Field service management covers such a wide range of different industries and types of organisations.
But whether it’s a small property management firm or a major highways maintenance company, the key management challenges remain the same.
The fundamental problem that’s facing all field service managers is communication. How do you effectively manage and monitor teams of field workers when you’re locationally separated from them?
While digital technology has been a game changer, many field service systems and processes are still reliant on traditional manual and paper-based ways to share job information - paperwork, printouts, spreadsheets, phone calls and texts.
This creates slow, error prone and inflexible work operations which can harm productivity and stifle a manager’s ability to effectively monitor and control the activities of their employees.
Common issues with field service management:
- Last minute changes cause chaos
- Problems are discovered after it's too late
- Missing, incomplete and inaccurate paperwork
- Reporting tasks are prohibitively time consuming
- Company growth causes increased inefficiencies
Last minute changes cause chaos
The true test of any management system is how well it copes when things go wrong. It could be a client cancelling a job at the very last minute or a field worker having to abandon their scheduled tasks due to ill-health.
Without good business communications, any kind of unexpected change to a work schedule has the power to create organisational havoc. Managers are left trying to keep multiple parties informed about rearranged schedules and orders.
Problems are discovered after it’s too late
A common problem with field service management is an inability to identify issues and weaknesses until they have turned into a costly problem. This could be poor service which leads to the loss of a client or a health and safety lapse that results in an accident.
It’s a symptom of poor communications and not having access to the accurate data that’s required to monitor the performance and efficiency of mobile workers. Issues which could be easily resolved if spotted early, are allowed to fester unseen.
Missing, incomplete and inaccurate paperwork
As a company grows, so does the administrative challenge of having to handle an increasing volume of paperwork - forms, worksheets and schedules. With field workers and back-office staff under pressure to meet tight deadlines, accurate paperwork is a commonplace casualty.
It’s the cause of a multitude of problems as documents get lost, forms go unfilled and errors are made as large amounts of information have to be manually transferred across a field service operation.
Reporting tasks are prohibitively time consuming
How well is a particular team or department performing? Which areas of an operation are blocking efficiency? This is the kind of critical management information that’s provided by reporting tools.
But accessing this kind of information becomes a painstakingly slow process when the information is scattered across a business and has to be manually collated. It means only the most basic performance reports are possible.
Company growth causes increased inefficiencies
Any system weaknesses are liable to be ruthlessly exposed as an organisation grows in size and administrative complexity. These growing pains are a particular problem with any kind of manual or paper-based processes.
Rigid work structures which lack scalability will become increasingly strained as a field service company grows. A mount administrative workload can stifle productivity, reduce worker morale and increase customer complaints.
If any of these issues seem familiar, it’s time to review your management processes and to explore the various ways that digital technology could improve your business communications.
Cloud-based management of data, real-time communications, smartphones and GPS tracking have virtually eliminated the need for any field service company to be reliant on paper-based processes.
You can find an overview of the ways in which technology is helping to unlock faster, safer and more effective ways to manage field workers here: