What is Field Service Management: Understanding FSM

By Lexi Wood • Updated on August 26th, 2022

What is Field Service Management?

Field service management or FSM covers any task necessary for completing work in the field, whether it’s installing telecommunication cables or performing on-site maintenance. Covering a wide range of industries, any off-site job can be considered “field” work. Management of these tasks requires special care to ensure those working away from a main office still have all the resources and support they need to get the job done.

Types of field service tasks may include:

  • Part or equipment installation
  • Repair and replacement
  • Preventive maintenance care
  • Consultations

It’s important to note that, in some circumstances, field service management might refer to the organization of a company’s internal service teams. This is most common at large corporations or international enterprises which need a dedicated, mobile workforce to ensure operational efficiency without requiring third-party service providers to come in to perform maintenance or repair tasks.

Generally, a good rule of thumb for determining if something falls under field services is to ask where the expected service is to be performed.

What Does Field Service Management Entail?

Three of the key elements of field service management are:

Scheduling Appointments

One of the first elements of field service management is the ability to answer service requests in a timely manner. The first task is to determine the availability of both the client and your staff. If the job requires a specialist, you’ll need to consider that when creating a schedule. By being flexible with appointments, you can increase customer satisfaction by meeting them based on their availability, rather than restricting them to inconvenient times.

A dispatch management system helps you keep tabs on each appointment and the assigned technician. If any changes arise, such as a customer modifying their service request, you can use the system to update the dispatch appropriately.

Work Orders and Contracts

Once work has been scheduled, you need an official work order and contract with the customer. The work order creates an internal link between different departments to ensure the job gets done. A manager or supervisor can approve a service request and assign it to the most relevant field technician, whether it’s someone with special qualifications or whoever is available at the time, depending on the needs of the job.

The customer contract may begin with a quote or estimate, then use that information to develop an accurate invoice once the work is completed. Depending on the business, the invoice might be delivered to the client before work begins. Regardless, the contract will lay out a payment plan as well so both parties are on the same page in regards to finances.

Construction Accountant by Field Service Worker
Construction workers might update estimates based on change orders, leading to new totals for invoices.

Asset and Inventory Management

Finally, you need to handle your assets and inventory management to operate a successful field service business. With technicians often coming and going between jobs, it can be hard to know where certain assets are at any time. Did an electrician drive a fleet vehicle to a remote job without properly checking it out, or is a vehicle missing? Is the storage shelf empty because an exterminator brought some extra bottles of pesticide to a jobsite just in case, or are you out and you need to reorder your stock? Tracking inventory and assets can help you keep costs down by knowing what’s gone and where it is.

Every item you use in the course of a job can be considered an asset, whether it’s a highly specialized machine or an everyday tool. Depending on the size of your company, your asset management can cover dozens to millions of things crucial to your workflow. With some equipment costing thousands of dollars, you need to know where they are and what condition they are in to prevent losing money from broken or missing assets. New advances in tracking technology paired with easy-to-use mobile devices make it easier than ever to always know where important assets are in real-time.

In terms of inventory, these are usually items which might be sold to a customer over the course of a job. For instance, a plumbing business might keep a variety of sink fixtures in stock to sell to customers when repairing or replacing other plumbing features. However, this can also cover consumable assets which tend to get used up while working, like cleaning supplies. Regardless of use, you need your field service management system to include tools for tracking this inventory to avoid being caught short.

Field Service Industries

Field services cover a wide range of industries. Essentially, any skilled work which is performed away from a central location can be considered the “field”. However, these are some of the key industries:

Every industry has slightly different needs. For instance, a roofing or lawn care company might need to adjust their service scheduling calendar on a seasonal basis. Plumbers and electricians would need the same appointment coverage year-round. Fortunately, there are specific solutions available for developing industry-specific field service management systems.

Modern technology has greatly expanded the capabilities of field service businesses. Mobile apps and cloud-based software make it possible to work anywhere with real-time updates. Evolving field service management tools improve safety conditions at even the most remote sites. Even something as simple as customizable templates make it possible to directly import data from your bids onto invoices without additional formatting, saving time and effort on each job. Learn more about the trends currently influencing field service management:

Safety is always an important part of every job, regardless of industry. Field service operations can often be dangerous, both due to the nature of the work itself and the remote locations far away from emergency care centers. In the past, an accident occurring to a forestry official in the middle of the woods might not get reported for hours until someone could reach a phone. Even walkie-talkies offered only limited communication. Now, the rise of mobile capabilities means field service technicians have more ways to communicate while working, whether it’s other service team members on the jobsite or someone back at the main office.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has also streamlined these services by allowing for remote monitoring and easier on-site diagnostics for field workers. To start, this tech can use algorithms to determine predictive maintenance schedules, saving field service workers from manually checking up on equipment which does not need service. Paired with field service software, you can say goodbye to a lot of time-consuming manual tasks by handing them over to AI.

Finally, automation has led to more streamlined field service tasks across every industry. Scheduling appointments, calculating estimates, and sending out invoices can all be done in an expedited manner thanks to new software. All of this can improve the customer experience, leading to higher satisfaction and a greater chance of client retention and new referrals in the future. It can also increase profitability, as you and your team can spend more time working in the field instead of filling out paperwork in the back-office.

Field Service Drone Technology
Drones are a popular new tool used by many field service technicians to get a better view of remote job sites.

Field Service Management Software

Field service management software, also known as FSM software, automates many of the back-office tasks necessary to create quotes, dispatch field technicians, estimate costs, and generate work orders. Service organizations of all sizes can utilize FMS solutions, ranging from single-person operations to full-scale franchises.

For instance, intuitive drag-and-drop features make it easy to rearrange schedules based on changes in availability or customer priority. Other features streamline basic accounting related to quoting and invoicing. And shared dashboards show job status to everyone in the company, making timely responses easier than ever. Through the latest FSM software, you can optimize your entire operation and enjoy all the benefits of field service management.

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