If your company sends people out to service equipment or facilities, you need to maximize use of your available resources, and provide great service while also making a profit.
A well designed and properly implemented Field Service Management system can help accomplish that. While searching for the right Field Service Management system, your selection process should focus on the following 7 functional areas where Field Service Management (FSM) is most needed and will provide the greatest benefit.
1. Scheduling and Dispatching
Effectively scheduling service resources is the core function of a field service business. Scheduling and dispatching is the most important function of a field service management system – these features need to be the most robust and flexible part of the system. An ideal system can schedule emergency and short notice calls, along with regular and previously scheduled service calls. This minimizes travel time and distance while providing the quick response and schedule reliability that customers require. The system must integrate GPS technology and mapping to allow the scheduling team to see the impact of responding to emergency repaid calls and that helps them manage changing priorities.
The scheduling and dispatching functions should be integrated with customer history, customer equipment, prior repair, and maintenance requests as well as inventory management. This ensures that the right parts, equipment, and tools are dispatched with the technicians. That enables you to provide quality service with minimal delay.
2. Mobile Technology
To be fully useful, modern field service software must be mobile enabled. Using mobile technology helps field technicians stay up to date with changing schedules and keeps dispatchers up to date on job statuses. Mobile technology also allows technicians immediate access to customer equipment information, usage, and repair history either on site or on route to the site. Mobile technology makes the recording of time spent, parts used, history updates, and reporting for billing purposes instantaneous and more accurate.
A well-designed field service management system will work with standard mobile devices (i.e. smart phones and tablets) using existing cellular networks and leverage those devices. For example, leveraging the mobile device will allow those technicians to don’t like typing to use voice recording to record their notes to the job they are working.
Mobile devices should also be capable of real-time connection to the host system to display dispatching changes as well as displaying traffic information to provide the best route to the next customer site.
A well-designed field service management system will work with standard mobile devices… and leverage those devices.
3. Tracking Customer Equipment
Tracking equipment installed at the customer site as well as information about the equipment (i.e. serial number) along with the service history for that equipment helps make your service operations more efficient and effective. Service work can be linked to the equipment allowing maintenance and repair history to be tracked and reviewed. The maintenance history can also be used to support warranty claims for that equipment.
Equipment service history is a critical part of managing fixed assets. Equipment tracking and service history are important components of preventive and predictive maintenance. A supplier that helps its customers stay on top of certification and calibration of their equipment will help you stand apart from your competitors.
From the customer’s perspective, how do they feel when they call in and your service rep has their full equipment information and equipment maintenance history immediately available? You can help your customers keep their equipment running smoothly and reliably while making it easy for you and them in the process. This is the kind of relationship that makes you an important partner in the safe, effective and efficient operation of their equipment.
4. Inventory Management
Controlling and tracking inventory of tools and repair parts across multiple vehicles and warehouses is an important part of providing great service. Your system should help you determine the best inventory locations and quantities to hold to provide the best coverage at the lowest cost. Inventory can be deployed or relocated in conjunction with scheduling and dispatching to ensure your technicians have what they need, when they need it and where they need it. With integrated inventory and purchasing, replenishment orders can be shipped to a specific location and, when the parts arrive, the dispatcher can schedule the service appointment for installation.
5. Integration with Back-Office Systems
Integration with back-office systems like ERP and finance/accounting eliminates delays and errors from manual entries or re-keying data. When data entry on a mobile device in the field is integrated, billing is fast and accurate, there are good audit trails and activity history is maintained in one place. This unified database can be exploited for continuous improvements, making reporting easier and quicker. A unified database also makes it easier to create and maintain KPIs.
An integrated Field Service Management (FSM) solution and accounting keeps everyone on the same page by providing company-wide visibility to customer activities, inventory usage and status and equipment utilization. Billing and collection are timelier which improves your cash flow. Most importantly, financial records are complete, accurate and immediately updated as activities are completed.
6. Flexible Billing
Your field service software should not limit or impair your ability to create and process invoices to comply with the contracts and relationships you have with your customers. Your system should be able to assemble and process billing by project, for recurring revenue, by time and material for repairs, and be able to consolidate billing for multi-site clients or centralized payment situations.
Field Service Management (FSM) when integrated with enterprise resource planning (ERP)/accounting manages a wealth of data about equipment usage and performance and repair and maintenance activities as well as costs and revenue for labour, materials and equipment. It also stores data on warranty costs, customer relationships, and much more. Your software systems should give you the ability to leverage your data to create more value from your field service management system by analyzing the data and looking for patterns and intelligence. It should also cross-reference repair history with usage information, location, or design details to gain insight into the effectiveness of preventative maintenance. Instead of assembling this information you can spend your time leveraging the data to change policies, warranties, or advise customers to help them gain maximum value for their equipment investment.
The analytical capabilities available to you will be determined by the software you use. Regardless of the software, it’s effectiveness as a source of data to analyse will be determined by your ability to access the data and your ability to connect the data pieces into a unified whole. The ideal scenario is a database that is unified for you by a system that is fully integrated across both field service management and back-office with no redundancy. This is what a field service ERP system does for you.
In a field service business scheduling, dispatching, tracking customer equipment, managing inventory and accounting/back-office management can be greatly improved with the right technology. A well-designed and integrated field service ERP system is an essential tool for managing the service side of the business to control costs, deliver services efficiently, and keep customers happy.
If you would like to know more about how you can benefit from an integrated system, get in touch.