Integrations into your field service management platform are what allow you to provide customer service agents, technicians and engineers, back-office support staff, procurement and supply chain personnel, and the finance team with the information they need to effectively do their jobs. It is all about getting the right information to the right people in real time. Integrations provide access to the systems of record for all of your data, whether it be contracts, warranties, learning management systems, time and attendance systems, or any other system holding critical asset data.
Field Service Management Maturity Levels
In meeting with service organizations that have not implemented a comprehensive Field Service Management (FSM) solution, we noticed that organizations tend to fall into three categories:
1. Organizations without a digital FSM solution
Organizations that do not have an integrated FSM Solution tend to be smaller organizations, independent service organizations, dealerships, or wholesalers. They also tend to be privately, or family-owned with rather modest management structures and support staff. They run on widely available software tools like Microsoft Office applications. They have the bare minimum of back-office systems, like an ERP, but not a lot of system tools. Work orders are hard copy and are managed via spreadsheets and scheduling tends to be through staff knowledge and local experience. There usually are limited IT resources with the possibility of some external contractor assistance. They have developed processes and procedures over time and these processes work—the company is able to schedule work, dispatch technicians, and invoice their customers. They have never had to invest capital into the execution of their FSM practice and see no need in spending money on what they are currently able to do (in their eyes) successfully. In general, they do not know what the possibilities are.
2. Organizations that have implemented a number of disconnected point solutions
The companies with multiple point solutions are slightly further along in maturity. They remain smaller to mid-sized companies, owner-operators, or dealerships. They can have multiple locations and geographies and have invested in some systems to assist in delivering the service. These investments have been in systems like payroll management, scheduling, some element of parts, and inventory management. They remain reliant on the Microsoft Office Suite and may have some database usage in Microsoft Access or similar systems. These systems are not connected in any way, there is no integration of data, and there is a lot of manual data entry and manual input of the same data in many different systems. They develop their own management information data, either through Microsoft Excel or third-party reporting applications. In their eyes, this is purely a cost/benefit decision, and they feel that they can make do with the limited manual effort to meet their basic needs.
3. Organizations that are attempting to build an in-house solution based on previous investments in various disconnected point solutions
The final group is organizations that have made significant investments into their own data infrastructure and view that investment as something that they want to get their money’s worth out of. They have evolved practices and procedures to manage their business and see the opportunities for data integration and more efficient data utilization. The challenge that they have is knowing that the money they’ve already poured into their current system will no longer be utilized, and they’ll have to make a new investment to switch over to a cloud-based, integrated, and fully functional system. Some of these organizations choose to attempt to integrate the systems that they have already purchased, either through in-house resources or through vendors and build a bespoke system to fit their needs. Part of the reason that they choose this option is that as equipment and maintenance repair providers, they are unfamiliar with the time, expense, and effort required to build, maintain, and upgrade software applications.
As noted with the first group, above, all of these organizations generally do not know what technology is currently available in the market and what the true costs of maintaining their in-house processes are today.
Upon review of the true costs of what they are currently doing today, mapping and creating their own integrations, the time to value, expense, and difficulty in creating and managing an in-house built system, many of them realize that they would be far better off focusing on their core business and purchasing a best-in-class, managed package that they do not need to maintain.
An Integrated, Cloud-Based System Is Necessary to Leverage AR, VR, AI & More
Systems that can instantly access ERP data, all asset and install base data, contracts, warranties, parts inventory, and procurement processes, maintenance manuals, job aids, schematics, and job safety information are critical for success, regardless of the size or maturity of the organization. The ability to instantly access all of this information in real time, to allow for bi-directional data transfer, eliminate manual processes, and implement as many automated processes as possible, allows companies to drive efficiencies, reduce errors, improve customer responsiveness, and set themselves up for the next wave of technological advances.
Future developments include AR and VR, each of which can assist in training, education, remote assistance, and advancing job safety processes and procedures. Also rapidly transforming the equipment and asset service landscape is the advent of the internet of things (IoT) and the industrial internet of things (IIoT). These technologies will allow for the remote condition monitoring of assets in their environment and provide real-time asset performance information, which is required to develop and deliver a predictive equipment maintenance strategy and capability. This remote data will be fed into an artificial intelligence engine, providing the capability to digest, interpret, and gain insights from the data. Artificial intelligence, or the artificial intelligence internet of things, will power even greater efficiencies, effectiveness, and significantly improved asset and equipment maintenance. In order to take advantage of these new and revolutionary capabilities, a managed system, capable of end-to-end system integration, will be a base requirement.
At ServiceMax, we help you identify what data is important and will need to be available by integration as well as what partners and processes you will need to get these integrations working and delivering time to value.
Users of our ServiceMax Core application have the opportunity to utilize open API integration points to connect to any of their other business applications like ERP, CRM, payroll/timesheet, IoT enabled devices, etc. In addition, there are a wide number of middleware partners who can assist with designing and implementing the integrations with their current supporting systems.
Customers using ServiceMax’s Asset 360 for Salesforce can leverage all the features and benefits of the Salesforce platform well as any other partner applications available on the Salesforce App Exchange. For external integrations with other systems, such as ERP, Payroll, Supply Chain, or WMS systems, ServiceMax and Salesforce have a partnership with the Mulesoft Integration Platform for easy to implement, prebuilt, integration middleware.
To learn more about the value of integrations, check out our POV here.