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Things to Consider in a Field Service Management Software for Small Business

As a small business, field service management is all about efficiency and flexibility: When there’s service requested in-field, service teams must deal with that request efficiently and with great flexibility. Inefficiency and rigidity may result in additional losses, such as losing customers, loss of revenue, or erosion of business reputation. Implementing a full-function field service management software for small business is the key to overcoming these challenges.

 

Field Service Management Challenges

For a global business, managing in-field operations isn’t a huge challenge. With their deep pockets and unlimited budget, multinational corporations often “divert money” at any field service problem to immediately resolve the challenge. And even with poorly managed field service, large corporations readily absorb them without thought or consideration when losses occur. 

With smaller organizations, things are not so. Limited budgets, lower operating margins, fewer field technicians, and more minor staffing levels conspire to make field service management missteps costly and unaffordable. Without the help of the best software and technology to support them, small businesses find it an uphill task to:

  • Manage their company assets
  • Oversee efficient field operations
  • Efficiently manage work orders
  • Dispatch field workers on time
  • Allocate and assign field equipment
  • Properly manage inventory
  • Track company vehicle usage and location
  • Schedule scarce human resources, equipment, and tools 

 

While large organizations spend their way through inefficiencies, smaller rivals don’t have that luxury. For the small enterprise, proper management of these facets of a businesses’ operations is critical. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) find it difficult to survive and thrive without the efficiency and flexibility issues to oversee these essential business areas. That’s especially true in today’s challenging business environment. Without the best field service management software for small business to support them, these companies may cease to function.

 

Searching for a Small Business Solution

The luxury of unlimited budgets that global corporations enjoy isn’t one available to smaller players and rivals. Large multinationals often implement global, enterprise-level supply chain management solutions to deal with field service and other operational challenges. Those solutions:

  • Cost millions of dollars to purchase
  • Require hundreds of thousands of dollars to implement
  • Need teams with hundreds of consultants, software developers, and IT specialists to support
  • Take years to install and become operational
  • Result in tens-of-thousands of dollars in monthly upkeep and maintenance cost 

Given the limited budgets that smaller organizations have, searching for such a solution might be a non-starter. Small businesses typically can’t afford to spend $1-million annually on a field service management solution – regardless of how sophisticated or comprehensive the proposed software might be. Instead, when searching for the ideal field service management tool, small businesses must look for a more practical solution. One that:

  • is simple to operate
  • quick to implement
  • has low cost to acquire and manage
  • provides all the features and functionality most required for a small to medium-sized enterprise

As a small field service business manager or owner searching for the ideal field service management solution, your first thought might be to look at a range of solutions online to fit your budget and needs. And that’s where you may face some more challenges! Though a long list of promising candidates might come up, as a result of your search, you’ll likely notice one similarity in most of them:

They are nothing more than field service task management apps!

Although many software providers project their products as field service management “solutions,” they capture service tasks through online forms and then help users view, maintain, and monitor those lists through the in-app feature. In searching for that perfect field service solution, you may even come across some that offer advanced sorting, filtering, and notification capabilities – but that’s a far cry from a “solution” to your field service management challenges!

The best field service management software for small business must do more than manage task lists. It must have advanced service scheduling, tracking, and management capabilities. It must be mobile-enabled so that in-field staff may benefit from its use. And most importantly, it must have multi-platform support. It combines these and a host of other features that help you deliver on-time and high-quality onsite service every time. And it does so by allowing you to manage your field staff better, more efficiently dispatch work orders, and add greater flexibility in monitoring visibility into all aspects of your field service management operations. 

 

What to Look For?

By now, it should be clear to anyone reading this post that a simple field service task management app just won’t cut it. Not if you want efficiency and flexibility in managing your field service fleet and teams. So, as a small business owner/manager, what should you look for in the ideal field service management software solution? 

 

WHAT NOT TO LOOK AT

Before we highlight what features you should look for, let’s briefly talk about some things that aren’t necessarily important. Well, don’t let a long laundry list of items that many software vendors might display sway your decision-making process. You’ll see “features” like:

  • Customizable backgrounds
  • 100 different ring tones
  • Programmable popups

You’ll likely see “functionality” such as:

  • Automated reminders
  • Multi-colored font support
  • Ability to save lists using 10-different commands (tap, swipe, double-tap, keyboard command, keyboard shortcuts, mouse clicks, drag-and-drop)

 

While good software should offer users choices, such choices must never sacrifice core functionality. It’s great to include user-friendly reminders and multiple font color choices in the software. However, any field service management software for small business is nothing more than a list management tool!

 

MUST HAVE CRITICAL FEATURES AND FUNCTIONALITY

While giving due weight to user-friendliness and aesthetics, your search for a great service management tool must focus primarily on key functionality required to add flexibility and efficiency to your field service operations. 

These features include the following:

  • Flexible Scheduling:

 The primary responsibility of any field service manager is to ensure the flexible scheduling of field service work orders. This includes managing multiple work orders tagged for a single location or work orders destined for various sites. 

The software must allow service monitoring teams to schedule service, adding to efficient resources – including human resources, fleet, service parts, and consumables. Without flexible scheduling functionality, field service teams might not operate at their optimal.

 

  • Remote Assistance: 

In-field teams may, at times, need remote support from teams elsewhere in the field – or at their home base (head office). A high-end field service management software for small business allows remote teams to call upon for assistance using their mobile devices – cameras, video calls, speakers – to draw upon the collective experience of other non-field service technicians.

 

The absence of such features may lead service calls to either be canceled or rescheduled – both of which are less than optimal for a small business looking to add flexibility and efficiency to its field service management operations. 

 

  • Online Resource Support:

 A good field service management software must support remote access to necessary documentation, schematics, blueprints, manuals, and other service instructions. Why is that feature essential? Because most field technicians often do not carry such supporting resources with them in-field. 

 

The ability to access such documentation via their field service management tools adds flexibility and efficiency to the job they do remotely. In user-friendly, searchable formats, documentation can save a lot of time and effort when remote staff work under pressure. It also saves wasted effort in the form of avoidable task steps performed due to lack of access to proper documentation.

 

  • Mobile Communications:

 If all you’re getting is a “list management” tool, there are any number of freely available apps on the web that you can use. To add effectiveness, flexibility, and efficiency to your field service management operation, look for software that enables your team – both in the field and those at the back-end office – to communicate remotely. 

 

This gives in-field teams all the support they need by staying in touch while on the road. It also allows service monitoring teams to receive real-time status updates from service teams on the go.   

 

  • Dynamic Routing: 

If the software you are evaluating is “standalone,” with no ability to integrate to mapping and routing tools, then it’ll have limited benefits to your in-field teams. When they travel from one service location to another, intelligently route service teams are vital components of any flexible field service management software.

Weigh in other key characteristics before licensing or investing in a service management solution. A good field service management software for small business, like the TillerStack Field Service Management solution, includes multi-platform support, especially SaaS-enabled, and is usable on Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. It also provides additional capabilities that small businesses can leverage, including functionality that helps avoid service paperwork going astray. It prevents wasted trips, efficient inventory management, prompt resolution to issues, and enhanced communication between field teams and other remote support staff.