What is field service management?
Field service refers to any type of work that’s carried outside the company’s premises. These include maintenance work for industrial facilities, air-conditioning repairs, construction, and more. Field service management deals with coordinating the resources and processes required to complete these various jobs.
The challenge with field services management is that there are a lot of moving parts involved, from administrative tasks to on-site operations. To help companies get a better understanding of field service management, we’ve come up with this guide.
What are the components of field service management?
Field service management involves the following processes:
- Work order processing is the first step in managing field services. A work order is created to give technicians the details they need about the job, including what work must be performed and who is performing it. Work order requests come from various sources, including internal requests and external requests from customers.
- Quoting is primarily concerned with generating price quotes based on service rates, estimated timelines, locations, and material requirements.
- Job scheduling involves creating, revising, coordinating, and maintaining a schedule of all field technicians.
- Inventory management logs the company’s available equipment and materials so managers can provision technicians with everything they need for a job.
- Dispatching involves providing technicians with all the information they need for a job, such as location, deadlines, and instructions. Most companies today provide dispatch orders via email, text message, or through a field service management app.
- Monitoring provides an overview to both technicians and managers on how all field operations are progressing. The monitoring process also gathers information on response times, arrival times, safety and compliance reports, and completion rates, so managers can measure their team’s performance and efficiency.
- Invoicing involves processing payment for work undertaken by field technicians. This process is generally handled by a separate department and can be carried out either manually or using an automated invoicing solution, such as WorkBuddy.
Why is field service management important?
Without proper field service management, managers and technicians will be completely uncoordinated. Technicians will be constantly driving to and from the dispatch desk to receive their work orders and doing unnecessary amounts of paperwork. Other technicians may not even know what to do, increasing the chances of job failure and incurring unnecessary overhead costs.
In contrast, effectively managing field services provides a host of benefits. For starters, having a standardised process for scheduling work orders and dispatching technicians means faster service times and completion rates. Such operational efficiencies improve customer satisfaction and future sales. Additionally, field service management gives supervisors complete visibility over on-site operations. This enables them to track job progress and ensure technicians are meeting safety protocols. They can also quickly identify whether technicians are experiencing difficulties and respond accordingly.
How can businesses optimise field service management?
To maximise the benefits of field service management, companies should adopt the following best practices:
Leverage job templates
The best way for companies to mobilise technicians quickly is to lay out all the steps involved in jobs they perform regularly. For example, if a business frequently provides preventive maintenance services, creating standardised job templates can streamline field operations and back-office processes. These templates come with work orders for sourcing materials, dispatching specific technicians, and detailed instructions for maintenance tasks. They can even include the relevant checklists and compliance forms necessary for completing the job. This reduces the planning time of service calls, so technicians can quickly get to work.
Utilise field service management software
Leading field service management software like WorkBuddy enables companies to automate everything from work order processing to dispatching. With WorkBuddy, a manager can schedule the best technicians for a job based on their qualifications, proximity to the jobsite, and current workload. WorkBuddy can even ensure that technicians arrive at work locations on time using route optimisation technology.
What’s more, WorkBuddy offers centralised dashboards that serve as a hub for field service teams. These dashboards display job progress, timelines, and checklists, which give managers clear visibility into field operations. Technicians can also access these dashboards to get detailed instructions on meeting the contractual and safety requirements of each job.
Establish clear communication
Open communication between technicians and managers is crucial to keeping service calls on track. WorkBuddy is a great solution for this because it comes with intuitive site reporting, instant messaging, and technician monitoring features. This way, when managers detect a job issue, they can easily contact the technicians responsible. At the same time, technicians can receive work order updates on their WorkBuddy field app, so they never have to make unnecessary trips to the dispatch desk.
Rather than creating invoices manually, businesses can expedite payments using accounting apps like Xero, QuickBooks, and MYOB Online. These apps can instantly process expense reports, service rates, and other overheads to generate invoices upon job completion. Companies can even program accounting software to automatically deliver invoices via email and follow up with clients on any outstanding payments.
Review and improve
Companies should routinely evaluate whether their current strategies are effective. This involves reviewing the overheads of each project, processing time of each call, and time spent on active jobs. Analysing these data points will allow managers to identify key areas of improvement. For instance, long job durations may indicate the need for more training, better scheduling, and faster equipment. By constantly reviewing field service strategies, companies can discover new efficiencies and stay competitive.
If your company is currently experiencing inefficient field service management, WorkBuddy can help. Our solution is chock-full of intuitive features that are guaranteed to enhance the way your company works. Book a demo today to learn more.