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What is field service management and how to improve it?

The importance of strong field service management (FSM) can't be underestimated. When your people, equipment or other resources leave your premises, effective FSM can help you minimise waste and unnecessary costs, and improve communication so work gets completed faster and more efficiently. This benefits your bottom line while improving the customer experience.

In this guide, you'll learn about what makes good FSM and why it’s an area worthy of your attention. 

What is field service management? 

Field service management (FSM) is when you coordinate your team, equipment, time and other resources to efficiently complete work or other operations off-site.

What does field service management include?

Field service management typically includes sending out team members or contractors with the equipment they need to complete work off-site. A field manager will often use a mobile app or web-based software to track their work, keep on top of equipment, warranties and maintenance, allocate resources and store customer, product and job information. 

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While field service management can be applied to any one-off projects or tasks that happen off-site, here are the most common activities:

Installations

Installations of equipment, built-in office furniture, new computer hardware, advertising displays or construction all require specialist technicians to take tools and machinery off-site.  

Repairs and maintenance

Repairs and maintenance also take your team members and equipment to clients' premises and homes, whether they're fixing a dishwasher, upgrading a server or servicing manufacturing equipment. 

Consultations and sales

Consultation and sales can often be most effective when you visit a client’s premises or residence. This is especially important if you're selling things related to their physical location or people — perhaps you're consulting on landscaping requirements, a new office fitout or one-on-one coaching for staff. Sometimes, even professional services are best delivered off-site.

Customer service 

Customer service doesn't just happen over the phone and email. Your team may need to regularly check in with customers face-to-face to ensure their needs are being met and hear about any challenges. Again, this will be most important for services related to a physical product or space. 

Benefits of effective field service management (FSM)

The benefits of effective field service management (FSM) are delivered when you can optimise the use of your company's resources to protect profits and better manage the customer experience.

Reduce field servicing costs

Reducing field service costs is an important part of maximising profits. Strong FSM can help by letting you use your resources most efficiently. For example, a technician may book a day of visits to sites that are in the same suburb to save on travel costs. 

Improve customer satisfaction 

Improved customer satisfaction comes from excellent FSM. It lets you complete projects and tasks more efficiently, communicate more effectively and record and act on any changes faster. This can also create cost savings, which improve overall profitability. 

Improve first-time fix rates

Improving your first-time fix rates means you complete more work successfully in one visit, saving money and delivering a better service to clients. Good FSM can help improve your first-time fix rates by ensuring you've the right people and equipment assigned to each task.

Empower field service technicians 

Empowering field service technicians is another benefit of effective FSM. It ensures your teams are assigned to projects that best fit their skills and location, and arrive on-site with all the information and equipment they need.

With FSM software, they have the information they need to hand, can update HQ in real time and respond quickly to changes and emergencies while keeping customers informed. Giving your people the tools they need to do their jobs well can increase employee engagementand lift productivity.

Challenges of field service management (FSM)

Most of the challenges of field service management can be resolved with software. Field service management software can help you optimise how you use your resources, so you save your most-skilled workers or highest-specced machines for the jobs that really need them. Automation can also help you sidestep many issues that creep in when your team relies on manual processes. 

Some of the most common FSM challenges include:

Scheduling conflicts 

Scheduling conflicts occur when you need the same person, team or equipment in two places at once — you double-book them, a job takes longer than expected or you simply have more work than you can manage. This is especially difficult if your work hours are moving or flexible, like with rotating rosters.

Poor work-order management

Poor work-order management can cost your business time, money and customers. You need to accurately record the client's details and preferences along with the job description and urgency, ideally somewhere easily accessible to your office staff and field workers. Without this information, it's too easy to send workers to the wrong site at the wrong time with incorrect equipment. You may even forget to schedule a job altogether. 

Miscommunications 

Miscommunications happen — but you should keep them to a minimum to avoid unhappy customers, incomplete work and eroded profits. 

Low first-time fix rates

Low first-time fix rates are a sign that something may be off with your FSM. It could be that workers haven't got the right equipment or aren’t qualified to complete the job. 

FSM industry use cases

FSM industry use is wide-ranging, but the most common users are trades services, manufacturing, transportation, utilities and oil and gas.

Trades services 

Trades services like plumbing, electrical and construction spend most of their time away from HQ, which makes it mission-critical for these businesses to have excellent FSM. 

Manufacturing 

Manufacturing often requires a good FSM system. You may need to split your engineers' time between different plants, install your product, provide after-sales support and maintenance, or send your sales and consulting staff to check in with clients.

Transportation

Transportation firms can use FSM to keep on top of the maintenance and repair of their vehicles. 

Utilities 

Utilities companies will use FSM to schedule the maintenance and upgrades of infrastructure. 

Oil and gas

Oil and gas businesses need FSM to manage workers, resources, infrastructure and equipment while exploring for, extracting, and transporting raw material, and then refining and managing the finished product. 

Field service management FAQs

What are some field service management best practices? 

Field service management best practice requires you to manage time and other resources, communicate with field workers and clients, and keep equipment and vehicles in good working order. The easiest way to do that is to equip your workers with mobile-enabled FSM software. This boosts productivity for both office and field workers while minimising mistakes, frustration and unnecessary costs. 

Why is field service management essential? 

Field service management is essential because it helps you minimise costs and optimise resource allocation and use, while increasing customer satisfaction, productivity and profitability.

What is the difference between mobile workforce management and field service management?

The difference between mobile workforce management and field service management comes down to the kind of people and resources you're managing.

Mobile workforce management is when you oversee workers who always work remotely. Parking wardens, metre readers or in-home healthcare workers are all roles that require mobile workforce management. Field service management relates to projects, tasks or activities that deploy resources and people out in the field.

Keep off-site in sight with MYOB

With FSM software you can empower your workers and keep track of everything from costs and timelines to schedules and compliance. The benefits aren't just to your bottom line — you'll also minimise frustration, maximise communication and improve your employee experience and customer satisfaction. 

Even better is when your FSM software is connected to an integrated ERP like MYOB Advanced Business. This can streamline things even further, while minimising errors and boosting efficiency in other parts of the business. 

Speak to an expert today to learn how MYOB's FSM functionality and integrated ERP can optimise your off-site operations. 


Disclaimer: Information provided in this article is of a general nature and does not consider your personal situation. It does not constitute legal, financial, or other professional advice and should not be relied upon as a statement of law, policy or advice. You should consider whether this information is appropriate to your needs and, if necessary, seek independent advice. This information is only accurate at the time of publication. Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of the information contained on this webpage, MYOB disclaims, to the extent permitted by law, all liability for the information contained on this webpage or any loss or damage suffered by any person directly or indirectly through relying on this information.

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