Field Service Management: Traditional Methods vs. Software Tools
April 24, 2023 - Management - 11 minutes
If you work in the maintenance industry, you’re most likely familiar with the term field service management. But are you aware that the traditional methods used to manage a field service business, technicians, and office or warehouse departments have changed drastically alongside technology?
What is Field Service Management (FSM)?
Field Service Management (FSM) is all about how companies organize and optimize their processes both on and off-site. Most field service companies will have an in-office team handling customers and daily operations (like admin, sales, inventory, etc.) and a field team, usually made up of field technicians and, occasionally, surveyors.
FSM is going to look different depending on the operations and size of the company. Residential companies will be looking for easy scheduling and customer communications, while commercial ones want to make service contracts as organized as possible to avoid costly mistakes.
Regardless, you’re going to be constantly looking for new ways to improve many things; from the impact of the field service technicians, office staff, to warehouse workers, customer experiences, and the overall health of the company (this list could go on forever).
As the company expands, all of these aspects can quickly become difficult to manage if the right processes aren’t in place. It’s your job as a field service manager to make sure daily operations run smoothly and everyone has access to the resources they need to be successful.
Traditional Methods of Field Service Management
How do you feel about the traditional management methods listed below? What’s the first word that comes to mind?
- Paper-based systems
- Scheduling via phone call
We’ve asked some of our users this question and most of them responded with what can be essentially distilled in one word: chaos.
Sure, these methods are practical when you’re a very small company with a couple of customers (and even then it’s challenging), but once you start hiring your own staff and techs, it becomes harder and harder to hunt for that one spreadsheet or make out a colleague’s handwriting on a work order.
If any of these methods are currently being used by your service teams – don’t panic. There is still going to be plenty of use for pens and paper, but switching to a digital tool or software that can provide real-time updates and analytics will enable the company and employees to grow as one.
If you’re used to conducting business in a specific way, getting everyone to change their daily routine or current way of thinking can be hard. Especially if the new method requires taking the time to learn a new system or organizational tool.
What are the Disadvantages of Traditional FSM Methods?
Traditional FSM solutions can be inefficient, prone to errors, and restrict the ability of businesses for some or all of the following reasons:
Having to wait until the end of the day (or the start of a new one) to follow up with technicians, work orders, or customer messages can cause you to lose business. If the service you provide is delayed, inefficient, or creates an unpleasant customer experience, you need to be able to resolve the issue in real-time to not lose out on revenue to the faster and more organized competition.
Traditional methods of managing field service operations require additional effort and are time-consuming. Using updated technology can give you the power to automate manual tasks, such as data entry or email marketing. While there may be some comfort in using old methods, time is money and they’ll end up hurting you more in the long run.
Increased risk of errors
If you’ve ever given a technician the wrong address or lost track of an important part for a client, you know how fast a customer can become unhappy. Both of these mistakes should be easily avoidable but can continue to happen if traditional methods of management stay in practice.
Increased operation costs
One of the best ways to increase profitability is by reviewing your current costs. Traditional field service management methods require more staff to deal with paperwork, customer service, or any other physical process. If your labor costs are too high, you’ll need to take on even more jobs to break even where you could be profiting.
Lack of mobility
If the information any employee needs isn’t available to them exactly when they need it, they’ll lose valuable time trying to obtain it. If field workers are forced to travel to and from the office to receive new job assignments or a product they forgot, they’ll have to waste time and fuel to get it completed – costing the company more money daily.
Difficult transferring knowledge
While current employees understand how the business is run and they’re used to “Sally’s notebook system” or “Mark’s post-its,” they might not always be there. When the employee who created the paper “system” leaves, it’s difficult to transfer the knowledge to their successor.
What is Field Service Management Software?
As someone determining the process put into place to help the company increase efficiency, capacity, and revenue – you’ll want the best digital tool to help you manage it all in real-time.
Field service management software is an all-in-one digital solution to help you oversee scheduling, route optimization, work order management, asset tracking, data analytics, customer journeys, and any other process that can further streamline operations.
Implementing FSM software will help you reduce costs, improve customer satisfaction, and increase productivity. These are just some of the potential benefits if used correctly, keep reading to learn more!
Benefits of Using FSM Software vs. Traditional Methods
Source of statistics
Improved safety and compliance
With an FSM software solution in place, you won’t have to worry about technicians completing work safely and within regulations. The software allows you to be certain that techs or any employees don’t leave a job site without the proper forms filled out. If you ever need to reference specific documentation and photos (or videos) to resolve a situation, they’ll be accessible in the software database – eliminating the need for physical storage.
Automation of manual processes
If you’re able to evaluate the manual field service processes currently in place, you’ll most likely find areas where you can automate. You don’t need to eliminate all manual processes as you might still find some use for them. But being able to schedule, communicate, and interpret data without spending extra time is a valuable asset to any company. Click the link for more information about how field service business automation can positively impact your operations.
Mobile access with real-time visibility
When in the field, technicians will have to interact with the software via a mobile device or mobile app. Having access to customer information or the data they need on one screen (exactly when they need it) is a much more manageable way of operating than traveling with physical documents or relying on phone calls. With a consistent mobile workforce, you’ll be able to complete more jobs in a day and make more revenue with the same number of employees.
Whether it’s structured communication between the field and office employees – or developing new pathways of communication with customers, you’ll have options to design and manage a communication procedure that will keep everyone on the same page. There’s always a potential for miscommunication and misunderstandings if you’re still relying on traditional management methods.
If you’re looking for some new email templates to help you stay in touch with your customers, download ours below!
If the company has grown lately, you’ll need the right tools in place to help you continue scaling the business. Without FSM software, growth can cause more harm than good if you aren’t prepared for it. Employees can become overwhelmed if they don’t have a solution to deal with the additional workload. Having to deal with physical documents and storage will only hold you back when it comes to growing your online and offline presence.
Enhanced inventory management
Are you having trouble tracking your inventory or knowing which item is out of stock? A field service management tool can help you track inventory so that you’ll never lose money again by buying the wrong product or restocking an item later than needed. Inventory management can easily become a source of frustration and additional costs if not managed automatically via FSM software.
Improved customer satisfaction
Customers don’t enjoy being left in the dark and word will spread about your business if it’s a common problem. If you don’t have FSM software where you can manage customer relationships and online reviews, you’ll have a tough time building brand awareness and loyalty. Don’t lose customers to the opponents and use field service software that keeps them satisfied from beginning to end and beyond.
Choosing the Right Approach for Your Business
There’s an endless number of factors to consider when choosing between traditional methods and software solutions. Sometimes a mix of both is best, but you can’t do that without having an FSM software solution in place.
Here are some questions to ponder if you’re still not convinced it can work for you!
- Do you want to grow your business?
Some people are happy staying the same size. Not expanding isn’t the end of the world, but you may lose business to the competition that works to grow its branding and customer relationships. Without the ability to manage growing operations from one place in the present, you’ll struggle to stay relevant as technology takes over the industry.
- How much time and effort can you dedicate to training your staff to use the software?
Remember that a tool is only as good as the user. New technology will come with an initial investment and training period but it’s important to compare these new costs to the current costs of staying the same.
For example, you could be losing out on customers that expect self-service scheduling or a system that allows them to get customer service outside of regular business hours.
Fortunately, Commusoft has personalized training and strategies for ensuring the effective training of your entire team. We’ll always be available to answer any questions you have or help you troubleshoot technological difficulties. We firmly believe that it’s crucial for everyone in the company using the software to be willing to take on the challenge for a successful implementation.
Here are some additional general tips and questions to ask for selecting the right field service management software for your business:
- Does it have different plans so that it can grow with your business?
- How often does it get updated or release necessary new features?
- Does it offer training and easily accessible customer service, so that your staff can be supported?
- What do their reviews say? Especially about their customer support!
Scale Your Business with More Effective Field Service Management
Being a field service manager will never be the simple, straightforward position you hope it will be. It’ll be full of unexpected surprises (both good and bad) as you try and grow all areas of the business.
Having Commusoft as your FSM software is the perfect way to manage all of the additional work that comes with scaling a business. With our technology, you’ll be able to manage technicians, customers, and staff while automating time-consuming tasks!
We offer an abundance of important features that can make tasks like winning proposals, tracking assets, and sending invoices an effortless process. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us! We can help you learn everything you need to know about overhauling your business for success and growth.