UPDATE 7/5/2016: This article has been updated to remove inactive sites, and add new resources. Two LinkedIn groups have also been added, so happy networking!
“Those who search the web should be careful not to let the web search them. And when you stare into Google, it stares back at you.”
– A famous dead philosopher (definitely not me)
Searching Google for the “best field service management resources” is overwhelming. Type in those five simple words, and voila: over 15 million hits.
“Rabbit hole” is an understatement.
The wealth of field service management information is more like a rabbit warren, or a rabbit city. Or like the rows upon rows of code Neo sees at the end of The Matrix. Or what Dave sees inside the Monolith at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The point is, there’s a ton.
But to help you sift through the wealth of field service management resources on the internet, I’ve curated the 32 best for you to use to keep up with FSM developments and technology.
The Field Service Blog is a resource for service and support professionals that work in the field service industry. The blog posts articles about mobility; integration; preventative services; and tips on how to bridge the talent gap. It also posts interviews, trends in the industry, and Q&A. It is geared specifically towards field service leaders.
Field Nation, a service contractor marketplace, maintains a blog about developments in the field service industry. Field Nation’s blog focuses on the growing freelance technician economy, and freelancer habits and preferences. While many blog posts are PR or promotions for their white papers, reports, and infographics, the writing’s so precise that it still provides useful facts. Field Nation focuses on broad, multi-sector trends, rather than specific industries. If you’re an FSM manager or executive, this site will provide you with a range of useful strategic perspectives.
Maintenance Matters provides pithy, straightforward introductions to issues and problems, useful in structuring your approach to business strategy. Admirably wide-ranging, Bigfoot’s blog tackles CMMS technology, developments, and provides informed perspectives on concerns like the pros and cons of on-premise versus cloud-based software, and ways to encourage technicians’ ongoing development.
The Service Council is an organization that offers networking opportunities and business intelligence for service industry executives. They also host a phenomenal blog. Service Council distinguishes themselves with unique, intriguing posts. Sumair Dutta’s “Supporting the billions of Powerball” interviews a service/maintenance VP for the company that maintains Powerball machines, and the “Notes from the Front Lines of Field Service” series uses research, panels with field technicians, and ride-alongs to better understand technicians’ day-to-day lives.
Calling Automotive Fleet a blog is a bit like calling the Odyssey “a story about a guy in a boat.” AF’s blog is a fleet management information jackpot that offers everything from reviews of how different vehicles handle, to how to successfully spec an upfit, and tips for building a better cost-control strategy. There’s even an interesting piece on the history of the concept of total fleet management. It’s that depth of information and research that makes Automotive Fleet’s articles interesting stories, instead of just straight information.
ClickBlog is the official blog for ClickSoftware, an FSM software company. ClickBlog is a well-curated gold mine of information for beginners and experts alike. Their articles run the gamut from basic topics like, “What is Dispatch Management?” to in-depth research like “Best Field Service Management Presentations and Slide Decks,” which has 50 (!) resources about FSM. The slide decks ClickBlog has curated cover everything from managing remote workers, to making mobility part of your team’s strategy.
Contractor Selling is all about helping service contractors to become better and more successful within their industries. They target all service contractors, but focus specifically on plumbers, HVAC contractors, and electricians. Their blog provides insights on how field service businesses can improve their sales. They cover topics like business planning, advertising, software reviews, sales management, interviews with industry experts, and more.
The Service Coach blog offers content about some of the most difficult service problems. They offer advice on marketing for contractor, HVAC, and plumbing industries. The blog discusses everything from new tech tools to best social media practices.
Maintenance management consulting firm Idcon’s resource page isn’t a blog in the strict sense of the word. However, it has so many useful articles and posts that I had to include it. Their resource page offers a wealth of thorough, fact-based articles about topics like CMMS, lean maintenance, and more. Their lengthy section on preventive maintenance is especially impressive. If you’re interested in maintenance management or preventive maintenance, Idcon’s resource library just became your new best friend .
Field Technologies Magazine is a monthly magazine devoted to the field service industry. The magazine focuses on field mobility insights, news, and analysis. Topics include mobility, rugged devices, the cloud, and field service trends. It has both a print and an online option, and the subscription is free within the U.S. and Canada. In other countries, there is a $97.00 fee to receive the magazine.
ACHR News is a weekly magazine that covers 12 heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) market sectors, from the light commercial market to standards and legislation. For instance, their Services, Apps and Software section provides a thorough look at the new technological tools and business developments in HVAC software. A subscription to both digital and print options is $69.00 per year, but a one-year digital subscription will only run you $15.00.
Plant Services magazine provides readers with a broad, comprehensive view of plant and facilities maintenance, from the top ten benefits of field management software to organizing a better storeroom. The degree of information and depth of reporting in Plant Services make the subscription cost for the free digital version absolutely worth it for any facilities professionals. Subscriptions to the hard copy magazine are $96.00 a year in the United States (though qualified readers can get it free– to find out if you’re qualified, fill out this form), and $200 a year anywhere else.
This is a sister publication of Automotive Fleet that maintains the same level of depth and relevance, but aimed at fleet managers for the public sector. Executive Editor Thi Dao’s blog, Fleet Speak, will be of special interest to tech nerds (like myself). She’s written on everything from 3-D printed cars to the use of robots in waste management fleets. Not even Oscar could get grouchy about the prospect of a robot garbageman. Sherb Brown’s column, “Nobody Asked Me, But…” is another useful resource, with information informed by Brown’s multiple years in the industry. The seasoned perspective he shows in articles like “Merger mania hits fleet market, again,” demonstrates the way his experience enriches his outlook on the industry.
Contracting Business is another monthly magazine with an encyclopedic range of articles, but none of an encyclopedia’s bone-dry boredom. Contracting Business features HVACR news, information, interviews, and coverage of important events for HVACR managers and technicians alike. June’s issue alone has articles on improving business systems and processes, the uncertain future of possibly hazardous refrigerants, and dealing with your anger at frustrating customers. And you have to love any publication that has a monthly “Collage of Disgrace” with pictures of hilariously bad installation work. A one-year subscription is $89.00, but there are also free newsletters you can sign up for.
Services Magazine is a bi-monthly magazine that is aimed at the building service contracting field. They cater specifically to contractors, manufacturers, distributors. They also cater to consultants to building service contractors, facility managers, and building owners. Physical subscriptions are $45—subscriptions are free for BSCAI (Building Service Contractors Association International) members. Their digital editions are free to view online.
Reverse Logistics Magazine is monthly digital publication by the Reverse Logistics Association. It provides the latest information on different areas of reverse logistics, such as refurbishment, field service and warranty management, and returns management. A yearly subscription is $18/year.
Field Service is an annual conference that provides senior-level service and is designed for executives with strategies and best practices for their service businesses. Previous session topics have included things like making the customer experience better through the use of multiple channels, and the best ways to raise your revenue with service marketing. The website’s content tab also has several useful resources on topics like IoT, training, and mobile workforce management. 2017 prices aren’t up yet, but Field Service USA expects those prices to be relatively similar to 2016’s. If that’s the case, it will be $3,199 for the full four days, $2,899 to attend the Performance Workshop and two days of the main conference, and the same price for the three-day conference without admission to the Workshop.
Don’t feel like waiting a full year for the opportunities at Field Service USA? Do you live on, or are you willing to travel to, the east coast? If so, check out Field Service Fall, held from September 12-14, 2016 in Fort Lauderdale. Fall’s speakers include David Baker, sr. VP of Field Service at DirecTV, and James McAnally, Hewlett-Packard’s VP of Global Support Delivery and Engineering Resolution. The 2016 autumn agenda includes topics like disruptive service technologies, customer service, and the service industry’s future. Registration is $2,599 for attendees.
The 2017 AHR Expo, a tradeshow for all things heating, ventilation, refrigeration, and air conditioning, takes place January 30th to February 1st, at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Businesspeople from other industries like plumbing, hydronics, and building automation are also encouraged to attend. A list of exhibitors isn’t up yet, but 2016’s Expo saw over 2,000 companies show up, along with over 42,000 visitors. If you’re looking for software solutions for your HVACR needs, an entire area of the show floor is dedicated to digital products to help you with issues like GPS tracking and inventory management. Registration is free until January 2017, when it becomes $30.
Fleet Management Expo is an annual, three-day expo and tradeshow for waste disposal fleet owners in the public and private sectors. The conference provides the opportunity to network with fellow fleet managers, meet with other companies and view their waste disposal products and solutions, and, perhaps best of all, educate yourself on topics as varied as proactive maintenance, vehicle and driver safety, and ways to manage costs through strategic vehicle design.
Service Management Expo is a yearly, UK-based expo of service management workers and businesses. The conference bills itself as “Europe’s only dedicated event in service management.” The 2016 show, held from June 21-23, featured 36 exhibitors, from placement agencies to major FSM software players like IFS. Service Management Expo also features over 60 hours of training seminars, grouped into categories that orient participants’ views on the future of service management.
Field Service Forum is an annual conference for field service professionals. They cover topics like knowledge management, training programs, softskill training, mobility, performance management and work optimization, among many other things. Field Service Forum also offers a ‘Service Mastery Day;’ a half-day seminar on an issue important to managers across various verticals. This year’s was on the psychology behind change management, and featured University College of London professor and Financial Times columnist Professor Adrian Furnham. A two-day, conference-only pass costs 1,290 EUR ($1,742). Passes for the Conference and one of the two additional workshops are 1,490 EUR.
The Inspirational Conference Package (conference attendance plus admission to Service Mastery Day) is 1,790 EUR. The highest-end option– the Essential Conference Package– is 1,990 EUR and provides admission to the conference, one of the two workshops, and Service Mastery Day. There are also passes available if you just want to attend Service Mastery Day (only 500 EUR). The conference is two days long, and costs 1,290 EUR ($1,742). Previous speakers include Jeffrey Wartgow of TOA Technologies, Paul Vissers of Coca-Cola Enterprises, and Jos De Boes from Toyota Motor Europe.
With several weekly posts on the main page, the Field Service Society group is a good place to go for links to influencers and information sources. Group members post white papers, reports, news articles and other (most often free) pieces of helpful FSM intel. Consider Field Service Society the equivalent of an RSS feed, but with the extra opportunity to network.
This LinkedIn group for the Field Service Expo is more than just an extended advertisement. Yes, you will get heads-ups about Field Service discounts, or other announcements as the conference approaches, but group members post other useful content, too. Links to influencers, LinkedIn posts, and news stories about the world of field service abound, and address everything from first-time fix rates to data analytics.
NASM is an association for service executives that aims to improve the effectiveness of the service industry; foster communications and cooperation among managers in the service industry; and provide valuable educational opportunities directly related to the industry’s needs. You can join by signing up on their website—a yearly membership costs $125.00. They publish a newsletter, and host an annual conference as well.
TSIA is an association for service executives that helps them with their strategies, operations and finances. The association aids service leaders with understanding their business’s performance; identifying improvement opportunities; avoiding costly mistakes; and staying on top of new trends.
They offer many resources including blogs, member studies and surveys, bench marking reports, and books. TSIA also hosts several annual and bi-annual events. Additionally, there are webinars available with research study results, case studies, and emerging service trends. Memberships are sold separately, and pricing is based on the member organization’s annual corporate revenues.
SOFI is a networking organization in the field services industry—they’re an association that helps firms find representatives and vice versa. They bill themselves as “the largest and the oldest networking organization in the field services industry.” An initial listing in their directory is free.
Repair Ticket is a professional repair ticketing solution for the iPhone and iPod touch. It’s an app that uses a database to store clients, vendors, repairs, parts and serial numbers. It is geared towards small business in the repair industry. It also has an integrated billing and invoicing system that lets you catalogue timed labor and send invoices in the field. This solution is free, but it is not receiving further support or updates.
AceRoute is a free, Google Apps integrated work order management, scheduling, route optimization, and dispatching solution that is geared towards field service as well as logistics companies. This solution helps you to reduce the time spent on managing your scheduling and dispatching; allows bill tracking so that you can get paid faster; and can also help you to cut fuel and travel costs by optimizing your routes.
Contractor Pro is an Android app that helps you to track and bill your clients accurately and efficiently. It helps you to organize the time that you spend on different projects and gets time reports to bill your clients. Cost is $3.99.
Hours Tracker Work Time Sheet is another Android app for managing your time tracking. It helps you to keep track of your time as well as your earnings per hour at your job; or it can help you to track your time as a contractor or freelancer. You can view your pay periods and earnings in the app, and it can be used as a punch clock or timer. The free version is limited to three jobs and three weeks of time entries at a time, however.
Capterra’s list of the most popular Field Service Management software options, measured by total number of clients, online presence, and active users.
A comprehensive list of over two hundred field service management software products that have descriptions, reviews, and also the ability to filter your search based on features, deployment and users.
As Thomas Jefferson says in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, “what’d I miss?” Let me know what additional resources you find useful in the comments! (Seriously. I’m curious.)
Looking for Field Service Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Field Service Management software solutions.