Get The Most Out Of ERP Integration to Support Your Service Business

Shyamala Gowri – Feb 2023

Enterprise resource planning solutions are extensive software products that offer organizations a range of functionality. They ultimately manage all resources within an organization, from people to assets, finance, inventory, and more. But ERP needs a more specific set of capabilities for effective service management of field service companies. Finding a balance between what more traditional ERP software offers and the needs that are unique to field service operations can take time and effort.

In most scenarios, managing field service without ERP can be complicated and challenging. In other cases, field service organizations using only ERP may encounter difficulties scheduling and tracking their calls and assets.

But it does not stop there. Integrating ERP with field service management (FSM) systems allows organizations to benefit from both systems. Whether you are using an ERP system or an FSM system, there are a few limitations where the systems are not able to provide the ultimate capabilities required for field service businesses.

Integrating each system to maximize the capabilities of both is the real trick. By optimizing how both systems work together, you will benefit not just from increased operational efficiency but also from delivering a superior customer experience.

If you are wondering why you need FSM and ERP for your field service business, here is an article. Let us explore how integrating these two enormous solutions can help you take your field service business operations to the next level.

What is ERP?

Enterprise resource planning is a category of software that manages and simplifies various business functions, including manufacturing, operations, human resources, finance, and accounting. Effective ERP software should help streamline businesses and increase throughput by providing solutions at every level of the enterprise or field service organization.

Key features of ERP

  • Supply chain management
  • Sales module
  • Purchase module
  • Finance and accounting
  • Customer relationship management
  • Project management
  • Timesheet and payroll

Your ERP will help you stay on top of your finances, customer relations, and projects, but it won’t be of much help when it comes to handling scheduling conflicts or managing your field workforce. Assigning a work order, scheduling, and dispatching can be arduous tasks in field service businesses. ERP is beneficial as it supports such processes, yet field service companies need additional tools to support service management operations.

What is FSM?

A Field Service Management solution (FSM) is exclusively designed to address the specific needs of field service operations. It provides a centralized platform for managing field technicians’ timesheets, scheduling jobs and dispatching technicians, tracking technicians’ whereabouts, and handling customer appointments. It streamlines these complex service processes, making the operations more efficient, increasing customer satisfaction, and reducing operational costs.

Key features of FSM

  • Scheduling and dispatching
  • Real-time location tracking
  • Field technician’s mobile workforce management
  • Inventory management
  • Estimate and invoice management
  • Reporting and analytics
  • Assets and contracts management

No doubt, the FSM systems can significantly improve field service operations, yet they are limited in a few areas. It mainly focuses on managing field services and optimizing field operations. Each FSM module has various functions that help in different ways, including scheduling, estimating, invoicing, employee management, and more. Yet, these functionalities alone are not sufficient for larger organizations.

The importance of field service ERP integration

ERP is needed to fully control financial management functions such as accounting, tax filing, and payroll that are not handled by FSM systems for larger organizations. An ideal field service management platform can help you eliminate manual redundancy, overcome scheduling issues, keep track of the field workforce, and ensure all your stakeholders are on the same page.

When both ERP and FSM systems are integrated, your business can reduce communication gaps, minimize manual intervention, and improve operational efficiency.

1. Reduced data redundancy and manual intervention

Integrating both systems help businesses to streamline their workflows and reduce data redundancy, as all relevant data is stored and processed in a single system. With automated processes, businesses can reduce human error, eliminate delays, and improve their data’s accuracy and consistency. It also helps to gain a more comprehensive view of their operations, making it easier to identify trends and issues and optimize their performance.

2. Improved reporting and analytics operations

By combining the two solutions, businesses can gain access to an integrated view of their entire field service operations. It helps provide insight into the performance of their operations, allowing businesses to generate more accurate and detailed reports, which enables better decision-making and improved customer service. It allows businesses to easily access employee and customer data, including job history and customer preferences, and use this data to understand customer needs. In terms of field service, it enables businesses to customize their services and ensure customer satisfaction.

3. Automated workflows and streamlined operations

The major benefit of integrating the ERP system into the FSM system is workflow automation. Irrespective of the industry, converting service requests into work orders, assigning jobs to technicians based on their skill set, and delivering a seamless experience to customers with automated alerts and notifications Also, the complex field service operations supported by ERP help to reduce costs and increase their business operational efficiency.

4. Enhanced customer and employee experience

Integrating FSM into ERP enables field service businesses to manage unified customer data without double entry or duplication errors. Also, FSM integration allows sending automated real-time updates to customers by email or SMS. By integrating FSM into your existing software stack, businesses can better understand their customers’ needs and preferences, allowing them to provide a customized and tailored experience.

5. Heightened data security and accuracy

Another advantage of integration is improving data security and quality by ensuring data is entered, stored, and accessed in a consistent and standardized way. Automating data exchange between systems reduces the risk of manual errors and ensures consistency across the organization. It also improves the accuracy across field service operations like scheduling, dispatching, live location tracking, and inventory management resulting in more efficient field service operations and reducing the likelihood of data breaches due to unauthorized access or human error.

How the integration works

By combining field service management software with an ERP system, you can streamline your field service operations. The integrated system provides more connectivity between your back office and field, bringing real-time information to your accounting, inventory, supply chain, and work order management, providing your business with more growth opportunities.

1. Work order management

Field service managers can pull customer data from ERP, and create new job work orders by integrating both systems. Customer information and associated business requirements can be converted into jobs and create a new work order. With FSM integration, whether in logistics or transportation, the ERP system can create a new job based on specific customer requirements. The job can be created instantly by picking the exact location using the geo-coordinates of the customer. The updates made to created work orders will be reflected in ERP so businesses can stay on the same page and meet complex business challenges.

2. Scheduling and dispatching

The key part of integrated ERP and FSM solutions is assigning technicians, scheduling, and dispatching the right technician to the right job based on their proximity and skill set. It enables the field service team to receive job details and updates directly to their mobile service app as well as manage their work orders. The FSM integration handles complex scheduling and dispatching through a drag-and-drop module, easily enabling you to update information in real time in ERP.

3. Estimates and invoices

ERP and FSM integration ensures that all relevant customer and asset information is automatically pulled from the ERP system, making it easy to create accurate estimates and invoices in your field service management software. These estimates and invoices can then be pushed back to the ERP system for financial and accounting management.

4. ETA alerts and notifications

Whenever an update is made in the work orders or scheduling and dispatching module, integration allows alerts and notifications to be sent to customers allowing them to stay in the loop. Updates made regarding technician arrival times, service status updates, contracts, and asset details will be automatically sent to the customer’s email or SMS, leveraging the customer’s contact information entered in ERP.

5. Assets and contracts

The asset information stored in ERP can be easily updated in the FSM system to avoid data errors and multiple entries. The relevant contract details and their associated jobs can be automatically pulled from the ERP system, allowing businesses to track asset maintenance, service schedules, contract terms, and renewals.

6. Reporting and analytics

The integration allows for real-time visibility of key performance indicators, including technician utilization, service response times, and inventory levels, enabling organizations to make data-driven decisions that improve operational efficiency and customer satisfaction. Field service managers can periodically create and analyze such reports to track performance and ensure transparency. These comprehensive reporting modules enabled in both integrated systems help field service businesses spot bottlenecks and make informed decisions.

Conclusion

Each field service organization has unique needs, but the common denominator for each business is finding an integration platform that can reliably support its service operations or business needs now and in the future. A centralized, unified platform such as TimeLinx should be flexible enough to support all integration patterns required by your field service business, whether it’s ERP integration or any other system integration.

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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.

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