The Ultimate Guide to Field Service Management
8th October 2021 - Efficiently managing your workforce is paramount to making customers happy and growing your business, but it’s notoriously tricky to keep track of everything. Manual data entry and outdated methods cause miscommunication and squander precious time that you and your employees could spend completing more business-critical work.
Yet, small and medium-sized businesses are reportedly spending 23% of an average workday manually inputting data. That’s two hours wasted per day.
Thankfully, with an advanced field service management (FSM) platform in place, you can manage your workforce more efficiently, keep your customers happy and grow your business simultaneously.
In this guide, we’ll explain what FSM is, why efficiency is fundamental in improving field service operations, and what you need to manage a field-based workforce effectively.
What is Field Service Management?
Field service management refers to the handling of overseeing workers, equipment and operations out in the field.
Processes such as job scheduling and dispatching workers, communicating with people on the job, product inventory maintenance, collecting data, compliance and back-office administration are all dealt with through field service management.
However, field service management is complex and multifaceted, making it tricky to manage. Unfortunately, the challenge is only magnified further if businesses use multiple, unconnected systems and slow processes.
As a result, more organisations are beginning to realise the value of a good field service management platform. In fact, statistics show that the FSM market could reach £7.9 billion by 2026 as business leaders turn to software to stay ahead of the curve and keep up with the ever-evolving field service industry landscape.
By managing all business operations within a singular, easy-to-use platform, you can streamline the workflow, improve communication and free up more time for everyone to focus on critical priorities.
Increasing Workforce Efficiency to Improve Field Service Operations
Although most field-based service businesses use computers and mobile devices day-to-day, only 51% have adopted field service management software. A quarter of organisations continue to rely on spreadsheets, and the remainder use whiteboards and other antiquated methods to manage their operations.
Tried-and-tested methods may get the job done eventually, but they’re shockingly inefficient.
Modern field service management systems remove the inefficiencies traditional methods create and equip your team with the tools they need to be productive. Here are six ways workforce efficiency improves field service operations:
1. Saving Time
Running a business is already time-consuming as it is. Adding pointless, manual administrative processes and unnecessary phone calls into the mix takes even more valuable hours away from you and your team, making it harder to focus on more essential tasks.
In fact, 55% of small and medium-sized organisations report that insufficient time places an extensive constraint on their business activities.
With the right resources in place that enable your team to schedule jobs, dispatch workers and keep track of projects, the entire workflow becomes more efficient. As a result, field service operations improve since employees, both field and office-based, have sufficient time to enhance the customer experience and complete more work.
2. Saving Money
Companies that spend money maintaining legacy systems are wasting time on inefficient software and losing money in the process.
Ineffectual processes and systems lead to poor communication, which causes several headaches across the entire workflow. Instead, by improving workforce efficiency through a field service management system, you could benefit from the following:
- Effective stock control and procurement: With greater visibility over your stock, there’s a lowered chance of over-ordering or running out of vital materials right before an important project.
You can also use the data collected over extended periods to analyse your habits and better forecast future requirements. Consequently, you’ll be able to complete more jobs and potentially negotiate better rates with your regular vendors in the future.
- Higher first-time fix rates: To get a project done on time and to a high standard, you need to send the right person for the job. For maximum cost-saving and efficiency, the worker must also be nearby and have the right tools and materials with them.
If you can ensure that the worker ticks off all the requirements, you’ll save money on travel costs, and first-time fix rates will likely improve, meaning the worker can move on to more projects in a shorter time frame.
- Remote resolution: Field service management systems are agile and can therefore handle the unpredictability of each day. With access to real-time data, schedulers and managers have complete visibility over their workforce, improving communication with both the workers and their customers, and pre-empting any issues before they become costly.
3. Creating A Positive Working Environment
Studies show that happier employees are up to 20% more productive than unhappy employees. Therefore, to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your workforce, you must keep them engaged with their work.
If your business still relies on outdated, manual systems, you may find a dip in productivity. Teams that have to carry out repetitive, arduous work will quickly become dissatisfied, leading to more errors, poor communication with field workers and, at worst, staff resignations.
Improving workforce efficiency is one way to alleviate the burden on your employees, which in turn boosts field service operations. Arming your employees with the best field service management software allows them to manage the process end-to-end quickly and easily.
With less ‘busy work’ taking up their time, employees will be more motivated to direct their attention to activities that directly contribute to business growth.
4. Enhancing Accuracy
Your employees expect good service, but when you leave your business operations’ fate in the hands of legacy systems and manual processes, you increase the margin for error.
Whether you have to spend time correcting an invoice that doesn’t match the quote, or you underestimated the quantity of materials available to carry out a project, your company’s reputation begins to suffer and projects become delayed.
However, you can easily avoid inefficiencies caused by human error.
Using a field service management system increases accuracy by providing precise data and using pre-existing customer information to populate important documents. Subsequently, you can complete work far quicker, your reputation remains intact and your customers receive better service. Unsurprisingly, customers who receive excellent service spend 140% more on average than those who don’t, so you could also expect higher revenue in the long run.
5. Improving Communication
It isn’t easy to ensure the entire company is on the same page if you don’t have suitable communication methods in place. Banking on texts, paper-based forms and phone calls to get up-to-date information from your field-based workers could cause a plethora of issues.
Traditional communication methods aren’t always the most reliable or accurate, making it hard to understand what’s working and what isn’t. To continuously improve field service operations, you must make sure your communication methods are effective.
Field service management software gives you access to real-time information about where your workers are, how long it takes to travel to locations, and each active job’s status. With complete visibility and exact data coming directly from your workers’ mobile devices, you can plan ahead, complete more projects and mitigate any issues before they impact the workflow.
6. Quicker Invoicing
For many businesses, once a field-based worker has completed a job, it takes approximately 11 hours to process an invoice for the customer manually. However, the payment process can only begin once the technician has submitted their paper-based documents, by hand, to the office.
Fortunately, there is a way to improve efficiency and thus field service operations.
Field service management software digitises forms and automatically pulls through accurate, pre-populated data about the customer. Field-based technicians can send paperwork as soon as the job is complete via their mobile device and include any additional information that may be required, such as photographic evidence.
The immediacy at which documents can be sent between workers, the office, and clients dramatically accelerates the payment process. Customers will be happy that everything was straightforward, and your cash flow will remain steady as a result.
Field Service Management Software: Helping You Manage a Field-Based Workforce
Field service management occurs in various industries, but the fundamental dilemmas it poses are the same. In order to improve field service operations, there are a core set of requirements you must address:
1. Strong Communication
It’s almost impossible to manage a field-based workforce without knowing where the workers are or what they’re doing. Historically, businesses haven’t had the complete visibility they need to make informed decisions. Instead, they rely on phone calls, texts and paper-based documents to maintain communication with their staff.
When businesses use traditional methods to contact their remote workers, it creates an intrinsically sluggish, disorganised and error-prone way of working.
Modern technologies play a crucial role in transforming communications between organisations and field workers with smartphone apps, cloud-based software and GPS tracking. Not only can you access accurate information instantly, but you can use it to streamline current ways of working.
Field service operations are truly put to the test when things go wrong. For example, organisations that use outmoded systems and processes may find that they can’t handle delays or errors at speed, leading to inevitable cancellations and complaints.
Real-time data and cloud-based platforms are ideal for improving flexibility. The system tracks everything from the moment you take on a new client right up to invoicing and payment, complete with digital proof of work carried out. Therefore, you can use the information to predict and manage challenges, and communicate them with your field-based workforce, before they become problematic.
3. Performance Monitoring
When your workers carry out all jobs off-site, how do you keep track of progress? Relying on paperwork, phone calls and texts will prevent you from receiving real-time data. Consequently, you won’t have complete visibility over projects, which will hinder your ability to make ongoing improvements to field service operations.
That’s where field service management systems come in handy. With access to continuous, accurate updates, you can monitor your team’s performance and set achievable targets to continue advancing overall efficiency.
4. Smart Technology
There’s a lot of choice for business leaders who are considering implementing a field service management system. However, the challenge lies with finding the right one for your organisation.
To manage your field-based workforce effectively, you must have a technology in place that will improve your current ways of working. Take a look at your existing processes. If they’re creating inefficiencies and losing your business money, you should look for a technology that can tackle those issues directly.
An all-in-one platform, such as BigChange, allows you to manage everything, from prospecting to quoting, job scheduling to service delivery and from invoicing to taking payments, all on one system. It’s never been easier to connect your office, field-based workers and customers seamlessly.
Improve Your Field Service Operations with BigChange
Save valuable time and stay connected to every aspect of your business with BigChange.
JobWatch, our highly secure, cloud-based technology, helps you track and control every job from a single platform. Everything you need to know will be at your fingertips, making it easy to plan, manage, schedule and track your field-based workforce and transport operations.
Plus, you’ll be able to make the most of our dedicated, 24/7/365 human support based in Yorkshire.
Want to find out more?
Discover how BigChange can make your business grow stronger here and arrange a free demo today.