests are logged by your customers. For example, most companies may tend to give a long range for a service’s completion time. But, the shorter and more accurate the projected service completion time, the better it is for the end customer
Not having a single service (and job) assignment factor which is made up of technician availability, spares availability, expertise and hourly rates
- Informational Service Management Gaps.
Not collecting comprehensive information about the service location
Not collecting the identifiable unique asset identification number of assets that need to be serviced
- Ease of Service Delivery Gaps.
Providing some information via email, some on the mobile app and some on a spreadsheet can make life a little more difficult for your service team
Less structured approval process to start, progress and complete service jobs
Top Tip: It’s useful to produce a table of all your current field service gaps.
2. Define Service Level, Operational Level and Commercial Outcomes that your Field Service Management Needs to Deliver.
Quantifying the outcomes that you want from a field service tool will 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 field service management software.
- Leading service teams set clear field service goals. For example, if you receive 300 field service 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, you may set a target to reduce your field service costs to between £300,000 and £320,000. You may also want the average service time to come down to between 60 and 75 minutes.
Example of Targets for Your New Field Service Management Software.
|Field Service Management Parameters||Current System||Targets for the 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|
3. Identify what level of behavioural changes and team enhancements you need for introducing a new way of field service management.
As you may very quickly realise, the gaps analysis from the first step cannot just be solved with a new field service management software.
As you have decided to implement a new way of delivering your field service, we strongly recommend to use this milestone in your team to understand what type of behavioural changes and team enhancements you need to focus on in order to amplify your field service delivery.
Your team is going to exchange information differently with a field service management software. 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, so that they can adapt to working with the new software.
4. Make a list of features and capabilities you want from your field service management software.
It is useful to have clarity on generic and process level features that you want from your new system. Your understanding of your current processes (from Step 1) and the gaps you have should act as a foundation for your features and capabilities requirements.
Below is a list of common features and capabilities that may be handy for you to develop your list:
1. Import Functions.
- How are you going to import data into your field service management software?.
- Do you need to integrate your field service software with an existing in-house system?
- Do you need data feed from your accounts software or any external feed?
- How often do you need to import data?
2. Cloud-based, Web-based or On-premise Field Service Management System
A cloud-based tool is where the data is 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 a cloud-based software due to low upfront costs. The Software as a Service (SaaS) model allows you to access field service data from any device, anywhere.
A web-based software can be installed on a cloud model or on your own servers and is accessible through the web
On-premise systems are installed on your own servers. This architecture is mostly preferred over a web-based model for its extra security features
3. Logging Field Service Requests.
How you log service requests depends on the nature of your business and your customers. For example, consumer service requests tend to be volume-driven, low-average service costs. With B2B services, the level of information you need to capture in order 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:
- Service jobs logged by customers.
- Jobs logged by condition and time-based parameters.
- Jobs logged due to a service level agreement.
- Jobs logged due to condition monitoring.
- Issuing service certificates and reports.
4.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 availability of external technicians.
- Planning based on spare parts availability.
- Scheduling parts delivery.
- Route planning.
- Fleet management.
5.Mobile Access for Your Mobile Technicians.
Most mobile teams have access to tablets, mobiles and laptops. Whilst the job 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.
- Job start eligibility criteria.
- Job health and safety checks.
- Job progress and completion features.
- Spare parts traceability, return and shipment.
- Job completion reports.
6.Visibility and Control Features for 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.
7.Service Status, Service Reporting and Analytics.
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 information 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 which 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.
5. Research different FSM tools: Shortlist for features, price and industry fit. Use information from Step 2 and Step 4 to calculate your budget and ROI of your FSM.
Whilst most field service management software looks and feels the same, there are nuances in them that can make a big difference. Some systems prioritise ease of logging service information, while some focus on mobile information and scheduling. We recommend reviewing the entire marketplace and shortlist at least five tools that match your field service requirements.
Once you have the tools shortlisted, it is vital to develop granular understanding of each system. Fitting with your requirements, industry, workflow and team requires a fair amount of time to be spent researching each product.
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.
6. Collaborate, Communicate and Involve users, Decision Makers, Sceptics and Your Management at Product Demo
After you have seen an initial overview of each shortlisted system, you should then arrange an in-depth product demo for each field service tool.
It is highly recommended to collaborate, communicate and involve users, sceptics, management and decision makers during the 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?.
- It is highly recommended to score your observations, too. 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.
7. Discuss your implementation plan in depth; both internally and with your shortlisted vendors.
As mentioned earlier, 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 tool. A well implemented, average service software will easily beat a poorly implemented, good service software.
From data import to fields on the screen, we recommend that you have a clear implementation plan and discuss it with each one of your shortlisted vendors. Always factor in 20% contingency for implementation changes, too. Data import, system setup, changes in the system, moving implementing milestones, delivery, trials and go-live are just some of the variables that may cause delay or change of plan.
8. Speak with existing customers of your chosen product.
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 a validation on the product, implementation and support.
9. Check licensing conditions thoroughly before you buy the software.
Licensing conditions need to be clearly understood. If you are buying a 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 about how you are going to install the product, how you are going to configure it and how you are going to get support.