The Smart Service Dispatch

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October 1, 2020

 

Five Tips for Choosing the Best Field Service Management Software

Find out how to think about and narrow down your field service software search.

We’re currently several months into the COVID-19 pandemic, and as a company, we have fielded calls from an increasing number of field service businesses that have dealt with major disruptions to their operations. Most of these calls come down to two things:

  • The pen and paper process for scheduling and dispatching is not cutting it. 

OR

  • The current program (or programs) a company uses are no longer adequate.

If either of these cases describe your company, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we lay out the five major points you should consider when buying a field service management solution. Follow these guidelines, and you’ll find the software best suited to help you increase efficiency, increase productivity, and drive more revenue.

1. Identify the pain points in your current work flow.

Let’s keep it simple. Right now, your fundamental work flow is get the job > do the job > get paid for the job. Look at these steps and identify the areas ripe for improvement. Where do you find yourself saying, “there has to be a better way?”

The more specific you can get, the better. Saying “we need to get more organized” is too vague. Write down your problems in a list. Once you have listed all of your pain points, assign a dollar value to each one. For example: 

“We spend X amount of time per day manually typing information from a work order into a QuickBooks invoice. That adds up to $X/month.”

Ball parking your figures is fine. Just keep in mind, time = money.

2. Identify the impact software could have.

Consider the opportunity cost of doing things inefficiently. Because the pain points you listed exist, that means time and resources dedicated to them could get spent on something else more productive, like:

Do your best to forecast these and assign a dollar value to them, too. Now, total these up. Try to get a solid picture of the impact these things could have on your business in terms of dollars.

This exercise will help you get a good grasp of the impact the increased efficiency that comes with the right field service software system can have. Converting pain into dollars will help you understand the potential return on investment associated with any purchase.

3. Identify your essential needs.

When you take a look at your work flow and processes, make sure you keep a separate list of your essential software needs. You don’t want to purchase a field management solution that fixes one thing, but not others.

For example, if you use QuickBooks for your accounting system, the QuickBooks purchase order feature could be essential to what you do. You wouldn’t want to purchase a scheduling system that doesn’t integrate with that feature in QuickBooks. Do this, and you just trade one problem for another.

The tricky part with identifying what is essential is that you do not let the workarounds you have adopted over time seep into your list. These are things essential to how you work now, but not how you will work going forward.

4. Understand that not all field service management solutions are created equal.

Like anything else, you’ve got good, better, and best categories with field service management software. And price, you’ll soon find, more or less correlates with these categories. Think of it like buying a car. A Chevy Malibu and a Corvette both have four wheels, a stereo, and steering. Of course, there’s a massive difference between the two vehicles in terms of performance, features, and cost.

If you have followed the first three tips, you’ve identified your pain points, the impact software can have, and isolated the most important things you need software to do. You also have a rough dollar estimate for how much software is worth to you. Based on this, you can come up with a budget and determine a reasonable ROI for your software investment. Don’t simply settle for the cheapest thing on the market.

5. Evaluate the onboarding process.

One thing software buyers can overlook? What it takes to get started with their chosen program. You can buy the most feature-rich software in the world, but if no one knows how to use it and you can’t get your team on board, it won’t do you any good.

First, make sure you establish buy-in from the key members on your team or organization. Whatever solution you choose will change what you do and what they do, so their support will make all the difference.

Secondly, make sure to evaluate the support and training offered by your software provider. You want to make the transition to a field management solution as seamless and smooth as possible. Ask if the training is live, one-on-one, or all done online via videos and instruction manuals. Can you call in for support, or is support all done via email and chat? Does support get outsourced to another country?

Final Thoughts

Regardless of your current circumstances, acquiring a solid field service management solution is just a smart business decision. You can leverage this technology to increase operational efficiency, therefore increasing productivity and resulting in more money to your business’ bottom line.