When implementing a field service solution, one of the more difficult things to consider and understand is how the new software will work with existing systems. In large enterprises, it’s standard to have other systems in place, even if field service management itself may still be a largely paper-based process. For example, at many companies it’s very common to have an enterprise resource planning solution (ERP) and a customer relationship management (CRM) solution already in place.
But companies have begun to recognize that they need to move from their largely spreadsheet-based field service processes to a process that lets them manage field services more efficiently and cost effectively. Large companies often have complex processes that involve different teams with individual agendas. While by its very nature, field service is one of the most difficult business processes to manage and schedule effectively 100 percent of the time. The industry itself demands flexibility, adaptability, and the need to constantly evolve to keep pace with the various industries the service supports.
Companies can now tackle scheduling and effectively assign large teams of engineers to the most pressing jobs. They can track warranties to know when they are expiring, and when equipment needs upgrading, servicing or replacing. They can manage jobs more effectively, appointing the right team manager, planning hand-offs, using checklists to ensure procedures and best practices are adhered to, and ensuring that the ongoing data produced is captured for analysis.
But while these tasks can be challenging, they are primarily day-to-day field service issues. Beneath the surface lurks more complex and technical challenges that require additional planning before the company can fully take control of their field service management. This is especially true if they already have an ERP and CRM solution in place or if they want to implement these on top of a field service solution, as some of our customers have done.
These solutions can be integrated with field service software to create a more powerful platform for managing field service. But to be able to integrate these systems, it’s essential that a company’s CRM and ERP solution has an open application programming interface (API) that can be adapted and integrated into the different systems. Similarly, your field service management software should have an open API that can connect to these two systems.
Here’s how the two systems work with field service software:
1. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP): Tracking and Coordinating Processes
Installing a feature rich ERP solution is the ultimate goal of a complex enterprise – one that will allow you to track jobs and field revenue, deploy powerful workflows, manage your service and support departments, and a lot more. The ability to coordinate all of your service center processes ensures that field teams are always using the very best materials and resources at the lowest possible cost, at the right time, with the greatest return. This gives you the best chance of customer satisfaction, and it’s what you should be striving for in your field service business.
Engineers in the field need to be able to access back-office systems via their mobile devices. From these devices, they will need to be able to view job scheduling, service histories, and any other customer information. Furthermore, the software solution should enable engineers to:
- record parts usage;
- access manuals;
- record asset details;
- make contact with colleagues, managers, or dispatchers;
- request additional time on-site should the need arise.
In the back-office, the enterprise-level field service management software should enable dispatchers to automatically create service schedules based on their historical job data, skillsets, and location.
2. Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Know Your Field Service Customers
The ongoing conversation between clients and service providers contains keys to unlocking success in the field service industry. From the moment the customer communicates that some sort of service repair is required, continuing through to the confirmation, execution, ongoing care and aftercare of the service, CRM is of the utmost importance. The data and information that it generates must be looked after well and recorded.
There are numerous challenges that you may encounter when attempting to manage your field service organization on a CRM system, and these cannot be ignored. While employing CRM software, you will be excelling in certain important areas of your business, such as marketing, customer acquisition, customer retention, sales, customer service, and social media interactions. Using a CRM system alone, however, will not help you optimize your scheduling, dispatching, or procurement. Nor will it necessarily equip your field engineers with mobile capabilities or allow you to produce maintenance contracts. For this, you will need to integrate your CRM with your field service software through an API.