Field Service Jargon Unraveled


businessman puzzle

Working with enterprise field service organizations every day, we encounter myriad terms for the technologies field technicians use to get their work done. As with most any industry, field service is rife with jargon and acronyms that baffle the people they’re supposed to help. Couple that with technology buzzwords, and it’s easy to end up confused about what sort of innovation a field service organization needs to be successful.

To bring clarity to the field service technology market, we define the various terms that are most confusing, and make it easier for field service leaders to research and benefit from each technology category.

Field force automation allows technicians to capture data and images in the field using mobile devices and sync that information with their service management, ERP and CRM systems. This type of automation generally improves technicians’ productivity. Field force automation helps the field service organization bill customers more quickly, manage inventory more effectively and ensure field techs are working efficiently. The technologies involved in FFA are mobile devices, apps that run on those devices, and a back-end service management, ERP or CRM system.

Mobile device management enables the administration of mobile devices used by employees within an organization. The devices managed usually include phones, tablets and laptops. Mobile device management software enables the distribution of applications to employees, software policy administration and security management. MDM software also allows IT team to provide service and support for devices. If you’ve ever been required by your employer to enable two-step verification on your phone or computer, you’ve experienced MDM firsthand.

Mobile workforce management, often confused with field service management, is a collection of technologies that enable technician scheduling, dispatching and fulfillment of work orders. It is not as all-encompassing as FSM; it doesn’t include elements such as analytics, portals, service marketing and recurring revenue management. At its core, mobile workforce management maximizes technician productivity and utilization, while enabling workers with mobile tools and wearables. Other key components are knowledge management and parts/asset management, which may be managed in a back-end service management, ERP or CRM platform.

Mobile field workforce enablement is very similar to mobile workforce management, with the addition of collaboration and GPS capabilities. While the scheduling engine is the centerpiece of mobile workforce management technology, the mobile UX is the centerpiece in mobile field workforce enablement. Optimally productive and efficient field techs are constantly focused on work order and task completion, ensuring SLAs are met and customers are satisfied. This gives rise to two additional defining characteristics of mobile field workforce enablement:

  • The ability to work offline
  • The ability to rapidly configure and deploy apps that mold to discrete use cases and field processes

Mobile field workforce enablement at its core is about empowering field techs to work anywhere and eliminate unnecessary tasks or distractions. It streamlines service delivery and lets techs do what they enjoy most: solve customer problems.

Get more expert insight and best practices via our mobile field technician enablement guide, a comprehensive resource for field service leaders.