Field Services: Definition, Examples, And Management Tips
Historically, field services were reserved for businesses with installation and repair components. In the last few years, however, they’re becoming more common in many ways — even in industries where they didn’t exist before.
Now, businesses with no field services component — and no plans to implement one — are following the lead of businesses with a field services component. Why?
Because distributed teams, remote teams, and hybrid teams in industries of all types can learn a lot from the way off-site services operate successfully.
In this article, we discuss tips to improve the way your business’s field services operate — whether they’re the traditional installation and repair or the modern in-office/remote-team combination that has become the new norm in recent years.
Field Services Defined
Broadly speaking, field services are a category of work conducted anywhere other than on company property. This type of off-site activity introduces a number of issues into operation and management that aren’t always present with on-site activity.
For example, coordinating an on-site team, communicating with its members, assigning necessary tasks, providing support, and giving access to necessary files and tools often rely on face-to-face interactions.
Not so with field services employees. Because of the remote nature of their work, providing the necessary coordination, communication, direction, support, and access relies on digital interactions and tools like the Inch app to make those interactions possible.
It’s this basic difference between off-site and on-site teams — digital versus in-person interactions — that makes field service management so applicable to the new distributed and remote model of work that has characterized the 2020s so far.
Regardless of whether your business offers field services or not, it can benefit from a thorough examination of the principles and processes that make off-site work both possible and successful.
Examples Of Field Services
As we mentioned, historically, field services were the domain of businesses with installation and repair components, such as:
- Heating/Ventilation/Air Conditioning (HVAC)
- Health care
- Food delivery
- Utilities (natural gas, electricity, water, etc.)
- Self-Service (e.g., vending and kiosk maintenance)
- Emergency vehicle repair
- Appliance delivery
While those industries remain fully invested in field service work, new industries are developing off-site/online programs of their own in order to provide for the needs of their employees and, in some cases, keep their businesses operating.
Examples of businesses that are using the principles and processes of field service management to create a fully remote or hybrid work model include:
- Lincoln Financial Group
- J.P. Morgan Chase
- Capital One
- State Farm
- Facebook (Meta)
Some of these businesses ran on-site teams almost exclusively before the start of the 2020s. Now, they’re learning from and building on the practices that service-oriented industries have been using for years.
Tips For Effective Field Services
1) Track Employee Work Time
One of the best things you can do to create a more effective field services program is to track employee work time — both total time and time-on-task.
Regardless of whether your team is in the office or on the jobsite, tracking work time in this way makes it easier to optimize other aspects of the process, such as compliance and payroll.
The easiest way to integrate both types of time tracking into your employees’ workflow is with an app that includes a cloud-based time clock, such as Inch.
Inch allows you to turn any smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop (running iOS, Windows, or Android) into a time tracking terminal that your team can use wherever the job takes them.
2) Manage Tasks
You can make all of your field service activities more efficient and effective by first managing the tasks on which your employees must work.
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 task management software into your standard operating procedure makes coordinating complicated tasks much simpler than it was just a few short years 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.
One of the biggest speed bumps to an effective field services program 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 and receive private and group messages with a few short clicks, taps, or voice commands 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.
4) Ensure Compliance
For many businesses, employees who work away from the main office must also adhere to the same business, local, state, and federal regulations that govern the way in-house employees work.
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:
- Filling out customer paperwork
- Opening the business in the morning
- Closing the business for the day
- Turning in timesheets
- 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 compliance tool.
5) Analyze Activity
Regardless of what your field services program looks like right now, it’s vital to take the time to analyze how your team works — both as individuals and as a group — so you can find ways to improve and streamline their activity.
Modern task management and scheduling software provide reports and analytics that provide insight into every aspect of your business. Armed with this information, you can tweak your team’s workflow to be more productive while they’re away from the office.
6) Prep For Payroll
Labor costs are one of the largest expenses that your business has to deal with. And the payroll process you use to administer those costs is one of the most complicated and time-consuming.
You can reduce the complexity and the time it takes to run your company payroll by prepping for the final task as your team works.
Inch, for example, makes it easy to examine work hours, time-on-task, and other metrics and essentials from the moment an employee clocks in. Then, once the pay period is complete, you can export those numbers to any number of reports and formats that make payroll a breeze.
Field Services Software For The Modern Age
Field services software has come a long way from the basic scheduling features of a decade ago. Now, modern software makes it easier than ever to combine all the tips and functionality in this article into one suite of tools.
Whether you’re scheduling your team members, monitoring the progress of their tasks, or gathering data for payroll, Inch can help.
With the team management software in the Inch app, you can guide your entire staff — be they on-site, in the field, or part of a distributed team — in the right direction in a timely and cost-effective way.
You can also help them stay productive and support them in their daily work, while simultaneously leading your business towards better growth. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.
Inch even helps you improve your own efficiency by allowing you to create, save, and reuse task templates for recurring work assignments, schedules, and shifts so you don’t have to start everything from scratch.
Regardless of the industry, Inch can keep you and your employees organized and focused on the project at hand. That can make managing any type of team — field services or otherwise — easier and less stressful for everyone involved.
For more free resources to help you manage your business better, save time and energy, and keep your team on task, visit TryInch.com today.
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