The Basics of Purchasing FSM
It's amazing to think how software has become such an important part of field service management. In fact, a study by FieldAware found that over 65% of field service companies use software to manage work orders.
Implementing field service management software is no small matter. How can you be sure your company's ready? Is FSM even the right solution? And most of all, how can you find a software package that will make your life easier, not more stressful?
Ready to begin? Or maybe you're feeling a little unsure? Let's survey the worksite before we get started...
FSM Readiness Assessment
There are plenty of good reasons to consider field service management software… and some bad ones. So, before we proceed, let's make sure that your company actually needs FSM software. Answer these “yes” or “no” questions to determine if you're ready:
FSM software may not exactly fit your needs right now. Let's review the basics before moving on.
You are probably ready for an FSM system. But you should keep reading to make sure you're prepared.
Scored lower than you thought you would? No sweat! You may be ready for FSM, even if you're not a standard case.
“Field Service Management Software” tends to be a term used to describe multifunctional software suites that incorporate a number of smaller programs such as:
This software concentrates only on the fleet aspect of management. It is best for companies with large fleets.
Tracks and organizes maintenance activities. This will be most useful to a company that frequently repairs equipment or machinery, or has a large fleet.
This software will help you maintain good relationships with your customers, helping ensure repeat business and lifelong customers.
This software is designed to increase the number of people who find your company and convert more of these leads to customers.
With so many advantages to mobile FSM, companies can give themselves a huge leg up on competition. In the next chapter, we'll help you identify the features you need, so you can maximize company efficiency and bury the competition.
Preparing Your List of FSM Objectives
Now that you're sure you need field service management software, we'll go through the most important part of this guide - identifying what you need from your FSM software. With over 200 field service solutions on the market, pinpointing your requirements will help ensure you get an FSM that matches your needs.
In order to figure out which features you need from your FSM, you will have to be conscious of how your company functions.
Develop detailed examples of the types of work orders you expect your technicians to receive. In each case, include details such as the variety of parts needed, expected time to complete, etc.
Make sure you are accounting for the questions you just answered in Step 1.
If you have complete answers and clearly defined use cases, you will be able to paint a clear picture of your needs to any FSM vendors you talk to.
Note: It's best to develop these cases for the work orders you get frequently, not the once-in-a-blue-moon orders. Otherwise, you may end up paying extra for features you really don't need.
With hundreds of unique field service management software packages available, there are thousands of features out there. Some are necessary for what you need, like meats and vegetables at the dinner table. Others are like fruit cake - you'll pay for it, but only ever use it once a year. Don't get caught up with these fancy “bells and whistles” features; instead, focus on finding those 10-15 features you need. You can keep a list of “nice-to-haves,” as long as you keep it separate from your “gotta-haves”.
Found in a majority of FSM Programs
Not found in all FSM
Customer Experience: Many field service management solutions are beginning to concentrate heavily on customer experience. They offer tools that call the customer half an hour before technicians arrive, give them an online portal to submit work orders and pay bills, and include quality assurance tools.Tweet
One more thing to consider: where do you want the software to be hosted - online or on-premise? There are advantages to each platform, so be sure to ask the software vendors questions about backups, recovery, security, IT requirements, and who owns the data.
Web-based: Web-based solutions are online, so they can be accessed from any computer with an internet connection. You don't need a big IT department, because it is hosted off-premise. Updates are usually free and handled by the vendor. Finally, the monthly fee pricing model creates a low startup cost. Also known as Software as a Service (SaaS).
On-premises: On-premise solutions are easier to customize than online solutions, and offer more deployment flexibility and easier integration with existing systems. Data is easy to access. Because onpremise solutions favor one-time charges, they are usually cheaper over a life-time of use.
*Based off of Capterra FMS buyers in 2013.
Now that you know what you're looking for, it's time to actually start looking! But you can't just ask two questions and find the perfect match for your company. So the first thing you need to do is create a list of software options that may be right for you.
Tips for Buying FSM
Capterra's FSM directory has over 200+ Field Service Management Software options on one page. Better yet, we have a tool that lets you select the features you need to narrow that monster list down to a more feasible size.
The objective is to narrow the list down to about 3-5 software packages that you can look into in more detail. But if you don't have many requirements, you could only narrow the list to 20+ options. Or, if you have a lot of requirements, you could be down to only 1 result! That's why we suggested earlier you pick your top 10-15 features and concentrate on those. Hopefully, this will bring you a practical number of FSM solutions as the search result.
If this process looks overwhelming – or even just annoying – just browse our software directory, and use the filter tool to narrow down your options!
You have your shortlist; now things get interesting - demos! These software demonstrations will help you to find the software that really fits what you are looking for. Most demos fall into one of two categories: one-on-one or group. One-on-one demos are just you and a sales person, while group demos involve one sales person talking to a group of potential buyers. Whichever type of demo you end up taking should answer these questions about your shortlist FSM contenders:
As you're demoing possible solutions, be sure to get answers for the other parties involved in this decision:
FSM pricing is not a simple number. In addition to the various pricing models, there are many other factors that will affect the cost, such as your requirements. However, you need to be aware of the main three pricing models so that you can compare quotes directly.
Solutions with This Pricing Model: Bella Solutions, FranchiseBlast
When you're looking for Field Service Management Software, the good news is you don't have to do it alone - you can take this ebook with you through every step, from initial questions to final demos. Asking good questions and being aware of your company's unique needs will help ensure that you find the perfect software that keeps you happy for years. And remember, it's okay to ask for help.
FSM Trade Words
ASP: Application Service Provider. A business that provides software to users through a web browser. The software typically resides on the vendor's system thus eliminating the need for customers to host the application on their own computer servers. Software offered using an ASP model is also called “On-Demand Software” or “Software as a Service”.
BYOD: Bring Your Own Device. Each worker provides his own mobile device, and the company installs software on it for working hours. Not yet commonly accepted as a practice, but starting to become more popular as mobile solutions become more diverse and offer more cross-platform apps. One downside of BYOD is that the average smartphone is far less durable than field service-specific mobile devices .
CMMS: Computerized Maintenance Management System. Developed to help maintenance workers track processes and items used in daily work. Features often include inventory, scheduling, help desk, dispatch service, and customer relationship management.
FFA: Field Force Automation. The use of mobile solutions to capture data in real time and transmit it to a back-end system where it is analyzed and stored.
FSMS: Field Service Management Software. Same context and meaning as FSM.
FTFR: First Time Fix Rate. Often one of the components of data analysis, FTFR recording allows technicians to optimize their practices by tracking the occurrence and nature of first time fixes.
KPI: Key Performance Indicator. Many FSM programs offer data analysis features meant to help field service business owners by creating company performance reports. These reports are made up of key performance indicators, showing where the company needs work or is performing well based on collected data.
M2M: Machine To Machine. The technicians' mobile devices communicate with each other, helping field technicians address issues as they arise on the job, and allowing other technicians to collaborate on and learn from the issue themselves.
NFC: Near Field Communication. A short-range, low power wireless link evolved from RFID that can transfer small amounts of data between two devices held a few centimeters from each other.
RFID: Radio-Frequency Identification. RFID tags are small tags that can store information locally, as well as interact with sensors and provide detailed feedback. They can be read electronically at short range.
Route Optimization: A feature found in most FSM solutions which finds the optimal route and/or schedule to follow through the day to minimize travel.
SaaS: Software as a Service. See ASP.
SLA: Service Level Agreement. SLAs are crucial for field service, outlining the basic criteria that a company agrees to meet while performing a service. FSM often helps with the fulfillment of SLAs by allowing supervisors to monitor work orders as they are completed, sometimes along with receiving customer feedback.
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