Key Field Service Management Software Features You Must Have

Written by: Gerard Frei- Select Hub: March 2023

Managing a field service workforce involves days filled with job schedule complaints, work orders and endless emails. Without a means to organize and manage these processes, your job can turn into the stuff of nightmares. And if you don’t already take advantage of field service management software, this is likely your reality. Let’s take a look at some field service software basics before diving into features and capabilities.

What is Field Service Software?

Field service software, also known as field service management (FSM) software and field workforce management software, is an all-in-one solution that manages every aspect of field services from a central interface.

By consolidating your data into one place, you never have to look very far when creating schedules, reviewing job history and understanding overall company performance. Field service software also provides sophisticated communication tools to relay information between the field and the office.

These solutions help you optimize and streamline your processes to create a profitable operation. Let’s take an in-depth look at field service software’s basic and advanced features below.

Basic Features

There are a few basic features that most field service management solutions will contain, as they make up the core functionality of this type of software. But keep in mind that there are many field service vendors out there, each offering different packages, add-ons, pricing plans, capabilities and integration possibilities.

Vendors may consider different features “standard,” and as such, not all solutions will share the same tools and functionality. While it’s reasonable to expect the following tools in most systems, do diligent research to ensure your vendor offers everything your business needs.

Job Scheduling, Dispatching and Routing

You need to be on top of your schedule to run a smooth and efficient organization. If not, you might find yourself in a constant game of catch-up, trying to resolve the issues a bad schedule can cause.

For instance, a technician’s sick day can mean rescheduling several jobs last minute. While this is a stressful task with just a pen and paper, field service scheduling software makes it quick and straightforward.

Most FSM software takes factors such as a technician’s availability, skill level, proximity to resources and geographical location into account when assigning jobs. Some systems do this automatically, while others use an algorithm to suggest the right technicians for specific jobs. Then, once scheduled, the solution automatically notifies the technicians of the type and start time of the next job.

Automated route planning maximizes your field technicians’ time and fuel by finding the best routes they can take to complete a set of assignments. It works by tracking technicians and their vehicles in real time using GPS.

Many solutions use this feature to offer turn-by-turn navigation and recommend the closest technicians during job scheduling. This feature can also help office staff hold their technicians accountable regarding time management.

Work Order Management

Like everything else these days, work orders have gone digital. Work order management streamlines the process and eliminates confusion by tracking work orders throughout the job cycle. After a manager receives and assigns a job, the work order records which technician is responsible for completing it. That information is available to everyone who can access the system.

Further, this feature allows technicians to document their work at a particular job. Techs can take notes, record video and audio, take photos and update completion status. In the future, office staff and other technicians can quickly access and use this information without worrying about incorrect or missing data due to bad handwriting or lost notepads.

After technicians finish a job, they can mark it as complete in the system. With a brief search, you and the other techs can see the status of all your work orders. Now, everyone is on the same page, and there is no question about a job’s completion.

Even after finishing an assignment, the solution saves work orders for later viewing or auditing. But to be safe, check your vendor’s data storage plans to ensure you can access documentation from as far back as needed.

Mobile Access

Due to the nature of the field services industry, systems often provide a mobile-first interface. Nearly all cloud-deployed software has a mobile technician app that allows access to the system’s most essential features. Using a system’s mobile field app, your technicians can view their schedules and receive dispatches on their phones, in addition to marking work orders as complete as soon as they finish the job.

Mobile interfaces also give technicians access to instructional resources to help them in the field. They can use these resources to more efficiently diagnose and resolve errors, especially in complex equipment. Mobile apps can also provide a messaging interface, which we’ll discuss in more detail later.

Parts Inventory Management

Field service management software also supports asset management efforts by monitoring the inventory of parts your technicians use daily. Since field technicians likely use many of the same components to complete various tasks and repairs, you need to make sure that those parts are well-stocked at all times.

Field service software with inventory management features helps you monitor inventory levels and avoid slowdowns from insufficient stock. The system records whenever a technician takes or uses a part, which keeps a real-time record of your supply. Some platforms utilize barcodes to track inventory and use handheld devices or mobile apps with built-in barcode scanners to update inventory instantly.

Many providers send an alert once the inventory for a particular part reaches a predetermined level, so you always know when you need to order more. Moreover, many systems integrate analytics with their inventory software to create demand forecasts, giving office staff insight into the most used parts and when they should expect to reorder.

Case, Contact and Order Management

Customer management is especially important to field service organizations. Field service management solutions offer a customer database containing your client’s contact information, past work they’ve received and any notes surrounding special considerations. With this information in hand, you can learn from your past work orders, continuously improving both your customer service and customer satisfaction.

Some field service applications also provide a client portal, allowing customers to access sign-off forms, schedule and change appointments, request a specific technician, view job progress, make payments and fill out surveys. Clients can also provide their cell phone number to receive texts with the ETA of their technicians or service delay notifications.

Utilizing all of these resources and capabilities makes customers feel valued with little to no effort on your end.

Messaging

Built-in messaging systems keep all your field service-related communication within the software. Not only does this make it easier to track communication, but it also allows for capabilities that texting can’t provide, like tagging technicians on specific work orders. Technicians can also use the messaging component when out in the field to send a question to the entire network to quickly source and find an answer.

Advanced Features

Now that we’ve covered the field service software basics, let’s look at features that aren’t standard but are still commonplace among the best providers. These are generally the features that separate the industry leaders from the rest of the field service market.

Reporting and Analytics

Your business must be data-driven to succeed in today’s environment. The more data available, the more flexible and competitive your business can be in the face of ever-changing markets and customer demands.

Field service software’s built-in reporting features help you analyze your data, so you can find the trends that’ll help you optimize your business, such as scheduling efficiency, job completion times, customer service efforts and more. Platforms with reporting features give their customers the best chance to make their field service operations as effective and efficient as possible.

Top systems also use analytics to bolster the rest of their offerings. For example, some systems use predictive analytics to create accurate technician arrival and job time estimates, allowing managers to schedule more jobs more accurately without additional effort.

Maintenance and Repairs

Malfunctioning equipment and unexpected breakdowns result in costly delays, holding up completion and payment of scheduled jobs, and limiting your ability to take on new assignments (not to mention the added cost of repairs).

Field service management software’s predictive maintenance analytics leverage data from history reports, repair cost totals and maintenance reports to help you identify when vehicles, equipment, tools and parts need repair or replacement.

By connecting with the Internet of Things (IoT), some platforms receive real-time metrics from sensors inside vehicles and other assets while sending notifications when any metric reaches an unacceptable level.

Predictive maintenance extends the life of mechanical assets and deters the possibility of unexpected breakdowns and delays, saving you money and keeping your revenue stream on track.

Business Intelligence (BI)

Whether structured or unstructured, your business is constantly creating valuable data. And capturing and analyzing all possible business information can be an enormous advantage for your operation, as 80% of businesses say that at least some data at their company goes unused.

Without field service software’s business intelligence features, you could miss out on valuable insights across your operation, such as:

  • Customer demographics
  • First-time fix rates
  • Jobs per technician
  • Revenue per month
  • Most profitable clients and more

BI tools also convert that data into visualizations, such as charts and graphs, so you can identify and contextualize patterns and trends within your organization that negatively affect performance. With this information, you can make smarter, data-driven decisions to optimize processes and save on overall costs.

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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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