Everyone knows that these days it’s crucial for field service businesses to have field service software. The days of spreadsheets and paper-based systems have gone—at least for businesses with ambitions to grow, and remain competitive.
But which field service software, in particular? Here, things aren’t so clear cut.
No two software solutions are identical, for a start. And no two field service businesses are identical, either.
Throw in the wide range of technology choices available today, and it’s clear that there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution that’s right for every field service business, in every instance.
So here’s our take on how to find the field service software that’s right for your business.
Analyse your needs
Don’t start by comparing and contrasting the offerings of a group of vendors. Start instead with a whiteboard, and a senior team drawn from within the business.
What do you actually need? Where are the pain points? What are competitors doing, that you can’t? What are customers asking for?
It’s questions like these that dictate your search—and not what field service software salespeople try to sell you.
Geared for growth
Now, ask a related set of questions, but look forward.
What’s the business’s strategy? How will it grow? Where will that growth come from? Where is the field service market going? What technologies will make difference, going forward?
The broad answers to such questions may be ‘fuzzy’, but they’ll tell you a lot about the size and required scalability of the sort of field service software system that you’re looking for.
Get up to speed
Surely it’s now time to start a dialogue with vendors? No, no, and no.
Instead, it’s time to start thinking about the broad trends that are shaping the field service industry, and the various concepts, technologies and buzzwords that field service business leaders are talking about.
So take time to check out conferences, visit industry blogs—for instance, Will the Internet of Things boost your Field Service business? —and keep up to date with trade magazines and websites.
In short, investing in a field service software system isn’t a casual decision: so take the time to get it right.
Vendor references and satisfaction ratings
Now, at last, it is time to talk to field service software vendors.
And, armed with what you now know about your requirements, those conversations will be shorter and fewer than would otherwise be the case. There will be vendors that you know you don’t want to talk to, and there will be a more focused conversation when you do talk.
Absolutely critical: a vendor’s customer references. So undertake site visits. Pick up the phone and talk to their customers. Consider attending a user group meeting.
What you’re checking is that the vendor has an active and supported user base, and that those users feel satisfied with the support and product development coming from the vendor in question.
Now, finally, it’s time to allow vendors a little room to show off their wares, and make their own cases as to why they’re different, or better—and, in short, why you should buy their particular field service software system.
At Kerridge Commercial Systems, for instance, we find that customers like our ’can do’ attitude. Plus the fact that when investing in a field service solution from us, they’re buying direct from the software’s authors—who are the same people who will be implementing it.
But your mileage may vary, as they say. Every customer is different, and no two businesses evaluate their software requirements in exactly the same way.
Even so, it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that these competitive differentiators are the icing on the cake, and not the cake itself.