What is field service management?
Field Service Management (FSM) is the process of organising and improving operations done outside of your business and in the proverbial field.
The broad goal of FSM is to keep track of an organisation’s resources – it’s specialised field workers and assets, coordinate works and dispatch services efficiently to clients.
Easier said than done, FSM is a challenging business area that requires clear communication, effective digital tools and tight coordination to deliver responsive and expert services to customers.
Of course, the secret sauce of any effective field service management is software that helps to automate processes and optimise works.
It’s a deep topic and can look entirely different in specific contexts – but if you need to understand the core ideas, challenges and solutions in the FSM space, look no further.
What work does field service management coordinate?
FSM typically refers to work done by engineers and technicians, but a wider definition might take in delivery drivers, home visits by healthcare providers and waste collection.
Remember, the key thing with FSM is that your employees are out in the world, whether that field is a busy office site in London that desperately needs the heating repaired or you’re making a routine legionella inspection at a hospital.
Activities that need managing in FSM can be categorised under the following:
Scheduling – planning jobs, both well in advance and in the short-term, factoring in expected time to completion.
Dispatch – ensuring employees know when and where they are going to carry out jobs.
Work Orders – tracking client requests through from creation to completion and invoicing.
Inventory Management – keeping track of assets, parts and supplies provided to customers or used by your employees.
Contract Management – managing customer relationships and ensuring Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are met.
Why is field service management challenging?
The challenges faced in field service management are varied: like all industries in the UK, FSM is facing rising costs and supply chain issues, but more sector specific problems include employee retention and digital transformation.
Coordinating works, dispatch and inventories, all while managing customer relations, is no easy task, and scheduling conflicts, miscommunication and wasteful return trips can quickly turn into high costs and leave customers frustrated.
What is field service management software?
FSM software helps businesses to manage their work, tracking jobs, monitoring assets and evaluating efficiency and effectiveness.
Ideally, this will be done with just one or two systems, because for such a complex environment, it’s critical to have cohesive, end-to-end solutions that make data visible, understandable and actionable.
If your software obscures the picture, it’s probably hurting more than it’s helping.
There are three main kinds of software used in FSM:
1. Mobile Field Service Management software (FSM)
Combining mobile capabilities with the cloud provides real-time communication between field workers and your management team. Using a smart application, your field teams can ensure they follow processes correctly and supply data ranging from free text to photographs to prove works.
2. Enterprise Asset Management software (EAM)
By centralising asset information it’s possible to maximise the use of assets, increase their productive uptime and reduce their operational costs. Typically, most companies have a system for this, but very few take advantage of mobile technology to put this asset data in the hands of field workers.
Integrating your EAM with a mobile first front-end can make this data accessible and easy to update with new information.
More flexible mobile-first FSM systems can tie jobs to assets. For example, scanning a QR code attached to a floor cleaner could bring up a job that ensures the asset refilled with water, that there is enough soap and that it was put back in the right place.
Alternatively, if there is one specific task the asset is used for, scanning the QR code could bring up the relevant task immediately – such as a standard inspection for an air conditioning unit.
3. Inventory management system
This kind of software helps you to keep track of inventory like your stock consumables, uniforms and equipment. Ideally, the system should be able to automate the reordering process, and provide an accurate, granular view of inventory performance.
How software benefits field service management
Digital Transformation is key, because the increasing complexity of operations and service needs requires a robust tech stack.
Crucially, to maximise the benefits of FSM, you need software that’s mobile first, can be integrated with your other key systems, and is user friendly enough that it upskills their efforts rather than getting in the way.
Here are just a few of the key benefits of FSM software:
Reduced Admin Burden
FSM software automates many otherwise time-consuming processes like producing regular reports, scheduling works, chasing jobs and ordering new parts or inventory stock. This gives everyone more time to focus on solving issues, analysing performance and managing customer relations.
Better Safety and Compliance
Ensure safety by providing field workers with quick, centralised access to essential documentation and safety protocols through an FSM mobile app.
This also helps with your compliance record by asking for data on best practice inside workflows and providing a full electronic audit trail when something does go wrong.
More efficient works
Cut down on the number of trips made by your workers with automatic parts ordering and the ability to upload data via the cloud. Resolve issues faster with more accessible customer and asset information.
Competitive Customer Service
A high first-time fix rate is traditionally the key indicator of customer satisfaction, and FSM software increases the probability of this metric significantly. This also reduces the chance of service fines, as it gives a joined-up approach to meeting SLAs that also increases asset uptime and maximises the use of field teams.
Finally, it’s worth noting that this approach gives you detailed operations data that can strongly influence customers, not just by showing what you did well, but by honestly explaining where things can be improved. It demonstrates the depth of your thinking about the service and encourages customers to articulate what they want and where they would like resources to be deployed.