Research conducted by Bill Pollock, president and principal consulting analyst at Strategies For GrowthSM (SFGSM) reveals that selecting a Field Service Management (FSM) solution often requires months – if not years – of due diligence to reduce the “long list” of potential vendors and solutions down to a carefully selected “short list” of possibilities...
Making a decision based on your own research is often a daunting task, collating and interpreting RFP information and sorting live demonstration ‘vaporware’ from actual, live software capabilities.
The following provides an additional set of information that your peers in the industry consider fundamental to the decision – data your team can use to make a final, intelligent choice that grows with your business into the future.
The results from SFGSM’s 2017 Field Service Management Benchmark Survey clearly identify four specific factors cited by half (or nearly half) of the survey respondent base when making their respective FSM vendor and solution decisions, namely:
- 50% Prefer a solution that interfaces with Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
- 47% Prefer to work with a single provider of Field Service functionality
- 47% Prefer a solution that is intuitive and easy to train on
- 45% Prefer to invest in a solution that fosters Sales and Service collaboration
Another 35% also cite their preference for a solution that rolls out quickly.
While each (or all) of these factors may have contributed in some way to your decision-making process, your final decision is likely to rely more on how the FSM solution you choose will address your greatest challenges, provide the greatest opportunities and benefits for services delivery improvement, and allow you to compete head-to-head against your strongest competitors.
Compounding the importance of your selection, the chosen solution must also provide the ability to improve existing customer satisfaction levels, and increase the services organisation’s contribution to the company’s bottom line. Quite an undertaking, to be sure; but certainly doable – but, only with the most effective and robust FSM solution in place, and a full complement of vendor resources to support it over time.
Functionalities to Look For When Selecting & Evaluating an FSM Vendor/Solution
Gartner cites six categories of FSM enablement that should be included in any (i.e., every) FSM solution – at least every FSM solution that is strong enough to run the entire organisation’s services business. They are:
- Demand Management – including customer portals, multichannel customer communications, IoT integration, triage support, field work order/appointment request, field quoting, field parts sourcing, ticketing system integration and long-cycle work requests.
- Work Planning – including forecasting, scheduling optimisation, parts demand planning, purchasing, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) integration, customer communications and third-party service enablement.
- Technician Enablement (Mobile) – including Global Positioning System (GPS) integration, routing, equipment history/site details, social collaboration, customer communications, knowledge base/work instructions, purchasing & quoting/sales and tool management.
- Work Order Debrief – including work order financial information, customer forms, site evidence, equipment updates, recommendations, payment collection and customer surveys.
- Operations – including invoicing and price books, installed equipment manager, maintenance agreement management, maintenance plans and quoting, warranty management & warranty claims management, revenue recognition enablement, reverse logistics management, depot repair, equipment supersession, engineering change requests and fleet management.
- Analytics and Integration – including field service performance management; cross-functional predictive analytics; alerts, notifications and gamification; and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and GPS integration.
While most vendors will say they offer all of these functionalities within their FSM solution offerings, it is more than likely that there will be significant gaps in key categories such as work planning, technician enablement, and analytics and integration (among others).
However, each of these areas will be critical to the overall enablement that your FSM solution is needed to provide and, therefore, must be included in the FSM solution that is ultimately selected and implemented.
Marne Martin, CEO, ServicePower, a leading provider of field service and hybrid mobile workforce management solutions, agrees that all six of these areas must be addressed in any FSM solution, noting “For organisations looking for a single vendor, end-to-end solution with an easy integration process to existing CRM or ERP packages, ServicePower is a great fit.”
The options are many, the costs have come down (i.e., through the proliferation of the subscription basis model) and the FSM solution alternatives are “all over the place” with respect to the comparative breadth and depth of product functionality, strategic partnerships
“Our solution provides a full complement of mobile workforce management functionality, from consumer entitlement, to schedule optimisation and contractor dispatching, work order management, enterprise mobility, asset, inventory and contract management, and 360° BI (i.e., Business Intelligence).”
She further adds that, “While most FSM vendors also offer ‘scheduling’, ServicePower’s solution is the only one on the market designed to improve the customer experience though real time AI (i.e., Artificial Intelligence) and robust mobile functionality, while streamlining service operations with integrated hybrid workforce management functionality.
SFGSM’s survey results validate the effort ServicePower has expended in extending our solution to include the full spectrum of functionality required to manage a mobile operation, from entitlement through a plug and play intelligent consumer portal to warranty management and BI.”
Making the Final Decision – It’s Time to Decide!
The Cloud has normalised the playing field for most FSM vendors and their customers.
The options are many, the costs have come down (i.e., through the proliferation of the subscription basis model) and the FSM solution alternatives are “all over the place” with respect to the comparative breadth and depth of product functionality, strategic partnerships, FSM vendor acquisitions, “new” product roll-outs and the like.
However, in deciding which is the best fit for your field service operation, today and for the long term, one thing remains clear – the field service operations at your organisation will remain the central focus of your role and responsibility.
Why would you want to go with a vendor that doesn’t provide it all?