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Fundamental Elements to expect in a FSM solution – Part Two: Mobile, Parts Management and Integration

Nov 2 • Features, Software and Apps • 1077 Views • No Comments on Fundamental Elements to expect in a FSM solution – Part Two: Mobile, Parts Management and Integration

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In the first part of this feature, Tesseract’s Kevin McNally explored the importance of contract management and workforce scheduling within a field service management system. Now in the concluding part of this feature he looks at three other key elements of a modern FSM system…

Want to know more? A white paper on this topic is available for Field Service News subscribers only – but if you are a Field Service Professional you may well qualify for a complimentary industry practitioner subscription!

Click here to apply for your subscription now and we’ll send you the white paper to your inbox now instantly as a thank you for your time!

Mobile tools and communications: 

It is fair to say that the biggest revolution in field service has come from the rapid explosion in mobile computing power. Today’s smartphones are capable of greater computing tasks than even the laptops of just a few years back.

For the field service organisation this is fantastic as it puts information at the field service engineers finger tips, empowers them to spend far more time on maintenance and repair and far less on activities such as paper work and enables them to deliver a far more effective and impressive service experience for the customer.

The real key to a FSM solution is the ability to keep a number of differing business units all on the same page at once,

The real key to a FSM solution is the ability to keep a number of differing business units all on the same page at once, and the mobile aspect is the key to ensuring the field service engineers – perhaps the most vital cog in the service operation wheel, are kept up to date (and are keeping their colleagues updated about their own progress) whilst working remotely.

For the field service engineer, his FSM app is perhaps now the most important tool in his belt, but if it is cumbersome to use its benefits may well be underused and much of its true value lost. Therefore, for those seeking a new FSM solution the mobile app is a key area for scrutiny. If you are already working with an FSM system it is worth considering getting some feedback on this aspect of the mobile app from your engineers and taking this back to your FSM provider – a good systems partner will always value such feedback and often if there are areas where you feel the solution can be improved, these will likely be felt by other companies using the same solution, so such changes may well surface in the not too distant future in a new update.

Parts & Inventory Management: 

Part’s Management is a real fundamental piece of the puzzle that is overlooked by many companies – Kevin McNally, Tesseract

 

Parts and Inventory management is perhaps an area that in the past has not received the focus and attention that it requires. It has often been the mantra of field service organisations that they are aiming to the get the right engineer to the right job, at the right time. But that all becomes moot if the right engineer doesn’t have the right parts to hand as well. Consistently at industry conferences parts management remains a hot button and a common pain point.

One area where many companies get themselves caught out is by thinking that they can use a system such as a financial system that is designed at best for companies whose stock resides in static places such as warehouses and stores.

However, field service is far more dynamic than that, with parts moving back and forth and in and out of locations constantly each and every day.

In no time at all a company that isn’t using a system designed with field service in mind will soon find themselves having to find workarounds to make their system work, which ultimately will mean a far less accurate understanding of stock levels, which can only ever lead to unnecessary spending and a negative impact on the bottom line.

But there are other less obvious impacts poor stock management can have as well.

Field service is far more dynamic than that, with parts moving back and forth and in and out of locations constantly each and every day.

For instance, in such a set up stock realistically can usually only be written off once it has been invoiced. However, in the dynamic world of field service that is of course too late. It could be quite conceivable that an engineer visit could be scheduled with a customer based on a specific part being in stock but in fact whilst there is one of those parts remaining in the inventory, the reality could be that it has already been fitted but just not written off yet as the job hasn’t been invoiced.

For example, lets say an engineer who is onsite is unable to complete a first time fix, but is able to identify a faulty component and then order it whilst still with the customer – giving them a confirmed date for a second appointment when the needed maintenance can be undertaken.

This is a far more powerful and commanding response compared to the negative situation we often find ourselves in where an engineer cannot find the right part – and he just heads off to his next job, leaving the first customer to wait for an unconfirmed rescheduled appointment whilst they try to track down the right part.

In one example we see an engineer empowered by his technology, the other he is hampered by the lack of it.

Integration: 

We are living in a world of data lakes, data rivers, data mountains and all other types of data topography it seems! But all these vast swathes of data are meaningless unless you are able to draw insight from it, and quite often that means being able to let the data flow seamlessly from one set of business applications to another

We are seeing more and more companies offering ‘off the shelf’ or ‘out of the box’ integration with the leading CRM, ERP and even Telematics solutions.

Integration varies from provider to provider but often it is led by the integrations they have been asked to undertake, so if your current provider or a provider you have identified as being a good fit for your business don’t advertise integration with a specific system you are using – it is worth discussing the possibilities with them especially if it is a common platform so making their product work with it may be useful for other future clients also.

We are seeing more and more companies offering ‘off the shelf’ or ‘out of the box’ integration with the leading CRM, ERP and even Telematics solutions.

It is worth discussing with your providers how they are future proofing their products when it comes to integration – there is for example a large amount of proprietary technology centred around IoT at the moment and until accepted universal protocols are in place you want to make sure any technology you have invested in today is going to be of use tomorrow.

Tesseract is the leading service management software provider in Europe and have been in the Field Service Business for over 30 years.   For further information contact Tesseract on 01494 465066 or www.tesseract.co.uk

Want to know more? A white paper on this topic is available for Field Service News subscribers only – but if you are a Field Service Professional you may well qualify for a complimentary industry practitioner subscription!

Click here to apply for your subscription now and we’ll send you the white paper to your inbox now instantly as a thank you for your time!

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