Introduction There are approximately 6.8 billion people on the planet, and out of them, 5.1 billion own a cell-phone, and this number is ...
Management of field service executives has always been a tough task for every business. From big corporates to enterprise level companies and from small businesses to start-ups, everyone seems to be finding a solution to efficient management of their field workforce. It is a fact that every business owner wants to manage his business in the easiest & best way and thus mobile apps have proved to be the best invention of this decade. This is one reason why field service management apps are so much in demand. But, do you really need a field service app? We have emphasized on the word “really” so that you are able to take the right decision before you spend your hard earned dollars as an investment in a field service management app or software.
Before we move on to study some use cases defining the role of a good field service app and try to figure out if you require one or not, let’s first know why such apps and software have suddenly become so popular. We’ll also put some light on the major reasons behind the hype of field workforce management apps since past few years.
Reason behind the hype of Field Service Apps
Almost every business has started using mobile workforce. The consumer trends have changed as a customer now wants a product or service delivered to them at their doorstep. Groceries, cooked food, hair stylists, cabs, etc. Every industry vertical is making use of Field service apps to manage and track their mobile workforce and give better services to their customers. A rapid adoption from traditional ways where a person used to visit a business to; businesses serving their customers at their doorstep is one of the main reason behind the hype of such Field Service Apps.
Even the e-commerce boom has played a role in the current hype of field service management apps. This industry has seen a rising trend with an increase in online shopping, increase in logistics, delivery guys, technicians, etc. With the widespread network of these services, the need to help automate such field service operations and the need to manage them efficiently has played a role in the hype of field service software.
Earlier, it was just companies like gas agencies, courier delivery, etc. which used to manage a fleet of field executives but now restaurants, salons, healthcare professionals, grocery stores, home service professionals and almost every business has a field workforce that needs to be managed.
Should You Invest in a Field Service Software because everyone else is doing so?
We all know that field service apps are becoming popular day by day. But the key point remains as to whether you should invest in an app just to manage your workforce? Or maybe there are other alternatives to heavily priced field service apps. It is true that before the onset of such software, businesses were doing a tremendous job in managing their field workforce.
The answer to the above question depends upon a number of factors which include - traditional ways (maybe you think they are more helpful than a mobile based app), your industry vertical and your particular use case. I would surely NOT invest my hard earned dollars in a field service management app or software until and unless it does something really very useful in terms of serving my customers and managing my field workforce. Otherwise, I would be happy to use the traditional ways.
Traditional Ways | What Field Service Management used to be?
The concept of field service is not new. Businesses have been serving their customers with the help of field technicians since decades. Before the introduction of the field service software, the face of Field Service Management used to be entirely different. Field service mobile apps and software have been introduced recently. Let’s have a look at some traditional ways by which businesses used to manage their field workforce.
1. Excel Sheets: For every field officer, the service providing companies had to manage an excel sheet struggling to keep a track of timesheets for their field workers. Work orders, assigned tasks, current occupancy rate, availability, billing hours, etc. everything was managed through excel sheets.
2. Mobile & SMS: Company admin and field workers were connected with mobile. The only way of communication between them was through call & SMS. New tasks were assigned to field service personnel through a call or the work was conveyed through SMS. This lead to rise in miscommunication between the employee and the admin. Also, after the completion of the task, the field service personnel were again required to call/SMS the admin confirming the status of the work.
3. Field Service Manager: Another major constituent of the Field management System before these mobile workforce apps was the appointment of a Full time employee who had to be paid with a hefty salary every month. He was the main centre of reporting from all the field service technicians who again used to rely on Excel for maintaining record and mobile calls or SMS for communication with the executives.
If you have a business where your employees serve your customers in the field, you might be using the above ways. Let’s move on to understand the basic problems that arise in the traditional ways and compare these with facilities provided by a field service app. It would help us analyze if a field service app or mobile workforce management software can be good for your business or not.
Field Service Management App - Problems vs Opportunities
This section will help you understand the problems that are often faced by businesses using traditional ways to manage their workforce along with the opportunities offered by field service management software. Here are the points that can only be implemented in your business if you use a software to manage things.
- Schedule Tasks to workers through mobile.
- Workers get notification about new tasks assigned to them on mobile.
- POD (Proof of Delivery) - Completion of assignment.
- Customer Feedback
- Data Analyses - Area wise, specific worker, etc.
- Eradication of miscommunication errors.
- Quick resolution of customer’s complaints.
- Increased productivity of field technicians.
- Relief to over-scheduled workers and right allocation of tasks.
- Automated logs and hours of working.
- Easy billing cycles
- Reduced overhead & operations cost
- Freedom from paperwork or maintaining excel sheets.
- Real time tracking
- Excellent inventory management.
- Integration with third-party software for accounting etc.
Software have been known to make our work easy. True to its literal meaning, field service management software or apps surely help us manage our work with unmatched efficiency removing the possibilities of general errors. Well, here are some use cases for you to decide if your business falls into any one of them.
Who Might Need a Field Service App? Use cases:
Field service management software have significantly evolved during recent years. It can either be deployed on client premises or as a hosted cloud-based system. Whatever the deployment or hosting option is opted, it is often found integrated with backend systems including service management, billing, etc. The biggest questions that businesses are often found analysing are “Should I really invest in a field service app? “Will the App add any value to my business other than just being an aid in the management?” Businesses are often caught up in the dilemma over these questions. These uses cases will help you understand if investing in a field service management app will be fruitful or not.
1. Business that serves customers at their doorstep: Do you have a business that provides door to door services to customers? If yes, field service apps are for you. Whether you are in telecommunications and cable industry wherein technicians need to visit the premises of the client to install cable or run phone lines, or you are into the sale of electronic items wherein the technician need to pay a visit at your door for installation demo or repair. You might be into healthcare business offering services of mobile nurses or just a small business venture wherein you deliver products to your customers at their doorstep. A mobile workforce management app is sure to facilitate you to serve your customers in the best possible manner.
2. Businesses that have a team of delivery guys or technicians: Are you into a business wherein you have a team of more than 4 delivery guys or technicians? Are you into courier delivery or have a restaurant? Maybe a grocery store that does home delivery. A Mobile Workforce Management App is a must to take that unnecessary load off your shoulder and help keep a balance between the field officers and end customers.
3. Businesses that do not wish to spend a monthly amount to hire a field service manager: Do you have a business that needs workforce management but you do not want to appoint a field service manager that takes a subsequent salary? If yes, investing in a field service management app will be the best solution for you. With an app, you can always schedule your worker’s tasks, manage his activities, integrate the work with his availability, track his billing, etc.
4. All those who want to scale their business: Everyone wants to expand and grow his/her business. Transforming the traditional ways to manage your field workforce into a mobile field service app will be the first step towards scale. After all, you want everything to be automated and getting a field service software would help you in a big way.
5. Businesses that want to switch to technology to keep a record of every task: Are you into a business wherein you would like to switch to technology so that you can maintain a record of every task performed? A field service management app can help you transform from excel sheets to automated tasks. These tasks would be created under different work order and you’ll love how the work gets streamlined with the help of technology. Each task will be recorded and its status will be available to you at all times.
6. Businesses that want to take data driven decisions to increase the efficiency of the team: Do you want the functionality wherein you can take data driven decisions in order to motivate the team and boost their morale. There are a lot of small businesses coming up in the field of operating cabs. They are either found using field service software for small business or some field service management app depending upon their size. There are several drivers driving cabs and these apps help them receive service requests, schedule an appointment and get assigned a ride. Data helps you analyze the steps you have to take in order to increase your business and grow further.
7. Businesses that want freedom from excel sheets: If you want your business to get rid of the age old excel sheet, introduction to technology will be a boon to your business. Excel sheets don’t provide you with a proper system to track invoices and payments. Tasks like order creation, scheduling, dispatching etc. are best taken care of through field service software. With such apps, the field workers can directly login through a mobile, can view and update jobs, enter payments, capture signatures, and complete invoices.
8. Business that care about their mobile workforce: After all, it is your workforce in the field that earn money for you. Making a switch to field service app will act as a catalyst in co-ordinating between you and your employees. It will make sure no employee is over scheduled. The more satisfied the workforce, the less the attrition!
Well, if you fall under any of the use case above, making a switch from traditional field service management ways to a mobile app or software makes much sense. However choosing between a SAAS based model and getting a custom app for your business can be a difficult decision to take.