A new white paper explores recent developments and outlines the way forward for smarter field services management.
Many old procedures are inoperable for a range of businesses and some that have been slow to go paperless and adopt new technology have sacrificed productivity and profit. The world of field service management (FSM) stands to gain massively from digital transformation. ‘Paper to the Cloud’, a new white paper from Retriever Communications, explores what’s on offer.
COVID-19 in particular will fundamentally change the way business and maintenance is conducted in the coming years. Customer needs have been shaken up and prioritising innovation today is the best way to unlock post-crisis growth.
In some good news, it appears the field service industry is in good shape and looking forward. A recent article in Field Service News notes that in the 12 months to November 2021, 76 percent of field service companies have been and will continue to be focused on growth rather than survival. The most singular effect the pandemic has had on the sector has been, it seems, the acceleration of widespread adoption of technologies and advanced service thinking.
Digital transformation means many asset-driven organisations can accelerate their self-service capabilities, while also reducing costs, slashing downtime and boosting performance. Integrating FSM into their front end and back end operations unlocks real advantages. Two main benefits of today’s paperless FMS are explored in the white paper: the more flexible and easily managed mobility it affords, and the rich insight and actionable data made available through its increased transparency between business, field technician and client.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a key tool of modern FSM. Since 2014, IoT’s use by businesses has increased from 13 percent to 25 percent, according to McKinsey data. The white paper outlines how IoT increases mobility by:
- combining smartphone power, onboard camera and high bandwidth mobile networks to provide richer data to mobile workers and vice versa
- facilitating the addition of high-quality diagrams, plans and photos to a work order, leading to much easier job completion for workers without having to carry technical manuals and job folders
- file sharing between clients and/or centralised controls, to demonstrate their need for replacement or highlight future maintenance priorities
- the identification of assets using speech to text for comment capture, and
- entering metadata like GPS position and time that can be automatically recorded to alert clients of when visiting technicians can be expected on-site.
Real-time visibility enables problems to be seen and addressed before the customer is even aware they exist. This is even more important when customer service level agreements (SLAs) are in place as it ensures that even the most basic expectations are met. It also ensures maximum effective utilisation of the workforce, as the current state of every job is visible. Furthermore:
- with all projects and necessary works visible, prioritisation and scheduling becomes a cinch, enabling efficient deployment of the entire workforce, and
- integrating FMS into customer relationship management platforms offers a complete view of the customer, while allowing the field agent to customise the engagement in real time.
Good FSM will allow your workers to access critical information, in real time, when they need it, like accurate tracking of inventory, vehicles and scheduling.
Choosing the right solution
Flashy tech demonstrations can only tell you so much. Instead it’s advised that organisations focus on their core objectives. Retriever’s white paper recommends being “clear about the issues you are hoping to solve and ruthless in your approach to realising your goals”. Also, it’s important to take the time to listen to field workers. After all, a common issue faced by field service workers and their management is poor lines of communication. Fit the technology to their processes. Good FMS software is easily customisable to an organisation’s business, integrated into its corporate systems and has the ability to evolve in tandem.
For the full rundown, grab a copy of ‘Paper to the Cloud’ here »