Each wave of technological advancement has significantly disrupted the workflow of most businesses. Many businesses fight to preserve their entrenched ecosystem, only to find both their customers and their employees deserting them. Smart businesses rather embrace change and leverage it for their benefit.
One area where technology has created maximum disruption in enterprises is in field service. The advent of mobility and the proliferation of smartphones allow companies to deliver the entire gamut of field service operations through smartphone apps, with a cloud-based backend. The key drivers of such change are automation, intelligent processing and a focus on transparency.
The life of a field service technician involves juggling between customer quotes, work orders, part requisitions, time-sheets, inspection checklists, and more. In the midst of such unproductive administrative tasks, they get very little time to actually “serve” the machinery, for which they are hired in the first place. A 2016 survey by the Service Council reveals 29% of field workers consider looking for information as a very tedious part of their work. About 46% of field service technicians consider paperwork and administrative work as the worst part of their day. The loss of employee productivity is compounded by spin-off disasters such as low employee morale, job dissatisfaction, and worse, customer dissatisfaction.
Manual work is not only time consuming and productivity wrecking, but also error-prone. Scheduling using Excel sheets, for example, does not take into consideration all the factors affecting an employee. The effects are employees wasting billable hours trying to service equipment they are not skilled to service and spending time unnecessarily commuting to far-apart locations.
Some of the benefits hackneyed by field service automation advocates include faster and more accurate job scheduling, better visibility, improved transparency, automated invoicing which directly contributes to the bottom line, and greater efficiency which again contributes to a healthy balance sheet.
One of the direct benefits of field service management software is better and automated scheduling. The intelligent scheduling capabilities take into consideration factors such as employee location, the urgency of the job, canceled jobs in an employee’s schedule, and more into account before assigning the best technician to the best job.
An intuitive field service management also offers location tracking in real time, to optimize appointments and make explicit trouble spots. Managers may use such insights to make prompt interventions, to iron out glitches and ease pain-points.
Intuitive field service management software spares the employee from having to dabble with countless piles of scribbled notes, manual receipts, photographs, and more. A good field service management suite allows technicians to input work descriptions, log timings, keep track of the materials used, collect customer signatures, and more, very easily. The system captures most such information effortlessly in the background, stores it in the cloud, and allows retrieving such information from anywhere, at any time, through any device.
Needless to say, such intuitive software makes the work of field service agents smooth and seamless. It spares them from the hassles of administrative work, smoothes out the glitches, and makes the job overall satisfying. Technicians spend more time on their core competence of repairing machinery, and less time doing unproductive paperwork.
A good field service management software reduces the stress-level of employees. When employees run late on a job, they face twin pressures from their managers and from the next-in-line waiting customers. The transparency brought about by field service software offers visibility to the stakeholders, who can identify where exactly the technician is, and when he will finish a task and take up the next task.
A spin-off benefit is a better work-life balance. An intuitive field service management suite renders clarity on the work to be done and also assigns works factoring in the actual situation on the ground. As such, employees are not overburdened and do not have to involuntarily work overtime. The result is a better work-life balance, leading to healthier and more focused employees.
Field service management software optimizes the delivery of services, assigning the best technician to the best job in the quickest possible time. Further, with an IoT enabled set-up, the machine would acquire self-diagnosing capabilities, indicating the parts or components which require servicing or replacing. Such insights allow the technician to come equipped with the necessary tools and knowledge required to do a good job. When the field service management suite is enabled with collaborative features, the technician may collaborate with remote aides and managers, to finish the work in one go.
An intuitive field service management software also gives due regards to skills. A worker assigned a job that syncs with his niche or area of expertise will naturally excel at it, and such correct assignments serve as an additional motivator for employees to perform well.
The benefits of productivity through such innovations are well known. What is grossly underestimated is the positive effect on employee morale and job commitment and job satisfaction, which would urge skilled technicians to remain in their jobs without looking elsewhere.
Yet another benefit of field service management is safety. An innovative field service management suite co-opts employee safety into the mix. Technicians in hazardous workplaces, such as servicing elevators can use the software to notify their whereabouts, issue emergency alerts, and even override on-premises controls to switch off the power.
The proof of the pudding is the eating.
A 2016 field service software survey by Capterra finds enterprises which embrace Field Service Management software reporting a 90% increase in the number of conversions from quotes, and 86% reported a decrease in fuel costs. 82% of enterprises found an increased number of first-time fixes. Done right, a field service management software saves the employees times, improves efficiency, and results in all-around satisfaction.