Field Service Management – An Overview
For the majority of organisations, efficiently managing a team of field technicians is a complex task, involving many variables which need to be logged, tracked, monitored and controlled. This can be immensely time-consuming, whilst there is wide scope for miscommunication, delays and the provision of incomplete or incorrect information.
To respond to these challenges a range of technological solutions have been developed to automate the field operations of service professionals through mobile systems, which has quickly grown into a very large industry , with the market for such software solutions estimated to be worth US $3.5 billion by 2019.
In essence, Field Service Management (FSM) is simply any system designed to keep track of the various components of field operations – typically inventory management, vehicle tracking, scheduling, customer portals and more. Management of these components is usually controlled through a cloud-based portal that can be accessed from mobile devices whilst field technicians are on the job.
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The 10 most popular FSM solutions
1. ProntoForms is a mobile workflow solution used to collect, receive and submit data in the field. The ProntoForms App is used across many diverse industries, including Construction, Oil & Gas, HVAC, Electrical and Transport.
Available for smartphones and tablets, ProntoForm incorporates a mobile device app and a web-managed portal to manage teams and data flow. It also allows data to be exported to the back office or uploaded to cloud services.
Within the mobile app, field agents can fill out and submit invoices, work orders and signatures. Remote users can choose from pre-prepared templates from the program’s form library, or they can create their own with a customisable form. Barcodes, time stamps, photos and signatures can be included in any form, providing data to anyone accessing a document.
2. HouseCallPro is a cloud-based field services management tool which allows professionals to automate their workflow, and is typically used in the cleaning, plumbing, electrical and HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning) Industries. The solution is currently only available in the US and Canada.
The software offers features like job scheduling, dispatch, payment processing, estimates, automated invoicing and receipts, as well as a company chat facility.
Via the HouseCall mobile app, customers can book services, communicate through a centralised messaging system, and make payments.
3. Jobber is a cloud-based field service solution, featuring scheduling, invoicing, a client database, quotes and more. It is designed for small to medium-sized businesses.
With the scheduling mode, users are able to update jobs in real-time, and set-up individual jobs, or recurrent contracts, and assign employees to a single job. Drag-and- drop functionality is employed to move appointments, whilst invoices are sent automatically via email with built-in follow-up. The solution partners with electronic payment apps like Stripe for all its transactions.
The CRM module tracks contact information, and users can create custom fields, tags, attach files and more. Jobber links multiple properties under one account which is connected back to the work and billing history.
4. mHelpDesk is a field services solution which organises and manages service requests, billing, reports, and customer relationships.
The software is entirely cloud-based which means field technicians can access all the information they need about a job from their mobile device. It also provides visibility into staff scheduling, helping to dispatch and alert field staff.
mHelpDesk has a range of features to support a field-service orientated business, including integration with QuickBooks. It can also be deployed in offline mode so technicians can continue to use it when working in remote areas without internet or mobile phone access.
Work orders are fully customisable, so organisations can adapt templates to their needs. The software also integrates with company websites.
5. GeoOp is cloud-based job management software for trades and services. It allows companies to produce online job sheets, schedule staff and issue invoices remotely, and on the move.
The solution offers easy management of operations, which gives businesses the ability to oversee field employees as if they were in the office. Updates are in real-time, so that supervisors can easily keep track of the status of each assigned job.
Key features of the software include real-time job scheduling, job quoting, GPS tracking of staff and resources, invoicing and billing, and job templates and reporting.
In essence, GeoOp is an app that follows a field service worker every stage of their process, logging time and capturing it in billable hours. This makes the entire process of dispatching and billing for jobs easier, increasing productivity and avoiding error.
6. Fleetmatics is a cloud-based service solution that allows users to organise schedules, manage and track job progress, and oversee the dispatching process.
Office and field workers can receive job information and updates on mobile devices. Schedules, invoices, quotes, customer information and more can be stored in the software’s database, whilst users drag-and-drop unassigned jobs to their calendar.
Customer details can all be viewed in one location, and users can add multiple contact details, site locations, documents, images and log phone calls for each client.
Fleetmatics offers a mobile app for Android and iOS, and integrates with a number of accounting packages.
7. IFS Field Service Management provides tools that cover the entire field service lifecycle, with standard functionality like CRM (Customer Relationship Management), scheduling, mobile service, contract pricing, warranty repairs, and parts management. The solution is available on premise or in the cloud, and is configurable. It is typically used in industries like medical equipment, high tech and telecoms.
The field service module creates a closed-loop service process, with real-time dispatching and scheduling, with workers in the field accessing critical data through their mobile devices. Users can handle claim recovery and renewals, as well as manage inventory.
8. Service Autopilot is a cloud-based field service solution specifically designed for lawn care, landscape maintenance, cleaning and snow removal companies. It features client and lead management, scheduling and dispatching, routing and mapping, mobile field access, and more.
With Server Autopilot, companies can schedule and dispatch teams with a single technician or a larger crew. They can create services, assign them to teams, and design service routes. The automatic invoicing facility, meanwhile allows them to send invoices to multiple recipients.
The solution also provides cloud storage for remote data access. Additional features include time tracking and time cards, dashboards and asset tracking.
9. Teletrac Navman is a cloud-based fleet management tool accessible on connected mobile devices and used by both small and enterprise organisations. Industries served by the software include trucking, construction and government.
The solution includes a range of functionality, such as data analytics, location tracking, communication and compliance. Key features include two-way driver-dispatcher messaging, customisable control panels, electronic driver logs, safety analytics, and vehicle diagnostics.
10. Service Titan is a cloud-based field management platform designed for HVAC, plumbing and electrical home service businesses, offering scheduling, dispatch, invoicing, sales and more. The solution, in addition, offers marketing ROI (Return on Investment) and conversion tracking functionality, which links every service request call to an eventual sale or missed opportunity. There is also a mobile solution for field workers, which allows them to make visual sales presentations, and process invoices and credit card payments instantly.
Other features include custom reporting, call recording, text messaging, and dashboards.
The system can be deployed on multiple platforms, and there is a mobile app for Android and iOS.
Choosing the best Field Management Software
Field Management software is really an umbrella term for a wide range of solutions and programs which are aimed either at the entire field service operation and integrate with wider customer service programs, or those which are designed to address specific process, or with particular industries in mind.
It is, therefore, important to determine the field service needs of your company and industry before deciding on an appropriate software package, and buyers should, in any case, insist on a free trial and product demo before deploying any software solution out in the field.
Types of Field Service Management Software
There are three popular types of Field Management Software.
Standalone solutions – as the name implies, these are standalone solutions covering one or more elements of field management, such as dispatch, fleet management, or workflow optimisation;
End-to-end suites – these provide an entire suite of solutions covering the whole gamut of field service operations; and
Field mobility solutions – designed for small or medium-sized companies, or with specific types of business in mind.
Field Management software solutions allow organisations to manage and keep track of what can be a complex set of field operations, involving staff, vehicles, and other resources, often spread across multiple locations. Typically such solutions are controlled through a cloud-based portal which can be accessed from mobile devices, allowing technicians in the field to stay in touch with their home office, and with each other.
Such systems have a number of tangible benefits for organisations. They help increase customer satisfaction by smarter scheduling and planning of field visits, not only ensuring field staff turn up at a convenient time, but also that they have the right parts or tools needed to do a job. Scheduling costs are reduced, because available time is better deployed, with fewer gaps and overlaps, whilst inventory costs are reduced, because parts management is better controlled. In addition, there can be substantial financial benefits, in terms of lower fuel costs, from route planning.