Field servicing is an inherently challenging industry. 

For starters, it involves a blend of proactive and reactive maintenance, and can extend to many types of technology, from lights and HVACs to complex industrial machinery

Teams might work across different regions with various clients who have their own unique characteristics and service level agreements (SLAs). 

Field service management aims to optimise field servicing by improving organisation, centralising data, building reliable communication channels and implementing solutions for SLAs, compliance, etc. 

This is your complete guide to field service management. 

What is field service management?

Field service management (FSM) refers to the process of deploying, managing and optimising workers in the field – meaning outside of a business’s premises.

In today’s modern business and labour landscape, practically anyone could be a field worker, from real estate agents to salespeople and medical workers. In fact, a vast 80% of the world’s workers are now ‘deskless’

Most frequently, FSM involves dispatching workers to conduct maintenance, servicing, repairs and other technical tasks required by a business’s off-premises clients. FSM is essential for facility management and building management, where timely proactive and reactive maintenance can cut costs and drive efficiency for businesses and their clients.

What does field service management involve?

Managing workers in the field is a different ballgame from managing those on-premises. 

Firstly, the field service management process is largely remote, so effective communication and optimisation are paramount. For example, if a technician reaches a job but doesn’t have the equipment, parts and information they need, that trip may be totally wasted. 

Field service management is the practice of managing the end-to-end service process for the benefit of all parties, including the business and its staff, technicians and customers/clients. 

Here’s what it involves: 

Industries that benefit from field service management

Facility management and HVAC

Managing facilities involves a complex blend of proactive and reactive maintenance. 

FSM is useful for dispatching engineers and specialists for repairs and inspections, monitoring equipment remotely, and providing an overview of facility resources. 

Moreover, FSM helps businesses deliver on regulatory demands for sustainability and energy efficiency, e.g. by maintaining heating or HVAC systems. 

Maintenance management 

Post-sales maintenance and technical assistance teams can use FSM to augment their processes, cutting admin and lowering costs. 

By centralising workflows, technicians gain autonomy and save time, enabling them to concentrate on the job without unnecessary admin. For example, maintenance provider AvacPiquet saved 8 hours of admin a week after employing an FSM solution. 

Healthcare

FSM is crucial for the healthcare industry to maintain and update medical devices. 

FSM assists with asset management, documenting and dispatching technicians, tracking maintenance history and ensuring regulatory compliance.

Hospitality  

FSM taps into a new generation of hospitality management, ensuring maintenance tasks are scheduled and tracked, expenses monitored, and compliance adhered to. 

This enables hotels to guarantee their condition and cleanliness and rack up those all-important 5-star reviews. For example, Intercontinental Hotels reported a 70% reduction in breakdowns after integrating an FSM solution. 

Offices 

Office upkeep and maintenance typically involves multiple tasks and processes, such as electrical, lift and HVAC maintenance. FSM supports these tasks with smooth, automatable workflows. 

For example, Sotécnica reported an 88% reduction in preventative maintenance work order volume by implementing field service management solutions. 

Retail 

FSM helps keep retail environments in pristine condition, reducing breakdown rates and ensuring business uptime. 

The retail sector depends on timely maintenance and interventions, which FSM helps deliver. 

Benefits of field service management 

Increases productivity and uptime

Modern field service management tools and processes replace clunky manual systems, boosting technician productivity. 

By identifying necessary repairs earlier in the asset lifecycle, uptime is enhanced by preventing minor issues from developing into fully-fledged faults. This is essential for always-on manufacturing. 

Empowers technicians

And what about empowering your field service technicians? 

By providing them with remote assistance and mobile capabilities, you can help them stay safe and compliant while equipping them with the information they need to perform tasks efficiently. 

Reduces costs

Fundamentally, field service management is about saving time. And as the old adage suggests, time is money! 

You can cut labour and admin costs by using data and insights to complete maintenance tasks at the right time and in the most effective and efficient manner. 

Boosts customer satisfaction 

Finally, increasing customer satisfaction should always be a top priority – and most businesses aren’t tolerant of avoidable downtime

Delivering the best outcomes possible requires a well-oiled workflow, which FSM solutions support. 

Choosing the right FSM Software (FSMS)

Listing the benefits of FSM is all well and good, but how do businesses actually deliver these outcomes? Enter: field service management software (FSMS)

FSM assists businesses in the planning, managing, and optimising of field services such as maintenance and repairs. For example, FSM helps businesses communicate promptly with their customers, organise maintenance records, locate technicians, monitor stock and tools and manage safety and compliance. 

While software for managing field operations is not a new concept, it’s evolved into something bigger… something better. Intelligent maintenance management platforms (IMMPs) build upon FSM to offer advanced automation, integration with condition monitoring hardware, and more ways to unlock efficiency across service networks.

FSM, SLAs and work order management 

Work orders are fundamental to field service management. Once a staff member or customer triggers a work order, the maintenance workflow should kick into action. The trouble is, there are many different types of work orders, including:

  • Inspections 
  • Preventive maintenance
  • Emergency 
  • Electrical 
  • Safety 
  • Special projects

And then, each work order will contain information on the asset in question, the task/service required, who it’s assigned to (assignee), priority, parts and tools required, health and safety notes and any other essential information. 

That’s a lot – which is why FSM software is crucial. By centralising the above work order processes, you can build slick workflows that deliver on service level agreements (SLAs), which brings us to the next point. 

Maintenance must adhere to SLAs that establish expectations and guidelines for completing the work. 

For example, you can set up SLAs with deadlines for lift inspections, replacing fire extinguishers, HVAC maintenance, etc. 

Deliver on expected outcomes and keep customers happy. It’s perhaps unsurprising that SLA performance is one of the top benefits of FSM implementation

What are the top trends in field service management?

The field of Field Service Management is continually evolving with advancements in technology and changing customer demands.

IoT and Remote Monitoring

The Internet of Things (IoT) will play a significant role in FSM. IoT sensors will provide real-time data on equipment performance, enabling predictive maintenance and reducing downtime.

Artificial Intelligence

AI and machine learning will be used for predictive maintenance, optimising scheduling, and improving decision-making. AI-driven chatbots and virtual assistants can enhance customer support.

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)

AR and VR technologies will be used for remote assistance, allowing technicians to receive guidance from experts while in the field.

Mobile and Cloud Solutions

Cloud-based FSM solutions will become more prevalent, providing flexibility and accessibility for field technicians and remote workers.

Sustainability and Green Initiatives

More FSM solutions will incorporate features for tracking and reducing environmental impact, aligning with sustainability goals.

Blockchain for Security

Blockchain technology will be used to enhance security and transparency in field service data, ensuring the integrity of service records and information.

Advanced Analytics

Data analytics will continue to evolve, providing deeper insights into field operations, customer behavior, and service performance.

Predictive Analytics for Demand Forecasting

Predictive analytics will be used to anticipate service demand, helping companies allocate resources more effectively.

Wearable Technology

Wearable devices such as smart glasses or wrist-worn devices may become more integrated into FSM, allowing hands-free access to information for field technicians.

Collaborative Tools

Tools for real-time collaboration and knowledge sharing among field technicians and experts will gain prominence.

Energy Management

In the energy sector, there will be a greater focus on FSM for renewable energy assets, including wind turbines and solar farms.

Regulatory Compliance and Reporting

FSM solutions will continue to evolve to support increasingly complex regulatory requirements in various industries.

Global Expansion

As businesses expand globally, FSM solutions will need to adapt to different regional and cultural needs.

Main challenges in field service management

Field service managers face numerous challenges associated with managing complex remote teams across a huge range of maintenance tasks. 

Resource Scheduling

Optimising the allocation of field technicians to jobs is complex, especially when dealing with urgent requests or last-minute changes. Efficient scheduling is crucial to minimise travel time and maximise productivity.

Real-Time Visibility

Field service managers often struggle to maintain real-time visibility into the location and progress of technicians. Lack of visibility can lead to delays, poor customer service, and inefficient resource utilisation.

Customer Expectations

Customer expectations for quick response times and transparency are increasing. Meeting these expectations whilst maintaining quality service can be challenging.

First-Time Fix Rate

Achieving a high first-time fix rate is a common challenge. This requires technicians to have the right skills, tools, and parts to resolve issues on the initial visit.

Data Management

Handling and making sense of vast amounts of data from field operations, customer interactions, and equipment can be overwhelming. Effective data management and analysis are critical for decision-making.

Remote Workforce Management

Managing a remote field workforce efficiently and ensuring they have the tools and information they need can be complex, particularly in industries with dispersed teams.

Technological Adaptation

Keeping up with evolving technology, such as IoT, AI, and mobile apps, and integrating these into existing systems can be a hurdle.

Skills Gap

Finding skilled technicians with the right expertise is a common challenge. As experienced technicians retire, there’s often a shortage of skilled replacements.

Cost Management

Balancing the need to provide excellent field service with cost management is a constant challenge, especially when dealing with unexpected expenses.

The truth is, many businesses still lack FSM software in the first place. For example, Verizon found that FSM software can boost ROI by 32% after just six months of use, but remarkably, 25% of businesses still don’t have a software solution in place.

The field service industry depends on tools to empower technicians with autonomy while providing visibility over tasks and processes, but investing in the right tools is essential. At a minimum, it’s essential to ensure that FSM tools are mobile-compatible with real-time tracking and feature built-in messaging services and notifications. 

Then, sophisticated data centralisation and integration is critical, which next-gen IMMPs like Infraspeak enable via artificial intelligence (AI) and hardware integration. Networking FSM processes with IoT sensors for preventive maintenance reflects a new horizon in business uptime and productivity. 

Optimising field service management with an IMMP 

Intelligent maintenance management platforms like Infraspeak go above and beyond typical FSMS to fully connect people, buildings, assets, software and IoT hardware. They act as platforms – all-in-one solutions for end-to-end maintenance management. 

IMMPs leverage data using AI to extract insights and unlock efficiencies, whether through analysing asset lifecycles, technician dispatch time, mean time to repair (MTTR) or mean time to failure (MTTF). 

Infraspeak’s platform doesn’t just ingest and create data from the maintenance management process, but it also displays insights in intuitive graphs and dashboards. 

⚙️ Curious to know more about it? Have a quick chat with us here! 

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