There are over 20 million field service technicians worldwide, with many companies having hundreds of technicians on call every day. Managing a large mobile workforce can be an incredibly complex and frustrating task.
Without the right tools, a mobile workforce is an operational nightmare — the required monitoring, scheduling, and dispatching often mean dispatchers and managers working for days to facilitate everything needed to run an effective team.
But only 48% of field service companies take advantage of any software, and 45% of technicians say their current solutions are too slow.
So what’s the answer? How do you manage your company’s fleet in a way that your business thrives, your clients talk about you to their friends, and you save time and money?
This article will give you a complete walkthrough to field service management software and other tools you can use to optimize the operations of your field service company.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Field service management software: What is it?
- Which industries need field service management (and why)?
- The limitations of field service management software
- The balanced approach: Field service and route optimization
- Field service management FAQ
- Final thoughts
Field service management software: What is it?
Field service management software is a system that helps your business keep track of all your field operations: orders, service technicians on call, inventory, scheduling, dispatch, billing, and more.
FSM software automates those tasks for you and takes the load off of the shoulders of dispatchers trying to do it all manually.
The field service management system market was worth $2.8 billion in 2019 and is expected to more than double to $5.9 billion in 2024, as the software matures and makes the lives of field service operators even easier.
Let’s say you’re managing a team of HVAC maintenance specialists, on-call 24/7.
On the technician side, field service management software would help you monitor the staff that’s on call, control their availability, schedule any gigs, and monitor their job status remotely.
On the customer side, you can manage incoming orders, complete job costing, handle electronically signed work orders, and send invoices.
Features of field service management tools:
Field service management tools include a lot of features that are great for managing your service fleet and handling your orders from customers.
Work Order Management
Create, edit, delete and reassign work orders with a few button clicks. You can manually assign work, or let technicians check and accept jobs independently.
Keep track of everything from start to finish, including quotes, customer requests, customer sign-offs, and invoices, digitally without any fuzz.
Scheduling & Dispatching
Automate scheduling & field service dispatch for large technician teams and save considerable working hours and operational costs.
Monitor job status, service delivery, and more with real-time updates, and use the data to review the performance of each technician in terms of timeliness, time to handle orders, and customer complaints.
Track the location of all trucks, vans, and drivers in your fleet with real-time data. Use the data to more efficiently allocate rush-jobs based on current locations.
Keep track of all your specialized equipment at all times by letting field workers sign out gear using a mobile app.
Create advanced checklists for individual service tasks that factor in regulatory and compliance concerns.
Which industries need field service management (and why?)
By now you, you understand just how powerful a tool field service management can be.
But what kind of company needs a dedicated service management solution?
The short answer: any company that offers field services — regardless of size.
It’s a great asset for pest control, HVAC servicing, plumbers, cable installation, pool maintenance, fire & life safety technicians, and other businesses.
But those aren’t the only companies who need field service management.
Field service management is a crucial part of running all successful on-site service organizations, including:
- HVAC & refrigeration
- Pool & spa installation and care
- Other installation & maintenance services
- Pipeline inspectors
- Fire & life safety inspectors
- Building inspectors
- Construction companies
- Mobile healthcare providers
- Mobile veterinarians
- Office maintenance companies
- Cleaning services
- Property maintenance
As long as you have a fleet of technicians or professionals and a dispatcher, it could help you cut down on operational costs and manage your workforce more efficiently.
A real-world example:
Telgian, a leading US fire & life safety company, has used OptimoRoute’s field service planning, route optimization, and workforce management features to transform their business.
Managing their workforce was a major growth blocker, as dispatchers manually planned out inspectors’ weekly routes using an inefficient mapping program.
By switching to OptimoRoute, they made planning 82% more efficient, reduced their operational staff by 66%, and empowered their inspectors to take on more work. As a result, they scaled their business, with YoY growth 19% over three years, without expanding their team of inspectors.
Why does your business need field service management tools?
Field service teams (your mobile workforce), face many hurdles in becoming the lean, efficient machine they need to be to meet the demands of the modern consumer.
Increased competition, shorter attention spans, and shrinking margins mean that what used to be a single field service inconvenience can affect the stability or growth of your business.
To stay competitive, your field service teams need to handle service calls at scale without complicating your dispatching and operations.
A field service business has many essential operational tasks. Your dispatch staff must:
- Maximize calls made without overworking your staff.
- Plan calls and deliveries as far into the future as possible
- Manage work orders at scale, efficiently creating, editing, and assigning them to teams.
- Use templates to optimize your quoting and contract signing processes.
- Keep first-time fix failures to a minimum with detailed checklists.
- Meet rising customer expectations with accurate time windows and notifications.
- Minimize gas and work hours spent on the road with efficient routes.
- Monitor your service teams’ progress on service calls.
- Know where your field technicians are at all times (for safety and organization).
It’s a lot to handle, and service management software can’t do it all alone.
The limitations of field service management software
Field service management tools give you some of what you need to tackle the business challenges we highlighted above. You can efficiently manage work orders from start to finish, how they come in, service call templates, customer requests, equipment requirements, and billing & invoicing.
But even modern solutions in 2020 fall short when it comes to workforce management, scheduling, and route optimization — the key features necessary to maximize service calls, solve the last-mile problem, and improve customer satisfaction.
Field service management limitations:
- Route optimization: While many FSM solutions claim to have route optimization capabilities, they are limited in scope and inefficient compared to dedicated solutions.
- Smart scheduling: If automated scheduling or planning is available, it’s usually basic and doesn’t consider unique technician qualifications, vehicle capacities, and workloads. FSM systems rely on a lot of manual input to create accurate schedules.
- Workforce management: With no smart tools, limited data, and dated dashboards, it’s hard to maximize the efficiency of your dispatching staff, who typically have to assign work orders to technicians manually. That can lead to issues like improperly balanced workloads and excessive overtime
That’s why, even with management software tailored to your field service company, you should branch out and improve your processes with other tools.
The balanced approach: field service management and route optimization
If you want to transform your business and make it as efficient as possible, FSM software alone isn’t enough.
Sure, it can help you manage your work orders, ensure compliance, and uphold contracts, but to truly optimize the efficiency of your mobile workforce, you need a dedicated route optimization and planning solution.
Here’s how the two systems can work together…
#1. Use FSM to handle work orders, invoicing, inventory, and contracts
Field service management software does have its place in any modern service business. It’s the key to handling orders and inventory management effectively.
- Accept, create, edit, and reassign work orders quickly and efficiently.
- Make sure your technicians follow all rules and regulations with thorough checklists.
- Handle job costing based on accurate technician data and send invoices automatically.
- Keep track of all your essential and expensive inventory across technician teams, vehicles, and locations.
- Use smart templates to quickly draft contracts, and get your technicians working faster.
#2. Use route optimization to improve route and workforce efficiency
While FSM software can help you run your business more smoothly, route optimization software is what will help a service business make the most significant bottom-line gains.
- Maximize the number of service calls you can make with your existing workforce, and improve your company’s profitability.
- Automatically plan optimized routes with custom capacities, qualifications, and start and end locations for each technician.
- Get happier customers and improve SLA-performance by ensuring technicians arrive on time with smarter schedules and better-mapped routes.
- Minimize missed appointments with strict time windows, accurate ETAs, and automatic email & SMS notifications to your customers.
Field service management FAQ
In this section, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions about field service management.
What is field support?
Field support engineers or specialists provide on-site, hands-on advice and technical support to organizations using computer software or hardware solutions.
For example, a field support specialist could be called in if an internet of things (IoT) solution was malfunctioning or unable to collect data correctly.
What is an ITSM tool?
IT Service Management tools help organizations control how IT services are delivered to clients or within a company, based on budgets, regulations, existing processes, staff, and desired outcomes.
Since ITSM solutions can be pricey, many companies use help desk software or other cheaper solutions to manage their internal IT services, even though this involves more manual labor and a higher risk of human error.
How big is the field service industry?
Like we mentioned in the introduction, there are over 20 million field technicians across the globe, so it’s a large part of the global economy.
But since field service is technically an umbrella term that encompasses multiple industries, you have to look at the individual industry market sizes to get an idea of the scale.
There are over 109,400 HVAC businesses in the US alone, with 531,981 employees and a market size of $94 billion. A significant portion of this revenue comes from field maintenance.
If we include pool maintenance, fire & life safety inspections, and other installation, maintenance, and inspection-focused industries, we’re talking millions of employees in the US alone.
Field service operations offer unique problems that can lead to a lot of manual data entry, paperwork, and working hours. Managing a fleet of technicians covering a large geographical area is a huge business challenge.
Field service management is vital for companies to efficiently manage orders at scale and minimize the risk of human error.
If your main goal is to maximize service calls and minimize time on the road, you can use OptimoRoute as a replacement for FSM software.
If you also care about efficient order management, invoicing, quoting, and contracts, it’s best to use our solution in combination with a field service management solution.
For a cloud-based solution that will help you save time on planning, and money on gas and payroll, take OptimoRoute for a 100% free & non-committal 30-day test drive today.