What is Field Service Management?

Field service management is a strategy, a methodology, a class of enterprise tech. Learn more about FSM today!

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    What is Field Service Management? “Field service management,” or FSM for short, is used in reference to field service philosophies, processes, and strategies — as well as the technologies used to execute them. 

    That said, all aspects of FSM — people, policies, processes, tech, and on so on —  support the same goal: delivering positive customer outcomes by effectively optimizing resources, managing costs, and supporting a mobile workforce.

    Yeah, it is a bit confusing. Read on and we’ll explain what field service management is, how it’s changed over time, and what “good” FSM looks like in practice.

    What is Field Service Management?

    Field service management (FSM) describes the process of managing and coordinating the many moving parts that must come together to run a successful service-based organization.

    That includes dispatching field technicians, managing inventory, prioritizing service requests, maintaining equipment, and basic admin tasks like billing, invoicing, and approving expenses.

    Done right, field service management improves everything from technician productivity and resource management to remote connectivity, collaboration, and, most crucially, the customer experience.

    How Field Service Management Has Evolved Over Time

    Today’s field service organizations face enormous pressure to consistently deliver fast, high-quality service, keep up with ever-rising customer expectations, and navigate constant disruption with ease. All while keeping their business out of the red, too.

    At the same time, assets are becoming more complex — and thus, harder to manage, maintain, and repair. Naturally, techs need more support in the field to ensure that they get it right the first time around. 

    Meanwhile, business leaders, dispatchers, and others who support field operations from their desk need real-time insights, AI guidance, and advanced automations to manage scheduling, resources, inventory, and most importantly, customer relations.  

    Field service orgs are responding to these challenges by embracing a “connected field service” model. There, FSM takes on a more holistic, customer-centric approach – focused on providing proactive and predictive service, streamlined inventory & asset management, and technician empowerment.

    Ultimately, the goal of field service management remains the same as always. It’s just that, because technology has changed the industry (or, rather, the world), FSM has evolved into a data-driven, tech-fueled practice. 

    Technician expertise, effective processes, and a solid strategy will always be critically important. But – none of these things matter if you’re still using legacy tech or manual processes to run your business. 

    Key Components of Field Service Management

    Beyond traditional field service management functions like assigning and scheduling jobs, dispatching technicians, and communicating with customers, modern FSM solutions span the entire organization. 

    While there’s a lot of variation between different industries and organizations, field service management typically covers the following components:

    Customer Service

    Everything comes back to the customer experience. Even if your core focus is slashing costs or beefing up profit margins, you’ll never get there unless customers come first.

    Historically, field service providers could differentiate themselves solely on technical expertise, but that’s no longer enough. Consumers won’t be held hostage to four, six, even eight-hour service windows. They have places to go, businesses to run, or, at the very least, better things to do with their time. 

    Velosio Field Service expert Erica Ellis says, “field service solutions make it easier for customers to report issues, schedule a visit, and troubleshoot remotely. At the same time, they reduce the amount of time it takes for techs to arrive on-site — even if plans change at the last minute.” 

    The best solutions provide on-demand access to service records, billing info, inventory counts, reference docs, and more. 

    Erica adds, “customers are now more aware of their service appointments. Organizations now have the ability to keep customers informed re: tech ETAs, based on real-time variables like traffic conditions, weather, or unexpected delays.” 

    Technician Support

    With the right tools, field service orgs can embrace a more proactive approach to service –  resolving issues before the customer is aware there’s a problem and taking steps to ensure that assets continue to perform at peak levels. 

    But, that can only happen if you invest in empowering your techs. Service technicians need access to information about work orders, assets, inventories, and the customers they’re going out to serve. 

    Velosio’s Nina Bowers explains, “when service techs are armed with historical information, they can see each piece of equipment, its service history, who serviced it, plus all the notes, details, and communications that bring context to the situation.” 

    That means, techs waste less time troubleshooting issues and can make better decisions on the fly. Obviously, FSM solutions make life easier on technicians, but those benefits are passed on to the customer, as well. 

    Dave Sigler adds, “giving technicians the ability to update their service request while on-site, rather than updating them later when they’re in front of a computer means more information can be collected at the time of service, ensuring that key pieces are not forgotten.”

    Here’s Nina again, “having the right contact information, routing the right technician to the right job so service can be performed during the first visit, warranty tracking, sending paperwork to clients electronically to ensure faster turnarounds on billing. All of these investments in mobile, technician-centric solutions benefit both the customer and the bottom line.”  

    Scheduling & Dispatching

    Effective scheduling is another key part of the FSM equation. Service calls often take longer than anticipated. Parts need to be ordered before repairs can be scheduled and completed. 

    Emergency calls bump pre-scheduled appointments — forcing dispatchers to prioritize customers based on their situation and re-route technicians already in the field.

    The right FSM solution can help dispatchers achieve better results. They can match technicians to the jobs best suited to their skill sets, location, and availability. They can use real-time data to create more balanced workloads. What’s more, they can also use customer insights, SLAs, regulatory requirements, fleet availability, and more to inform scheduling decisions. 

    Resource Management

    Resource management is another FSM cornerstone. Most modern solutions include several features for managing and optimizing service operations such as visual dashboards, self-serve reporting tools, and AI guidance and support.

    All of this enables field service orgs to control costs, save money, and most crucially, ensure that all customers receive fast, high-quality service from a qualified tech. 

    For example, if you’re using D365 Field Service, you can build your own automated workflows to handle resource assignments, scheduling, routing, and more using custom rules to keep algorithms in check, while also improving things like first-time fix rates and response times. 

    Inventory & Asset Management 

    Field service orgs often have multiple team members accessing and pulling inventory on a daily basis, making it hard to maintain stock levels on critical parts and materials. 

    Modern FSM software helps orgs track assets and inventory in real-time. 

    Users can quickly see what’s in stock before scheduling a service call, while techs spend less time searching for the parts and tools they need to get started on their next assignment. 

    Contract Management

    Contracts and warranties are a huge part of field service management. Service-based orgs need a system for managing customers and any documents or service level agreements (SLA) associated with their accounts.  

    Techs shouldn’t find themselves in situations where they’re arguing with customers over billing or contract terms. You want them focused on providing great service — with no surprise charges. 

    Velosio’s Casey Hendriks says, “efficient FSM is all about sending out the right tech with the right parts and the right information on their first visit. But, it’s also about meeting SLA requirements and avoiding SLA penalties.”

    Ideally, you’ll want to find a field service management solution that allows you to create and manage service schedules based on the terms of their SLAs. You might also look for warranty management capabilities that make it easy to generate warranty offers and define what parts and services are covered — and for how long. 

    In other words, FSM solutions should help you make good on customer promises — and avoid the financial and reputational fallout of breaking their trust. 

    Reporting & Analytics

    According to Velosio’s Jason Wietharn, “field service is (or, should be) a KPI-driven operation. That means, field service management solutions must do more than simply capture data, they need to transform it into a tangible asset.”

    Dave Sigler adds, “technology has made it easier to report field updates in near-real-time, helping field service companies become more agile and efficient.”

    FSM solutions should empower everyone, at every level to make real-time decisions that drive profitable outcomes – in context with their role. 

    For example, enhanced reporting tools help field service orgs move away from reactive, break-fix models and toward a more proactive, customer-centric approach. 

    For technicians, that might mean using signals from IoT sensors or analyzing process data to identify and fix issues as they emerge – preventing costly repairs, outages, and disruptive emergency requests. 

    But, for business leaders, it might mean analyzing customer insights and tech productivity data against critical KPIs like first-time-fix rates or response times.  

    Heather Racine says “real-time analytics offer deep insights into existing customer needs, as well as changing expectations and behaviors. That data also gives orgs the ability to build automations that make customer experiences more relevant and reliable.”

    Final Thoughts

    Field service management is a strategy, a methodology, a class of enterprise tech.

    But the reality is, FSM has evolved into an AI-fueled, data-driven practice, involving many moving parts, people, and technologies. Often, clients are looking for a solution that unifies sales, service, marketing, ERP, and field service — all in one place.  Velosio offers solutions and services that go way beyond the bounds of “field service management.” Our field service team has both real-world experience and expertise across all these different areas — and can help you put together a cohesive solution for managing your entire business. Contact us today to learn more.

    5 Signs That Your Field Service Company is Ready for a Modernized Field Service Management Solution