What To Keep In Mind When Selecting A Field Workforce Management Platform
By Anand Subbaraj, CEO at Zuper
According to the Customers 2020 report, customer experience has overtaken price and product as the key brand differentiator. In fact, the future of business success will depend on providing superior customer service. Service organizations are ramping up technology investments, process improvements and hiring to address the needs of modern customers. Traditionally, organizations have invested heavily in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software. For organizations that have a large field workforce Management, CRM and ERP software alone does not suffice. These companies require a whole new culture and mindset. This has led to the incre ased adoption of Field Service Management (FSM) software.
Also Read: How Tech is Transforming HR?
Field Service Management (FSM) enables organizations to manage, govern and orchestrate field workforces, schedule and dispatch work orders, prioritize field operations and manage interactions with customers. A well-rounded FSM software enables organizations to improve efficiency, productivity, field operation quality, and customer loyalty.
There are many FSM software solutions available today. These solutions offer many similar capabilities and promises, but only a handful of products offer comprehensive capabilities, stellar user experience, flexibility and customer support to ensure organizations can take control and offer the best possible experiences to their workforce and customers.
Taking into account our expertise in the field service management and digital transformation of organizations, below are the top six considerations for organizations to select the best FSM software to transform their field operations.
Understand your business needs and objectives
Every organization and their needs are different. It is important that you clearly define the objectives, key results, and success metrics. Collaborate with key stakeholders in the following departments that will be impacted by the FSM deployment:
- Customer Support
Ensure all requirements, integrations, and process flows are captured and documented. Then, ensure the following:
- Define business processes that need to be improved
- Determine the success metrics and key performance indicators for each process and the project
- Define the selection and the implementation timelines to ensure things are kept on track
The best FSM providers help you achieve the highest return on investment (ROI) in the short and long term by combining expertise in technology, process, data, and people.
Your organization’s readiness and proactive approach will enable you to engage efficiently with the FSM providers and make the best decision.
Choosing the FSM Software Deployment Model
There are two modes of deployment of FSM software:
- Software as a Service (SaaS)
“On-Premise” deployment involves procuring a license for software and implementing it in a company-owned physical location. The hardware, infrastructure, and support staff to maintain the software is controlled by the company itself.
SaaS (Software-as-a-Service), on the other hand, is a type of deployment where the software is cloud-based and owned, delivered and managed remotely by the vendor on a pay-per-use basis. The FSM provider manages, maintains, and upgrades the software in a continuous manner. Security, compliance and audits are managed by the FSM provider.
Unless there are stringent compliance policies in the organization (Financial institutions, Government agencies, etc.), the most efficient option is the SaaS deployment model. It does not require hardware, ongoing maintenance or expensive staff to manage deployments.
Compare FSM providers based on features and functionalities that add business value
The FSM market is crowded with many vendors offering similar-sounding capabilities and false promises. It is important as an organization to list and prioritize your requirements and the expertise to ensure the right model is leveraged to compare vendors, identify strengths and weaknesses, drill down into specific areas of interest and perform a side-by-side comparison:
- Clearly define your “must-have” and “nice to have” requirements
- Involve the breadth of representatives across the field service organization – Dispatchers, Field Technicians, Operational Managers, and AnalystsSpecifically drill down into these areas of the FSM products that you are evaluating:
- Scheduling, dispatching, and work order management
- The system needs to enable manual, assisted, and automated processes to ensure an immediate productivity boost
- Connected customer experience
- The system needs to keep the customers in a tight loop with your field operations and enable efficient collaboration and communication
- Collect customer signatures, reviews and feedback in a seamless manner
- Inventory management
- Integrate inventory and work orders to ensure full visibility of the utilization of parts and services
- Streamline material request workflows
- Forecasting for improved inventory control
- Location Intelligence
- It is not just location tracking, but location intelligence that ensures the right person can be at the right place to offer the right service, is one of the most important aspects of a FSM software
- Geo-Tagging, Geo-Fencing, GPS-Tracking, Geo-Rules and Intelligent workflows combine together to offer differentiated location intelligence to improve productivity, utilization and accountability
- Governance Policies
- The ability to create business process workflows, approvals and set policies is a critical set of requirements to offer control, governance and oversight
- Configurability, customizations and flexibility
- Self-service configurations of processes, checklists, notifications, alerts are paramount to the success of FSM adoption
- Customizations of taxonomy and workflows sets apart mediocre FSM software from the best
- Field Technician mobile application with comprehensive capabilities
- One of the key requirements for the success of FSM software is the field technician application
- Needs to simplify user experience yet provide comprehensive features to empower field technicians to perform their operations in the most efficient manner
- 360-degree view of the service business with data and analytics
- Rich KPIs and reports to offer a 360-degree view of the service business
- Open APIs and integrations
- The best FSM software offer open APIs and integrations with third-party applications, tools, devices and platforms
Evaluate the availability of consumer-facing applications for booking, tracking, payments, reviews and on-demand experiences
Gone are the days when customers just call a support
channel or email to place a service request. Modern customers require on-demand experiences to be able to browse and discover services, book a request, make payments, track technicians and provide reviews and feedback.
The FSM provider should offer white-labeled consumer facing web/mobile applications or integrate with the line of business consumer applications to streamline the process flow and offer the best experiences to consumers.
Evaluate after sales support
FSM software is a critical component to running your business. No matter how robust your FSM software is, you will need support at some point.
You need to evaluate the support options before selecting a vendor. Check for references, case studies and verify the quality of support offered by the FSM provider.
The best FSM providers engage closely with their customers, offer white glove engagement and provide ongoing customer success. Companies should ask the following questions of a potential FSM software provider:
- Is white-glove engagement included in your service/support plan?
- Do you have an account manager, customer success point of contact who will engage in an ongoing manner?
- Is there a mechanism for you to not just log issues but provide feedback on an ongoing basis?
Ease of implementation and training
Successful deployment of FSM software across the organization takes time and resources and needs to be planned accordingly.
Select a FSM provider that offers a white-glove implementation and has an efficient training program.
Once the FSM provider is selected, companies should take the following steps:
- Create an implementation project plan and identify the key stakeholders to engage continuously
- Define the communication protocol to ensure transparency and visibility of the milestones
- Validate on a test environment
- Go-live when all the criteria are met
FSM software deployed successfully has a long-term benefit to the organization and improves efficiency and productivity of operations, quality of work and loyalty/retention of customers.
It is no longer an option but a mandatory requirement for field organizations to adopt rich technology that satisfies the requirements of modern customers.
Having a proactive, robust and streamlined selection process will help you engage efficiently with potential FSM providers and collaborate with the vendor that offers the best long-term business value for your organization.