Field service management
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Field service management (FSM) refers to a hosted or cloud-based system that combines with hardware and internet service to support companies in locating vehicles, managing worker activity, schedule and dispatch work, ensure driver safety, and ideally integrate with inventory, billing, accounting and other back-office systems. FSM most commonly refers to companies who need to manage installs, service or repairs of systems or equipment.
Field service management is applicable in several industries.
- In telecommunications and cable industry, there are technicians that install cable or run phone lines into residences or business establishments.
- In healthcare, there are mobile nurses that provide in home care for elderly or disabled. In gas utilities, there are engineers that are dispatched to investigate and fix suspected leaks.
- In heavy engineering, mining, industrial and manufacturing, there are technicians dispatched for preventative maintenance and break fix.
- Waste management pick up trucks, postal workers collecting mail, electric meter readings are other examples of field workers, who may not fit the strict definition of field service, but often follow similar processes.
Field service management faces a number of challenges that managers have to address :
- Customer expectations : Customers expect that their service should not be disrupted, and should be immediately restored
- Underutilized equipment : Expensive industrial equipment in mining or oil & gas can cost millions when sitting idle
- Low employee productivity : Managers are unable to monitor field employees which often leads to lower productivity
- Safety : Safety of drivers and vehicles on the road and while on the job site is a concern both for individuals and their employers
- Cost : Rising cost of fuel, vehicle maintenance, and parts inventory
- Service to sales : Increasingly, companies expect their services department to generate revenues.
- Dynamic environment : Continuously balancing between critical tickets, irate customers, productive employees and optimized routes makes scheduling, routing and dispatching very challenging
- Data and technology : Many a times, the data for analytics is missing, stale or inaccurate.
Field service management software
FSM software has significantly evolved in the past 10 years, however the market for FSM software remains fragmented. The software can be deployed both on premise or as a hosted or cloud-based system. Typically, FSM software integrated with backend systems such as service management, billing, accounting, parts inventory and other HR systems.
The large majority of FSM companies are fee-for-service and offer differing features and functionality that vary from one company to the next. Whereas one company will provide most, if not all, of the desirable features in field service management, another will be missing one or up to several functions. Pricing is dependent on several factors: a company’s size, business needs, number of users, carrier selection and planned data usage. Some popular fee structures are pay-per-franchise, pay-per-use/administrators, and pay-per-field technician/employee. Costs can range from $20.00 per month for an unbundled solution that does not include carrier data charges to upwards of $200.00. It is not uncommon, although not always the case, for there to be other fees incurred with the use of the FSM platform; namely, fees for software, extra technical support, and additional training.
For the enterprise market, Gartner estimates that market penetration for field service applications has reached 25% of the addressable market. Software sales in the FSM market can only be approximated. Some of the key vendors are Clicksoftware, ServiceMax, PTC, Astea, Ventyx, Servicepower, Arris. In addition, most of the ERP vendors (for example, Oracle, SAP, IBM, Infor) have their own solutions. Oracle acquired TOA technologies, a key vendor of hosted FSM software in 2014. Gartner research puts the revenue for packaged field service dispatch and workforce management software applications, not including service revenue, at approximately $1.2 billion in 2012, with a compound annual growth rate of 12.7%.
Role of mobility in field service management
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (May 2014)|
Companies have started using mobility to improve communication with the field, increase productivity, streamline work processes, and enhance customer service and loyalty. Field service software combines many functions into one unified solution. Providers of field service management solutions frequently offer customers applications for scheduling and routing optimization, automated vehicle location, remote vehicle diagnostics, driver logs and hours-of-service tracking, inventory management, field worker management and driver safety. Mobile software may also utilize databases containing details about customer premise equipment, access requirements, and parts inventory. Many Field Service Management solutions integrate with other software such as accounting programs.
Potential benefits of mobility
- Provides real-time analysis of mobile work status 
- Increases first-time-fix rate
- Reduces overhead or administration costs that are associated with paper-based field service management and data entry
- Preserves e-audit trail for full regulatory compliance and fine avoidance
- Increases productivity
- Streamlines workflow
- Enhances customer experience
- Minimizes lost revenue and shortens billing cycles
- Mobile enterprise application framework
- Field force automation
- Computer-assisted dispatch
- Workforce management
- Strategic service management
- Service management
- Route accounting
- Service chain optimization
- Golnaz, Sadri; Hoa, Tran. "Managing your diverse workforce through improved communication". Journal of Management Development 21 (3): 227–237.
- "Cloud-based field service work management solution offered". Fleet Owner. 2011-04-25. Retrieved 2013-09-27.