“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” – Yogi Berra
The above Yogi Berra quote (they’re called “yogisms”) may seem absurd, but there’s a Zen wisdom hidden in its apparent contrariness:
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
There’s a name for work done without an overarching plan: chaos. That’s why a field service management framework is so important for any service business.
And if you want a successful field service management framework—one that organizes thousands of hours of work, multiple technicians, and (hopefully) even more customers—you’re going to need field service management software to organize those disparate factors into a single framework.
Fortunately, the folks at Gartner have done countless hours of research to figure out which software best enables your field service management framework. And I’ll share highlights from that research with you here, so not only will you know where you’re going, you’ll know how best to get there.
Better yet? I’ll share them with accompanying yogisms that convey the point better than anyone could. Except maybe Bob Uecker.
Know which vendor provides the right framework
“If you ask me anything I don’t know, I’m not going to answer.” – Yogi Berra
Shopping for software isn’t easy. Doubt me? There are 402 vendors in Capterra’s list of field service management software providers.
Fortunately, helping you find software is what Capterra, and Gartner, do.
In picking a vendor, take some inspiration from Yogi and start with what you do know. Don’t look to the vendor first, but to your technicians. As Jim Robinson of Gartner recommends, start by “understand[ing] an average day in the life of a technician.” That experience is at the heart of your field service management framework.
In the same way certain pitchers work best with certain catchers, your technicians’ jobs and abilities probably match up best with a certain type of field service management software program.
Specifically, understand what the service your technicians do entails. For instance, do they have to fill out a lot of complicated paperwork? Maybe your technicians work in a heavily regulated industry, one that requires forms that wouldn’t normally be on a software program. If that’s the case, you’ll want to check for a software vendor that offers form builders, or what’s called rapid mobile app development (RMAD).
There are aspects of your techs’ service you should consider—for example, if your technicians do service based on when an asset reaches a threshold. If they do, you may want to check for a vendor that offers predictive maintenance features. Considering things like this will guide you towards the right software vendor.
Mobile app development and predictive maintenance aren’t the only aspects you should consider, though. Gartner research has a list of eight other aspects of service you should consider, and all that info is just one tip among three in the research they prepared on “How to Select Field Service Management Vendors.” Like all of the Gartner research included in this article, it’s available only to Gartner clients, but it’s completely worth it.
Know which field service functions will provide the right framework
“You better cut the pizza into four pieces because I’m not hungry enough to eat six.” – Yogi Berra
Yogi wasn’t hungry enough for six, but there’s a six you should be aware of: the six categories of field service functionality.
Considering what sort of service your field service technicians do points you towards the sort of functionalities you should look for in software. But how do you tell the difference between those functionalities? It’s difficult enough narrowing down hundreds of vendors; narrowing the numerous functions those vendors provide increases the difficulty exponentially.
This is where Gartner’s list of the six functionalities clarifies things, and focuses you on what matters to your business. Is keeping in contact with customers essential for your technicians? If so, you’ll want to look at what Gartner research has to say about Technician Enablement functionalities.
Technician Enablement includes things such as:
- GPS integration
- Equipment history and site details
- Customer communications
- Knowledge base and work instructions
If your technicians could benefit from any of these features, you’ll want to look for a vendor with strong technician enablement capabilities. You should ask what sort of messaging features their software offers, and what examples they have of businesses that have used those features to, say, let a customer know they might be a bit late.
Technician enablement might not be as important as one of the other five categories, however. Checking through all of them is the surest way to know you’ll pick the right software for your field service management framework.
Empower your employees for a successful framework
“You can observe a lot by watching.” – Yogi Berra
When you pick your software, know what will empower your employees. If you want your field service management framework to be solid, know how much a potential software program helps your technicians when in the field.
In surveying service companies that use field service management software, Gartner found that a well-designed mobile app is vital. Field service software with a mobile app helps technicians to be more productive, communicate better with customers, and get more of the necessary information they need. In fact, the highest number of survey respondents said that a vendor’s mobile application or platform was the most important factor in choosing their vendor.
Enabling your employees wasn’t the only thing you should prioritize, however. There are other factors your business can get from field service management software. If you’re interested in finding out what those are, check out the corresponding Gartner research here.
“It ain’t over til it’s over”
Like Yogi said, nothing’s finished until the last out. If you’re interested in the information presented here, this post only gives a little bit of an idea of how much Gartner research can help your service business organize for success. If you really want to know how solid a potential field service vendor is, check out Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Field Service Management Software.
If you’re interested in learning more about how field service management software can help your service business, check out one of these Capterra posts:
Looking for Fleet Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Fleet Management software solutions.