Field service management is the practice and theory of managing on-premise work, including personnel, equipment, service, and work operations. In general, field service management encompasses processes like work orders, dispatches to new assignments, communicating with field workers, managing inventory, and collecting data from the field.
For most companies, this is one of the most operationally complex tasks as it involves numerous quickly changing variables and moving parts. Managing all of the intricacies of the process requires an exceptional amount of experience and attentiveness.
What are the components of field service management?
Typically, field service management involves dispatching a person or a team of high skill to install, repair, or maintain equipment, software, systems, or any other assets. As field technicians work on their assigned task, the field service manager(s) ensure proper task completion.
Simply put, the goal of a field service manager is to ensure the proper allocation of resources and employees to each specific task. Additionally, they monitor and coordinate the work of on-site service practitioners.
Field service management may include:
- Field service scheduling. It’s the process of managing the schedules of multiple employees and service appointments in order to minimize work order completion timelines.
- Work order management. The process of assigning and tracking work orders all the way from creation to invoicing.
- Field service dispatch management. The process of coordinating the movement of field service technicians from any starting location to their end destination.
- Field service contract management. It’s the process of ensuring service level agreements (SLAs) and any other contractual obligations are being met.
- Inventory management. It’s keeping track of all parts, supplies, and assets throughout their general lifecycle.
Essentially, the purpose of FSM software should be to optimize the flow of information from on-premise agents and workers to the backend office. Put simply, it’s a highly advanced combination of Human Resource management software and a CRM.
However, simpler FSM software can often be integrated with either of the two. Proper field management service software should always combine enterprise asset management systems with on-premise data from the field.
Any business where the primary or secondary driver of revenue is field service would be wise to implement field management practices and software.
Benefits of field management service
Implementing efficient field management service practices and solutions has wide sweeping benefits across the entire company. Primarily, efficient field management service revolved around optimizing the use of resources.
In particular, these practices can bring benefits such as:
- Increased uptime. As good practices take hold, less time is being allocated to lower priority tasks and more time is being allocated to necessary maintenance earlier. Additionally, it often leads to longer and more optimal asset life cycles.
- Improving fix rates. Sending the right person with the correct information to the premises means less unnecessary communication and overall confusion.
- Empowered field agents. Good field management service software works both ways – technicians are provided with all the necessary and useful information in real-time. Additionally, field agents can then instantly receive whatever they deem essential for the task at hand.
- Reduced service costs. Data from field management service software can provide accurate and actionable insights into the efficiency of tasks. In addition, scheduling becomes easier, reducing unseen costs from downtimes.
- Increased customer satisfaction. Collecting in-depth feedback about the tasks performed, quality of field technician work, and customer satisfaction provides an avenue to find weak points and address them.
Any business where the primary or secondary driver of revenue is field service would be wise to implement field management practices and software. While there are numerous options for software available, the best practices mostly remain the same across industries.
Field manage service best practices
Of course, the first step to optimizing field service is to have a good tracking and logging tool. Nowadays, that will usually be the field management service software of choice. However, the software itself is just that – a tool that may be useful or burdensome.
Applying field management service best practices allow managers to get more out of software and field technicians. Essentially, the best practices can be separated into 3 large categories: service, project, and maintenance.
Service best practices
Maintaining a clear and consistent schedule for each team of technicians is a vital aspect of good field service management. Their entire day revolves around moving between areas and performing fixes or implementations. Any detour or confusion eventually leads to unnecessary costs.
As a corollary of scheduling, route optimization is the other important aspect of managing on-premise work. Average distance traveled per day is a common key performance indicator. Making sure none of those miles go to waste reduces overall service costs, improves arrival times, and increases customer satisfaction.
Finally, accurate job tracking is essential. Ensuring that field agents have all the necessary information and that the backend office is always informed about progress reduces the likelihood of slowdowns or mistakes. Additionally, tracking job costs may lead to insights about other routes for optimization.
Project best practices
Good FSM doesn’t stop at taking care of field work. While ensuring that technicians can perform their job efficiently takes center stage, a particular task is often just one part of a larger project. Managing these efficiently can greatly increase overall return on costs.
Primarily, the most important feature of good project management is categorizing the entire thing into several stages. Ensuring that every party involved knows all the essential information about the stages, their initiation and end times, overall progress, etc., creates an informed and actionable environment.
In addition, setting up a clear, concise, and structured manner of invoicing may produce great results. Generally, knowing the overall project costs and due payments ahead of time leads to significantly increased customer satisfaction and compliance with obligations.
Maintenance best practices
Finally, all field service businesses should tend to their assets. Regardless of whether it is physical equipment, systems, or software, all assets need to be managed and maintained.
Therefore, regular testing and maintenance is a vital part of effective mobile work. However, being able to anticipate and prevent breakdowns isn’t the only goal. Testing allows a field service manager to have a clear understanding about the status of assets and gives them an opportunity to organize field work around the available resources.
Finally, as an upshot of proper testing, planning the servicing of assets well in advance saves everyone involved a lot of headaches. Allowing clients to know if a team of field technicians are coming ahead of time gives them an opportunity to prepare their own business processes to support the servicing procedures. Proper planning will lead to little to no interruptions in the regular day-to-day of clients – something that is bound to build a great reputation.
As the importance of remote and on-premise work keeps increasing, so does the importance of field service management. Maximizing the task efficiency of each worker means getting ahead of the competition by cutting down costs and increasing customer satisfaction. All of this can be done through field service management.
Want to find out how to maximize the efficiency of your field technicians? Read the Frontu blog to get more information on FSM, software, and process optimization!