The problem of how to supervise the daily routines of distributed workforce is a challenge for many companies. But few readers of this section should be surprised by the fact that there’s the right software for this. It’s the Field Service Management (FSM), a system helping you keep track of your employees and other resources (such as vehicles or specialized equipment) in the field.
Insurance is not just offices and people working behind their desks. It's not just databases - and IT systems that manage them. This is all important and necessary, but one simply cannot run an insurance business (especially the one related to greater risks) without going out of its four walls.
It is difficult to imagine insurance without salespeople meeting customers, without underwriters doing risk assessment somewhere in the field, and finally without liquidators, having been called “mobile” for some time now – and not without a reason. Although a lot can be done online when it comes to insurance, although many processes can be run in the self-service mode, there will always be a need to go out in the open, meet clients, and help them directly whenever they might be. They’re out there – and we should just be with them.
The problem of how to supervise the daily routines of distributed workforce is a challenge for many companies. But few readers of this section should be surprised by the fact that there’s the right software for this. It’s the Field Service Management (FSM), a system helping you keep track of your employees and other resources (such as vehicles or specialized equipment) in the field. FSM is used for scheduling, personnel and task management, and staff assistance in carrying out assigned duties.
FSMs are used mostly by large companies employing sales representatives or service technicians who traverse tens or even hundreds of kilometers a day. These mobile workers need to be managed, given new tasks and monitored for the implementation of existing ones. This is a big challenge for most businesses. Among them are telecoms or energy and gas companies, dispatching technicians who install and service appliances in the field. FSMs are also used by mines, heavy industry and large-size factories in different locations. In short: companies whose wealth is dispersed throughout multiple sites. Let’s not forget medical facilities managing doctor and nurse visits. Employees of such companies spend a great deal of their time outside the office, some rarely visit it. They carry out service, sales and other field tasks. Where are they, what are they doing, are they optimally utilized? These are the questions asked by people in charge of the said employees. FSM can – and does – help in such circumstances.
Field Service Management systems have changed dramatically in recent years due to technological changes: mobile internet, new, more convenient portable devices, and the use of the Geographic Information System (GIS). Along with navigation, GIS allows you to choose the best route, which significantly shortens the way to your destination and - equally important - reduces travel costs. Thanks to these changes, FSMs has become even more mobile and effective. Today's FSM systems perform the following functions:
- accepting orders and identifying tasks from various sources and channels of intra-company communication, from clients and directly from connected devices;
- work planning: order scheduling and processing, monitoring service level agreement (SLA) provisions and service costs. FSM can automatically assign tasks based on location, availability, and employee competences (resource management). The system also ensures equal workload for workers;
- task processing and staff support in the field, including communication and provision of information and knowledge needed to solve a specific problem,
- control tools - in the form of registering task execution time and resources used, together with confirmation of work completion including customer acceptance and feedback;
- operational and administrative activities such as operational and management reporting, cost summary, invoicing, etc.
The above points are listed in the last year’s Gartner report titled “Magic Quadrant for Field Service Management”. The authors point out that the efficiency of using FSMs drops significantly without its integration with other IT systems in the company.
According to Gartner, by 2020 more than 60% of large service companies will equip their local workers with mobile applications that improve their work. The report lists 23 providers of FSM solutions, including ClickSoftware, IFS, Oracle, IFS, SAP, ServiceMax, Microsoft, OverIT, Coresystems and Comarch. In closing, let me just gloat a little by saying Gartner appreciated the industry versions of our FSM.
Mariusz Janczewski, Senior Insurance Consultant, Comarch