What is field services? Field services refers to any type of work in which a company must send a trained worker to a location in order to complete a task on behalf of a customer. Industries as diverse as healthcare, education, tech, hospitality, and marketing are starting to branch into a field services model as more of the workforce becomes remote. However, the traditional conception of field services is in industries like HVAC, plumbing, electrical, and other contracting and construction specialties.
But just because industries like HVAC, plumbing, and electrical are the original field services, doesn’t mean they can keep doing business the same way that has worked for the last hundred years. 89% customers want modern technology with features like on-demand field service scheduling, centralized service history, and technician arrival tracking. And, 84% are willing to pay more for these service elements that can be provided by a top-tier field service software.
As business owners consider the necessity of digital transformation in field services, there are lots of questions. What are the features of good field services management software? And what benefits to the bottom line are provided by software? Read on for the answers and insights you need to choose a field service software that is right for your business and team.
How Can I Improve My Field Service?
Managing logistics, allocating resources, and scheduling work are the efforts that make a successful field services business work. If you’re wondering how to improve your business and make market gains over your local competition, field service management software is likely to be a big part of the equation. 52% of field service businesses still use manual processes for their scheduling, record keeping, and billing. Once a comprehensive cloud platform is implemented, service agreement performance, customer interactions, billing efficiency, and more can immediately begin to improve.For more about how to improve your field services, read our recent blog.
Field Service Management Software for Small Business
Only 48% of field services providers are currently using a software solution, but this market is expected to double by 2025. This means even if your small HVAC or plumbing business isn’t looking to modernize, your competition probably is.
One area your field services business is likely already using software and technology is through mobile devices provided to technicians. Whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, or laptop in the truck, mobile technology allows employees to stay in touch with the main office, make inquiries about available resources like machinery and inventory, and even document their work.
But pulling off this functionality commonly means using multiple technologies. Maybe you have one app for work orders and dispatch, another for documentation, and still another for inventory or invoicing. The picture gets even more complicated when manual processes on the administrative side must integrate with these technologies.
One study found the average small to medium sized business (SMB) is using at least 20 paid software subscriptions and 30 free software subscriptions, to the tune of $20,000 a month in spending. Across departments like scheduling, service, accounting, and customer service, you might already be making a mental list of how these products pile up.
A field service management software platform provides an all-in-one solution to many of these needs. Not only are costs of different subscriptions integrated into one platform, employees across multiple departments and locations communicate better and more efficiently about the work that needs to be done.
What Does Field Services Management Software Do?
Unlike a patchwork solution of many different products, field services management software is specifically developed to meet the project management and inventory management needs of industries like HVAC, plumbing, and electrical service. Let’s explore several features of an integrated field services management software platform:
- Field Service Scheduling Software allows for emergency and short-notice calls to be integrated with the schedule alongside previously-scheduled appointments. Integrated mapping and GPS allows the scheduling team to estimate the impact of schedule changes in advance.
- Field Service Dispatch Software: The dispatching functions of field service management software start by integrating the mobile devices of the technicians in the field. They not only receive real-time updates on changes to the schedule, but also the service history, contact information, and availability of inventory to get the job done.
- Job Management Software: Once the technician arrives on-site, the service dispatch software also supports techs in efficiently performing and documenting the work. Mobile devices allow for photographs and other records to be uploaded so the technician can get support from other experts or just share records of their completed work.
- Installed Equipment and Warranty Tracking Software: When immediate service isn’t needed, the field services management software can still be at work for the clients and the business. Automation and the Internet of Things can make proactive maintenance easier than ever. The system can also keep track of current warranties and other customer loyalty initiatives like credits or discounts.
- Field Services Billing and Invoicing Software: Field service management software also helps with the administrative side of the business. The software can manage even complex billing scenarios like consolidated billing for multi-site clients, preventative maintenance agreements, and even non-billing when a repair is under warranty.
All this functionality adds up to better service for your clients, and more efficient management of field services resources for your business.
The choice to use an all-in-one field service management software that integrates scheduling, dispatch, documentation, inventory management, and invoicing is an easy way to make this transition and improve efficiency across the business thanks to one new tool.
How Does Field Service Software Help Employees?
We’ve talked about how service management software helps a business, but there are more specific ways this technology makes life easier and better for your employees or independent contractors.
- Route Optimization: Through mobile device integration, a field service software can help service professionals in the field calculate the best route between client sites.
- Service History: On-demand insight of the service history at the site lets the technician know what parts and equipment they need today, as well as the fixes that have worked or been attempted in the past.
- Project Management: An integrated solution allows project managers to look ahead to the projects over the next few weeks, making sure they have gathered the resources and inventory necessary to start those projects off on the right foot, and finish there.
- Contracts and Billing: Automated billing based on service contracts reduces the repetition of sending invoices for administrative staff, as well as any error that might occur based on contract terms. Plus, the software provides customers with a secure portal to make payments and automates bookkeeping.
- Inventory Insight: Powerful business intelligence allows the team to see what parts and equipment are available today, while also projecting what is likely to be needed in the next weeks and months. By looking over the past patterns of the service you’ve provided, artificial intelligence can notify you when certain resources need to be replenished or increased.
- Customer Experience: The automated communications, customer portal, and flexible field service management add up to a better customer experience. In turn, this increases employee morale and satisfaction. Common causes of dissatisfaction are minimized and streamlined while efficiency and great service are enabled.
Do you have independent field services contractors going to the work site as the face of your company? At least 70% of field service organizations are facing a talent shortage due to many professionals reaching retirement age without younger skilled professionals available to fill the gap. This is one reason Gartner predicted that by 2020, 40% of field service workers in the industry would be independent contractors.
Field services management software empowers these professionals with the information and resources they need to perform well in this capacity. Implementing an easy-to-use field service management software is one means to stand out in the hiring market and attract the attention and loyalty of employees and independent contractors alike.
The answer of what is the best field service management software differs for every business, based on the number of users, volume of service calls, inventory that needs management, types of service and warranty agreements, and more. The most popular field services software might not necessarily be the best choice, or it could be a great one. Refer to our recent blog to dig deeper into deciding which field services software is best for you.
What is the Best Dispatching Software?
Within the many demands of a field services company, dispatching is one of the most essential. Letting your employees and contractors know about the service calls ahead of them is what keeps them on track. Knowing where they are and how much longer they will be at each job site is essential information to respond to emergency calls. And functional, simple integration with any kind of mobile device keeps everyone happy and informed. We recently wrote more about how to decide between different field services dispatching software.
Field Service Management Software Reviews
Choosing a field service management software is no different than buying any other product these days—it’s important to read and carefully consider the available reviews. The stories of satisfied customers will let you know the best-case scenarios that could manifest at your business. The complaints of unhappy users might give specific insight into reasons the product isn’t the best choice for your business.
In addition to the reviews left by customers, we also recommend relying on the perspectives of software experts who are trusted industry reviewers. These professionals are trained to review software, and through exposure to many different platforms will be able to share comparisons that help businesses choose between different types of field service management software.
Here are three sites we like that compare and contrast many of the industry-leading field service management software products, including both user testimonials and expert perspectives:
- Capterra.com is a site dedicated to ranking and reviewing cutting-edge business software, including field service management software.
- Getapp.com offers reviews and ratings and allows users to narrow their field services software search based on company size, average review strength, pricing model, supported devices, and more.
- Business-Software.com reviewed over 4,000 field service management platforms and compiled a report of 20 winners.
These lists will give field service businesses insight into the many options available, what they have in common, and what makes the standouts really shine.
Field Service Software Pricing
Field service software pricing occurs in two phases. First, there is the cost to install and set up the field service management software. This means the team at your software provider should take time to learn your workflow and needs and set up the product accordingly. Then, users in roles like management, dispatch, service, and accounting must be trained by the software provider to use the system. At Circle City Software Solutions our Acumatica deployment process takes around six weeks from meeting your company to using the software.
Then, a recurring maintenance or subscription cost for the field management software will be paid monthly or yearly. Depending on the product you choose, this cost could be based on different factors:
- User-based software costs: The field service company pays per user of the software
- Transaction-based software costs: The field service company pays each time the software is used
- Resource-based software costs: The field service company pays based on the cloud resources used by their software
Circle City Software Solutions installs the Acumatica platform on a resource-based cost basis. This means a more fixed and predictable cost for the business owner. Our one-fee model respects the investment of the busines owner and lets you make the most of the investment on your own terms. Even as new locations open or you acquire other businesses to expand your reach, Acumatica scales with you and is adapted to your business. These are just some of the reasons we believe in this product, which is the fastest-growing field management software on the market.
Acumatica Field Service Management Software
Historically we have seen field service companies get underserved when it comes to business software. Rather than a tailored solution that fits your needs and workflow, it’s all too often you have to accept a product and change your work style to match.
We believe service organizations deserve a product that serves them, which is why we stand behind the Acumatica platform. This extensive resource planning application provides connected financials, project accounting, order management, and inventory applications. Field technicians are able to access the same information as schedulers and accountants, allowing everyone to communicate about the needs, solutions, and appropriate billing for each project in one application.
- Dispatchers can send the best technician to each client with transparent technician availability, credentials, certifications, and real-time location.
- Technicians arrive faster to get the job done thanks to route optimization.
- Adequate stocking levels for inventory are easier to maintain with an integrated system.
- Mobile app affords instant access to each client’s service history, current warranty and contract information, and available inventory and equipment to meet their needs.
Acumatica is a program that allows field service providers to differentiate themselves from the regional competition. Faster response times, a secure self-service portal, and better inventory management all translate to more satisfied customers. Your entire business will be more accurate, timelier, and more efficient once Acumatica is installed.
Choose the Right Field Service Management App
Choosing the right field management software can feel a little like choosing between different shades of white paint. You know there’s a difference between all the options, but at some point, they all start to look the same.
That’s why we created our field service management software checklist, to help you determine what is important to you and keep your needs front of mind as you review the many options.
Field service management software doesn’t need to be fancy or distracting. It just needs to empower your team to get the job done more efficiently, alleviating challenges like inventory tracking, emergency schedule changes, and even helping technicians in the field avoid the traffic jam that could ruin their day and disrupt everything down the line.
Circle City Software Solutions believes in providing exactly the software functionality that is needed and teaching your team to make the most of it. We don’t want the process to take longer than it has to or interrupt your current success.