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Data and Automation: How Field Service Management Technology Enables a Proactive Workforce

The continued shift to digital processes and tools is changing field service management (FSM) for the better. The biggest driver of the shift is the need to share more quickly and accurately use data across the organization. But many FSM organizations continue to use manual processes and outdated legacy systems that are both costly and inefficient, even as improving smartphone technology can empower a mobile workforce like never before. Existing processes and systems may be inefficient, but they’ve often been in place for a long time, providing a baseline level of success.

Change is never easy though, and as we detailed in part one of our series, poor field service applications and processes come with hidden costs, resulting in businesses leaving money on the table. To increase efficiency and productivity, and therefore capitalize on unrealized revenue, these organizations need to upgrade their field service management software across the business. In part two of our series, we will review the benefits of having a modern field service management software platform and look at a leader in the industry: Salesforce.

The Biggest Benefits of FSM Software

1. Automation

Whether an organization relies on manual processes or outdated legacy systems, modern field service management software increases productivity through automation and improved data collection and reporting. Field service management software can automate tedious tasks such as creating work orders and schedules, saving employees time and reducing the risk of human error. The benefits of automation have a direct impact on the bottom line of the business, as automating knowledge management was identified as the greatest driver of revenue growth according to a report by Worldwide Business Research and Field Service USA.

Automation also empowers technicians in the field, as most field service management platforms can be accessed through a mobile application on the technician’s phone. This allows the platforms to support the technician by making intelligent recommendations on parts to be ordered during a job while also allowing the technician to indicate when the job starts and finishes. In doing so, paperwork is reduced, and time is saved for the technician, business, and customer. Recording the work order through a mobile application also increases transparency, as the information and data for the job are immediately uploaded into a central system.

2. Data

The simple sharing of data is arguably the most important piece of modern field service management software, as it is what powers automation. It’s also where legacy systems cannot compete — as the systems struggle to integrate with new technology, the organization is left with disjointed data and extra work, as the multiple data streams must then be combined later, either through an additional system or manually. The ultimate goal is a clear and centralized data set, as it allows organizations to shift from reactive to proactive, unlocking everything from preventive maintenance, to optimized scheduling, to streamlined billing. As with optimization, organizations that focus on data and analytics see an impact on the bottom line. A study by Aberdeen shows field service organizations that adopt analytics technology see profits increase by 18%, and customer retention increase by 42%.

Data and automation can fundamentally change how an organization functions, empowering a proactive workforce. And it’s why so many businesses are looking to platforms such as Salesforce for their field service applications.

Salesforce Field Service: A FSM Leader

A core aspect of Salesforce products is how the platform enables businesses to easily share data across the organization. And with 83% of Fortune 500 companies using Salesforce in some capacity, the benefits of the platform extend well beyond that of a traditional CRM platform.

The cloud-based platform-as-a-service offering includes provisions for data management, permissions, application development, workflow management and API-first connectivity, giving field service management businesses a wide selection of tools to work with. Salesforce also has artificial intelligence tools that can recommend the best next steps for the technician, saving technicians time, and removing guesswork that could result in human error. With pre-built components for messaging and support, maintenance plans and work orders, as well as a dispatcher console, Salesforce Field Service comes with the tools needed to improve communication, automate tasks and follow ups, and optimize resources and scheduling. The platform seamlessly connects technicians, dispatchers, and customers, creating a singular data source for the business. Organizations that use the Salesforce Field Service product not only get a field service management software platform, but access to the ever-growing products Salesforce continues to produce, with the latest example being its partnership with ServiceMax on a new, asset-based product.

Maximizing FSM Software Requires an Experienced Partner

Platforms such as Salesforce Field Services come with many out-of-the-box tools and components organizations need. But its implementation requires careful consideration and intentional planning. Without a trusted guide and partner, implementation costs can quickly spiral out of control— leaving you overinvested in a tool that still may not meet your needs. When factoring in the additional ongoing costs of licensing fees, too often organizations using platforms like Salesforce fail to get the full return on their investment. An experienced development partner can help ensure you maximize your Salesforce instance, understanding both the platform’s architectural capabilities and limitations. In part three of our series of field service technology, we’ll look beyond FSM platforms, focusing on when and why a custom approach may be the right solution when it comes to field service management software.

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