PraxedoOur blog What’s the secret to achieving gold standard field service operations?
field service operations
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  • Optimisation

What’s the secret to achieving gold standard field service operations?

Kieran Le Peron
March 18, 2021
7 min. read

We often hear how people are the heart of an enterprise. Nowhere is that more true than for businesses that are involved in the supply, the installation as well as the maintenance and upkeep of physical infrastructure that we all rely upon in daily life.   Every day, many thousands of skilled, qualified engineers and technicians travel to customer sites to carry out installations or undertake repair work and complete maintenance checks on existing assets.   These activities are vital for the smooth running of critical services in diverse sectors, from telecoms to healthcare and energy to security.     Field service engineers work in industries on critical assets, including:

  • Network infrastructure and wires – communications
  • Medical diagnostic machines – hospitals and healthcare
  • Heating boilers/energy appliances and meters – energy
  • Water treatment works, grid networks – utilities
  • Electronic security systems, CCTV – security
  • Electric vehicle chargers – transport and logistics
  • Buildings/grounds cleaning and maintenance – facilities management
  • Digital and point of sale marketing systems – retail

These men and women are often the point of contact between customer and service provider. They must be skilled, diligent, efficient but also smart, polite and calm. How can we make the lives of field service technicians and field service engineers easier while simultaneously optimising operations?   The answer is digitisation, but more specifically we’re talking about software-based tools and innovations that have been designed to make the jobs of field service engineers and technicians easier. Any field service management solution, or field service software, must be intuitive and easy-to-use.   We’ve identified a few key common issues and challenges among industries and sectors reliant on field service teams that field service software can address.

Ensure field service software is simple and flexible to use

Top field service management software has to be user-friendly. The last thing field service engineers need on top of a busy work schedule is a complex clunky software tool that feels like hard work to use. Digitisation technologies that make claims about boosting operational efficiencies and more streamlined processes should not be at the expense of people working hard and genuinely trying to do their job. The best way to gain buy-in from field service engineers and technicians when adopting field service management software is to use a product designed for economy and simplicity from their perspective. The ideal format should be a user-friendly mobile field service app, which can be downloaded straight to a smartphone.  

Empower field service engineers to do their job well

As well as being easy to navigate and use, top field service management software should empower field service technicians by allowing them to create work orders directly in the field, self-schedule jobs and even allocate work orders to colleagues where required.   Advanced field service management solutions also enable technicians and engineers to sync their schedule with other calendars, including Outlook and Google, from the mobile application and should be compatible with wearable smart watch devices, such as Google Wear.  

Optimise schedules, reduce travel time between jobs

Driving in vans is an essential mode of transport for field engineers to reach customer sites but no one appreciates being in their vehicle for unnecessary amounts of time, negotiating heavy traffic, or taking longer routes unnecessarily, or doubling back to nearby locations.   Mobile field service software enables managers and dispatch staff to organise the schedules of each technician in their team, whether a day or a week in advance. By leveraging powerful data analytics schedules can be optimised in a visual way, with only a few clicks, easing route planning, reducing overall travel time and mileage that minimises travel time between jobs.   From a mobile app that can be viewed on a smartphone or other handheld devices, technicians are well-informed, with map-assisted scheduling, with features such as a search function to find the nearest available field resource and simpler stock management for spare parts. When a technician finishes a job sooner they can use the app to self-schedule nearby work orders, rather than return to a nearby location at a later date.   Field service technicians and engineers that benefit from more logical schedules are able to focus on implementing work orders and providing an optimum standard of service.

Ensure technicians have the right information for every job

Advanced cloud-based maintenance software and job management software elements deployed in field service management solutions are able to easily access any relevant information needed to complete work orders.   Field service engineers and technicians are empowered to successfully complete work orders, when they can easily access additional assistance for a job through an app, including documents, diagrams, images and instructions.   Easily available work order history that features in advanced mobile field service software can also guide technicians on a job, helping them to execute work orders more quickly and be on their way to the next site, leaving customers impressed with their efficiency and speed of service.   Field technicians can check the stock levels in their vehicle for any given part and if the part is not available, by interfacing with enterprise resource planning (ERP) interface the mobile field service app allows technicians to view the closest stock and quantity available, then reserve or order the part.  

Help to foster collaboration to resolve challenges

Sometimes issues can only be addressed through the input of others’ expertise and assistance. Technicians can take images and easily annotate them before sharing among other technicians and engineers, enabled by remote collaboration features.   Then, once a job is finished the information needed to complete work orders is easily accessible and the technician can submit work reports directly via their app. Offline management is also an essential feature of a best-in-class mobile field service app enabling technicians to use the application even when they are working in a basement where a network signal is unavailable.

Reduce unnecessary paperwork and your field service team will love you forever

Minimising time wasted on entering information as part of completing work orders is a really important feature of best-in-class service technician scheduling software. It frees up engineers’ time to complete more jobs in the field and reduces the chances of having to repeat re-entering information when working between paper-based formats.   Excellent work order management software is designed to ensure that high-quality data is entered in mobile forms, allow for parameters to be set to ensure consistency in data entry, as well as check data accuracy or completeness. Structured data entry enabled by advanced workforce management solutions makes reports easier to complete by field service engineers while eliminating the risk of missing information.   Some mobile field service apps can also communicate with connected objects through a module field, which allows field technicians to gather data from a measuring device, such as for a seal test, meter data, or leak detection, and bring this data into a very comprehensive service report.   Advanced field service management solutions are designed to help field service engineers complete their work orders more easily by ensuring they are better supported and have more logical schedules, resulting in the high levels of service quality. These advantages also support the wider enterprise and help it run more efficiently and productively, for example by improving communication and transfer of data between technicians and back office staff at the other end of workforce scheduling software.   Businesses, whether they have field service teams of just a few staff or hundreds of technicians, are rewarded with the aforementioned benefits almost immediately. Once embedded within field service terms, further applications and benefits of field service management software can be explored and leveraged to ensure a seamless digitisation solution that evolves as your company grows and develops.   Now is the time to see how a field management solution can benefit your business – your engineers will thank you for it!