Field Service Management Software versus Field Operations Automation

We can all recall the times before smartphones with cameras and GPS, when ‘field data capture’ actually stood for filling out unending paper forms. However, while Field Service Management is possibly the largest single use-case, it only accounts for approximately 17% of the total amount of Field Operations use-cases. So how can we categorize the remaining 83%?

Field Service Management is a one size fits all solution; Field Operations is not

While the overall Enterprise Mobility Software Market is estimated to be worth around US$10bn, according to Gartner, Field Service Management software accounts for US$1.7bn of that market. The rest falls under the other Field Operations Management use cases. But what is the definition of Field Service Management and how can we distinguish it from Field Operations Management? 

Gartner’s definition:

Field service operations dispatch technicians to customer locations to provide services, typically installation, repair or maintenance, for customer-owned equipment or systems. The equipment or systems may be actively managed, maintained and monitored under a predefined service or maintenance contract.

Let’s then consider your typical company in need of a Field Service Software Solution: a company with 100 engineers out in the field at any given time, struggling to find a way of dispatching 1,000 jobs to them in the most efficient way possible. This company will be looking for a way to minimize the number of resources needed in the field, as well as the distance travelled by field workers. In Field Service management terms, they’ll be looking for two features: Route Optimization and Automatic Job Scheduling.

Field Service Management is the most suitable solution for companies whose work is predictable; an example of this would be a company that installs home routers for broadband, or repairs air conditioning units. Because the work these companies need to send out to the field is predictable, it is possible to group them together, identify a set of common issues and needs and address them.

Field Operations Management is a whole different umbrella

So where can we fit the remaining 83% of the Enterprise Mobility Market? That is what we would call Field Operations Management proper: a set of companies with disparate, constantly evolving needs, that don’t fit into a particular model.

Businesses in need of Field Operations Management provide a wide range of services to clients in such diverse industries as: Civil and Industrial Engineering, Power Generation, Water, Telecoms, Oil & Gas, Transport and Nuclear.

Those businesses offer services that are manpower heavy, such as scaffolding, industrial painting, industrial cleaning, maintenance and security, as well as Fibre-To-The-Home and other infrastructure Services. These services are, in turn, provided to multiple clients, with each client having a different set of reporting requirements.

This essentially means that it is not possible to write down a bullet list of all the different features a software solution would need to have in order to solve these companies’ challenges. For businesses in Field Operations Management however, the ultimate challenge is to maintain profitability and keep margins healthy, despite intense competition and macro-economic factors, such as the fall in the price of oil.

The middle ground, or the rise of the savvy field worker

A second point worth bearing in mind is: what do you need your field operatives to be able to do? The answer might surprise you: you need them to do more than just check in and out. Within the proactive business model that comes with moving from Field Service Management to Field Operations, field workers will be expected to record time spent on each specific client task and ensure Health & Safety standards are adhered to (this point is of particular concern in industries that are man power intensive and where workers must manage heavy, expensive field equipment). This is technical work, performed by technicians; however, in Field Operations Management, field workers are asked to keep the big picture in mind and to capitalize on any upsell opportunities.

This is not to say that technicians would be expected to play the role of sales or marketing executives. Rather, armed with a Mobile Workforce Management Solution, field workers are in the perfect position to, on the one hand, look into the health of your ongoing projects and, on the other, to promptly identify possible growth opportunities and act on them. This can be achieved by using a mobile workforce management solution that provides real-time field visibility and allows for onsite quotation and scoping. After all, who knows the reality in the field better than your own field workers? 

Field Operations Management seen from the back office

While field workers represent your frontline, there must be real-time information feeding back to the office: management need daily progress reports for each project, showing productivity levels and forecasts for time remaining. Field data must be presented in actionable executive dashboards and because each client has different reporting needs, it must be easy to configure the field data capture solution to fit each client’s workflow.

Problem areas must be highlighted so that management can act immediately. Since Health & Safety is of paramount importance, any software solution must enforce them. Finally, keeping in mind that field workers will be the ones inputting your field data, any software solution must also be simple to use and must work offline when internet coverage is unavailable.

Key takeaway: Field Service Management is not the whole story

Building on our own business practices, we have seen time and again that Field Service only represents a subsection of the much larger Enterprise Mobility Management market. This is an important distinction to make when it comes to choosing a mobile workforce management solution: if your most pressing need is Job Dispatch, look for Field Service Software.

If you need a flexible software solution that you can customize to keep pace with your client’s own evolving needs, then Field Operations Software will serve you best.

Unsure about where you stand? Get in touch.

Share This