According to a recent FieldAware report, the top two goals of field service businesses are:
- Improving efficiency, and
- Improving productivity
With the exception of Field Service Management software itself, the biggest advancement in service has been the development of mobility – true “field” service management. Mobile FSM enables you to share critical information with your techs in the field, as they need it. Now when things in the field change, techs can access repair history, specifications, and/or parts information they need while on the job. That, of course, improves efficiency, effectiveness, and ultimately customer satisfaction.
If you’re not currently using or thinking about adding mobility capabilities with a field service management (FSM) solution, you’ve severely limited your ability to achieve either improved efficiency or productivity.
But, of course, not all mobile field service software is the same. There are 3 critical considerations you must tackle in order to successfully “go mobile”:
1. What type of mobile application is it – web-based or native?
As more and more vendors work to offer mobile capabilities (typically optional add-on modules), they face a decision as to how to do it – either through a web-browser and Internet connection or through a native mobile application (like something you download through an App Store).
Developing native apps requires more effort on the part of the vendor, but delivers better security, speed, and functional benefits than web-based approaches. It’s the difference between viewing any site on your phone’s web-browser and accessing the phone’s calendar or photos app. One is clunky, slow, and limited from a user perspective, and the other was intentionally designed to work with the device.
Both will work and have costs associated with them. Be sure to ask which a particular vendor offers and opt for native if possible.
For more information on the debate between web-based vs. native, check out FieldOne’s, ‘The Mobile App Debate’ white paper.
2. How and when can you access and process information – only when connected or offline also?
Depending on your service area, this may be a critical consideration. If you service remote areas and/or areas that do not have constant, reliable connectivity, you’ll need to look into mobile solutions that allow you to process data and store it for later upload. This may be referred to as offline synchronization or “store-and-forward” functionality.
Be sure to ask for a detailed explanation of how a vendor handles offline data processing and what information is available to your techs when not connected. (A big benefit of native apps is that you can continue to use them when not connected.)
3. How do you manage all the mobile devices – manually or through a central control?
Finally, you need to consider how you are going to manage the security, updates, and maintenance of all the mobile devices your techs are using. Whether you provide them or the techs are using their own devices, you’ll need to manage the devices and applications. Typically called Mobile Device Management (MDM) and/or Mobile Application Management, this can be a difficult and often overlooked task related to successfully going mobile.
Be sure to discuss if, and hopefully, how the vendor assists with MDM. Some offer built-in MDM “control centers” that simplify the task.
For a quick explanation of mobile device management, check out AirWatch, one of the leaders in MDM software.
Bonus – 4 Vendors to Check-out for Mobile Field Service Software
Below is a quick comparison of mobile field service solutions from 4 of the leading FSM vendors.
* Starting Price – these numbers are guidelines and were collected online. Contact the vendors for an accurate price quote.
With regards to “going mobile” with your FSM software, it’s really more a matter of when you do it than if you do it. To be competitive and achieve the top goals you’ve set for your business, true mobile field service is required.
Looking for Field Service Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Field Service Management software solutions.