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Gain efficiencies in facility management with field service technology

November 16, 2021
6 min. read

The UK is one of the largest markets for facility management (FM) services in Europe in terms of maturity and sophistication. According to the British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM), the industry is accountable for more than 8% of the GDP while it employs more than 10% of the workforce present in the country. BIFM estimates the market to be worth around £140bn in 2021. 

Furthermore, the industry has shown strong resilience as the UK emerged from the pandemic during 2021. The latest RICS survey (Q3 2021 RICS Facilities Management Survey) reports that demand for FM services has continued to improve across most sectors.

The FM services market comprises a number of players delivering a wide variety of services. These span cleaning and sanitation services, with growing demand for deep cleaning of facilities, landscaping, provision of services related to buildings’ security and alarm systems, operating and maintenance of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment, as well as property maintenance.   

More regulatory compliance is anticipated with UK companies committing more resources and budget to regulatory compliance and fire-risk assessment, in the wake of Grenfell, as well as for health-related measures, post-pandemic. In addition, RICS also notes the growing demand for sustainability management as workplaces strive to be more sustainable in how they operate. 

To ensure budgets can meet these additional requirements FM service must embrace technology to help drive efficiencies. 

Here’s how field service management software solutions can enable FM service companies leverage efficiencies and achieve profitability when margins are tighter:

What is field service management software?

This type of software, sometimes described as field service scheduling software, workforce scheduling software or maintenance scheduling software, empowers FM and property management service companies to support customers more rapidly and more efficiently for all services, whether equipment installations, contract cleaning, preventive maintenance, landscaping work, emergency repairs or any other job type. 

FSM software has been developed to integrate seamlessly with existing business processes, including enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) software, using a simple connector. Take Sage 100cloud, for example. FSM solutions be integrated to enable a 100% paperless field service process, so no duplicate entry from managing maintenance tasks or contracts to triggering billing and invoice raising. 

As an alternative to API and web services, information systems can be interfaced with advanced FSM software, using other methods, in particular structured files exchange and using imported email.

How does it benefit FM service provision? 

FSM provides better visibility of schedules of teams of personnel “working in the field” at premises, whether that’s technicians, cleaning staff or other professionals carrying out tasks and jobs to deliver FM services. 

The software offers the ability to modify schedules on the fly to better respond to service calls and also maximises workload capacity of field service personnel while improving the first time fix rate — essential capabilities for FM service providers.

Key features and benefits 

Optimise scheduling 

These include optimised schedules using the SmartScheduler technology, which uses smart software analytics to balance work loads with minimised journey times and s designed for companies that assign hundreds of work orders to field personnel.

Even FM service companies that face restrictive operational parameters can rapidly generate optimal schedules. Unlike “black box” solutions, the SmartScheduler optimisation engine assists the dispatcher – who is aware of all work parameters – to continuously create the best schedule, whatever the time of day and whatever the issue or challenge they may need to take into account.

Hit targets and KPIs 

FSM tools can ensure that FM service providers always hit the mark when it comes to delivering a responsive and high-quality service their clients come to expect. Maintenance or other task-specific key performance indicators (KPIs) can help an organisation meet a strategic, overall goal, such as cutting costs, for example. 

Because FSM software digitises every aspect of work orders and jobs, from routine tasks, to unscheduled repairs, providing a picture of productivity of field service team members, this type of data can feed into KPIs or targets, providing clients with evidence that their contract is real value for money.

Enhance client satisfaction 

Whether commercial offices, healthcare providers, retailers, restaurants and hotels or leisure/gym brands, companies that use commercial facilities and properties expect high levels of quality service. Ensure that your chosen field management solution includes a customer portal. This feature enables customers to submit service requests and to monitor their status in the work order lifecycle. 

Useful features include PDF report generators that are customisable to your corporate template, giving clients an easy-to-understand service report as well as the ability to create alert channels, including scheduling, change in activity, and completion of work orders to create notifications that provide customers with real-time updates on the smooth progress of work orders. 

Customers also benefit by from personalised indicators that give a comprehensive overview of commitments made to them, helping to generate trust that commitments are being met or that remedies for problems will be implemented quickly. This feature involves the use of tracking metrics, such as work order times and recovery times, as well as work order failure rates.

Shorten billing and invoicing times 

A challenge for FM service companies that manage teams of technicians is obtaining paperwork from completed jobs in order for it to be translated into invoices by back office teams. FSM software has enabled users to reduce time spent on payroll management while enabling greater accuracy in time tracking. 

The software provides administrators with access to centralised information and a complete history of work orders and time spent per technician, needed for raising accurate invoices and in a timely way.

Digitising completed work orders, using automated field data capture and retrieval techniques, not only standardises how information is inputted but also eliminates time otherwise spent by back office staff re-entering data into accounting or invoicing systems, helping to boost productivity within these teams. 

Customers will be happier too by receiving invoices soon after a job or work order is complete rather than having to wait weeks.

How to choose the right FSM solution  

According to Paul Bagust, RICS Head of Land and Property Standards, demand for quality but restraints on budgets means facilities management companies will be critical to delivering innovative real estate strategies and solutions in the commercial market. FSM software can enhance FM services provision, by empowering technicians and field service personnel, as well as back office teams, to be more productive. This all translates into a better service experience among clients.   

The next step is choosing the right partner to deliver the solution, one that is consistently recognised for as a best in class software vendor, with a product that is based on low deployment costs, broad integration capabilities, enriched reporting features and a strong track record with over a thousand corporate customers.