Customers are unhappy, your team is on edge, maybe even the profits have taken a turn for the worst. You’re up all night sorting through paperwork and on the phone all day trying to figure out schedules and appointments. Simply put, your current methods are no longer cutting it. It’s time to start looking for a new field service software.
And while we say simply put, we know it’s not really that simple. Implementing a new software is a big decision. It’ll either make your day to day a breeze or be yet another pain point–because picking a software that doesn’t match your workflow won’t be sustainable as your business grows. So how do you find a system that’s right for you?
A great place to start is deciding which type of field software you’ll deploy: On premise or cloud based. Both have their pros and cons, and we’re here to help highlight them for you. We’ve broken it down by the three key features your new software should have and their functionality within both systems. Skip to what matters most to you:
It’s easy to throw around the terms “cloud based” or “on premise,” but maybe not as easy to define them. Software is just software, right? While it’s true in a sense, the way these systems handle everyday functions varies. Having a clear definition of their capabilities is important when deciding which is right for your business.
So let’s break it it down:
On premise software definition
On premise means your field service software will be installed directly onto the device (or devices) of your choosing. Typically, the software can only be installed onto computers and not mobile devices like phones or tablets. To use the system your team will need access to these computers, which are normally in your office space.
Cloud software definition
Comparatively, cloud software is hosted on a server. It can be accessed through the Internet, meaning as long as there is a connection, it can be used on multiple devices at any location. Updates to the system can be made while in the office (on a desktop or laptop) or while in the field (on a mobile device such as a tablet or a phone).
Now that those formalities are out of the way, we can dive into their pros and cons. There are three basic, yet essential, steps to every field service job:
Completing the work
It’s key to understand the differences in functionality between a cloud based and on premise system when it comes to these three steps. Knowing the workflow for each will help establish which type of software is best for your field service business, so let’s start our evaluation!
2. Scheduling services with cloud or on premise software
First impressions matter, and booking a service is the first interaction most clients will have with your business. When a customer calls into your office in need of a job, they’ll most likely need it sooner than later.
Maybe a sink is leaking, an air conditioner has malfunctioned, or a fire alarm is going off. Whatever it is, these jobs will need to be dispatched quickly. Your system should make this process simple and quick to ensure customer satisfaction and admin efficiency.
Scheduling with on premise software:
For reactive jobs like these, on premise software allows you to enter information into the office calendar, but not necessarily into the technician’s schedules while they’re in the field. Since these systems are typically only accessible on desktops, new jobs entered will not automatically sync to a tech’s mobile device.
Therefore, to confirm a job there most likely will have to be calls made back and forth between the office, the field, and the customer. This can be time consuming for your administrative team and delay customers from being serviced quickly.
If a client is left waiting 20 minutes for an appointment confirmation, it gives them plenty of time to reach out to a competitor who can schedule them in immediately. Not only has your team lost time, but also a potential client.
Comparatively, cloud based software will allow for the desktop and the technician’s mobile calendar to be updated in real time. When a customer calls in for a job it can immediately be dispatched to a tech in the field. They should have the option to accept or decline the job, letting the office know right away if the appointment is confirmed.
This cuts the back and forth communications that on premise software would require. In some cases, on premise systems may offer a third party solution for mobile access, but this is typically more costly than a cloud based solution. The latter generally includes their app within the pricing of the software.
A cloud based system will streamline scheduling from the office to the field. It’s more likely to give a comprehensive overview of everyone’s calendar, which ultimately helps alleviate friction between the team and ensures customers have their services confirmed straightaway.
3. Completing job sheets with cloud or on premise software
Another key consideration when deciding between cloud or on premise software is how your team will adapt to it. Your technicians are the ones completing the jobs that drive revenue, so their process should be as simple as possible.
Remember, software is meant to make life easier–not more burdensome. If your field team is frustrated with how many steps it takes to complete a job, it may affect their productivity. Or if the system’s interface isn’t user friendly enough for them it can lead to costly mistakes. Therefore, make sure the system you pick is the right fit for your business as well as the people who will use it daily.
Filling job sheets with on premise software:
The name says it all–on premise software is meant to be used, well, on premise. This can be challenging for technicians in the field, who will either have to fill out paper sheets or keep track of everything in a spreadsheet.
Paper always poses the problem of getting lost or misplaced. If your techs are completing 6 jobs in a day, that’s at least 30 sheets they’re carrying around weekly. If one gets left behind along the way or placed into the wrong folder it can cause a major headache down the line.
A digital job sheet kept in Excel is a better option, but what happens if the technician misses a box or leaves out important information? A mistake like this may require a second visit to the job site–which isn’t a good look.
Paper sheets and digital documents will also need to be re-entered into your software since the information does not sync from the field to the office. And this can add up to a significant amount of data entry. If there are 30 job sheets a week and it takes 10 minutes to re-enter each one into your on premise system, that’s5 hours of administrative work weekly.
In that time yourtechnicians could potentially be completing 2 to 3 additional jobs, but instead they’ll be traveling back to the office and retyping their work orders.
Filling job sheets with cloud based software:
Since cloud based software can be used on mobile devices, technicians can fill out job sheets in the system while onsite. Most of these software allow you to build custom forms for techs to complete, and you can make fields mandatory to ensure no information is ever left out.
Since everything is put into the software straightaway, there is no additional data entry. Once your techs finish a job they can immediately head to the next–never having to worry about returning to the office. Instead those forms will directly sync back for invoicing, saving your admin time and trouble as well.
However, it is important that your cloud based software has a mobile app that works both off and online. Otherwise, if your techs don’t have connectivity (perhaps they’re working in a remote area), they’ll run the risk of losing the information they typed up. They may even have to sit and wait until they can regain connection for the information to upload back to the office. This can be a major time burden and delay them from maintaining their schedules–which can be costly for profits and client relationships.
4. Invoicing after the job has been completed
When we hear from field service companies that their profits aren’t where they want them to be, it’s usually because of invoicing problems. They might take too long to send invoices to clients, or in some cases just completely miss sending them out altogether.
Having software that streamlines invoicing is essential, and while it might not be the most exciting task, it’s crucial for your business’s success.
Invoicing with on premise software:
On premise software generally offers more customization than cloud based systems when it comes to invoicing. Many even offer their own accounting capabilities. This is beneficial because no additional integrations are needed–everything is handled under one roof. It removes the stress of finding an accounting package that will integrate with your new field software.
However, if job sheets need to be entered manually into the on premise system, how quickly you get paid becomes dependent on how consistent (and quick) your team is at inputting data.
Keep in mind, if your techs do 6 jobs a day and it takes them 10 minutes to enter each one into your on premise software, that’s an hour of work. Most likely they’ll do this data entry at the end of the day, and then the job still needs to be invoiced.
Ideally you want invoices sent out the same day as the job, since they are 1.5x more likely to get paid. With this workflow, though, your invoices probably aren’t sent out until at least two or three days after the job–which can seriously impact your cash flow.
Invoicing with cloud based software:
Cloud based software does typically require additional integrations, and not many will offer accounting features within their system. This can be problematic if you find a software that’s a great fit for your business but it doesn’t integrate with your accounting package. Without it, your team may end up doing a significant amount of manual work.
The advantages of invoicing with a cloud based software, however, are that in most cases invoicing can always be done on the same day. There is no double data entry required (since work orders are completed directly in the system), and the office receives all forms for invoicing immediately.
If you want to completely remove the administrative work for your office team, cloud software also provides the ability to raise an invoice in the field. Technicians can use their mobile devices to create invoices after the job and collect payment with integrations like Stripe. Not only does this option save time, but it also ensures you’re getting paid for your work straightaway.
Taking it one step further is also an option, since advanced cloud software now provides automated options. An invoice can be generated based on the job sheet and automatically sent out with a payment link when the “Job Done” button is hit. No admin input is needed in this case–now that’s efficient!
Cloud and on premise software have their pros and cons, but implementing a solution that will make your workflow seamless should be your main priority. While there are factors like pricing and support, when it comes down to it, a cloud solution ultimately offers more functionality than on premise.
Customers can be scheduled quickly and with ease, ensuring you never lose them to the competition. And with cloud software your techs can fill out job sheets directly in the system to sync back to the office–making same day invoicing a profitable asset to your business. It requires no manual work on your team’s end, and to simplify the process even more, techs can raise invoices onsite and immediately collect payment.
In contrast, on premise software is limited in its ability to streamline your operations. But if you’re still on the fence about which software is right for you, we’re here to help. Check out the video below, we’ll cover all your questions about choosing the right field service software!
When I'm not researching industry trends and writing about business strategies, I spend time with friends and family, travelling, and searching for the world's best chocolate chip cookie.