What Is Field Service Management And Why Is It Important?

field service worker

As more and more businesses incorporate a remote work component into their workflow, field service management becomes essential for success.

In this article, the experts at Inch discuss how field service management techniques and software can bring order to an inherently chaotic aspect of your business.

What Is Field Service?

Field service is a broad category of work performed anywhere other than on company property.

This type of long-distance work poses a number of issues that may not be present with on-site teams, including coordination, dispatch, communication, necessary tasks, file access, and support.

Common jobs that have some aspect of field service work include:

  • Electrical maintenance
  • Internet repair
  • Healthcare
  • Sales
  • Inspectors
  • Emergency vehicle repair
  • Shipping
  • Delivery

Any task that takes place at another location can be considered field service. Because of this broad definition, more and more businesses are providing this type of amenity to their customers.

Doing so, however, makes it essential for your business to also incorporate a way to organize and optimize that remote workforce. That’s where field service management comes in.

What Is Field Service Management?

Field service worker

Field service management (FSM for short) is the process and practice of managing your business’s employees, equipment, service, and operations offsite in the field.

In many cases, FSM also refers to the tools and software that a company uses to execute its field service management program.

For example, apps such as Inch and Sling make it easier than ever to provide essential support activities for your remote workforce, such as:

  • Scheduling work orders
  • Assigning team members to specific jobs
  • Dispatching employees
  • Communicating with employees in the field
  • Managing inventory
  • Gathering and correlating data

All while you’re in one place and they’re in another.

Essential Elements Of Field Service Management

field service worker working on electrical wires

1) Time Tracking

Time tracking is one of the most essential elements of field service management.

In the past, many businesses relied on pen and paper to conduct this important activity. That often meant assembling multiple timesheets, entering them into a computer, and then examining the data to look for trends and discrepancies.

Now, the Inch app makes it easy to track and control when your team works without having to collate reams of paper and spend hours on end entering the information into your computer.

And, with Inch, you no longer have to cobble together multiple apps that don’t mesh well just to keep everything digital. Inch is your one-stop, turnkey solution to task and field service management.

Incorporating the Inch app into your workflow can have a dramatic effect on one of the largest expenses your business has to contend with — labor costs.

With the Inch app, not only can you assign tasks to anyone, anywhere, but you can also:

  • Turn any phone into a time clock and allow employees to clock in and clock out from anywhere
  • Set up geofencing so that team members are in the right place when they start and end their work
  • Prevent early clock-ins and forgotten clock-outs
  • Reduce time theft
  • Export timesheets for simplified payroll processing
  • Much more…

Regardless of whether you manage a remote team, the Inch FSM software can help your business simplify time tracking for more accurate payroll.

2) Communication

One of the biggest speed bumps to effective FSM is communication. Distributing information quickly and consistently to a large team can take quite a bit of time out of your day if done incorrectly.

With Inch, however, you can send private and group messages at the click of a button and organize conversations by different teams, locations, or skill sets.

That way, you can keep everyone informed — and stay informed yourself — without skipping a beat.

3) Scheduling

Scheduling app for field service management

The cornerstone of effective field service management is organized and efficient scheduling. Keeping track of who is working on what is key to your success. Inch makes that possible.

Couple that with Inch’s sister app, Sling, which expands your workforce management to new levels, and you’ve got a suite of tools that will make it easier to run every aspect of your business.

4) Task Management

A key component of FSM is organizing and executing necessary tasks.

Whether your team members work in-house, offsite, or online, delegating work and ensuring that it gets done in a timely and correct manner is crucial for your business’s success.

Incorporating FSM processes and technology into your standard operating procedure makes coordinating complicated tasks much simpler than they were just a decade ago.

The Inch app, for example, gives you the power to distribute tasks across your team and prioritize what gets done when, whether employees are in the building or across town on a service call.

Team members can even access the task list from any device — phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop — so they always know where they need to go and what they need to work on next.

5) Compliance

For many businesses, field service management is also about adhering to local, state, and federal regulations.

Process checklists within the Inch app make this much easier for team members working offsite, remotely, or even in-house on an unfamiliar task.

Similar to task management, process checklists within the Inch app give your employees step-by-step instructions on what needs to be done and in what order for regular tasks, such as:

  • Opening the business in the morning
  • Closing the business for the day
  • Cleaning
  • Vehicle maintenance
  • Site repair
  • Finding substitutes to work a shift

The uses for process checklists are endless and infinitely beneficial for businesses of all kinds. The Inch field service management software gives everyone in your business access to this powerful tool.

6) Inventory Management

A fork lift in a warehouse space

With so many team members accessing your inventory on a regular basis, it can be hard to keep necessary supplies and tools in stock and available for use. Field service management software can make that job easier.

If your business uses specialized equipment, for example, chances are, there isn’t enough for every member of your team.

FSM software can help track where that equipment is currently located and which employee is using it. Armed with that knowledge, your employees won’t have to spend valuable time searching for the tools they need in order to start the task you’ve assigned to them.

7) Job Costing

Job costing is the process of tracking costs and revenue for a project and using that information to estimate the expenses associated with future projects.

And, when it comes right down to it, setting the best price for your project, job, product, or service is essential for the success of your business. Field service management processes and software make it easier to do this.

Even if your company isn’t a project-based industry — like construction companies, law offices, and consulting firms — job costing can help you find ways to improve workflow, cut costs, and increase profits.

8) Fleet Management

A big part of field service management is coordinating the vehicles your team uses to travel from customer to customer.

Fleet management, then, encompasses everything from acquisition and use to performance, maintenance, and replacement.

Top-tier FSM software includes tools that help you guide your fleet through the entire lifespan of your vehicles and direct those who operate them.

It doesn’t matter if your fleet consists of one vehicle — be it a car, pickup truck, semi, bulldozer, tractor, backhoe, ATV, UTV, golf cart, forklift, or bicycle — or 100 vehicles, software such as Inch can help you keep everything moving in the right direction and running at 100%.

9) Resource Allocation

field service management by looking at resource allocations

Another essential element of field service management is resource allocation. Depending on the type of business you run, your resources may include:

  • Supplies
  • Funding
  • Skills
  • Labor
  • Time
  • Tools
  • Capacity

A good FSM software, like Inch, harnesses the power of task management, time tracking, communication, and scheduling to help you allocate the resources necessary for projects of any length.

10) Reporting

Reporting is an important aspect of any business, whether it includes a field service component or not.

FSM software makes reporting easier than ever before and allows owners and managers to make decisions based on data rather than gut feelings.

For example, with the Inch app, you can analyze and understand your labor data by pulling reports for a day, a week, a month, or for any customizable period you choose.

Similarly, you can export the same data in various ways to reduce the labor involved in such time-consuming tasks as invoicing and payroll.

Why Effective FSM Matters

Scheduling app for field service management

1) Productivity

With the advanced features that the Inch FSM software has to offer — and the efficiency they produce — your team’s productivity is likely to increase dramatically.

Even if you implement new programs and processes one at a time (instead of all at once), you’ll see productivity improve somewhere in your business. It’s just that powerful.

2) Agility

Trying to manage your on-site workforce is hard enough. Adding a field service component can be a nightmare. That’s why the best field service management software allows you to see and make changes in real time.

With Inch, for example, if a repair person breaks down en route to a call, they can contact you through the app, and you can dispatch another team member to cover the appointment with as little downtime and inconvenience to the customer as possible.

This gives you the agility and speed to manage the ups and downs of your remote workforce without breaking a sweat.

3) Efficiency

Efficiency is all about getting things done in a timely manner.

With advanced task management, time tracking, and process checklists, the right FSM software boosts efficiency wherever your team is working and on whatever job they’re focused.

4) Customer Service

Efficient and effective field service management has a direct impact on how your customers feel about your business.

When you provide quality service with as little delay as possible through proper FSM, your reputation will improve and more customers will flock to your door.

5) Transparency

In field service management, transparency must go both ways — from team member to management and from management to team member.

You need to be able to see what your employees are doing, and they need to be able to see what you’re doing (and why).

FSM apps make that transparency possible by giving everyone insight into what other parts of the business are doing both in real time and over the long run.

6) Connectivity

Inch app for field service management

The very nature of field service management all but dictates that any software you choose be accessible anywhere, anytime.

In recent years, teams have become more distributed than ever before and employees may only report to your main location to pick up their vehicle. You may not even see them in person unless it’s via some online communication tool.

Regardless of how your on-site and remote teams operate, each employee needs to be connected to the information, documents, and tools that make it possible for them to do their jobs.

It’s now absolutely necessary that an FSM app have near-universal connectivity and work anywhere, anytime, and on any device.

Top-tier software, such as Inch, uses the cloud to make everything your team needs available anywhere there’s wired or wireless internet access.

All of our tools are available on Android, Windows, and iOS so every employee has the flexibility they need to be in sync whether they use a smartphone, a tablet, a laptop, or a desktop.

7) Recruiting

Recruiting high-quality employees for your team is a difficult task — especially in today’s market.

With effective and efficient field service management processes in place, though, your HR department will be better equipped to find and hire the right employees to help your business succeed.

They’ll be better able to identify the needs of your teams (both in the field and in the office), match skills with positions, and recruit new employees with specific goals in mind.

In essence, FSM is a small part of workforce management, which is a part of an overarching plan of strategic human resource management.

With such nested programs in place, your business will be able to attract, hire, develop, reward, and retain the right team members for their benefit and the benefit of the company as a whole.

8) Onboarding

Once you’ve recruited and hired the right employee for the job, onboarding becomes the next big hurdle to clear.

With field service management software in place, your business will be equipped with the tools to create an onboarding program that is personal, effective, and efficient.

With help from WFM and FSM tools, such as Inch, you’ll be able to create schedules, assign tasks, and stay in communication so that the new employee feels like a part of the team even before their first day.

9) Training

The remote nature of field service management practices makes things especially difficult when it comes to training.

FSM tools, however, provide an improved approach to on-the-job training that can’t be found anywhere else.

Whether your business relies on classroom training, hands-on training, online training, mentoring, or some other form entirely, the scheduling, communication, and task management aspects of FSM make it easy to provide effective and efficient instruction — even off-site.

10) Coordination

Inside inch for field service management

Any field service management supervisor will tell you that plans change without warning. Appointments cancel. A service call takes longer than anticipated. Any number of unforeseen and unplanned events can happen and interfere with your team’s schedule.

But with top-of-the-line FSM software like Inch, you can pivot at a moment’s notice to keep everything coordinated and functioning smoothly.

Instant notifications — to individuals, teams, and even user-defined groups — can redirect resources to where they’re needed most and transform a canceled appointment from an hour-long headache into nothing more than a two-minute issue.

And with advanced features like geofencing and time-on-task tracking, every day can be a good day…even when problems do arise.

11) Integration

Business-specific field service management software also integrates with other digital payroll and invoicing tools.

The ability of your essential software systems to work together makes other complicated jobs easier because the data is available for use in a wide variety of situations by any individual or department that needs it.

With just a few clicks or taps, the software exports whatever data you specify into a report or format that you can print and hand out as hard copy or transmit digitally anywhere on the planet.

With some tools, though, such integration isn’t as seamless as it could be and actually causes more problems than it solves. Not Inch. Our field service management tools integrate nicely with the Sling scheduling and budgeting software that many businesses already use.

No more putting together disparate apps that don’t work well in tandem. Inch and Sling form a fluid pair that simplify and streamline a manager’s busy day.

All Businesses Can Benefit From Field Service Management

Woman at a laptop doing field service management

In the past, field service management procedures and software were tools used by service organizations and businesses with a mobile component to coordinate customer visits and employee activities for maximum efficiency.

Roofers, painters, cleaning services, property maintenance, HVAC repair, and other niche industries adopted FSM ideas and tools early on to keep their work running smoothly.

Today, however, businesses of all types and sizes are coming to realize that the FSM protocols and tools that have been around for decades can streamline and simplify all of their workforce optimization efforts.

Even businesses with no mobile component whatsoever can benefit.

For example, a restaurant or retail chain with multiple locations can use FSM tools to coordinate day-to-day activities like inventory, scheduling, time tracking, and task assignment.

A robust and effective field service management program brings all those processes together within one centralized and universally accessible app so that it’s easier to keep everything organized and running smoothly.

The Best Tool For Field Service Management

Inch app for field service management

If you’re looking for a digital solution to all your FSM needs, Inch is the app for you.

Inch is a voice-operated workforce schedule and management app that is perfect for field service management in all regards.

The software incorporates task management and time tracking in one powerful solution and is designed to make it easier for managers and employees to get aligned on their to-dos, ensuring that all tasks get completed on time.

Inch also simplifies communication. Employees can perform a wide variety of tasks from their tablet or phone, including:

  • Work from a shared task list
  • Get clarity on work that needs to get done
  • Receive voice-assisted reminder notifications
  • Clock in and out of tasks at different locations
  • Complete work assigned to them
  • Communicate with managers and each other

All of that and more without having to touch a mobile screen or report back to the office.

For managers, Inch makes it easy to distribute tasks manually across their teams or populate tasks automatically based on preset conditions.

This unique feature ensures that all work is covered and keeps employees accountable and clear on their specific responsibilities, expected outcomes, and deadlines.

Managers can also assign work to the employees that are closest to the jobsite or have tasks generate automatically as the need arises and follow work progress and task completion in real time.

Inch helps eliminate frustration for employees, headaches for managers, and inefficiencies for the business.

Whether you need help setting up when each team member will work during the week or what tasks they will perform, Inch gives you unprecedented control over an inherently complicated process and makes it easier than ever to create the best workforce schedule for your business.

For more free resources to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs, visit TryInch.com today.

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