If you’re looking for better ways to manage your company’s field workers but aren’t sure where to start - this guide’s for you. It provides an overview of the challenges posed by field service management and the ways digital software is helping to tackle them - creating smarter, safer and more efficient businesses.
What you'll learn:
- What is Field Service Management?
- Tips for effective field service management
- How to measure the effectiveness of your field service operations?
- What is field service management software?
What is field service management (FSM)?
It refers to any kind of system that’s used to handle the off-site management of company resources. Typically, this will be the delivery of products and services to, or en-route to, customer and client locations.
It covers all of the tasks, responsibilities and activities that are involved in managing these operations - from job scheduling and dispatching to safety compliance and back-office administration.
Field service management is found within a wide variety of different industry sectors. Some common examples include:
- Highways - road maintenance and repairs
- Healthcare - provision of in-home care
- Telecommunications - installation and repair of cabling
- Utilities - maintenance and repair of infrastructure
- Engineering - on-site inspections, maintenance and repair
With more organisations starting to use software to handle their workforce, Field Service Management (FSM) has also started to be commonly used to refer to the digital systems themselves.
Tips for effective field service management
While field service management occurs in a wide array of different industries, the fundamental challenges it poses are the same.
There are a core set of requirements that all field service operations must tackle in order to deliver effective management. These can be categorised as:
Good communication is the keystone of field service management. Without having access to accurate information on where field workers are or what they’re doing - you can’t effectively manage them.
It’s a particular problem when traditional methods are used to send messages to remote teams of workers - via paperwork, texts and calls. It creates an inherently slow, inefficient and error prone way of working.
Digital technology is playing a vital role in transforming FSM communications with cloud-based software, smartphone apps and GPS tracking providing the ability to instantly access and share information.
The constant development of more efficient, reliable and cost effective ways to manage field services creates an unprecedented level of choice for managers. The challenge is to choose the right combination of systems, tools and processes for your organisation.
This means identify the areas of operations which stand to benefit most from improved communications. A good starting point for this is to review any paper-based or manual processes that are still in place.
Digital solutions range from complete workforce management systems to the use of cloud-based services such as Google Docs. The benefits provided are improved communications and real-time handling of data.
How do you keep track of how things are going when work activities are taking place remotely? It’s a basic challenge that’s posed by field service management.
You need to find effective ways to identify problems and to track the performance of your workforce. It’s an area where digital systems have become essential tools - generating accurate, real-time activity data.
With access to accurate information, issues can be spotted quickly, before they’re allowed to turn into costly problems. It allows achievable performance targets to be set for individuals, teams and departments.
The true test of any field management operation is how well it copes when things go wrong. How easily can systems and processes handle the inevitable delays, errors, cancellations and complaints?
Creating a reactive and adaptive operation requires good communications, robust organisational structures and a workforce that’s trained to handle a range of operational eventualities.
Real-time digital communications and cloud-based services are the ideal tools for improved flexibility, allowing managers to access the information they need to make smart decisions.
How to measure the effectiveness of your field service operations?
The move to digital processes has opened up a host of ways to track operational performance.
Access to this kind of data allows KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to be identified. These are the important datasets for your business - the stats that reveal whether you’re achieving your management objectives.
By establishing KPIs, performance can be monitored, problems can be identified and realistic targets can be set. It also provides the accurate information that’s essential for making informed management decisions.
You can read the KPIs for operations management here.
What is field service management software?
This covers any kind of digital system that has been designed to help an organisation to deliver mobile services. FSM software uses digital connectivity to provide a faster, more efficient alternative to traditional paper-based ways of working.
Instead of paperwork having to be physically handled, information can be instantly shared via cloud-based systems, smartphone apps and handheld devices. This provides improved communications and streamlined management processes.
Software and applications are available to cover every aspect of field service management but some typical uses include:
- Work order management
- Safety compliance
- Dispatch and scheduling
- Inventory management
- Fleet tracking
- Customer relationship management
- Client invoicing
Cloud-based management software provide the benefits of real-time communications and data handling. They often combine the use of a smartphone app with GPS tracking functions to allow the status and movement of employees and assets to be monitored.
The benefits of a software solution
The main benefits provided by a software solution when compared to traditional field service management approaches are:
The ability to access and share job information instantly provides benefits throughout operations, typically reducing processing times by 25 percent.
The combination of cloud-based systems and BYOD policies minimises the amount of infrastructure that’s required.
Improved service delivery, simpler systems and access to performance tracking data help boost customer satisfaction levels.
Real-time checks, alerts and policy notifications help to ensure correct safety protocols are adhered to.