What Is Field Service Management? A Comprehensive Guide

On this page:

For telecommunications companies, utility infrastructure, construction businesses, or HVAC and plumbing organizations, field service management (FSM) is a comprehensive approach to managing all the resources deployed at a job site. From technician workers to company-owned vehicles to tools and equipment, FSM involves all the processes that make field operations happen efficiently.

Entrepreneurs and small business owners considering a field services component to their service offerings should know the basics of field service management and the potential challenges of implementation. In this article, we'll share a thorough introduction to potential FSM challenges and essential implementation tactics.

What is field service management?

Field service management is the process of managing and coordinating all the tasks and activities that are carried out by field service technicians or field engineers. Activities include repairs, installations, inspections, troubleshooting, and more. Proper field service management focuses on efficiency and accuracy, ensuring that services are completed on time with the right resources. Customer satisfaction is also a key goal, so FSM involves coordinating job site arrivals and work orders and collecting payments.

When done well, strong FSM improves efficiency, optimizes resource allocation, builds a positive customer experience, and reduces costs. For small to midsize businesses, field service management is especially important for streamlining and boosting the productivity of a smaller workforce, freeing up administrative time and helping jobs run smoother. It also saves field engineers’ time, materials, and more.

Essential elements of field service management

FSM involves a variety of activities that cover the end-to-end process of on-site services. From assigning tasks and locations to field technicians to collecting payments from customers, there are a few essential elements of field service management.

Dispatch management

One of the trickiest elements of field service management is coordinating and scheduling potentially dozens of field workers and company equipment simultaneously. Dispatch management helps organize, allocate, and monitor service calls.

Work order management

A work order initiates a task, explains what needs to be done, and documents the necessary parts and equipment for the job. A work order needs a systematic approach to processing and categorizing all of the different requests that come to your business on a daily basis. Field technicians need to arrive at the job site with all instructions and information ahead of time.

Asset tracking

Asset tracking of on-site equipment and materials can be time-consuming and logistically challenging. However, it's a critical process that helps manage the status, location, and usage of physical materials. Efficient asset management ensures that job technicians always have the right equipment for the customer, but it also reduces the chances of loss or theft and helps with efficient resource utilization.

Field service management also involves elements such as real-time communication, customer transparency, project timeline planning, and more. Check out this field service management buyers guide for more information on what FSM entails.

How to implement field service management

Implement effective field service management with a step-by-step process that ensures your business continues operating smoothly. If you're running FSM manually or through legacy, outdated software, it's helpful to follow these steps to aggregate all your processes. Moving to a modern, sophisticated FSM software is a popular option for small to midsize businesses looking for a competitive edge.

How to implement field service management

1. Conduct a thorough assessment

Take note of your current processes, materials, workflows, and more. Gather anything and everything you are currently using to coordinate field service management, including physical and digital assets.

Once you have everything gathered, identify pain points and challenges. For example, if you are physically organizing work orders, you might realize that as field technicians drive farther to job sites, it's getting increasingly difficult to make sure they have the right information.

Once you highlight inefficiencies and areas for improvement, set clear goals and objectives for your FSM implementation. For example, maybe your biggest challenge is wasting materials and resources, so asset allocation is a major pain point to solve.

2. Begin your search for software

Many modern businesses turn to field service management software to automate, streamline, and improve cost efficiency. To keep up with customer demands, it is extremely hard to manually organize all of the activities and resources that go into completing on-site jobs with a high level of customer satisfaction.

Begin evaluating different software solutions and ask industry colleagues if they have a great platform they recommend. Write down ideal capabilities, any integrations needed, and an estimated budget.

3. Train and onboard for your selected field service management software

Once you thoroughly vet different platforms and make a final selection, it's time for the exciting part: beginning to train your team on utilizing the platform. It's important to get all stakeholders and employees on board, so be sure to emphasize how much easier field service management software will make their day-to-day jobs. You'll want to provide on-site training, documentation resources, and forums where employees can ask questions.

4. Rollout and deploy

For effective and successful FSM, proper rollout and deployment are critical. Start by gradually rolling it out one geographic region or location at a time to test and iterate performance and support the internal team with any necessary hands-on training. It might take a few weeks for all employees to fully implement and use the FSM software, so ensure you're monitoring usage and software performance.

5. Continuously iterate

As your in-office employees and on-site field technicians fully implement these new processes, you might discover more inefficiencies or other workflows that might work better. Don't be afraid to iterate on your deployment and take feedback from the team.

Challenges in field service management

FSM undoubtedly improves operational efficiency and productivity, but it can also come with unique challenges and obstacles. Spotty real-time communication is sometimes difficult to solve, and large-scale inventory management can still be logistically challenging.

Real-time communication

On-site jobs might run into issues, or maybe field service technicians are delayed on a job. Real-time communication is essential for the workday to run smoothly, but it's not always seamless with spotty internet service or delayed communication in platforms.

Inventory management

Asset and inventory allocation are vital to successful field service management, but sometimes, work orders contain hundreds of small parts that are difficult to keep track of. Especially for large jobs that involve multiple locations or dozens of on-site workers utilizing materials simultaneously, inventory management can quickly become tricky.

Job scheduling

When done well, proper job scheduling creates seamless business continuity throughout the day, moving technicians from job site to job site and completing tasks on time. However, once technicians arrive on-site, projects can quickly get delayed, technicians might run out of materials, or field technicians might realize they need different equipment. Scheduling might get backed up, pushing end-of-day jobs to the next day and causing dissatisfied customers.

Benefits of field service management

From an improved customer experience to more visibility on revenue growth, FSM improves service response times, customer satisfaction scores, upsell opportunities, and revenue growth. Start your field service management search by browsing the field service software directory to start vetting potential platforms and learning more about platform capabilities.

Cost savings and ROI in field service management

FSM offers both financial savings and productivity boosts in several ways. From efficient material and resource utilization to proper billing for on-site jobs, field service management helps businesses save money, increase efficiency, and improve their overall business revenue and growth.

Plus, FSM software features sales projections and revenue forecasts. Especially for small to midsize businesses that often have tight margins and limited cash flow, comprehensive revenue planning solves a multitude of problems in staffing, inventory management, timeline planning, and more.

Enhancing customer satisfaction through FSM

One of the best benefits of FSM is improved customer satisfaction. When technicians are properly equipped, jobs are completed on time and to the highest level of satisfaction. Proper work order management means field technicians know the problem and can provide a rough cost estimate to the customer. For large-scale projects, FSM facilitates clear, transparent communication between all parties.

Happier customers mean repeat business and long-term loyalty for future projects. For small to midsize businesses, word of mouth and referrals are the lifeblood of growth, making every project and customer an important puzzle piece to business growth.

Decide on field service management tools for your business

If field service management is messy, disorganized, and inefficient for you, you might want to explore field service management software. As an all-in-one place to consolidate work orders, resources, customer information, and project scheduling, FSM software increases productivity and efficiency.

Start by conducting a thorough review of your existing processes, and streamline all your workflows. Identify potential bottlenecks and challenges and begin your search for FSM software that fits your budget and business needs. If you're ready to improve cost savings, boost ROI, and enhance the customer experience, FSM software is an ideal solution.