It is more and more a necessity for Installation & Maintenance companies and a hot topic in many seminars and workshops. This is partly due to the general acceptance and use of mobility devices and software nowadays. But mainly it is due to the necessity of keeping the field service processes lean, offering better service to customers, informing them proactively and giving them more insights.
It is also due to the fact that attracting and retaining skilled people is easier when you offer them a modern tool.
Buying a field service software can help you achieve these goals!
Whatever the reasons you have to review and purchase a field service software, you will have to accept a new way of working, a change in your business processes. To find the field service app that meet your needs and your mobile team’s expectations, there are several criteria to take into account! Having many years of expertise in the mobility industry, and having contact with lots of companies from maintenance industry every day, we understand the importance of a reliable service software.
The decision will involve an investment in time and money from your side, but then the solution will take care of your entire mobile service activity.
Here are 10 tips for choosing the best field service software out there:
Tip #1: Know what your needs are
Enter the mobile market knowing exactly what you need and what your expectations are.
Which area´s need more improvement? Ask yourself this question: what is my business pain I want to solve? Then stick to it and find the software that solves it.
Examples of business difficulties we hear every day:
1. Invoices are sent to customers 1 month after the intervention, and that is, if no unexpected events happen underway.
2. The planning is now completely inefficient. We do it in excel and it is not possible anymore to have a good overview and keep track of everybody and every job.
3. Our technicians can’t execute work orders correctly due to lack of work instructions, no activity history and no equipment information, …
4. The customer approval and follow up of the technician’s day activity is difficult when multiple technicians need to work on multiple jobs at the same location in the same time.
5. The communication with our customers is not efficient. They don’t know when we will come, they didn’t get or cannot find the service report anymore and now there is a discussion about the invoice…
6. We lose lots of time due to bad spare part management (technician hasn’t got the right part on site, hasn’t got stock of the required part, picks up his phone to communicate office which part he needs and then afterwards it gets lost among all the other phone calls…).
7. We are unable to react fast because we don’t know the exact location of our technicians.
8. How do we integrate sub-contractors in the process?
9. We work a lot with interim people. How do we integrate them fast in our processes?
Tip #2: Involve your field technicians
Do not forget to ask your technicians what difficulties they have. Do they have the same business problems as the Service Managers and the Dispatchers? Show them the benefits of the field service software and listen to their comments as well. They will probably be receptive and enthusiastic about it. Not only will you receive good feedback to make a motivated software choice, but you will also convince them, ready for the change to come. Afterwards your Field technicians will use the software every day!
Tip #3: Document it in 3 steps
1. Write down your business processes;
2. List all your needs and the processes you want to improve;
3. Determine how the mobile field service software will impact on these processes and how it will improve them;
Tip #4: One thing in your mind: keeping customers happy & increasing your revenue
Now that you are acknowledged and ready to investigate the market of field service software, keep in mind it serves mainly 1 end-purpose: keeping customers (happy) while generating (more) revenue.
To achieve this, your software must really, really be reliable. Meaning:
– When your field technicians lose the online connection, even if it is only once and a while, the chosen software must be able to run offline and retain data for perfect reliability!
– Data should never be lost or ‘forgotten’ in the process flows. What happens with a job that needs to be set in ‘waiting’ because a part is missing? How do you track it?
– User Interfaces should be intuitive, so technicians have no problem understanding the application and can focus on the job to be done.
– The software should be scalable, running fast, even if extra users or more workload is put on the servers. Customers need to be informed quickly and correctly.
Tip #5: Make inquiries about the latest mobile service technology
Are you convinced you are getting the latest technology available? Get your IT department to analyze the software´s technology. Even if any offline solution will involve a mobile client to be installed on the mobile devices, there is always a Service portal coming with it to manage customers, equipment and work orders. It is not only about the field technicians, but usually also about the back office users like Customer service, Service managers, Dispatchers and sometimes HR people.
You have roughly two technology choices here:
a. Install the solution on a server in your office or
b. Use a cloud solution hosted in the cloud and accessible everywhere, every time.
The advantages of onsite vs. cloud are pretty different. With cloud solutions you are assured you will have the latest version and the new functionalities released. With an onsite installation, you can perform much more advanced custom developments (although good cloud solutions offer you lots of configuration and business flow possibilities without any need for custom development).
But customizing your solution with extra development is way more expensive, not only when installing but also all along the maintenance in the coming years.
Ask also for the release notes of the last 12 months. It is a good indication to see if the software has got regular updates. Your business will benefit from it too.
Tip #6: Check which hardware supports the software
The choice of the hardware counts for 50% in a successful implementation of a mobile field service solution. Expand your horizon and allow your technician to work with different types of devices (Laptop, Tablet or Smartphone’s). The screen size is important. Invest in a software that works on different form factors rather than in one that can only run on a smartphone for example.
Decide on which operating system you will work (Android, Windows or iOS).
But frankly, does the choice of the operating system of the device influences your service productivity? Certainly not. So, unless you passionately fell in love with one of the Operating Systems, stay open.
Advice: choose the right field service software first and follow the operating systems it supports!
There is an exception here and that is if your company has a ‘Bring your own device (BYOD)’ policy, the importance of the software being cross-platform is important of course.
Do not buy the hardware at the very beginning. Sometimes new insights coming after the analysis (tip #8) influence the choice of the mobile device.
Tip #7: Make sure the software can evolve
Make sure the field service software easily supports your future needs! Again, with software installed at your office, it will be able to follow you but at a high price (there will be custom development to follow your needs). With a cloud software it depends if the solution allows a high degree of configuring different process flows or not. Ask for it during the demo.
Tip #8: Always start with the analysis
So, once you have decided on a field service software, always start with the analysis first before engaging the whole process. It allows you to get complete answers for all your questions, to be sure the software covers every aspect of your business processes. It’s a minor investment, but one that will hugely benefit to the whole field service project later on.
During this stage, make sure all your business processes are clarified and supported by the software. Use flow charts to be sure you have each step of the process.
How is the work order initiated, who creates the work order, when does it appear in the planning, what happens if a part is missing, what happens if you have a job for a new customer, how do you handle call during the week-end, and so on.
Tip #9: Identify your key pilot users
When finally you reach the kick-off day of the mobile project, never skip a pilot phase. To know which users to include, take your best users and your worst users and certainly include the once who are most adverse to the idea of changing their habits. Update them regularly during the analysis stage and ask for their feedback.
Tip #10: do not discard training
Give a decent training to your team. Once the mobile field technicians hit the road, they have nobody to ask about the solution. An intuitive solution helps, but giving a good training pays itself back very easily.
Expect more from your field service software!
Many surveys have proven that field service businesses that use mobile solutions exceed businesses that don’t.
Field service businesses now know the benefits of mobile software in the field: streamlined planning of your technicians, digital work orders, better management visibility, happy customers and increased revenue.
So catch up with today’s most innovative field service software and out-stand your competitors!
Read More about Odyssee Service: www.odysseeservice.com