How should businesses evaluate field service management solutions?
Monday, 01 May, 2017
Field service management (FSM) software is becoming increasingly sophisticated, and ever-more robust feature sets can be something of a red herring. Mobility and becoming cloud-first are critical for effectively supporting a service team in the field. Regardless of whether the service provider is a regional utility, internet service provider, or supplier of office equipment, customer satisfaction is their number one concern.
As customer experience becomes a primary competitive differentiator, businesses need to maximize efficiencies and minimize costs so that they can focus their energy on their customer. Whether it’s predictive travel and automated routing, smart scheduling, or parts management depends largely on the business. The important piece is enabling your service organization to function in an optimized fashion and focus on delivering more visibility and better service levels to the customer.
Don’t get too caught up with fancy features
It’s easy to get distracted by all the features a field service management solution has to offer. Standard capabilities for FSM software include scheduling and mobility, and there’s a plethora of additional features available such as planning, forecasting, customer engagement, and analytics. But when looking for the solution that best fits your needs, there’s more important things to consider.
One thing to think about is the deployment model, as it can have a huge impact on business. For instance, software delivered from a multi-tenant software-as-a-service (SaaS) model can give you an advantage in speed. If you want to deliver business advantage, it’s more important to think about the way technology works with processes and people than features.
Qualities of a great FSM solution
It’s not easy to predict which innovation will be widely adopted. When it comes to choosing the right technology, field service organizations should consider what their customers value most. It’s also important to be flexible and open-minded about what you choose. No solution is 100% future-proof, but you can come close. Here are some suggestions:
Cloud-first solutions allow for fast, frequent, and seamless updates to the latest features and enhancements. It’s almost impossible to do the same on on-premises installations, which require additional hardware.
Open APIs and Extensibility
Open application program interfaces (APIs) and extensibility allow for new capabilities to be easily adopted. For instance, you could implement Internet of Things (IoT) enabled devices or augmented reality goggles.
Highly Configurable Solutions
Your FSM solution should not be limited to one specific data model. For instance, IoT devices represent a new set of variables for incorporation into operations. It helps to have a generalized approach to data management and the processing power of a cloud platform. This allows companies to translate the data into actionable, automated improvements.
Determining the best solution for your organization
Any business with a substantial mobile workforce is constantly weighing the cost of service delivery and keeping customers happy with the need to grow revenue. These are not service concerns, they are business concerns. Starting the conversation with cost and features excludes real business value. When considering a field service management solution, a business needs to have clearly defined business goals, as well as an understanding of how they rate against one another in priority.
When comparing vendors, look past features and costs. Instead consider the following factors about each vendor:
- Company lifeblood: Has the vendor’s solution had success with other companies? Research some proof points and see if they’ve solved similar problems elsewhere.
- Focus: How focused is the vendor on field service management? Is it their top priority or are they one solution in a portfolio of disconnected offerings?
- Vision: Take a look at the vendor’s roadmap. Does it align with your field service business goals?
- Experience: Has this vendor worked with companies similar to yours? Check out some case studies or talk to some of their customers.
- The Team: Do you foresee a long-term partnership with this vendor? Is this a team you can work well with? Can they understand your business and be a true partner?
- Support: How responsive will the vendor be? Do they provide global 24/7 support? Are they fully committed to your success?
A field service management software provider needs to understand their customer’s business concerns and educate the customer on how to leverage their solution—like a true business partner. The right FSM solution is the one that can help a business calculate return on investment (ROI), optimize for specific business goals rather than generic operations key performance indicators (KPIs), and clarify the impact of different variables on the desired outcomes.
This article was first published on Field Service Matters: http://www.fieldservicematters.com
About the Author
Paul Whitelam is Group VP of Product Marketing at ClickSoftware, where he works with field service management leaders across a variety of industries. Paul has more than twenty years’ experience in enterprise software, working on both the technical and business aspects of many of the areas that are fundamental to field service such as mobility and sensor technology (Nokia), data management (Endeca), and machine learning, SaaS and GIS.
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