Lacking a broad and powerful field service management application, trade contractors can find themselves facing a variety of business challenges. However, if your contracting business gets its operations processes right by leveraging comprehensive field service management software like that available from IFS North America, you can turn that challenge into an asset. (Learn more about IFS’ latest field service management application.) Here are nine essential functional capabilities trade contractors need in their field service management software to make the most of service revenue opportunity.
Work Order Initiation
The execution level of field service is the work order, the tool used to assign the service task to a technician or subcontractor, provide instructions, define a scope of work, and record work performed. Modern field service software must be able to initiate a work order through an omnichannel platform. (See IFS’ customer engagement solutions as an example.)
Contract management functionality is essential to safeguard the customer experience while avoiding penalties for underperformance. It also helps keep track of what services and parts the contract covers, which may carry an extra cost. More and more service contracts are customer-specific, rather than standard agreements that apply broadly to all customers. This places a premium on field service software that tracks the specific deliverables and then operationalizes the terms of the contract.
Scheduling and Dispatch
Scheduling optimization puts management in control of the field service workforce by generating an optimized route for the day. Modern field service solutions will have advanced scheduling options, like episodic and dynamic scheduling. Options like these allow technicians information on one or two jobs at a time so that they are not setting their own route and schedule, which can be inefficient. Using scheduling optimization, service organizations have realized 40-percent improvement in technician productivity and more than 20-percent improvement in service-level-agreement compliance and on-time service delivery.
Generating quotes is important not only for customer service reps in the back office taking inbound calls, but for technicians in the field so they can sell additional work, parts, or even service contracts. That information must be available in the system to support adequate pricing on the go.
Inventory management is one functional area neglected in many field service software applications. A lack of the required part, though, is the single largest factor preventing contractors from improving their first-time fix rate. You can get a technician to the customer site quickly, but if he or she does not have the parts required, or if that part is out of stock, you will be wasting resources on return trips while simultaneously damaging the customer relationship.
Work Order Execution
Once a service technician is assigned to a job, that technician will need access to the work order. Ideally, access to this information is on a feature-rich mobile interface, with real-time connectivity to data of the full-service history, asset lifecycle, and repair documentation—all over a simple web connection. Hiring and retaining employees is a challenge for many trade contractors, so a more powerful mobile interface that provides guidance to the technician may substantially improve productivity of a new or revolving workforce.
If you involve subcontractors in your aftermarket service lifecycle, your field service software must, again, enable them to receive and complete work orders. It will need to capture broad information on their capabilities, background, skill sets, available equipment, and past performance so you can automate the process of involving them in your aftermarket service contracts.
Closing and Invoicing
Invoicing is typically handled in an enterprise resource planning (ERP) or other financial system. However, your field service management software should be able to capture all invoicing details from the work order and customer-specific contracts (such as warranties or entitlements) and integrate with your ERP system so that you have a single source of truth when it comes to billing your
customers. (Get more information about IFS’ ERP software.)
One other reason to ensure that field service management software contains adequate invoicing functionality is for analytics. The data contained in sales and field performance offers visibility in operational effectiveness, and when paired with key performance indicators, you will have actionable insights to make improvements and the potential to create revenue opportunities.
(This article is a shortened version of IFS’ full report.)
To learn more, visit www.IFSworld.com.