Five Important Criteria for Choosing Field Service Software
Field service organizations must enable world-class service delivery to stay competitive. To streamline field service management and provide maximum value to customers while improving productivity and profitability, most service organizations rely on field service software to orchestrate their operations. Field service software optimizes service delivery, workflows, and data with automated processes and capabilities.
There are “best-of-breed” enterprise FSM applications that have been vetted by major industry analysts, including Gartner, Aberdeen and Forrester. Perhaps the gold standard for field service management software is the Gartner Magic Quadrant. This report ranks the best field service management software packages available based on their strengths and weaknesses.
Gartner’s 2016 Magic Quadrant for Field Service Management includes industry giants like Oracle, ServiceMax, ClickSoftware, IFS, SAP, ServicePower, OverIT, Microsoft and many other providers that provide field service software for specific industry verticals. Choosing the right fit for your organization requires that you first understand the capabilities field service management software should enable at a foundational level. These include:
- demand management
- work planning / operations management
- technician location and deployment
- debrief work orders
- real-time status updates
- GPS navigation/ optimized routing
- parts / inventory management
- track work and travel time
- invoicing and billing
- regulatory compliance reporting
- knowledge base access
Beyond these core capabilities, it is important to give serious consideration to five factors when making a decision on field service software for your organization.
ROI and TCO — The business case for field service management solutions should tie back to measurable outcomes, such as improving customer satisfaction, improving productivity and increasing profitability. Having a baseline measurement of the KPIs that matter most to your business allows you to make a more effective decision about which solution to choose. As for costs, perpetual licenses and subscriptions for FSM tools vary considerably, as do ongoing costs for support and administration. You should also consider costs for services related to customization, configuration, and deployment. When FSM solutions are deployed they are typically large and require services in order to build out, adding time and cost. Finally, consider ongoing support and maintenance requirements as well as internal resources needed to administrate. For many smaller organizations, SaaS offerings are the way to go as these are cheaper, easier to administer, and are often licensed based on the number of users.
Feature shock — Many organizations overbuy when selecting field service management software. Deploying software with more features than your organization can use will drive up costs and add complexity. Focus on business needs and processes first, then find the technology you need to facilitate both.
Scalability — Some field service management software integrates with other applications such as CRM, ERP and enterprise asset management. Others require custom integrations with these systems and that will incur additional costs. Make sure you understand how the field service management software you choose integrates with other systems in your environment. You don’t want field service management software that will be restrained inside another data silo.
Mobility — In field service management operations, mobility can provide real-time updates, increase first-time fix rates, increase technician productivity, improve regulatory compliance, and shorten billing cycles. Many enterprise software providers have strong mobile capabilities while others are lacking in important areas. Because you are looking for a comprehensive field service management solution, this is critical to get right the first time. Many of the FSM software providers that have weaknesses in this area turn to their partner to fill the gaps. According to the 2016 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Field Service Management: “By 2020, two out of three large field service organizations will equip field technicians with a mobile application that drives profitability by creating revenue streams, efficiency and customer satisfaction.”
Ask the experts — There are two groups of experts to call upon: the vendor’s customers and your own team. Interviewing a vendor’s reference customers is a key step in the decision-making process. But go beyond that. Check on actual customer retention rates. You should easily be able to tell which software packages have loyal customers and which do not by examining attrition rates. See what kinds of comments users post in forums and LinkedIn groups. Net promoter scores and customer satisfaction ratings, when publicly available, are also important indicators to consider. As for talking to people within your organization, your field technicians are on the front lines and can provide critical insight into what solutions could work best. They deal with customer problems on a daily basis and know which tools will make their jobs easier. Delivering exceptional field service on equipment at customer sites is more than showing up within expected time frames. Being able to provide the technicians with full visibility into the asset so he or she can get it fixed on the first visit is critical. It is the difference between providing world-class service and losing customers.