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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, inspection or a customer request), field technician scheduling and optimization, dispatching, parts and information delivery to the field, and field technician process support. While this definition is generally applied to hard services, such as maintenance and telecom issues, it can also be extended to apply to soft services, such as cleaning and security.

For facility services providers, effective field service management is a key component of providing a safe, clean and comfortable built environment. The importance of getting field service management right will only increase as service provider clients transition to more complex contracts that may include factors such as outcome-based performance requirements or integrated facility management, which Frost & Sullivan estimates will be a $1 trillion global market opportunity by 2025. Implementing an appropriate field service management strategy is increasingly a competitive advantage for service providers to strengthen customer relationships and mitigate the risk of customer churn.

Implementation of a field service management (FSM) strategy will benefit both facility management service providers and their owner or occupier clients. Effective service delivery enables a service provider to maintain and grow client relationships while being able to better manage delivery costs and other operational risks. In addition, real estate owners and occupiers are able to provide an engaging facility experience for their employees and guests. Both types of organizations pursue the same goals: execute facility services as efficiently as possible, deliver the best quality, and comply with legislation.

Drive process excellence with digitalization

Digital tools and processes, such as mobile devices or intelligent automation, are meant to support and help employees deliver better services. These tools and processes can be implemented to reduce the impact of service delivery risks from miscommunication, resource shortages, or planning inefficiencies, while contributing towards value creation and customer satisfaction.

For example, implementing smart cleaning processes will enable field workers to adjust to the various health and cleanliness demands of multiple offices, buildings, and clients without a loss in productivity. Processes for delivering services and complying with contracted service level agreements are improved by automated capacity planning and dispatching that is aligned with resource availability and desired service levels.

To increase the productivity, efficiency and quality in field service management and to reduce associated costs, digitalization of processes with professional software solutions is a necessity. This will require service providers to follow a three-step process:

  1. Digitize existing data and the process for gathering new data to reduce errors
  2. Use a software solution to access and analyze the data for performance insights and task automation
  3. Review the opportunities to implement end-to-end process automation to support field service workers while efficiently delivering quality services

Advance from point solution to integrated platform

Efficient field service management is more than digital work order dispatching from an operations center to field workers. As Gartner’s definition of FSM states, it includes customers, planners, executors, contractors and more. That is why point solutions likestandalone mobile field service apps become inefficient, as all these stakeholders need to be unified into one integrated digital process, such as:

  • Customers who register service requests and track progress
  • Contract managers who monitor the agreed service level, priority and customer health
  • Planners who plan and dispatch work orders
  • Field workers who execute the jobs
  • Managers who monitor progress, performance and quality
  • Financial administrators who report or back charge costs

To implement integrated end-to-end digital processes, FM services providers need a more comprehensive field service management solution which includes functionality for:

  • Customer and building occupant communications
  • Optimized worker capacity and resource planning
  • Contract management
  • Subcontractor management
  • Mobile coordination & execution support
  • Maintenance planning
  • Integration with Internet of Things (IoT) devices, building systems and digital twins
  • Price and revenue calculations and data tracking for accurate invoicing

FM services providers need a solution designed specifically for their specific service processes and business models, to complement a general practice business process solution which will not offer the needed business support without a long customization process.

For real estate owners and occupiers, an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) offers functionality for them to track and manage activities that happen within facilities on one digital platform. Software platforms for service providers can communicate with IWMS platforms, through application programming interfaces (APIs) or proprietary protocols, for efficient process communication.

Utilizing a separate, service provider specific solution supports improved cybersecurity and data privacy by limiting the sharing of log-in credentials, and enables the implementation of industry best practices at each organization – without disrupting the other.

Use platform-based mobile apps for field service management

There is no turning back now. If you provide field service management, it is a requirement to have a mobile field services solution. Field worker productivity and the quality of service delivery are heavily impacted by having access to the right information at the right time. Rather than re-entering information at a central office, field workers now have access to mobile tools that enable them to register work progress and status, track resource availability, request on-demand virtual support, query relevant information, track service level agreement (SLA) compliance, and get a digital client signature to close out work orders. These mobile devices and apps are connected in real-time with central platforms to ensure that information is always up-to-date. This reduces instances of data entry and communication errors while supporting the capture of additional field information on asset and facility conditions that may need corrective action before becoming a costly problem.

Optimize resource scheduling

Platform solutions designed to integrate reactive, preventative, and condition-based maintenance with field service management, optimize the delivery of field services to ensure that work orders are executed according to agreed contracts and service levels. To ensure the highest productivity of teams and individuals in the field, integrated software solutions enable efficient resource scheduling based on availability, skills, workloads, travel and other factors to plan the best possible execution of field services. After scheduling, the central operations system automatically dispatches work orders to the mobile devices of the corresponding field engineers or teams.

Ensure Health & Safety compliance

Compliance with health and safety legislation is a significant concern in the delivery of field services. These regulations and compliance requirements are stipulated in directives such as the EU-OSHA or OSHA in the US. Maintenance activities can potentially expose people to all sorts of hazards like asbestos, falls, injuries, fire, or electric shocks. To enable field workers to work safely, they need to be properly briefed on health and safety processes that pertain to each site and asset, and they need to follow safe working practices.

Mobile field service management solutions support field engineers and contractors in real-time with relevant information and workflows to ensure they work safely and according to legislation. This information includes work instructions, checklists, manuals, and approvals needed to proceed with work. All activities on the mobile app like acceptance of work, safety checks or agreed instructions are automatically saved in the central operations platform for compliancy checks, reports, or analysis in case of accidents.

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Maintain customer satisfaction

Field service workers are the frontline employees of an FM services provider. They are often the face of the company to the client and its employees. This is especially true of soft services employees, such as cleaners. Providing these field workers with tools such as mobile apps that are connected, through a central platform, with IoT sensors will enable cleaning staff to always be on top of where they are needed most. Toilet supplies running low at midday, they are on it. Hybrid working environments, they know what needs to be cleaned and when, and are able to adapt their operations as needed to ensure customer satisfaction. This type of intelligent automation strategy, enables field workforces to be adaptable to changing workplace demands and enables the FM to grow as a strategic client partner.

Future Ready service delivery with an integrated FSM solution

Research from multiple sources like Forrester, McKinsey, Gartner and Verdantix illustrates the tangible benefits achievable through the digitalization of field service operations. When researching field technician productivity, McKinsey found that digitization supported a 20% improvement in capacity planning, a 40% reduction in travel time, a 20% productivity increase, and a 50% increase in customer satisfaction. All of this is to say, that digitizing the delivery of field services provides FM services providers with the flexibility to easily adapt to changing client and economic demands. A service provider will be able to respond to incidents and requests quicker, complete the response accurately the first time – and all at a lower cost impact. A win-win for both FM services provider and its client.

To learn about our field service management solution, contact Planon to discuss how our solutions can support these and other benefits of digital mobile field service management such as:

  • 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 KPIs to continuously optimize processes and operations

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