What is field service management (FSM)?

Field service management is the coordination of field service operations, including scheduling, dispatching, labor tracking, and invoicing.

Field service describes situations in which authorized technicians perform essential tasks at specific locations. Often, these technicians visit customer-owned properties to install, repair, maintain, or remove systems or equipment.

Your field service personnel must be able to provide skilled, specialized, and often-proprietary services to a range of clients.

What are field service activities?

While field service is an umbrella term that includes any and all work performed by trained agents at various locations, most field service responsibilities fall into one of the following categories.

  • Installation
    Vital field equipment often demands expert installation from trained technicians, capable of making sure that the equipment is set up correctly, and functioning properly. Installation may also include onboarding, answering questions, and training customers on how to properly interact with the equipment.
  • Maintenance
    To ensure the longest-possible operational life of all offsite equipment, technicians often perform maintenance tasks while in the field. Maintenance responsibilities consist of corrective maintenance (repairing equipment), preventive maintenance (routine inspections and recalibrations), and proactive maintenance (comparing current functionality to established baselines to identify and resolve potential problems). Maintenance tasks are scheduled proactively.
  • Repair
    In the event that equipment experiences unexpected failure, field-service personnel may be dispatched to perform emergency repair work. Also called break fix, repairs occur when a customer has an issue and contacts customer service, or books an appointment.
  • Removal
    Equipment that is no longer functioning properly, is being replaced by an upgraded model, or that the customer no longer wants or needs must be removed. Field technicians are responsible for safely disassembling said equipment, and transporting it away from the customer’s property.
  • Scheduled work
    Not all field service is equipment-centric. Some work simply involves sending a person with the right skills to a location to complete a task. For example, home healthcare visits require sending a practitioner with the right skills and equipment to visit a patient at a specific location and time.

What are field service challenges?

At any given time, there are millions of field service technicians performing tasks. In fact, many businesses employ hundreds of field technicians to handle growing demand. However, there are certain challenges that may stand in the way of organizations being able to offer satisfying and effective field services. These may include the following:

  • Poor first-time fix rate
    Technicians failing to address issues in a single visit, or having to return multiple times to address the same problem.
  • Customer dissatisfaction
    Customers having negative experiences, either with the field agent, the field service process, or any other related interaction.
  • Workforce changes
    Experienced technicians retiring and organizations being unable to replace them with equally talented recruits. This also includes concerns related to employee retention and the increased use of outside contractors.
  • Asset visibility
    When assets are owned by the customer, field service organizations struggle to have enough information to provide effective maintenance, which can lead to unplanned downtime.
  • Dispatching field technicians
    Effectively managing, directing, supporting, tracking, and evaluating field service agents.

FSM software includes work order management, scheduling, customer and asset information, parts management, knowledge, questionnaires, collaboration tools, and mobile capabilities. Field service management software is designed to function as a resource to better coordinate personnel in the field.

Field service management allows your organization to improve operational efficiency and streamline in-field tasks and deployment, for dispatchers and managers as well as field technicians.

Improved efficiency in field work delivers a number of advantages across multiple departments.

Benefits for dispatchers

  • Efficient scheduling
    Field service management software allows dispatchers to reduce the amount of time they spend on scheduling. Most tasks can be scheduled automatically, allowing dispatchers to focus on work that doesn’t fit easily into the current schedule.
  • Improved visibility
    With real-time status updates, dispatchers can easily track task progress and technician locations.
  • Increased productivity
    Supported by service management software, each dispatcher can handle a greater number of technicians.
Graphic showing the benefits of field service management.

Benefits for technicians

  • Reduced administrative work
    FSM helps to streamline and automate key processes associated with work in the field that take technicians away from their primary goal of solving issues. Organize essential documentation, track inventory, manage timesheets, and collect customer approvals easily on mobile.
  • Faster issue resolution
    Effective field service management provides a complete knowledge base and collaboration tools to enable technicians in the field. Combined with customer and asset information, this allows technicians to resolve issues quickly.
  • Improved safety
    Field service can involve high-risk activities. Field service management tools can help ensure safety by providing agents with quick, centralized access to essential documentation, safety protocols, FAQs, and more.
  • Reduced travel time
    Busy technicians need to be able to juggle multiple daily service calls while also providing a positive customer experience. Route optimization tools help technicians spend more of their time fixing and less time driving.
  • Better asset visibility
    Give technicians the power to easily view customer asset information and service history. Reduce operational downtime to improve revenue and safeguard customer relationships.
  • Source parts quickly
    Technicians want to show up with the right parts to complete the job. A list of all parts needed for the day’s tasks combined with a real-time database of parts locations and availability means technicians can quickly find what they need to do the work. With this information, technicians can track part availability and easily transfer parts from one location to another.

Benefits for managers

  • Improved customer satisfaction
    When issues are resolved quickly and effectively, customers are happier. A high first-time fix rate correlates to high customer satisfaction.
  • Improved compliance
    Proper field service management helps ensure correct procedures are followed and document compliance is being met.
  • Increased technician utilization
    Effective scheduling and route optimization mean technicians are making the most of their day. Field service management software helps you eliminate schedule gaps and excess travel.
  • Reduced service penalties
    Improved efficiency and visibility allow you to meet service level agreements (SLAs) and improve asset uptime. These reduce the risk of penalties from missed work or downtime.

With more and more reliance on advanced equipment, hardware, and systems, the range of industries that incorporate FSM is always growing. These industries include:

  • Technology
  • Manufacturing
  • Telecommunications
  • Healthcare and Life Sciences
  • Energy and Utilities
  • Retail
  • Government
  • Financial Services

Mobile first

Employees who don’t have a desk or workstation must be able to accomplish their tasks without any unnecessary hoops. Field service software should be accessible and compatible with tools used in the field, including personal mobile devices.

Integrated

Your FSM solution should be able to integrate with your organization’s other systems. Ensure that you can easily collaborate with other departments, including customer service, operations, IT, and finance.

Proactively capturing data

Modern FSM solutions allow mobile workers to share data back and forth, in real-time, with an office that has the equipment to receive the information instantly.

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