5 Things to Consider Before Buying Field Service Software

Written by – Christina Maria

Your main considerations should be the user experience, online reviews, quality of support, how often the software updates, and how robust the training and knowledge base is. 

1)      The user Experience

Just because a software ticks all the feature boxes you want doesn’t mean it’s your best option. Think of it as the difference between fast food and a Michelin restaurant: both will keep you from being hungry but the quality is what really sets them apart. It’s the same with software and follows the thinking highlighted earlier, where experience trumps product. 

The user experience is what sets great software apart and will have a direct impact on your employees’ wellbeing. Poor user experience doesn’t simply refer to software crashing but also includes those instances where it’s slow, difficult to navigate, or hard to understand.

All of these factors lead to frustrated employees and disappointed customers, defeating the purpose of getting software in the first place. It’s usually what happens when managers are desperate for a solution of any kind so they simply pick the first name that comes up in a Google search and run with it. Doing your homework is vital, which takes us to the next point, online reviews.

2)      Online Reviews

There’s no such thing as reading too many reviews before investing in field service management software. It’s one of the best ways of seeing how businesses similar to yours have dealt with issues that you might be struggling with and to what extent the software helped.

If you’re unsure of how to assess things like ease of use or the quality of support, SourceForge’s field service management software category has you covered, while job search websites like Glassdoor can reveal the culture behind the company you’re getting ready to do business with. High turnover and unhappy staff will not make for a good partner, which is what you’re looking for in a software vendor. 

This being said, negative user reviews can be very insightful, so don’t forget to read those too. Don’t dismiss a lower-rated option before seeing the reason behind the rating. Some reviews can be unfair (e.g. the product was not a good fit for the type of business, rather than intrinsically being of poor quality), while views on pros and cons can be subjective. 

There are users who will be happy with an integrated vehicle tracking feature and think it’s a great add-on that saves them from spending more money on a separate product. Other users, however, will expect the same level of functionality from this add-on as if it were a dedicated product, therefore they’ll be left unsatisfied. You can tell how good the customer service and company culture are by the responses left on negative reviews, as well.  

3)      Quality of Support

There are few things more frustrating than sitting on hold for hours, waiting for someone to explain why your expensive software isn’t working. Many field service software providers can impress prospects with a remarkable pre-purchase experience, but fail later on when the lead has already converted (i.e. the money is in the bag) and they’re suffering from post-implementation issues. 

Unfortunately, this is not an easy thing to foresee until it’s too late and you’ve actually been put on hold for a while. One solution is, again, reading the reviews and scouring them for support-related complaints. An excellent service provider won’t just solve your issues, but help you prevent them from happening again, take your suggestions into account, and promptly answer any email queries. Moreover, an experienced customer support team will be able to share tips and tricks they’ve learned along the way from other businesses similar to yours. 

4) How Often it Updates

Often overlooked, the frequency at which a field service software provider releases updates is proof of their commitment to innovating and improving the existing product. As a manager or a business owner, you also go through business re-hauls where you introduce more efficient processes, so you should expect the same from your software partners. There’s no such thing as perfection and seeing that a provider strives to improve on a continuous basis is a sign of trust.

That being said, beware of field service software providers that release new features constantly and never go back to update the old. This shows that they’re more committed to quantity rather than quality and there’s no guarantee that the plethora of features they offer will come with the right support expertise or the level of functionality they promise. It’s difficult to balance these different types of updates but once you find a software that can do both, you can trust that they invest in product development just as much as they invest in sales and marketing. 

5) How extensive their training and knowledge base is

It’s normal for field service companies to make do with free software or mobile apps in their first year or so, but when investing in a professional product, they often go in expecting more features with the same learning curve. Sadly, this is not how it works. Field service software can be simple enough for anyone to use without training or complex enough to run your business, but not both.

Even if a tech-savvy user can figure out how to use a product, that doesn’t mean they’re using it the right way and making the most of it, which is what it all comes down to. High-quality training is what gets you a good return on investment. 

Professional software isn’t cheap, so expectations of a significantly increased efficiency are justified. Assuming you went for a high-quality product from a trusted vendor, your new software will have a lot of options. Its designers aimed for the software to grow with your company. This way, it can serve you for as long as possible. If your team only uses 10% of these options because they don’t really know what to do with the other 90%, it means that a majority of your investment is going nowhere. Investing in training  is a one-off event that ensures you your money’s worth for as long as you plan to use the software.

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About TimeLinx
TimeLinx delivers innovative project & service management software as a complete solution that perfects the sell-track-manage-support-bill cycle that services organizations must have to delight their customers; TimeLinx brings the cycle together in a single application that offers less frustration, better project management, complete reporting, and improved profitability – all specially designed for Infor and Sage.