FSM Buying Guide

Table of Contents




The Expert Guide to

Buying Field Service Management Software

By ,



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Introduction

The Basics of Purchasing FSM

Field Service Management Software

noun, (acronym: FSM)

Software used to organize workers and outside agents. It includes tools for managing work orders, inventory, scheduling & dispatch, communications, quality control, accounting, and customer history.

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.

Why are so many companies willing to make this investment?

How do they decide the time is right? How do they measure the benefit of the software versus its price? This book will answer these questions and more.

There are over 200 field service management software solutions out there. This can be a pretty intimidating statistic. But don't worry, we'll take you from the basics up to purchasing. By the end of this guide, you'll be a master of FSM software!




Open-book-questions

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?

  1. How to Determine if it's time for FSM
  2. How to identify and contrast your FSM needs
  3. How to select the best FSM system for your business

Ready to begin? Or maybe you're feeling a little unsure? Let's survey the worksite before we get started...



Chapter 1

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:

QUESTIONS
YES
NO
  • Do team members ever have trouble finding service orders, customer history, or forms?
  • Do you work in an industry where estimations are difficult and cancellations/changes are commonplace?
  • Do your field agents frequently return to home base to collect information, grab parts, and pick up new orders?
  • Do your field agents experience frequent downtime?
  • Have service requests or adjustments ever been lost or forgotten?
  • Is your first-time fix rate low because techs don't have enough info or the right parts?
  • Do you spend hours a day on spreadsheets trying to organize your agents?
  • Do you have more than five workers or multiple office locations?
  • Do you ever lose information about customer history or billing?
  • Do you frequently overstock or run low on parts?

Tally up your “yes” answers to determine your readiness score.




Decoding Your Score


0-2

FSM software may not exactly fit your needs right now. Let's review the basics before moving on.

3-5

You are probably ready for an FSM system. But you should keep reading to make sure you're prepared.

6-10

You're definitely ready! Your reward? Skip ahead to Chapter 2!

Scored lower than you thought you would? No sweat! You may be ready for FSM, even if you're not a standard case.

  • Most companies don't have frequent changes, more than five workers, or multiple locations. Even just one of these is often enough to merit the use of FSM software, but if you have two or three of these then FSM software is almost definitely right for you.
  • Also, just because you use spreadsheets to organize your business doesn't necessarily mean you need FSM; but if you spend a lot of time working on these sheets, FSM could cut that time down dramatically.

If you find yourself saying “I am constantly getting complaints about work quality” or “My technicians don't have enough work to do” you have other problems to fix before worrying about FSM software.



Thumbsup

Here's What Field Service Management Software Can Do for You

  • Automate scheduling, dispatch, and invoicing - FSM is great for streamlining your process. A customer submits an order, and the software takes care of dispatching and invoicing
  • Increase customer satisfaction - FSM will make your estimates more accurate and provide more precise arrival times. Combine this with tools such as calls to customers 30 minutes before arrival and online customer portals, and you get lifelong customer loyalty.
  • Reduce inventory costs - FSM keeps tight control on inventory, automatically ordering new parts based on what your technicians use.
  • Reduce fuel costs - Most FSM programs include schedule optimization features that design each technician's day to minimize traveling and downtime.
Thumbsdown

Here's What Field Service Management Software Can't Do for You

  • Replace your technicians - While this should go without saying, FSM software can't actually go out on the job and fix things. It helps organize your technicians; it doesn't replace them.
  • Ensure your agents do good work - While FSM tracks customer satisfaction and makes it easy for customers to submit feedback, it cannot ensure that your technicians actually do good work while on the job.
  • Find more customers - Few FSM packages include marketing tools. If your problem is too few customers, you may want to look specifically for marketing help.


RELATED SOFTWARE


“Field Service Management Software” tends to be a term used to describe multifunctional software suites that incorporate a number of smaller programs such as:


Feet-mgmt

Fleet Management / Dispatch

This software concentrates only on the fleet aspect of management. It is best for companies with large fleets.


Maintenance-mgmt

Maintenance Management Software

Tracks and organizes maintenance activities. This will be most useful to a company that frequently repairs equipment or machinery, or has a large fleet.


Crm

Customer Relationship Management

This software will help you maintain good relationships with your customers, helping ensure repeat business and lifelong customers.


Marketing-sales

Marketing/Sales

This software is designed to increase the number of people who find your company and convert more of these leads to customers.




68%

of field service companies have limited or no mobile functionality, according to a study by IFS.

Mobile support is a key feature of FSM because it...

  • Lets technicians quickly and accurately keep count of the parts they use, straight from the worksite
  • Tracks technician timing and ensures they arrive when customers are expecting them
  • Provides information on the customer's history at the worksite
  • Allows technicians to estimate and invoice while still with the customer
  • Allows technicians to call in help by keeping all employees in close communication

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.

Mobile-support


Chapter 2

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.

Weight

STEP ONE

Define Your Service Process


In order to figure out which features you need from your FSM, you will have to be conscious of how your company functions.

Here are some questions you should answer to get the thoughts flowing for your conversations with software vendors:

  1. How many jobs do your technicians do a day?
  2. Is each technician specialized or general?
  3. Do technicians use many parts in their repairs?
  4. How many locations do you serve?
  5. How detailed are customers' work orders?
  6. What was wrong with your old process?



STEP TWO

Create Example Use Cases


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.

For example: King of Kool is a refrigerator repair company in Juneau, Alaska. They currently have twelve technicians, each of whom uses a company truck on the job. The typical work order they receive is an ambiguous “my fridge stopped working.” They dispatch one worker and truck per job. The jobs typically take about three hours, and each technician will do two jobs a day. However, if the problem is a blown coolant hose, it can take up to seven hours to fix. Each truck carries the necessary supplies for most fixes. They usually only use three thermistors for any given job, and carry ten in the truck.

John Doe is the CEO of the company. He is the only administrative figure in the company, so he currently does all the dispatching, accounting, marketing, and more. John wants to approve all work orders before dispatching technicians (he's tired of fake work orders: “Help! My refrigerator is running, and I can't catch it!”). Additionally, he hates accounting and would love this to be automated.



STEP THREE

Identify Your Feature Requirements


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”.


Basicfeatures

BASIC FEATURES

Found in a majority of FSM Programs

  • Customer Service History
  • Dispatch and Schedule Management
  • Service Order Scheduling and Management
  • Equipment Management
  • Preventive Maintenance Management
  • Reporting and Metrics
  • Sales Tracking
  • Time/Payroll Management
  • Schedule/Route Optimization
Advancedfeatures

ADVANCED FEATURES

Not found in all FSM

  • Smartphone Integration
  • Management Inventory Tracking Apps
  • Mobile Enabled Point-of-Sale Capabilities
  • Real Time GPS Tracking
  • Quality Assurance
  • Cloud/Web Browser Access
  • Online Customer Portal
  • Automatic Customer Contact
  • Accounting Tools


TRENDING IN #FSM


Mobile Solutions: FSM software is increasingly focused on providing technicians access while out in the field. According to a recent survey by Aberdeen, 56% of leading-edge field-service management practices say investing in mobile technology is critical for improving their performance.

Cloud-based Solutions: Many software solutions store data in the “cloud” (or “internet,” in English), so that it can be accessed from any computer. Cloud storage also prevents you from losing data if your computer breaks.

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device): An increasingly popular trend: technicians provide their own mobile devices (maybe at a company discount), and the company puts their software on it. Software must have cross-platform functionality to deal with the variety of devices it will be installed on.

Tablets: Tablets are replacing smartphones and laptops as the best worksite mobile devices. They are larger than smartphones and easier to use than laptops.

Social Media Implementations: Field service management doesn't always lend itself easily to social media engagement. However, the companies that are able to break into the social landscape find themselves free publicity and increased brand recognition. That's why FSM packages are starting to offer integrated social media tools to help you out in this wilderness.

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.

56%

of leading-edge field-service management practices say investing in mobile technology is critical for improving their performance.




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.


Here are some pros to each kind:

Web-based

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-premise

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.


The 5 Most Commonly Requested FSM Features:


  • Scheduling
  • Work Order Management
  • Job in Progress Tracking
  • Job Managament
  • Service History Tracking
Fsm-popular-features

*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.


  • Which of these is a better plan?

    A.

    Spend days doing research and differentiating vendors using an overly-complex spreadhseet.

    B.

    Let an online tool do all that work for you.

  • Is it really necessary to demo all your shortlist FSM options?

    A.

    No. They are all the same - just sales tools to close the deal.

    B.

    Yes. You wouldn't buy a house without seeing it first.

  • Who should participate in the FSM demo?

    A.

    Your administrators (dispatcher, schedulers, inventory managers, etc.)

    B.

    Your technicians and field agents

    C.

    Your IT department

  • How much does a good FSM cost?

    A.

    Less that $100

    B.

    Over $100,000

Answers


#1: If you wanna get the job done, the answer is B.
#2: B. Demos are a great way to see the software in action. They get you past sales jargon to the heart of the software.
#3: All of the above. All three parties have different requirements from the software, so they should all be included in the decision.
#4: Neither. FSM pricing isn't so simple. But we'll explain more to make your life easy(er)!


Chapter 3

Tips for Buying FSM

TIP ONE

Make a Short List First


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!



TIP TWO

Demo your shortlist


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:

  1. Does the solution meet your top requirements?
  2. Does the company have excellent and fast support?
  3. Is the software user-friendly?
  4. How persuasive are the company's reviews?
  5. How difficult is implementation?
  6. Will the software require you to make changes in your business processes?
  7. Does the company already have customers similar to your business?
  8. How can the solution be customized to your specific needs?
  9. How creative and innovative is the software compared to the others you are looking at?
  10. Does the software incorporate some of your “nice-to-have” features?

Tooltip-icon-lightbulb

Helpful Tip

To aid in direct comparison of products, mark your answers on a scale of 1 (not at all) to 5 (completely).

Tooltip-icon-chat

Trade Tip

One-on-one demos are the most desirable, because you can steer the conversation. Get those questions answered!




TIP THREE

Generate buy-in


As you're demoing possible solutions, be sure to get answers for the other parties involved in this decision:

ADMINISTRATORS

(Dispatchers, schedulers, inventory managers, etc.)
  1. Is the system easy to use?
  2. What customizablity is available?
  3. What are work orders going to look like?
  4. Can you export our current list of customers?
  5. Does the system integrate with existing software?
  6. Does the system integrate with existing software?

TECHNICIANS & FIELD AGENTS

(Service techs, drivers)
  1. Is the system easy to use?
  2. What's the learning curve?
  3. Do I need a mobile device to access the software?
  4. Will I be billing customers and accepting payments on the spot?
  5. Will I keep inventory on the software?
  6. How does this change my job day-today?

IT DEPARTMENTS

(If you have one)
  1. Is the software online or onpremise? Are we better prepared for one or the other?
  2. How much configuration is necessary?
  3. How do we integrate existing software?
  4. How do we import existing data?
  5. How much maintenance is required? What do updates entail?



TIP FOUR

Compare Pricing


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.

The main pricing models for FSM packages are broken down here:

PAY-PER-USER

In this model, prices depend on the number of administrators who need access to the system. It is usually charged monthly, but there may be an additional setup fee.

Price Range: $50-$75/user/month with $500 setup fee, or $500-$5000 one-time price

Solutions with This Pricing Model: AyaNova, Jobber, Mhelpdesk, ServMan, Wintac


PAY-PER-EMPLOYEE

In this model, price is determined by the number of field agents, technicians, or service trucks you have.

Price Range: $10-65/employee/month

Solutions with This Pricing Model: Connect2Field, Kickserv


PAY-PER-LOCATION

In this model, the number of franchises or locations you have sets the price. Usually there is a monthly and a setup fee.

Price Range: $30-$200/month/location with $2,000-$5,000 setup fee

Solutions with This Pricing Model: Bella Solutions, FranchiseBlast

WARNING: There may be additional fees. Many companies charge for support (customer service, technical support, and updates) - often about $100/year. They may also charge for training: $200-$2000+ depending on the size of your company.



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.

Let us lend you a hand. We've found the perfect software match for thousands of companies, and we'd love to help you! Search our software directory, and we can get you halfway to your perfect solution in a matter of minutes.

Conclusionimage

Getting Started


Capterra provides lots of free resources to help you get started in your search for field service management software.



Glossary

FSM Trade Words


We've covered a lot of material, and you should be good to start. But here are a few of the terms you might come across during your search:

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.


Sources


Who is Capterra?

Capterra believes software makes the world a better place. Founded in 1999, Capterra has helped millions of people find the right software for their business — all kinds of businesses — whether a multinational corporation, a school, a church, a doctor's office, a manufacturing company, or a zoo. Capterra works with thousands of software vendors to understand their products in order to match companies with the best software for their needs. Check out www.capterra.com to find software ratings, reviews, buying guides, and the most comprehensive list of business software products available.