Field service software, or field service management (FSM) software, is a kind of computer program that helps companies effectively deliver onsite services by facilitating a bunch of tasks. It normally features request monitoring, personnel management, and vehicle tracking amongst other features. Field management software comes with a solid report engine to offer useful insights. Common features of the software include inventory management, work order management, scheduling, dispatch, reporting and analytics, and fleet tracking. These features boost coordination between warehouse, office, home, and field technicians, saving businesses time and money while pacing the transactions. These features increase FSA (field service automation) to take the labor-intensive work out of office tasks such as dispatching, scheduling, and skills matching. Field service management companies experience pain points such as over-scheduled resources, disjointed communications, and under-skilled technicians. FSM systems, when properly used, deal with all of these problems.
What are the Ideal Features of Field Service Software?
Most of the field service management software does not always have the features that might suffice all your needs. Before actually buying the product, here are some of the features that you must consider and look for in any FSM system:
Cost-Efficiency: Service management software’s price normally falls in the range of $20–2,000 per month. It is not always the best practice to buy a software on the basis of a certain fixed number. Rather, it is better to think in terms of a cost range. Many factors impact the cost-efficiency of a solution. These include business needs, field workers, deployment type, number of users, and system customization. You also have to take in to consideration other costs apart from the subscription charge. These include technical support, training cost, and data storage requirements.
Scalability: Consider adaptability to altering needs when choosing any solution. Even if you are under budget limitations, you will need to look into subscription plans that go well beyond your budget. This way, you can select for those plans when your needs expand in the future.
Deployment: Businesses can opt to deploy field service management software solutions on-premise, via the cloud, or as a hybrid of the two options. Businesses seeking for mobility must go for cloud-based solutions as they offer mobile field service apps. Those that require their system to be safer and more secure from outside access must opt for on-premise solutions. A hybrid system is perfect for companies that are not sure yet which deployment method is better for them. However, it is interesting to note that cloud deployment stays on the rise. It is also luring in more startups and SMEs alike. In order to determine which deployment method to opt for, you need to look at the long-term ownership cost. Add in data access, customizations, and how it integrates with current software such as CRM and ERP system.
Mobility: Mobility and flexibility in field service job management software solutions easily escalate the efficiency and productivity of field employees. These let them to immediately complete paperwork and offer real-time updates and answers to queries. They make it simple to offer logistics support. The advanced communication also provides solid benefits. Companies that require GPS and geolocation tracking must also make sure that the solution they are planning to purchase has them.
User-Friendliness: Field service employees require to easily access record notes related to appointments and data about the job at hand. Since admins and field workers use the system, a company must go for an easy-to-use and intuitive interface while selecting any field workflow management software. It is also useful that the system lets field service employees to easily prepare and finalize customer invoices.
Tech Support: Whether or not businesses have IT experts amongst their staff, it is still worth considering the reliability of the customer support that the vendor of each software provides. It is better to opt for those that provide different assistance, such as phone and email support, especially on weekends and holidays. Having good documentation about the software is also useful in case it is difficult to get in touch with the support teams.
Automation: Smart automation features can be a huge game-changer when it comes to selecting the ideal FMS software. The reason is straight and simple: it reduces the performing manual operations. Once companies lower the requirement for human intervention, they can achieve more things. Paperwork automation is conducted in almost all field service management
What are the Different Types of Field Service Software?
Field service management software might be categorized based on the major services that they are intended to operate with and based on deployment. Based on services, the software is divided into maintenance, repair, consultation, and installation/project commissioning. On the other hand, based on deployment, the software is divided into on-premise and cloud-based. Let us have a detailed look into each category:
Based on Services
Maintenance: This kind of field service software pertains to service right before the beginning of repair. This is simpler to understand, for instance, if you recall buying any car and you are asked to bring back the car after the break-in. When you do, the dealer or vendor technicians will see to the components that need modifications so further repair is avoided.
Repair: In simple words, this type of software comprises services that are meant to see to broken appliances, fixtures, and the like. It can comprise a guarantee from the technicians and vendor are sent to look after the service repair required.
Consultation: This kind of software is used when you possibly suspect some of your systems are not operating as desired. The issue is you do not have the money currently but you wish to know what to do when you have the budget in future. What do you do? You contact an expert to examine the maintenance or repairs service needed but you hold off the last part of actually performing the repair or maintenance until the budget is in.
Installation/Project Commissioning: If the appliance or equipment that the customer purchased is too difficult for them to install and see that it operates smoothly at the beginning, then installation and project commissioning personnel are sent to see that it happens. Installation and project planning are normally factored in the pricing as well for such big commissioning and installations.
Based on Deployment
Cloud-Based: Also dubbed as SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) FMS system; normally uses a subscription plan for its pricing models. This kind of FMS software automatically updates to the newest version and is more scalable.
On-premise: This kind of FSM system needs download and installation on the businesses’ units. The solution would link to the vendor’s server for different services and backing up data. It normally needs paying upfront licenses.
What are the Issues Faced While Using Field Service Software?
Cost: The price of the field service management software might be a huge concern for some companies. Small businesses might not be capable of accessing some technologies owing to their high price. In spite of the different advantages provided by service management software, some solutions may appear very costly for small businesses.
Training: Even though most of the software and solutions are user-friendly, it becomes very difficult to use a software when it is installed for the first time or when a new module is added. Hence, in order to use the software or the module in question, the company has to invest in training the staff and team members. This is one of the major concerns that companies have nowadays for field management software.
Updates: Despite the uncountable upgradeable and updatable field management software, some programs can eventually become outdated. This can only result in additional spending on new software and solutions. This can also cause a major change in the budget and lead to a huge loss for the company.
Integration Issues: It is essential for organizations using other systems such as HR, CRM, and ERP software to guarantee that the FMS solution they are mulling over to buy can be integrated smoothly into their workflow. This is to prevent compromising one or more systems within the company. Some field service management software can be integrated readily with current external programs. Others may cause issues. There is always the choice of replacing current systems as well. That, on the other hand, can entail extra training cost.
Mismatched Business Requirement: Many service management software solutions come with an all-inclusive set of features. While this might look good, it does not always go well for everybody. This is true for SMEs and startups that need not pay for features they are not using. It is best to choose systems that will not undermine its advantages with added expenditure.
Startups: For all the great advantages it provides, an FMS system is not free. The features can surely assist increase a company’s revenue, particularly in the long run. However, those just starting may do better doing things the conventional way for now. This is particularly true for those startups and upstart businesses that only have three or four employees, are on low budget, and are not servicing many customers yet. As the business expands, however, it will demand the service of FMS software. If you are a startup owner, you might opt to check the best field service software prefect for small businesses.
What are the Benefits of Field Service Software?
As per a study, businesses that use field service workflow management software in their operations can increase their productivity in terms of daily jobs completed by almost 47%. Here are some benefits that makes this possible:
Optimized Routing: Longtime drives are common for field service employees. Unfortunately, they are unprofitable too, since customers rarely reside close to each other. This forces companies to invest more fuel and time on trips. FMS solutions can significantly reduce the time drivers spend travelling. The result is instant while slashing down on fuel costs too. This is done by allocating an optimal path for a driver to follow. Taking important factors into considerations—time windows for technicians, client locations, and others—lets the solution to create a path to lower travel times.
Effectual Scheduling: Field service employees are dispersed, with most of them out in the field. This makes manual scheduling cumbersome and inefficient, even erroneous at times. To fix this problem, FMS software solutions are integrated with smart scheduling features. These automatically identify the location of each employee and allocate the task to the closest employee with the correct skill set. This saves firms effort and time. In addition to this, businesses eliminate duplicated and overlapping tasks. Managers also get better visibility of the development of job conducted by their technicians.
First-Time Fix Rate: First-time fixes can directly impact how customers feel about the service of the businesses. That is because clients can get irritated when their issues are not solved on the first visit. This is usually owing to the lack of expertise and spare parts. Besides this, the company itself stands to undergo financial losses due to late penalties, more fuel usage, extra scheduling, and more. In this case, FMS can be very helpful. With its intelligent scheduling feature, the software puts the correct expert with the correct skill set to the job. Enhanced inventory management makes sure that spare parts will be available always. In addition to this, issues can be communicated a lot more precisely. This ensures that the equipment that technicians bring are suitable for the job.
Mobile Access to Information: Insufficient data about a task in hand can result in a repeated call to the office. This is an essential factor that the top FSM solutions address. The software can precisely record and relay job data such as parts required, expenses, and time spent. This leads to the reduced time that experts spend in sourcing the required parts. It can also lower the number of visits to customers since the correct materials for the job are properly brought.
Faster Invoicing: With all the info that must be gathered and calculated manually, it is not a rare occasion when a specific job needs weeks to be assessed properly. With field service management software solutions, however, employees can quickly send every job detail from the field. This comprises the used parts and materials, time spent on the task, e-signature of clients, and images of the job result. FSM solution will also consider account warranties, discounts, and other special pricing cases when calculating the price automatically.
Added Safety Measure for Field Employees: Workers’ safety is of utmost importance. This is why dispatch must maintain continuous contact with employees. They must have a procedure in place in case of emergency situations. This is because jobs in field service often comprise a high amount of risk. Field service management solutions are capable of tracking worker and vehicle location in real time. This way, the main office can easily alert them of any danger that may be on their way. And if anything comes up, the dispatch can know the last location of the employees. It tells them where to send emergency teams.
Enhanced Analytics: One essential factor of expanding a business is knowing how it’s faring. Understanding the potential issues and weaknesses lets a business know where to direct their efforts properly. In this regard, the complete analytics offered by FSM software is a huge leap forward. Companies will have access to essential metrics related to their KPIs such as completion of a service call, idle times, average repair times, return visits, the number of daily completed and scheduled jobs, and more. This data also offers them with opportunities for escalating their efficiency.
Equipment Monitoring: You can connect some field service solutions with telematics technologies. Doing so allows businesses to control the locations of their tools. The system then collects essential data about the tools’ condition, maintenance state, and the employee who used it. And with its location tracking feature, the system can determine if the tool is stolen or utilized without proper authorization.
Paperless Method: Manual transfer of data is prone to duplicate entries and errors. To avoid such issues, filed service programs provide automated capabilities to remove errors from masses of paper-based works. Therefore, they effectively avoid data loss and duplicate entries. They offer real-time analytics to assist efficiently dispatch paperwork.
Personnel Tracking: Workers are the building blocks of companies. A business’s success depends on their performance. For FEM firms, it is imperative that their field employees are capable of adhering to their allocated schedules while away from the office. FMS solutions allows managers to monitor all the employees’ real-time location. They are also capable of tracking their field employees’ performance and compliance with their allocated jobs and hours. It is simpler and quicker to assign work orders and look after task distribution on a daily basis.
Enhanced Customer Satisfaction: Customer satisfaction is the primary factor for defining success in field services. FMS solution can improve customer satisfaction in several ways. With mobile access to data, route optimization, and sending the most suited expert for the job, field employees complete and render services faster. The solution also elevates the engagement between customers and technicians. In addition to this, improvement in automatic booking, providing email reminders, billing processes, and other customer-centric features increases the rate of customer satisfaction. FMS programs also provide many methods of calculating customer satisfaction. One that simply comes to mind is by employing real-time feedback. This is an important feature since companies do better with significant insights on how they can enhance their services.
Inventory Management: Many of the companies in the field service management sector depend majorly on inventory access. With its ability to check the stock balance in real time remotely, FMS solution is very helpful in this regard. It alerts operations employees if there are shortages of materials so that stock will never run out, particularly when they are needed most. Also, purchasing bulk items beforehand lets firms to fetch a better price from the market.
Augmented and Virtual Reality: If forecasts are to be believed, AR and VR market is predicted to rise in the future. Among the set of upcoming technologies, AR and VR are claimed to make huge headlines. These technologies have huge potential to assist the field service industry grow endlessly. AR and VR can play an important role in employee training module and assist them in easy communication. This can additionally assist in inventory management in more enhance way by streamlining the process for workers as they can easily communicate with one another.
Automation: Automation is one of the important growth factors for a number of companies nowadays. The concept assists workers enhance their productivity to serve clients in a better way. Automation lets instant access to inventory to the workers, which makes it simple for them to serve particularly for the client’s needs. With the emergence of cloud-based field service management software, it has become more convenient than before to get access to client data easily. Such software provides a series of features to users comprising digital customer interaction, licensing history, technician scheduling, invoicing, and much more.
IoT (Internet of Things): By offering real-time field management services, organizations can quickly get the profits and attention from the clients. And to leverage the advantages to the customers, mobility might play the significant role. Tapping into mobility is now simpler than before. As the technology assists field management service organizations to access sensitive client information, offering services turns out to be trouble-free. Organizations can use mobility to guide their employees to perform any allocated task. Mobility makes it simpler to establish direct communication between the customers and clients, lowering the scope of extra efforts.
Hybrid Customer Servicing: Human customer servicing is turning out to be obsolete news, making way for new-age conversational AI solutions. AI-powered assistants are created to end the human support in customer servicing so that the operation can be automated. This is indeed advantageous to use chatbots rather than human assistance. Different organizations have already begun the services to make it simpler for customers to get needed the assistance.
Generational Shift: Many field service employees are opting for the concept of early retirement, and this might reflect in losing the essential knowledge that service experts are sharing as a part of their services. But due to field service management software, the related information and the critical knowledge of performing a task stay safe with the organization. Features such as work order management and field service tracking can assist the new generation of workers to know the conventional methods of performing the allocated jobs.
Big Data: User data is the most essential asset for field service management It is all due to the gathered customer information that firms can provide streamlined services. Rising number of companies are now employing analytics and big data to make drastic alterations in their delivery management. These organizations are aiming more on employing the technology to change their entire service operation models. The data stored using big data analytics requires to be mined effectively and quickly to turn it into useful data for the organizations.
Mobile Tools: Field service vendors require to continue developing out their mobile tools for technicians and customers. Most field service management providers are offering their users and customers with more customer portals and apps to facilitate their utilization of the software, as well as for communications with their remote support employees. Features such as self-service interfaces enhance the customer experience by offering consumers more data about their equipment and simpler access to answers and support. Mobile tools are very essential for technicians, as well. Field employees require mobile apps to track their work orders, as well as to get greater reliability and insight on mobile devices. In future, field service organizations will have to depend on IoT to connect equipment, systems, people, and devices. The more connectivity there is, the more enhanced the delivery of service can be.
Crowd Service: There is an increasing requirement of offering real-time services in response to customers’ expectations from the organization. In order to meet this service requirement, organizations can utilize the advantage of crowd servicing. The idea of cloud servicing is predicted to develop as it allows firms to collect a pool of experienced employees apart from the service force they already have. With such an approach, organizations can operate on different projects at the same time as they have a bunch of resources to handle everything.
Proactive and Predictive Maintenance: It is not enough to fix technology or equipment when it breaks. Field service organizations need to be proactive about engaging with clients. This might mean repairing things before they break. This can also mean ensuring that the users have the necessary parts to replace or update something, or offering users better advice on how to use services and products. The evolution from a corrective maintenance model will also alter the way organizations use resources. Since predictive models are based on data analysis, companies are seeing a shift of resources to a more centralized support system and away from the field. Organizations are also seeing the use of self-service models via portals. As a result, the way organizations calculate their success, along with the KPIs they use, will change to account for preventative work.
How Much Does Field Service Software Cost?
The price of a field service management software depends on the set of features, type of industry, the number of technicians, the number of users, the number of locations, and the number of jobs allowed per month. The installation charges are usually not included. Some vendors do provide a free version with basic features, whereas some vendors offer a trial with advanced features for 7–30 days. The open source and free field service management solution can be the right choice for those on low budget.
Field service software prices come with two options—a one-time fee or a monthly fee. As mentioned earlier, most vendors need an installation charge to get the software installed and functional for your business. Depending on your company size, the software has a variety of rates and pricing models. Most vendors offer tiered software packages, particularly customized for large, medium, and small companies.
Users: As with any program, the number of users is essential in understanding how much you are going to pay. If you aim on having only a single worker to manage your platform, you can save a lot. On the other hand, if you have a huge dedicated team that requires accessing your field service solution, it is going to cost a bit more.
Franchises: Figuring out the cost of field service software is most commonly dependent on the number of locations or franchises that program will be covering. Costs will stay low if you only have one location, but the more franchises within your business that need the software, the more the cost.
Field Technicians: While somewhat rare in comparison to the other factors, paying on the basis of number of field technicians isn't entirely uncommon. This means your cost would reflect your whole labor force that is being dispatched out for field visits.
While the cost of management for field service majorly depends on the above mentioned three factors, there are tons of other extra costs you can incur, depending on your particular needs. This includes:
Support: Some field service software providers will include support via phone and chat free of charge. But if you want full, 24/7 coverage, you might need to shell out a little extra to make sure you're covered.
Training: While profitable for your business, field service solutions are quite complicated for new users. Luckily, most vendors provide training for an additional fee.
Added Features: Many vendors provide a huge range of extra features such as custom quotes, invoicing, in-field payment collection, and mobile access. You might get lucky with a few complimentary features, but chances are that you are going to have to pay for the advanced ones.
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