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Is your field service staff still using clipboards, a pen, and paper?
Whether you send technicians out for maintenance calls, run logistics operations, or have pivoted to an increasingly remote workforce, having structures in place for field service management is imperative.
What is field service management? For that matter, what is field service? Understanding these terms and how they already apply to your business is the first step towards improving their execution.
In layman’s terms, field service manages company assets or processes that are out in the world, away from the office. There are plenty of field service types, including remote customer service, maintenance, inspections, quality assurance, and logistics.
Field service automation helps team members in the field accomplish their tasks efficiently. It also allows for real-time communication and simplified, consistent workflows that eliminate many of the pitfalls that field service team members can encounter.
Those pitfalls can include missing paperwork, going to the wrong address, over-or under-promising, a deliverable based on available inventory, incomplete or inaccurate data, miscommunications with the home office, and so on.
The best field service management software leverages technological innovations in automation and mobile connectivity to smooth out those issues that can cause problems in the field.
So how does field service automation benefit a company?
The most significant benefit is increased efficiency. For example, when a field agent is sent out to do a maintenance inspection on a piece of manufacturing equipment, recording location, serial number, and other context data by hand can take up a surprisingly large chunk of time.
And if that data is recorded with pen and paper on a clipboard, smeared ink, water spots, or lost pages can prevent that data from being utilized or analyzed in any way after the fact.
With a customized inspection report template that auto-populates context data through field service management software, necessary information is covered immediately so the field agent can focus on gathering the necessary data to perform the required maintenance.
And that data can synchronize to a central hub on the back end for use in tracking modernization timelines, identifying automation opportunities, or providing statistics for salespeople to tout when selling that equipment to new clients.
That is only one aspect of field service management in one industry. There are countless field service examples from across the spectrum of modern business.
Using a field service management app, team members in the field can be dispatched remotely through their mobile devices, and operational field data can be analyzed in real-time as it is being gathered.
Not only does this allow more experienced field service managers to help less experienced team members by taking a look at particularly problematic issues without needing to drive out to address those issues in person, but it also allows experts to engage in contactless customer service to resolve minor issues.
Having access to that kind of instantaneous information allows for a higher likelihood of resolving issues the first time—thus saving money on repeat trips to do the same job and improve customer experience.
Field service management software also opens the door for automation. Tasks such as generating work orders and invoices, sending out reminders, and scheduling can be taken out of human hands.
Combining field service automation with artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things can be used as part of a predictive maintenance system that notifies field service team members about potential maintenance problems before becoming a major inconvenience for customers.
When you have decided that your field service strategy needs the expanded capabilities and benefits afforded by field service management software in order to be successful, there are a few items to keep in mind.
Making sure you have experienced field service managers guiding your implementation is vital. Any successful attempt to bring automation into a workflow incorporates the experience of the people who understand the workflows being automated.
It is also essential to know what you want to get out of making this change. Automating field service doesn’t happen overnight, so setting achievable (but ambitious) goals to help push the implementation forward is key.
Know your overall goal and break down the steps it will take for you to get there.
One of the best ways to ensure a successful implementation strategy for your field service management system is to incorporate document management and automation.
For example, M-Connect creates a seamless interface with M-Files that allows for remote collection of relevant data that can be then automatically incorporated into reports, invoices, work orders, etc.
Having that connection to your document management system allows for certain fields to autofill when field service is requested, provides the existing framework in which team members can access information and images being gathered in the field, and sets up automatic notifications for contractually mandated services such as annual maintenance checks.
Field service companies that don’t take advantage of combining service management and document management in customized apps are missing out.
Using these softwares in concert helps create a unified and consistent workflow that is more efficient and provides better data for more intelligent business decisions and insights without relying on team members from multiple departments exporting information into an obsolete system.
Whether your business focuses on logistics, utilities, mobile healthcare, facilities management, or you run an IT field service business, the right field service management system will improve your operations.
Good field service management improves efficiency, customer experience, and remote data collection. And by integrating it with your content management infrastructure, you create a system in which relevant information can be accessed quickly and securely.
This technology has the potential to improve the results of your field services exponentially on multiple vectors. If you haven’t looked into how field service management can improve your outcomes and insights, don’t wait any longer.