Field Service Automation

Field service automation (FSA) or Field service management (FSM) software is a mature market. While FSA has been around for two decades, the market is changing due to mobile technologies that are altering core capabilities of field services personnel. Field service automation(FSA) is the method of reorganizing all your field service procedures to improve efficiency and productivity. At its core, FSM is simply any system that is designed to keep track of the various components of field operations.  These components typically include inventory management, vehicle tracking, scheduling, customer portals and more.

CoreSystem’s cloud-based field service automation makes it possible to centralize company information from anywhere. With intuitive and configurable features for scheduling, dispatching and invoicing, CoreSystems streamlines your processes for optimal efficiency.


Why is Field Service Automation Necessary?

Field service is often the place where enterprise information systems, labor controls, and productivity tools falter. The opaque nature of the work, far removed from the office or shop floor is the chief cause for blame. The effectiveness of cellphones are limited, even though they offer visibility and connectivity. Technology is, however, changing the situation, transforming field service through new improved paradigms.

When you send a human resource out to the field, you deal with so many variables, like their attendance, what kind of transportation they use, what route they use with the transportation, their mobile connectivity, data requirements, etc. that it becomes nearly impossible to keep track of by someone sitting in-house on their own. What further complicates things is that all these variable costs add-up in ways that ultimately cripple your bottom-line and customer satisfaction.

Automation is the slogan to decrease cost and increase efficiency at the same time. This is true for almost all facets of work, and more so for field services, which has a historical reputation for delays, inefficiencies, and high costs.

The savings resulting from such automation is often underestimated. Even a conservative estimate of 20 service technicians who can complete an average of five work orders each day, and customers raising a dispute on just 5% of service invoices results in needing to investigate and resolve 1,300 inquiries per year


Benefits of Field Service Automation?

  • Efficient scheduling and dispatching (including redirecting technicians to customers based on expertise, location, and availability).
  • Providing a singular window of visibility into all resources (including integration with backend systems like CRM, accounting, and inventory management).
  • Comprehensive data analytics that provide insights into customer behavior and the ability to make better predictions.
  • Technician location tracking with real-time job updates and vehicle tracking with GPS route optimization.
  • Customer portals that facilitate real-time communication with technicians via messaging.
  • Integrated payment processing and invoice generation.
  • Regulatory compliance at every stage.


What is Done During Field Service Automation?

Field service automation is a scheme for organizing field operations through a mobile or similar system. At a basic level, this entails scheduling service orders, dispatching agents, and tracking vehicle locations and job status. A proper software solution will assist automate these chores and offer mobile access through a cloud-based platform. FSM is prevalent in numerous industries, but particularly those that employ mobile agents or contractors, such as waste management, utilities, telecommunications, public sector transportation, and even in-home healthcare.

FSA solutions can differ widely based on industry and intention of usage, varying from best applications for order scheduling to all other product suites for enterprises. In general, you can expect to see some or all of the following capabilities in a standard platform:

  • Scheduling and order management
  • Vehicle/technician location tracking
  • Job status updates
  • Route optimization and GPS navigation
  • Time tracking and driver logs
  • Knowledge and asset repositories
  • Parts and inventory management
  • Integrated invoicing/payment processing
  • Customer portals
  • Regulatory compliance measures

Field service management(FSM) allows operations manager and business to stay in safer control of the situation. The following are some processes that happen after Field service automation is done:

  • Automated scheduling of service calls, deploying the right technician at the right site, within the shortest time.
  • Real-time tracking of field service technicians, to give an accurate picture of the expected arrival time of the technician at the field site, reducing uncertainty and ambiguity, and sparing the need for clients to make follow up calls and clarifications.
  • Ability for supervisors and other stakeholders to monitor movement of technicians in real time, to resolve any bottleneck, slack, or other glitches in real time, pre-empting disruption of work
  • Enabling field service technicians to connect with the command and control office in real-time for better insights on the nature of the job, any required assistance with experts, and for follow-up, sparing the need to make duplicate visits, and also for doing a more accurate job
  • Increased accuracy and precision, as forms are populated automatically wherever possible, and delivered to all stakeholders and regulatory agencies at the correct time, in the correct format, automatically.
  • Self-initiation of appropriate reminders and alerts, whenever manual interference is necessary.
  • Automatic replenishment orders for spares and other stock, avoiding stock-out situations which may delay field service.

Such interventions eliminate wastage, paving the way for lean operations, with reduced operations cost and maximum returns on investment.


How is Field Service Automation Done?

There are 3 different ways we can perform field service automation:

  • Mobile: Field service is mobile by nature. In most cases, an agent has to be physically on site to complete a work order or asset pick-up. The technology that best supports field service workflows is usually the technology that’s built to travel. As an alternative to entering data at the office again, numerous field agents now work from smartphones and tablets, renew job statuses while they do the work, obtain digital customer signatures on their mobile devices or print invoices and forms on a mobile printer.
  • Software-as-a-Service: In current years, the preface of software-as-a-service pricing models has caused FSM to become an achievable chase for even tiny service companies, which provides them an option to contend against bigger corporations. Examples might include window cleaners, landscapers, or plumbing and HVAC technicians. As an alternative to paying for a costly upfront license and even costlier IT infrastructure, businesses can give a monthly subscription fee to access cloud-hosted FSA software. SaaS deployment also enables greater mobility, since the system is accessible from any device with a web connection, rather than an allotted physical network.
  • Integration with back-end systems: Especially for teams who work directly with customers, field service doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Their task is to hand-deliver a solution—whether that be equipment repair, installation, or regular maintenance—in a way that is helpful and convenient for customers. Your agents can only do part of the job, if they don’t have access to the right information, accounts, and back-end systems, which leaves customers incompletely satisfied. That’s why many companies are now adopting solutions with built-in access to other core systems like customer relationship management (CRM), inventory, and accounting. With better integration, field agents can deliver true end-to-end service.

Main challenges faced by field service automation are:

Making the System Responsive:

Another major challenge in field staff management is providing a responsive system for leaders and employees to use. One of the selling points of some field service management (FSM) systems is that companies can get rid of phone calls from field service employees by simply requiring everyone to use a common communication interface. That’s based on the idea that phone calls are an obsolete bother to modern business.

Keeping Things Moving:

Another commonly reported problem with field staff management is actually customer-facing. It’s making sure that deal contact points and business processes happen in a timely manner. Some companies using field staff management platforms may see problems with invoices getting processed. They also may see problems with customers getting responses from individual employees.

Assuring Ease of Use:

A field staff management platform is really not that helpful for businesses if the interface is not intuitive. Poorly designed interfaces lead to massive frustration on the part of individual workers. It’s important to get a certain amount of ‘social buy-in’ when implementing a field staff management tool in the first place — otherwise, the company risks some form of rebellion when mandating the use of that tool for communications. That can be a problem for a manager or someone with a supervisor role.

As customers grow savvier and more selective about the products and services they pay for, field service will become an increasingly competitive industry. An establishment’s skill to deliver fast and effective results through a mobile workforce may be the factor between leading or trailing their competitors. Field service management software is no longer a secret weapon wielded by enterprises; it’s a necessary tool for survival, and one of the best gifts you can give your agents.

Written by CoreSystems

Field Service Automation