FSM software helps businesses manage the on-site requests for their products and services.
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FSM software helps businesses manage the on-site requests for their products and services. The software assists users in the following types of field service jobs:
Repair jobs such as HVAC repairs and plumbing repairs
Maintenance jobs such as annual servicing of air conditioners
Installation and demonstration services such as setting up of air conditioners and water purifiers
On-site consultation services such as equipment safety assessment and add-on installation services
In this buyer’s guide, we define the core features of field service management software, look at the deployment options, highlight emerging trends, and list some important questions that you should ask potential vendors.
FSM software helps field service businesses obtain, track, monitor, and complete work orders. The software is a mixture of solutions such as the following:
Ticketing: Helps users create and manage customer requests
Work order management: Allows managers to track the status of jobs and coordinate with field service agents
Scheduling: Lets users manage the staffing of field agents
Customer relationship management: Helps users manage customer information and create marketing campaigns
In the process of finding the right software for your business, you should first understand the types of field service solutions in the market. Listed below are the main types of field service software:
Residential field service software: These solutions manage field service jobs on residential properties. Examples include residential pest control, house electrical works, and air-conditioning installation.
Commercial field service software: This software helps field service businesses that cater to commercial properties. Examples include equipment repair and servicing as well as industrial cleaning services.
While these are the major categories of field service software, there can also be an overlap. Some products may cater to both residential and commercial properties.
Key question to ask your vendor before you buy: Does your product support my line of business?
Once you’ve decided the type of field service management software you need, the next step is to select the right deployment model. There are two major options that you can choose:
Cloud-based deployment: Solutions that offer this option are hosted on the vendor's servers and can be accessed from web browsers. The characteristics of a cloud-based solution are listed below:
Cloud-based products are generally priced on a per user per month basis.
Some products may also offer tiered pricing plans, where the price is higher for plans with more features.
Some cloud-based solutions include a mobile app that allows technicians to record notes and accept payments while on a job.
The biggest advantage of the cloud-based system is its ease of deployment and scalability.
On-premise deployment: These solutions are better suited for businesses that have the resources and staff to manage their IT infrastructure such as deployment, customization, and data management.
Here are some of the features of on-premise FSM solutions:
The on-premise deployment model incurs one-time investment costs and is priced on the basis of one license per user.
The costs of upgrades can be complex. While some upgrades are free of cost, such as bug fixes, some upgrades incur recurring costs.
On-premise solutions need pre-built infrastructures such as servers, network equipment, and communication servers.
Key question to ask your vendor before you buy: What are the additional costs apart from the monthly subscription fee or license costs?
The next step is to understand the field service software features so that you can shortlist products based on your business needs. In this section, we’ve covered the essential features that you should look for when evaluating an FSM solution.
Work order management: Tracks and monitors the progress of all the jobs. Users can track the status of their scheduled, ongoing, and completed jobs in a dashboard view.
Work order management in mHelpDesk
Scheduling and dispatching: Collects your phone and online appointments to schedule employee calendars. You can make real-time schedule adjustments to account for emergency jobs and other such situations.
Dispatch management in HouseCall
Billing and invoicing: Manages customer balances and send invoices for payments. Some systems also include mobile payments, which eliminate the need for paper invoices.
Invoicing in ServiceM8
Client management: Records, tracks, and analyzes customer contacts, job histories, and payment details. Users can also create email campaigns to remind customers about routine maintenance jobs.
Key question to ask your vendor before you buy: Are the features you offer relevant to my field service business?
*Note: The applications shown here are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations.
There are a lot of factors to take into account before buying software—price, service, functionality, return on investment. But there's another important factor to consider: integrations.
Your business identified a need to simplify and automate its accounting practices, so it purchased accounting software. As your business continued to grow, so did the need for efficiency and managing scaling operations, so you considered field service management solutions.
But what does it look like to have more than one piece of software, and how do you make sure these applications all work together? That's where integrations come in.
Many businesses manage their operations with an application stack—a set of applications that work together to form a system. Applications work together when they are integrated. The goal? Optimizing the performance and functionality of these application stacks.
Application-level integrations usually involve a transfer of data from one application to another. Fortunately, many software vendors provide pre-set integration options so that users do not have to build it from the ground up—in other words, the applications are designed to communicate with one another, so no IT expertise is needed on your end.
Built-in integrations make using old and new systems seamless. The applications' ability to communicate means they can automatically transfer information from one to another.
When your business uses more than one application, syncing all the data from these applications is important. Without seamless integration, users will have to manually transfer data between the applications, creating a time-consuming and error-prone process. These are some of the benefits of purchasing FSM software that offers built-in integrations:
Ready to use: Ready-to-use integrations mean you can begin reaping the benefits immediately—no backend coding necessary.
Improved efficiency: When your applications are able to communicate with one another and share data, your business can reach new levels of automation—saving valuable time and resources in the process.
Improved visibility: Having your data in one place and available in real time means decision making is that much faster.
To make the most out of your FSM solution, ensure that it integrates with the business applications that you currently use. These are the most common application types FSM software integrates with:
Payment processing: Allows field service businesses to accept payments using different methods such as credit cards, debit cards, and online transactions.
Accounting: Transfers transaction information from the FSM software to accounting software.
Customer Relationship Management: Integrates contacts from the FSM solution to the CRM system. This allows you to manage your marketing campaigns from the CRM solution.
We looked at Getapp's Field Service Management Category Leaders and listed all the applications each of these products integrates with. Based on this information the ten most common applications that FSM software integrates with are:
After figuring out whether the software you are looking to buy integrates with the applications you already have, there are a few more questions you should consider asking vendors:
Do you have use cases of how these applications work together?
What data is shared between the applications? Is the data sharing bidirectional?
How does the data integrate in the application and what is the user experience like?
Now that you’ve understood the common features and integrations, the next step is to evaluate the advanced features. We haven’t labeled these features as “common”, but some of these could be vital to your business. For instance, if your business operates a call center for customer complaints and inquiries, you should opt for the call center functionality. It will help you manage customer queries directly from the FSM software.
Here are some advanced features you should check out:
Inventory management: Tracks and manages the products and tools used in your business. Some systems also help users track inventory for each vehicle to help field agents locate parts, such as hammers and spares, in their vehicle.
GPS tracking: Tracks vehicles and provides navigation assistance to field agents. Some systems also include driver monitoring to ensure safe driving practices.
Job quoting: Automates the process of filling the quote and proposal forms by inputting the necessary information from the job site into the system.
Digital signature: Officiates a contract through email and digitally captures client signatures.
Mobile access: Manages the activities of field agents and tracks the real-time status of field service jobs.
Key question to ask your vendor before you buy: What are the industry-specific features in your product that are relevant to my field service business?
Some recent technological developments are disrupting FSM software market. Adopting some of these technologies can give you a competitive edge in the market. This is why you should be aware of the following trends:
Operational efficiency to drive AI adoption: AI makes FSM software more efficient by helping users make better scheduling decisions and respond quickly in emergencies. For instance, if an employee is absent, AI can quickly schedule the next available resource. The technology also helps businesses make smarter staffing decisions based on an agent’s proximity to client locations and skill sets. With the growing adoption of AI in small businesses, we can expect it to become a core functionality in offerings by 2023.
Connected field service is the next big thing: IoT finds a number of use cases in preventive and proactive maintenance. For instance, sensors connected to the equipment can help service centers monitor the equipment’s health in real time. This allows service teams to proactively create work orders in case of any faults and equipment damage. As IoT becomes commonplace among small businesses, we can expect to see more use cases by 2023.
Key question to ask your vendor before you buy: Which features in your product are currently using AI and IoT technologies and what are the future prospects?
We referenced the following documents while creating this guide:
GetApp field service management catalog (Date accessed: 12/19/2018)
Field Service Management Features Guide: Things to Look for When Choosing a Solution (Date accessed: 12/19/2018)