June 13, 2023

Field Service Management Software: Top 5 Q&A

Field service software, sometimes called field service management (FSM) software, helps businesses organize, track, and plan for daily business activities that occur outside a traditional office setting. Field service software can do such tasks as:

  • Dispatch contractors to job sites
  • Send employees for repair and maintenance tasks
  • Route team members to install new equipment
  • Schedule and assign work orders
  • Collect and organize field service data in real-time
  • Manage available product inventory and make additional orders

Field service software can be purchased as a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) solution, but it can also be built and designed as custom software. Now let’s address the most common questions about field service software, including choices about when and why to go custom.

#1: How Does Custom Field Service Software Differ from COTS Solutions?

The main difference between custom field service software and a COTS solution is that custom software is designed for your company’s specific workflows and needs, whereas COTS software provides a more general solution to typical field service management problems.

Neither a custom nor a COTS solution is necessarily better than the other. It all depends on what your specific business needs to be more successful.

(You can learn more about choosing between custom software and COTS solutions by reading this article).

Woman in the field using a tablet to monitor deliveries

When choosing between a custom software option or a COTS solution, it all comes down to one question: Should you build a solution or buy it premade?

If your field service workflows include unique processes with highly specific data that must flow into other reports or software systems, a custom software solution might be a better option. On the other hand, if you have fairly common field service tasks and are comfortable with general reporting outputs, then a COTS solution could work for your needs.

There is also the option to customize COTS software solutions. 

Depending on the COTS solution, customization may be limited without higher tier pricing. However, you can leverage a COTS field service software solution and then have custom APIs built to integrate your COTS solution and data with other systems.

#2 What Steps Are Involved in Developing Custom Field Service Software?

If you decide that custom field service software is the best fit for your unique business needs, then you will need to take the following nine steps to develop a bespoke field service management software solution.

  1. Research tech partners. Interview different custom software development companies who have experience with field service management software.
  2. Pick a provider. Choose the software development company that fits your needs and sign a contract with them.
  3. Start the project kickoff process. Work with software developers and business analysts to establish all your company’s needs, business workflows, and processes concerning your field service management software solution.
  4. Approve the project plan. Review prototypes and wireframes, provide feedback, and sign-off on your proposed field service solution.
  5. Start the build. Allow software developers to begin building your solution.
  6. Test software features. Work with your product manager and development team to check the field service solution in progress.
  7. Provide feedback. At each milestone, you’ll need to provide feedback so that the team can make any needed changes and deliver the desired product.
  8. Fieldtest the solution. Enter the user testing phase to try out the field service software and make sure it will work for your business needs.
  9. Iterate and launch. After the initial user testing phase, allow developers to make any changes before officially launching your custom field service management software solution.

If you have never outsourced a software development project before, we would highly recommend that you review this article to figure out the best way to find a software development partner who matches your business goals and needs.

#3 How Much Does It Cost to Develop Custom Field Service Software?

Since every company will have different needs, workflows, and reporting preferences, the cost to develop custom field service software will vary significantly. 

As with any software development project, the total cost will be based on the following three factors:

  • Build complexity
  • Timeline constraints
  • Technical resources needed

To give you a rough estimate, data from around the Internet shows the average cost to build a custom field service software solution ranging between $75,000 and $350,000+

When considering the higher end of the cost spectrum, remember that you’re building this solution to get specific value. That value justifies your expense and transforms software into an investment. 

Such costs-saving value could include:

  • Increasing productivity companywide
  • Decreasing time spent on low-value activities that can be automated
  • Gaining full visibility and control over your inventory, equipment, and scheduling

(For more information on what factors impact the cost of software development, go over this article).

#4 Can Custom Field Service Software Integrate with Existing Systems?

In most cases, yes, custom field service software can integrate with your existing tech stack and other systems via APIs. If you’re unfamiliar with APIs, think of them as the communication interface between your custom field service software solution and other applications or systems.

Most companies like to extend the power of their field service management software by integrating it with business-critical systems such as:

  • Project Portfolio Management Systems. Empower field service team members to access work orders directly, start projects, and manage duties.
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)Systems. Allow team members to pull customer information as needed while working on projects in the field.
  • Incident Management Reporting Systems. Sometimes problems happen, and this integration let’s field service workers capture important details.
  • Virtual Conferencing and Messaging Tools. Let field service workers stay connected with internal teams and customers by integrating with preferred communication tools.

Besides improving customer service and internal communications, integrations between a custom field service management software solution and your existing tech stack are essential to the success of your business. Such integrations can help you avoid revenue losses, maintain billing integrity, reduce scheduling challenges, and minimize delays with service.

#5 Are There Case Studies of Businesses Using Custom Field Service Software?

At AltSource, we have a few case studies of businesses successfully using custom field service software.

Take National Hose Testing Specialties (NHTS), for example. To keep firefighters and people safe, NHTS certifies fire hoses and ladders at every station on a routine basis. If the tools don’t meet code, they cannot be used, so it’s extremely important to test and certify everything promptly.

Unfortunately, NHTS had their field service workers writing all their reports by hand and turning them in sometimes days after performing testing. Then someone had to input all that information, assuming it was legible. Not only did this put NHTS constantly behind, but it also delayed each fire department’s ability to use equipment that would be needed at a moment’s notice. 

NHTS knew they needed a better solution, which is when they reached out to AltSource. Discover the custom field service management solution we built for NHTS by watching the video above.