In a highly competitive marketplace with growing customer service expectations, providing a positive field service experience can be a crucial differentiator for business success. In today's digital world, where customers are used to one-click purchases, same-day delivery, and flawless cross-device user experiences, a good field service experience means finding the best field service management software that meets an organization’s unique requirements and needs.
A recent study conducted by the Technology & Services Industry Association lists three strategic imperatives for field service organizations:
- Accelerating connectivity
- Aligning the organization
- Moving beyond break/fix
While many companies have adopted mobile apps to improve their field service, these apps often fall short, either by failing to connect adequately with enterprise applications, providing limited functionality, or still requiring manual processes. To create a truly successful mobile app, your field services team and IT team should collaborate so the solution addresses the challenges and needs of both teams.
Finding the Right Field Service Management Software: Challenges and Needs
The challenges both IT and field services teams will face are threefold: technical, organizational, and financial. Here’s what needs to be addressed in each of these categories:
- Technical challenges include ensuring that the app works with or without a steady connection while it’s sharing data with your FSM and ERP applications, and other systems of record. The development time should be as short as possible, and future changes, such as new features and capabilities, should be straightforward to implement. Apps need to be easy to distribute and use, but also secure.
- Organizational challenges come into play during the interaction between the IT and service departments. These teams often have divergent — and sometimes conflicting — priorities. The field service team mainly cares about doing their jobs quickly, and doing them right the first time. They want robust mobile apps to help them perform their tasks efficiently and effectively. On the other hand, IT teams care about delivering apps quickly, as well as maximizing security and minimizing maintenance.
- Financial challenges underlie both the technical and organizational issues. Any solution needs to produce financial results in the form of increased profitability, meaning lower operating costs and/or increased revenue opportunities.
The right field service management software will address these challenges and fulfill the needs of your field services and IT teams alike to make your organization’s field service department successful now and in the future.
3 Field Service Management Software Options: Build vs. Buy
Historically, companies have tried a number of approaches to deliver high-quality mobile field service apps with decidedly mixed results. The three most common options include:
- Commercial off-the-shelf software (COTS): many organizations opt for buying a “ready-to-use” field service software as it offers a quick solution with minimal IT effort. The downside is individual applications may lack necessary functionality. More often than not, the field service team has to do without.
- No-code “citizen developer” solutions: in other organizations, field services teams take matters in their own hands and opt for building a field service software with no-code tools. These types of solutions allow business users to build simple apps without the IT team’s help, but these apps are unlikely to be robust, scalable, or secure enough for the organization’s needs.
- Traditional code-based development: to meet their exact requirements and all the necessary functionalities, other organizations opt for building their own solution with traditional development. However, this puts an unsustainable burden on your IT team, while the field services department waits months or even years for their app.
So, we’d like to introduce a fourth option: a modern application development platform.
How to Deliver the Best Field Service Management Software for a Mobile Workforce
A modern application development platform can achieve all the functionality that field services teams require while giving IT teams the speed, flexibility, and security they need to quickly customize and efficiently maintain a portfolio of applications that are robust and up-to-date. Here’s what a modern platform offers:
- For the field service team, this solution can create feature-rich, scalable, and secure mobile field service applications that are capable of exchanging data with legacy FSM and ERP applications. The resulting apps can automate manual processes and work outside cellular and wifi networks by retaining local data and syncing with corporate systems once reconnected.
- For the IT team, a top-tier development platform can speed time to value with visual, model-driven development, prebuilt reusable patterns, and AI-powered tools that accelerate the entire application lifecycle. It enforces good data hygiene and best practices, such as multilayer and modular architecture and built-in enterprise-grade scalability. It also connects readily to just about any system, legacy or otherwise.
Perhaps best of all, a modern application development platform facilitates collaboration between developers and the field service team. Business users can follow the app’s logic on the visual interface, which resembles a flow chart. And modular development means developers can share functioning components with business users for testing and review before delivering the final application.
Field agents are the face of your company, so you want to give them the most effective tools possible to enhance every customer’s experience. A modern application development platform like OutSystems can help IT and field services teams work together to build applications fast, right, and for the future - applications that help improve first time fix rates, increase billable time percentages, and reduce overtime.
OutSystems provides a visual, model-driven, AI-powered development environment so you can create apps that manage work orders, optimize routes, collect field data, and more in less time using powerful tools, templates, and connectors all in a single platform.
This application platform lets you quickly collaborate on customized mobile ﬁeld service applications that truly differentiate your business and give you an advantage over your competitors.
Download the ebook, Accelerating Field Service Productivity, to learn more about how IT and field service leaders can collaborate to build a better mobile app, including why OutSystems is the ideal solution.