As our digital dependence grows stronger, businesses are becoming increasingly reliant on technology. However, from time to time, this technology can fail us — that’s where field service management comes into play.
Not all business assets are housed in the four walls of an office; some are widespread across the length and breadth of the country. Manned by a mobile workforce, field service management is a method of coordinating these remote operations and can include anything from scheduling service orders to dispatching engineers and tracking the progress of jobs.
In the past, this was a difficult task to manage through non-digital means. However, field service management software has revolutionised this. With the right software, all aspects can be controlled from one central platform.
However, as the future of field service management changes, what should we be looking for from our field management software? What are the stumbling blocks that many field service engineers face and how can the right software help to negate the issue?
Real-time stock monitoring
The issue: An engineer reaches the customer’s site and realises a replacement part is needed. In order to provide a realistic timeframe for the maintenance to be carried out, the engineer needs to have full awareness of available stock. If this isn’t possible, the engineer could commit to an unrealistic time frame which, once missed, will lead to customer dissatisfaction and negatively impact your business.
The solution: By giving field service engineers access to real-time stock information, this problem can be completely eradicated. An intuitive software system that can be accessed on the move and is connected to a stock inventory system takes the guesswork out of field service management, meaning realistic timescales can be given.
By offering full traceability for the entire stock inventory, you can ensure that your engineers have all of the equipment they need before they arrive, further reducing the impact inadequate stock can have.
Improved scheduling of engineers
The issue: Traditional scheduling doesn’t account for delays to tasks. An engineer may arrive at a site expecting to carry out maintenance within a given timeframe however, unforeseen issues can severely impact an engineer’s schedule. As a result, rescheduling tasks can be time-consuming and makes planning new service requests more difficult.
The solution: Intuitive field service management software provides a 360-degree view of all engineers’ workloads and current job statuses. GPS connectivity is essential from any software package in order to track the whereabouts of engineers. This means that should circumstances change and an engineer becomes delayed, a business can react and put resources in place to ensure service windows are met.
Enabling predictive maintenance
The issue: Problems can happen at any time, especially when you least expect them. Scheduled maintenance provides regular check-ups for machinery and equipment, yet does not consider the gaps in-between, where external factors like usage, equipment age and production schedules could have an impact.
The solution: Using a field service management software system, you can automate regular preventative work. Once a certain milestone is hit — such as age, for example—preventative maintenance can be carried out to stop problems from taking effect and impacting your business.
The issue: An engineer arrives at a site and carries out the necessary maintenance work. With paperwork needed to be signed and filed at the office, there is a delay in revenue realisation. This can lead to an inaccurate view of finances within your business, potentially impacting business decisions.
The solution: Field service management software eliminates the need for paperwork, eradicating delays. Through their mobile devices, field engineers can close jobs and end the invoice cycle in real time. For the business, this offers big benefits, resulting in cash realisation and accelerated cash flow.
The must-haves: essential features of field service management software
Of course, there are some ever-present concerns that will also have an influence on what you look for from field service management software. As well as the above, here are the essentials to look for:
- Security: A priority for every business, your software contains sensitive information about your business, engineers and your clients, so it should be fully secure.
- Mobile use: Your engineers will be using the software on the move, so it should be fully functional across mobile devices. Is it easy to use on a smartphone or tablet? Is there a dedicated mobile solution, like an app for example?
- Compatibility: Tying in to mobile use, the software you invest in should be compatible with your existing hardware. Buy a package that isn’t suitable for your tablet and smartphone operating systems, and you could be forced to by new hardware that is — a cost any business would like to avoid.
- Scalability: Your business may have 50 staff now, but how many will it have in the future? As you grow, so should your software. To avoid additional expense and the effort associated with switching platforms further down the line, choose a flexible solution that can expand with your business.
- Ease of use: If software is difficult to use, employees will disengage and your business will suffer. Choose a software package with a clear, easy-to-use user interface to maximise usability and minimise the time needed for training.
Kerridge Commercial Systems is home to K8 Field Service, our unique software solution that helps you coordinate your business processes and maximise performance.
How do you find the field service software that’s right for your business? In our experience here are 5 of the best tips: 5 tips for finding the field service software that’s right for your business