There are a lot of ‘different’ functions and/or definitions out there when it comes to field service management. For some people the term refers to ‘dispatch of field personnel to a job’, to others it means ‘managing resources in the field, as in inventory control’, still others will think about it as ‘location tracking and control.’ But in reality all of these, and many other functional areas apply to the ever broadening scope of what is loosely called ‘Field Service Management’ (FSM).
When starting to work with a client who is looking for some type of FSM application, there are a lot of questions you may want to ask including: (1) How many technicians do you have in the field, and do they all have the same capabilities, or are they specialized? (2) On average, how many ‘job’ (or job sites) do technicians service on an average day? (3) How are work orders currently dispatched, and are those work orders sufficiently detailed to provide useful information to the technicians? (4) Do most service calls require ‘parts’, and are your service vehicles stocked with appropriate inventory, or do technicians have to make additional trips for parts? (5) Do technicians ‘invoice’ for completed work in the field, and accept payments, or are manual tickets turned into invoices when the technicians gets back to the shop?
If those questions sound too ‘generic’, then let’s get a little more specific. (1) Do you or your technicians have problems finding work orders, customer history or invoices? (2) Do your technicians have to return to home base (before the end of the day) once they are dispatched on their first call? (3) Do technicians sit idly by waiting on a call, only to get dispatched across town, when another technician just answered a call next door after driving across town? (4) Is your first-call fix-rate low because techs don’t have the right parts or information to fix the problem, the first time? (5) Do you tend to run low on parts, or have significant overstocks, that impact your ability to provide service?
Once you and your clients have answered one or both sets of questions, you are probably convinced that there is a need to find a FSM. That’s because FSM solutions can provide a streamlined process to your field services by automating scheduling, dispatching and invoicing; once a customer submits an order, the software essentially takes care of dispatching, providing historical references, and permitting field invoicing/payments that speed up ‘cash flow’.
FSM can significantly impact and improve your customer satisfaction, because the scheduling and dispatching process is more precise, allowing for better estimates of arrival and completion times. Customer loyalty programs and customer history go hand-in-hand, and some FSM systems even automate customer notifications.
FSM can work with your inventory and accounting systems to keep tighter control on inventory, including multi-location and ‘service-truck based’ inventory. Know exactly what stock is ‘in-stock’ on each of your service vehicles….why dispatch a truck without the necessary parts, when you can send a crew that has the most likely parts on their service vehicle?
FSM Scheduling and location management functionality allows you to optimize each technician’s day to minimize travel time, fuels costs, and downtime.
FSM job-tracking is more than just the work performed, it is the complete ‘service history’ of the equipment worked on. Every piece of equipment at a customer’s location, including make/model/serial number, last service dates, etc. Many FSM programs include features that permit you to schedule and track ‘service contracts’ as well as the work performed.
QuickBooks users may want to look at some of these Field Service Management solutions (presented here in 'alphabetical order' without any ranking of functionality or popularity):
Field Promax – Sync customers and items from QuickBooks (Online), set-up your technicians, and being scheduling work. Dispatch to your tech’s smartphones, and monitor job statuses as they are updated remotely by your field technicians who can complete and post invoices to QuickBooks. Field personnel can perform reliable estimates based upon actual item pricing and labor rates, email estimates to customers, and convert estimated to work order all with the click of a button.
HindSite – Everything you need to eliminate paperwork, improve productivity and take your service business to the next level. Schedule and route quickly, dispatch sooner, collect accurate information immediately in the field and invoice faster. HindSite makes it easy for you to eliminate waste, get more done in less time, and be more profitable. Software can be easily configured for you specific field service industry, works with either QuickBooks Desktop or QuickBooks Online.
Intuit Field Service Management powered by Corigo - Go paperless with cloud-based work order scheduling, dispatching, and invoicing for QuickBooks Online & Desktop. Mobile GPS, Signatures, Inventory, Payment and Payroll integration. Equipment Service Data improves first-time fix rate. Best for HVAC, plumbing, electrical, and repair. Inventory management features include integration with ‘Advanced Inventory’ functionality when using QuickBooks Enterprise.
Jobber – Software designed to help services businesses using QuickBooks Online get organized; it’s “the simplest, most efficient way to run a mobile service business”. Complete with mobile apps, drag-n-drop scheduling, dispatching on technician or your entire team efficient via mobile apps, online invoicing, employee time tracking, GPS and simple customer management (CRM), Jobber has helped thousands of users manage over 5.6 million customer visits since 2011, using computer, smartphone or tablet solutions.
Kickserv - Simplify your mobile work force-schedule & track jobs, deliver estimates & send invoices, and collect signature & payments. Our one click integration with QuickBooks Online & Desktop provides a two way sync of data which eliminates data re-entry and saves time. With one glance, you can see how your business is performing. With Kickserv, your leads, jobs, and invoices are all at your fingertips. With the help automated statuses you can easily stay on top of all your work.
mHelpDesk - Field service software helping businesses easily schedule and assign jobs using technician side-by-side and drag-n-drop displays., Track jobs in real-time, with status grouping for jobs, locations or technicians. Create professional estimates, service orders and invoices on-the-fly/ Send invoices directly to customers in the field, and allow them to pay invoices in-person using your mobile device, or online. mHelpDesk integrates with QuickBooks Online.
QXpress by WorkWave - The leading QuickBooks scheduling add-on for the Field Service Industry, designed for QuickBooks (desktop), and for the Field Service Industry. Offers recurring date-driven scheduling, equipment-based scheduling, and personnel-driven scheduling. One thing that makes Qxpress so powerful is its ability to be detailed specifically for your field service industry. Purchase or subscription pricing.
RazorSync - A powerful yet easy-to-use cloud software and mobile app that streamlines operations of your field service business. Manage customers, schedule and dispatch workers in the field with this mobile and desktop software. Powerful estimating and invoicing improves cash flow by speeding up the billing and payment cycle. Sync data with QuickBooks Online.
We recognize that we have not included ALL of the FSM Apps and Software that are available, and not even all of those that connect to, sync, or integrate with QuickBooks; however, we have attempted to provide a variety of applications that connect with QuickBooks Desktop (only), QuickBooks Online (only) and both QuickBooks Desktop and Online.
We hope any of our readers, who are using any of these Apps, or other FSM Apps or software, will contribute their own observations and opinions, using the 'comments' option below.