Businesses seem to becoming increasingly dependent on digital technology. As we rely on this technology more and more, what happens when the technology fails us? That’s where field service management, such as K8 Field Service comes into play.
Not all businesses are confined to the four walls of an office – some branch out across the whole country, or even internationally. Manned by a mobile workforce, field service management is a method of coordinating these remote operations and can include anything from scheduling service orders to dispatching engineers and tracking the progress of jobs.
Before the development of digital technology, it was difficult to control this, but field service management software has revolutionised this. Using the right software enables businesses to control all aspects of the company from one central platform.
But, as the future of field service management changes, what should we be looking for from our field management software? Datawright analyses the issues that many field service engineers might run into and how they can rectify the issues with the right software.
Real-time stock monitoring
The issue: One of the main priorities is to ensure the customer is always satisfied with the service they receive. With this in mind, the engineer who is assigned to fix the issue at a company’s site needs to have access to the stock lists. Once the engineer finds out which part needs to be replaced, they need to be able to provide a realistic timeframe for the maintenance to be carried out. If the engineer doesn’t have full awareness of the available stock and timeframes, then they could find themselves committing to an unrealistic timeframe.
The solution: This problem can be eliminated if you ensure all your engineers have access to the entire real-time stock information. A software system that provides this information on the move removes any guesswork from the equation, meaning you provide a reliable and realistic service.
By offering full traceability for the entire stock inventory, you can ensure that your engineers have all of the equipment they need before they arrive, further reducing the impact inadequate stock can have.
Improved scheduling of engineers
The issue: Sticking to an assigned time-frame can be difficult. An engineer may arrive at a site expecting to carry out maintenance, however, unforeseen issues can severely impact an engineer’s schedule. The rescheduling of tasks can mess up the current schedule and make planning new requests more difficult.
The solution: Software which shows a 360-degree view of all engineers’ workloads, locations and current job statuses means you can track the engineer’s status throughout the day. GPS connectivity is essential from any software package in order to track the whereabouts of engineers. This helps to keep track of the engineers where the job has overrun or encountered an issue – when these circumstances appear, because your system has alerted you, you can react and put resources in place to ensure service windows are met.
Enabling predictive maintenance
The issue: Engineers can encounter a problem at any time. Scheduled maintenance provides regular check-ups for machinery and equipment to try and reduce the risk of unexpected issues. However, it does not consider the gaps in-between, where external factors like usage, equipment age and production schedules could have an impact.
The solution: Using a field service management software system allows businesses to schedule regular maintenance checks to prevent issues. Once a certain milestone is hit — such as age, for example — preventative maintenance can be carried out to stop problems from taking effect and impacting your business.
The issue: There can be a delay in revenue realisation from the point that the work is carried out, to the point where the paperwork is signed off. This can lead to an inaccurate view of finances.
The solution: Field service management software eliminates the need for paperwork, eradicating delays in the process too. Through their mobile devices, field engineers can close jobs and end the invoice cycle in real time. For the business, this offers big benefits, resulting in cash realisation and accelerated cash flow.
The must-haves: essential features of field service management software
Of course, there are some ever-present concerns that will also have an influence on what you look for from field service management software. As well as the above, here are the essentials you need to look for from your software:
- Security: Your software should always be fully secure. It can contain sensitive information that must be kept safe and secure as a priority to the business.
- Mobile use: The software should be fully functional across mobile devices because your engineers are likely to be on the move throughout the whole day. Is it easy to use on a smartphone or tablet? Is there a dedicated mobile solution, like an app for example?
- Compatibility: Tying in to mobile use, the software you invest in should be compatible with your existing hardware. Buy a package that isn’t suitable for your tablet and smartphone operating systems, and you could be forced to buy new hardware that is — a cost any business would like to avoid.
- Scalability: Your software should have the ability to grow and develop as your business grows. To avoid additional expense and the effort associated with switching platforms further down the line, choose a flexible solution that can expand with your business.
- Ease of use: If software is difficult to use, employees will disengage and your business will suffer. Choose a software package with a clear, easy-to-use user interface to maximise usability and minimise the time needed for training.