Delivering service is more than scheduling an appointment or dispatching a technician. In an enterprise, service delivery can be a complex set of business processes that touch and co-exist with many IT systems. To be effective, your field service management (FSM) software needs to handle a variety of complex business processes including:
- Managing a products installed base
- Service entitlements
- Price quotes
- Parts Management
- Return merchandise authorizations
- Skills management
While all this data may be captured by FSM software, much of it already exists in other applications. In fact, I doubt that many applications connect to more systems than FSM software. Here are several examples:
The system of record for customer data is the CRM system and it’s not a surprise that some FSM software has been built as a CRM add-on to access customer data. Even for non-CRM based FSM software, integration with a CRM system is essential.
Several points of integration are solutions that submit service requests into the FSM software. These can be a call center, a help desk ticketing system, or an IoT analytics solution such as asset performance management (APM). Often, there are multiple sources from which our customers receive service requests.
Parts and Returns
Parts are usually managed in an ERP system. However, the challenge is to keep track of the parts after they leave the main warehouse because that’s when they usually leave the ERP’s system span of control. That’s where FSM software maintains complete visibility of field inventory by tracking parts in every trunk, depot, forward stocking location, as well as parts returns. Parts are clearly a key ERP integration point.
ERP systems are typically a place where SKUs and their prices are managed. The field service engineer is frequently required to immediately quote a price for service or a part, which means this capability needs to be integrated with an ERP system.
Similarly, accurate invoicing is critical for an effective service experience. The service engineer, while onsite, usually finishes the job by writing a service report the customer signs and then submits. But that pro-forma invoice now needs to go into the ERP for invoice processing.
One of the keys to success in field service is making sure that the right service engineer with the right skills is dispatched to the right job. While most FSM software can manage the skills for each service engineer, many customers already have the data on their qualifications, skills, credentials and certifications in a Human Resources Management (HRM), Skills Management System, or a Learning Management System (LMS).
Finally, you can’t deliver successful service without knowing what to service. Most manufacturers don’t have a good handle on their installed base data. At best, they might keep information on the products that were shipped to each customer in their ERP system but that data is mostly out-of-date with all the equipment modifications, upgrades, and add-ons that have taken place. That’s why good FSM software maintains their own system of record for installed base data. Yet even here, an integration with an ERP system is useful.
There are many software solutions that can enhance FSM software such as fleet management, knowledge management, geographic information systems (GIS), and enterprise asset management (EAM). The requirements to integrate with software solutions vary from industry to industry and company to company. That’s why a modern, open architecture, flexible data model, and qualified professional services team are important for a successful deployment of field service management software.