Whether you’re overseeing the needs of a customer-facing mobile service team or the demands of a new remote workforce that didn’t exist before 2020, a strong field service management program is essential for success.
As your team adapts to an ever-changing work environment, your business needs the procedures and tools to keep everyone connected and working together towards the same goal. That’s where field service management comes in.
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What Is Field Service Management?
For most businesses, field service management (or FSM for short) is the program that coordinates the mobile workforce as they travel offsite (i.e., away from home base) to provide service and support to new and long-time customers and clients.
Historically, field service teams were a major part of industries such as:
- HVAC installation and repair
- Electrical installation and repair
- Mobile vehicle repair
- Over-the-road and local trucking
Really, any business that sends an employee to a customer or client location has a field service component.
In recent years, field service has expanded into a broader category of work that includes any work performed at a location other than a business’s main office.
That includes distributed employees and teams, remote employees and teams, and even hybrid employees and teams that work both in and out of the office on occasion.
Both types of arrangements — traditional field service and the newer remote work — pose the same types of problems, which is why they are often lumped together when discussing field service management solutions.
The solutions to those issues can only be solved with a strong field service management program and the tools that support it.
Components Of Field Service Management
Organizing one or two field service employees is hard enough. Imagine how much more difficult it would be if you doubled or even tripled the number of team members you had working away from the office.
An efficient field service management program provides the structure and organization your business needs to ensure that all activities run smoothly and on schedule.
In practical terms, it’s beneficial to think of organization as an overarching topic with the next five entries on this list serving as solutions to issues that prevent your remote team from maintaining order while working remotely.
2) Time Tracking
Unless you plan on paying your field service employees a salary rather than an hourly wage, you’re going to need some way to track work time while they’re on the job.
Many field service management programs incorporate some type of software that gives those not working on-site the ability to:
- Clock in and out for the start and end of the workday
- Track time on task for activities such as service calls, breaks, and driving
In most cases, such software is useful for tracking the time and attendance of those who work in the office as well, so the solution is good for your business as a whole — not just your field service management.
Communication is one of the biggest hurdles that any field service management program will contend with.
Such communication includes contact between:
- Remote employees and their overseers (e.g., a fleet manager)
- Remote employees and their coworkers
- Remote employees and your business’s clients and customers
Keeping everyone connected so that the job gets done correctly the first time around is critical if you want your business to succeed.
While cell phones have made this task a bit easier, communication issues still exist in many cases (e.g., task management, scheduling, and file access just to name a few).
All businesses can benefit from incorporating a solution that addresses connectivity as an overall issue.
When you include scheduling as part of your FSM program, you bring order and organization to the overall structure that governs your employees as they work outside the office.
Your team members need to know when they’ll work and where (if it varies from day to day) well before they have to report.
Scheduling your crew weeks or even months in advance gives them time to arrange their personal lives and prepare themselves mentally for the jobs ahead.
As such, most FSM software options include large-scale scheduling features that allow you to coordinate one to 100+ employees for several days, weeks, months, or even years ahead of time.
5) Task Management
When it comes to your FSM program, task management is the process that gives your business control over the day-to-day activities of employees in the field.
Think of it as the answer to the question, “What is Employee A going to do on Wednesday?”
They know they’re going to be working that day — because you indicated as such on their work schedule — but they won’t know exactly what project they’ll be focusing on or what customer they’ll be attending to without a task list of some sort.
6) File Access
Most modern FSM programs also provide their team members with access to company files and other documents regardless of where they’re working on any given day.
Such connectivity matters because information lies at the heart of everything your employees do these days.
For example, imagine sending an HVAC technician to a job site where they encounter a problem with an older piece of equipment and need to refer to a service manual.
They could call the manufacturer’s customer service line, but who knows how long that would take. In many cases, it’s easier and quicker to access the service manual online and find the answer there.
Some type of remote file access — be it through the cloud or through a server that your business maintains — is all but essential these days for the efficient completion of most jobs.
A robust field service management program also provides the support your employees need when they’re attending to a customer call or working in a remote location.
Sometimes, they can’t find the answers they need through file access. In that case, they’re going to need the support of their coworkers or someone in the main office.
An FSM system with built-in support features for those working in the field goes a long way toward ensuring that everything runs smoothly and with as few incidents or problems as possible.
In many ways, the employee support side of FSM is an advanced feature that not all businesses will put in place.
But, whether you have a formal team helpline or not, it’s good to encourage your field employees to call home base if they have a problem they can’t solve by themselves.
8) Process Automation
Process automation is a big part of what makes modern field service management programs so successful.
With the right system in place, your business can minimize a lot of the busy work that goes into coordinating a remote team. Such automation can free up large amounts of time.
And, with more time on their hands, field service managers and on-site personnel can focus on more important tasks, such as improving the program as a whole and providing remote employees and customers with the best support possible.
As with many of the other entries on this list, technology is the foundation on which process automation and a strong field service management program rests.
9) Customer Service
After providing your employees with the tools they need to operate away from the office, a good field service management program will benefit your business by allowing for faster, more accurate responses to customer issues.
Some FSM programs even give customers the ability to track a business’s employees in real time. This makes it easier to coordinate house calls and gives the customer a better idea of when your business will arrive for their appointment.
Again, knowledge is power — for your employees and your customers — so transparency of this type is good for everyone involved.
The longer your business has a field service management system in place, the more opportunities you’ll see to cut costs in the way your team operates.
When your technicians and remote employees work smoothly and efficiently, small changes in the process — such as doing A instead of B in a certain situation — can make a very real difference for your business’s bottom line.
Take Field Service Management To The Next Level
A strong field service management program provides support for employees that work away from the office.
The Coast fleet card is the right tool for the job. It provides universal acceptability for your drivers and an online expense management platform that gives you access to up-to-the-minute information related to your fleet.
For more information on how Coast can help you streamline your fleet management program, visit CoastPay.com today.