Field Service Management apps: 8 best practices
An efficient field service management app saves time, money and a lot of mistakes.
So why do so many businesses fail at creating them? These are the most common pitfalls and how to avoid them.
Sales, customer support, maintenance and logistics teams. What do all these have in common? They work “in the field”, visiting customers, fixing what is broken and delivering goods. Ensuring these teams have access to relevant information saves time and money, but it can be a real challenge for even the savviest organisations. This is where field service management apps come into the picture. But what are they exactly?
What are field service management apps?
Field service management applies to any resources deployed at a customer, third-party, or public locations. While this may be doable with an excel spreadsheet, scaling this artisan way of working gets messy–real quick! And if you are exploring the word of field service management apps or software, then you already know it.
A field service management app facilitates, maintains and ensures mobility, as it allows data to be communicated in real time despite having scattered agents. For those who really take advantage of all the features in a field service management app, it can also improve productivity, reduce costs, and improve customer satisfaction.
But despite its importance, many companies of all sizes still struggle to create efficient apps to support their teams in the field. Why?
Field Service Management apps: 8 best practices to ensure success
Some have tried and failed. Others are yet to start altogether. Whatever your case may be, it is important to learn and avoid the most common pitfalls when creating such apps.
Clear purpose and goals
When creating or buying a field service app or software, it is extremely important that you know what your goals are, and for exactly what purpose you need that app. Is your primary goal to track time, routes, materials? Or are you focusing more on increasing productivity, reducing downtime, or optimising routes? Which of these are priorities? Failing to settle on clear priorities from the start will probably lead to what is commonly known as a “frankenApp” – a freakishily ambitious app that sets out to do everything, and fails to get anything done at all. It is also a key pitfall in app development.
Understand your business’ needs
A field service management app is pretty much unique to each business. For example, a telecommunications maintenance app will not be the best fit for a business that provides healthcare services to elderly customers. The service is not the same, and the logistics will not be the same. Additionally, you need to think if there are material resources being deployed – other than humans, that is – and what is the best way to manage them.
Organize a “project team”
Before choosing a field management app, bring the internal “customer” teams together and listen to their opinions, on which features are needed, which are “nice to have”, and which might make the app too confusing or hard to use. Involving users early on, not just to list requirements but also to test them, is extremely beneficial for the smooth running of a system.
Train and engage your field technicians
Even the simplest field service management app requires a certain level of training and support among users. Making field technicians work with an unfamiliar software will slow down their productivity. To avoid having your teams spending more time fiddling with the app than servicing customers, make sure you train your agents properly. That encourages them to ask questions and share ideas. Assigning a go-to person for your field technicians–or other employees–to ask questions is a clever idea too. Read more on why enterprise-grade app onboarding is important.
Facilitate easy ERP/CRM integration
Now, one of the most common pitfalls is not integrating software. Figure out which legacy software, ERPs, billing apps, or CRMs need to be in contact with your field service management app. Keeping separate siloes can lead to scheduling conflicts, incorrect billing, lost records, delays in dispatch, and so on.
Get feedback from field teams and customers
The only way to understand if your field service management app is doing its purpose is getting global feedback. That means field teams, office teams, management – and customers. What they like, what they don’t like, and what is missing. Oftentimes, field technicians will experience situations that are not expected and that will somehow affect the outcomes, but if there is no way to incorporate this information into the app, you won’t get accurate results. Make sure to add a “send feedback” button somewhere in the app for quick access.
Leave room for exceptions
What happens when an app user encounters an unexpected situation in the field? Apps should accommodate the unexpected and allow for exceptions. Say a customer needs your technician to provide an additional service outside a given work order. If you allow for a customisation module where customers and technicians can add adjoining work to a work order, for example, you will reduce the number of requests from customer support, and just streamline work, which will benefit teams and customers.
Keep KPIs in mind
A field service management app can guide your teams, make billing easier, and keep track of work. It is also a wonderful tool for you to gather data that can later measure or analyse efficiency, productivity, and all the metrics that will affect a business. We’re talking KPIs. Depending on your business, think about measuring time-to-site, jobs-per-day, first-time fix rates, call volumes, or others that might be relevant. And, of course, use them to your business’ benefit.
What is the best Field Service Management app on the market?
Well, this is a tough one, since in business there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all”. There are dozens (hundreds?) of field service management apps and software out there, catered to various industries, and with different levels of customisation, but only a handful will be a good fit for your business.
If you are a user of the Salesforce Service Cloud, you’ll be happy to know there is an off-the-shelf Field service management app that connects to Salesforce CRM. Of course, further customisation may be required for your unique business. If you are not a Salesforce user and are looking for a Field service management app outside Salesforce, you will need to go over quite a few of them until you find “the one”.
Want to build your own Field Service Management app from scratch?
There is another, more tailored approach. Skip the pre-made modules and go straight for a custom app–the only way to ensure your field service management app is 100% adapted to your business.
And did we hear you say you could use a hand? Well, we have great news: there are lots of helping hands at Near Partner, ready to build customised apps in whatever language you prefer. Do you want to customise your app yourself? Funny thing, we’re also big on low code.
Take a look at our development cost calculator and let us give you an estimate and budget. And remember, there is no project too big for our superstar developers.