Field Service Management (FSM) software provides a centralized, digital solution to optimize the efficiency of field operations. It's designed to track, manage, and streamline workflows and improve communication and data sharing among field and office personnel. FSM solutions are gaining popularity as companies in traditionally non-digital industries seek to eliminate manual, paper-based processes in favor of automated workflows that drive efficiency and improve customer experiences. But for companies with unique business processes, a custom solution can deliver significantly more value than commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) software.
The primary advantages of custom FSM software:
National Hose Testing Specialties (NHTS) is a fire equipment testing service that sends crews to firehouses to test ladders and fire hoses for quality and safety. They needed a digital data-sharing and storage solution to replace their (often wet and damaged) paper system. NHTS partnered with AltSource to build a native Android app that streamlined the testing process, synced test results in real time, and leveraged a web application to generate reports for customers immediately - increasing profit margin and reducing time to invoice by weeks. Read the case study here.
“The software is flexible and allows real-time syncing and switching between
modules. Now our crews can test multiple departments at the same location on
the same day. This solution will pay for itself in a very short amount of time.”
- Bob Evans, Owner of National Hose Testing Specialties
Commercial-off-the-shelf software, by its nature, often does not fully address the unique needs, culture, and approach of every business and its customers. Alternatively, custom FSM software adapts to businesses’ individual processes to support employees and address the changing needs of consumers. When building any piece of software, it’s always critical to consider the end-user. In some instances, field service companies must build a comprehensive solution that empowers several end-users. Technicians, dealers, supervisors, accountants, and business leaders may all need a particular set of features and functionality. Skilled custom development firms will perform extensive journey mapping to outline the needs, problems, and goals of all the end-user types involved before designing an elegant solution that perfectly aligns the technology to match the business outcomes it’s built to achieve.
A company providing a full spectrum of rail engineering, construction management, and project management services to railroad companies was limited by inefficient systems. Reliance on spreadsheets for scheduling field employees, dispatching teams and equipment, and maintaining compliance reporting resulted in incomplete documentation and compliance issues. The company partnered with AltSource to build an operations dashboard that provided a centralized hub for visibility to daily operations and ability to dive into details and specific workflows. AltSource delivered a scheduling platform that centralizes scheduling and tracks all work performed. In addition, we built a dedicated customer portal to place orders, pay for services, and view project details. A powerful mobile field application supports flagmen and supervisor workflows. Read the full case study here.
Journey mapping every user type isn't enough. Ultimately you need focus on designing a solution that enables your service company to consistently deliver an exceptional customer experience. Companies like Lyft, Uber, and DoorDash set a new standard of consumer-centric design, showcasing how customer obsession fuels growth. Modern field operations rely on customer-led experiences like GPS tracking, 24/7 account access, and multiple communication options. Note that customization here is driving differentiation and improving customer experience. Lyft and DoorDash apps do not act, look, or function the same because they are designed to accomplish different goals, just as custom FSM platforms for HVAC and lawn management companies differ significantly.
As digital products become more consumer-led, software solutions are more likely to be the first and last interaction a consumer has with a FSM service. Trusting these important interactions to a commercial application misses an opportunity to make the right impact and impression. Custom FSM software solution liberates both employees and consumers by providing clear, curated information, ensuring the customer experience from beginning to end is uniform, well-targeted and unique to the business and its processes.
One of the biggest issues with COTS is that it's inherently designed to serve many diverse companies, but not any one specific company. The Pareto principle is definitely at play here. In order for a general app to be successful it needs to fit 80% of its target market, yet any one user will typically only use 20% of the available features. Feature adoption for custom software is often 100% because it's tailored to your exact business systems, processes, and workflows. Custom solutions are built to solve your problems, not anyone else's.
Service companies with field-based workers don’t operate in a vacuum, they are subject to the uncertainties of the world outside an office: traffic, consumer schedules, the reliability of mobile technology, and many other unpredictable factors. Because of the variability in field work, custom software is uniquely capable of seamless management of data, optimizing workflows to improve efficiency, employee morale, and customer satisfaction for the long term.
The volatility of the average employee workday demands a high level of customization to maximize business efficiency. Schedules shift, sales cycle and supply chains mature, and the only constant is change. What happens if the market changes and you need your software to adjust in response? The reality is that COTS vendors give priority to their biggest client, so if your company doesn't have the most licenses, your requests will be deprioritized.
In addition to improving the experiences of both FSM employees and customers, custom FSM software can be strategically designed to change and adapt as the field service industry evolves. Instead of estimating service schedules or spending hours diagnosing a problem, the future of FSM management is an interconnected network of sensors on FSM equipment fed to a central database easily accessed by employees and customers. More and more equipment managers are adopting the industrial Internet of Things for new services, requiring a modern, flexible, FSM system catered to a specific business to effectively manage the field service delivery.
The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of mobile technologies and modern automation methods to leverage competitive advantage. While the sudden cultural shift toward the digital world may be jarring for some employees, this new approach can be a unifying force in the company as it will affect everyone involved. Adopting a custom field service solution improves workforce productivity, streamlines the business process without increasing the size of the field-based workforce, and, most importantly, works according to each business’ unique approach.
Since 2004, AltSource has helped companies align technology with business goals to drive operational efficiency and accelerate growth. We develop a deep understanding of our clients' challenges and goals, then 'rightsize' a strategic technology roadmap to scale and mature with their business needs. Contact us to speak with an AltSource solutions consultant about custom field service management solutions.