Is field service management software for small companies? Is it really necessary to their daily routine? Can one tool help to improve performance even if a small company is not providing service on a huge scale?
If you manage a small field service company (up to 10 field technicians), you may have wondered whether to invest in such a tool, and asked yourself those questions.
To help you understand why there is room for improvement, let's analyze the most problematic areas faced by small businesses, and how they can be addressed with field service software.
Challenge no 1: Lack of control over the field service technicians
A basic need of smaller companies is to improve monitoring of their staff. This covers routing, time spent on working, and work orders performed per day. All those factors impact the overall efficiency indicators.
That is why most small service businesses consider GPS tracking and want to see the progress of the assigned work orders. While it’s easier to implement employee monitoring systems or simple lists of those at work in a fixed environment, for remote servicing it can be more complex. The business must rely on the declarations of employees, and those declarations might be difficult to track and verify – making field service management technology will always be more trustworthy.
Challenge no 2: Need for centralized point of operations
The next barrier to improved monitoring is centralization of data. In other words, having one simple view of work orders, clients’ locations, technicians, inventory, and basic real-time reporting, which is the key to monitoring the company’s effectiveness.
Assigning one of a few people to maintain that information is unreliable, and will never be as precise as data maintained in one system. That’s not to mention that all the information is constantly changing, so it can be difficult to keep up with them – even if the company hires the most engaged employees.
Challenge no 3: Complex asset tracking
For some companies, especially those delivering additional service to equipment or supplies sold by them, and those using a great many devices or parts, the key challenge is to track all of the inventory and ensure appropriate maintenance.
Daily problems involve locating given equipment, its availability and capacity, and monitoring dates of required maintenance. The first problem leads to missing parts and additional idle time when looking for those that are needed, and the latter to misleading information about when the service should be delivered or which supplies should be refilled.
For such cases, digitizing asset information is more than necessary to avoid service disturbance and misuse of inventory.
Challenge no 4: Needless documentation
In traditional service businesses, work orders, scope of work and equipment specifications are managed on paper documents, passed from managers to technicians (and back, when the job is done).
But is that really an efficient way of managing the service process? Not necessarily.
This type of management causes human error, increases the amount of time spent ineffectively, and stops the company from achieving shortened mean time to complete the order and completing more tasks per day.
The truth is that all the data kept on paper can be transferred to mobile apps and then to the reporting system, saving hours of inefficient work time, and allowing performance to be monitored.
Challenge no 5: Constant pressure on high quality of service
From the customer perspective, it doesn’t matter whether the company is small or huge. Customers expect the same service standards, and take this for granted. For smaller businesses, this means greater pressure to deliver the same quality as larger competitors, but without the financial resources for innovation.
Consequently, service providers are forced to implement simplified technology enhancements, to compete with the big players by offering comparable service quality.
Challenge no 6: Customers’ need for communicationBeing responsive to customers gives them a sense of being valued. However, with a lack of communication and updates when the technician arrives, and with no flexibility for customers who wish to reschedule visits, the service company is perceived as careless, unreliable and untruthful. The highest performance won’t be sufficient if the client expects more interaction. That’s the nature of service companies – not only to deliver service, but mainly to put clients at the center of all operations. For example, ensuring even the simplest notifications or an app for mobile devices may help to achieve that crucial goal.
Small field service companies made smarterBearing these challenges in mind but failing to act on them will mean further inefficiencies and losing battles with more competitive companies, either those smaller ones that are implementing some changes, or enterprises which have already mastered their service delivery processes.
However, the good news is that running a small company doesn’t mean you can’t make it smart. Everything starts with an optimization-focused approach. Coupled with a little automation, this may lead to considerable savings, reducing inefficiencies, improving clients’ perceptions of the company, and eventually, standing out from the crowd as an effective service business.