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What is Field Service Management?
According to Gartner, Field Service Management (FSM) includes the detection of a field service need (through remote monitoring, or other means, inspection or a customer detecting a fault), field technician scheduling and optimisation, dispatching, parts information delivery to the field, and process support of field technician interactions.
In the domain of Facility and Real Estate Management, field service management is highly relevant for both owners/occupiers and commercial service providers. Owners/occupiers of assets and real estate frequently employ trades and technical staff to execute in-house technical work orders across their sites, campus or portfolio. Professional service providers employ teams of technical engineers to deliver contracted services as agreed with their customers. Although the starting points might differ, both types of organisation pursue the same goals: execute these services as efficiently as possible, deliver the best quality, and comply with legislation.
Field Service Management solutions: From paperwork to process digitalisation
The traditional method of paper-based or printed email communication of work orders, activities, information and guidance to field engineers has become outdated. It causes lots of errors and miscommunication, takes a lot of time, has no planning efficiency and is impossible to manage and monitor properly. To increase the productivity, efficiency and quality in field service management and to reduce associated costs, digitalisation of processes with professional software solutions is a necessity.
Field Service Management: from point solution to integrated platform
Efficient field service management is more than digital work order dispatching from the back office to internal trades or external field technicians. As Gartner’s definition of FSM states, it includes customers, planners, executors, contractors and more. That is why point solutions like Computerised Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) or standalone mobile apps become obsolete, as all these stakeholders need to be unified in one integrated digital process, such as:
- The customer who registers a maintenance request.
- The contract manager who validates the agreed service level and priority.
- The back office planner who plans and dispatches the work orders.
- The field worker who executes the job.
- The manager who monitors progress, performance and quality.
- The financial administrator who reports or back charges costs.
For real estate owners and occupiers, an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) offers functionality for all stakeholders and unifies them in one digital platform to support the complete process. This includes functions like customer self-service, planned preventative maintenance (PPM), contract management, integration with Building Management Systems (BMS) and Internet of Things (IoT), resource scheduling, stock control, material handling, alerts and Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s), cost management, contractor management and many more. All these functions are related to the work of the field engineer.
Professional service providers need more comprehensive field service management software which includes additional functionality such as subcontractor management, price calculations and accurate invoicing. For these organisations handling outsourced facility management, both customer satisfaction and cost efficient work execution are equally important.
Learn more about Field Service Management
Webinars, Videos & Podcasts | 12/02/2018
Video - Planon Mobile Field Services
Watch this video and learn how Planon Mobile Field Services helps you to improve the productivity of technicians by providing a secure field service solution that works on any mobile device. 2:16 EnglishLearn more
Articles & White Papers | 07/09/2018
Research - Disruptive information technology trends affecting the facility management service provider industry
In a joint research report with Panorama, Planon discusses the disruptive technology trends in the service provider industry and our insights into the future.Learn more
Mobile apps for field service management
As a rule, a trades or field engineer must be physically on location to finish a work request. Especially on a large site or campus or if a field worker serves multiple customers, work productivity is heavily impacted by travel. Rather than re-entering information at the back office workplace, field operators now use mobile apps to work from their iPad, tablet or mobile phone to update work status, query relevant information and get a digital client signature on their tablet. These mobile devices and apps are connected in real-time with the back office IWMS to ensure that information is always up-to-date. Field engineers can easily upgrade their mobile app version via the regular app stores like GooglePlay or Apple App Store. This reduces IT efforts and costs to deploy mobile field service apps to a broad audience of field engineers and makes sure that despite a wide diversity of mobile devices all engineers use the most recent app.
Extended resource scheduling
Integrated software solutions for field service management support extended functionality in customer contract management to ensure that services and work orders are executed according to agreed contracts and service levels. To ensure the highest productivity of the teams and individuals in the field, integrated software solutions connect with sophisticated and specialised cloud based scheduling services to ensure the most efficient resource scheduling. These scheduling/optimising services take the availability, skills, workloads, travel and many more aspects of resources into account to plan the best possible execution of field services. After scheduling, the back office system automatically dispatches the work orders to the mobile devices of the corresponding field engineers or teams.
Health, safety and compliance
Legislation in health and safety and compliance with regulations has never been as widespread as in field engineering. Maintenance activities can potentially expose people to all sorts of hazards like asbestos, falls, injuries, fire, or electric shocks. To enable both in-house and contracted staff to work safe, they need to be properly briefed on your site, assets and processes, and they need to follow safe working practices. Mobile field applications support field engineers and contractors real-time with relevant information and workflows to ensure they work safely and according to legislation. This information includes work instructions, checklists, manuals, approvals and many more. All activities on the mobile app like acceptance of work, safety checks or agreed instructions are automatically saved in the back office application for compliancy checks, reports, or analysis in case of accidents.
Software as a Service
The number of field engineers and size of teams will vary over time, depending on workloads, customer contracts or special projects. Therefore the use of mobile field service apps needs to be very flexible in terms of number of users and duration of use. Innovative field service software is based on a flexible Software as a Service (SaaS) subscription that includes the use of mobile apps, the cloud service and support. This gives owners/occupiers and service providers maximum flexibility to scale the field services solution easily as demand changes.
Benefits of Field Service Management Software
Research from multiple sources like Forrester, Gartner and Verdantix shows tangible benefits in the digitalisation of field service operations and management, including technician productivity improvement of up to 40%, improved service response times by 30% and reduction of travel time and cost by 25%. Other benefits include:
- Higher first-time right execution of work.
- Better quality of service.
- Shortened processing times.
- Better visibility in productivity and efficiency.
- Compliance with health and safety.
- Better, faster and complete accounting and billing.
- Greener operations.
- Management information and KPI’s to continuously optimise processes and operations.