The field service software industry has undergone huge changes in the past years. More and more businesses are tired of working with excel and email and are looking for sophisticated solutions to manage jobs and collaborate with their technicians and back-office team. Cloud-based solutions and mobile capabilities are the future of field software and the market is (finally) catching up.
There’s a lot of different field software that serves all kinds of needs. Regardless if you’re a small company looking for your first job management tool, or if you’re already a big corporation that wants to upgrade its work order systems: there’s a huge pool of software to choose from.
The bad news is, it can be hard to find the right software for your needs. If you do find programs that look promising for your business, often the features have confusing names, don’t have any explanations or worse, they offer complicated descriptions filled with jargons.
But worry not; based on discussions with field service professionals, we’ve created a list with the most common (and important!) features/aspects of field software. We explain what every feature/aspect means in practice and how important it potentially is for your team’s productivity and wellbeing, as well as your business’ success.
23 field software features simply explained
A mobile/tablet mode (be it an app or a mobile-optimised cloud software) is key for field service work. Your field technicians need to be able to access job information while on site. If they need to head back to the office to update reports and paperwork, it slows everything down.
2. Worksite Paperwork/Forms (Photos, Signature)
This feature allows you to digitise your paperwork. This means your field technicians don’t waste time filling out paper, and your back office isn’t buried in emails and printouts. Some software can embed logic and ‘smarts’ to help people get it right first time and work more quickly.
3. User Interface / Usability
Software with easy usability is very important. If a system is difficult to use, it won’t be used properly or maybe not at all. With the challenges of fieldwork, the easier the system is for your team, the happier they are, and the more likely you are to realise gains.
4. Audit history
This feature allows you to go to any job and see a full history of everything that has happened: the day the customer came in, the commencement of the fieldwork, all data captured on-site and the final sign-off. It provides confidence in responding to customers and is essential in some industries with high levels of regulation/compliance.
Automation can range from data flowing from form to form, all the way to auto-generating documents such as invoices, job checklists and reports. If saving time is important for you, automation is probably one of the key features you are looking for. Automation-based events (like once ‘installation completed’ - send ‘job report’) are useful as they remove the need for your back office team to manually write reminders for key activities that need to happen for a job.
This feature lets you embed your job workflow stages in the tool, allowing you to automate notifications, reminders, and alerts. It’s also useful if your work involves multiple teams or handoff points - the workflow stages can make it simple for people to know what they need to do, e.g “It’s my job to take care of it once it hits ‘Logistics’ stage”. At Emvisage, we believe that well-designed workflows are the basis of every successful field service business. For more info, check out Emvisage field workflow software.
APIs allow different pieces of software to talk to each other and share their data. An example of this would be integrating your field service software with your accounting software, so your books are automatically updated.
8. Implementation Time
Implementation time is basically how quickly your software service can be delivered to you. Generally, the more customisable it is, the longer it will take.
9. Offline Mode
Offline Mode allows you to ‘save’ data even when your device loses internet connection. When you go online again, the save will be automatically uploaded.
10. Stage Blocking / Mandatory Fields
Stage Blocking means that if you forget to fill out any of the mandatory fields in your form, the software automatically blocks the ability to proceed further in the job progress. Thus a high level of data quality is guaranteed. This can also be used to ensure that key metrics that are important to you are recorded.
11. Customer Support
Customer Support can range from basic fixes and support, all the way to detailed check-in sessions to monitor that the software is being correctly used. The more comprehensive the support, the more expensive the ongoing costs are.
12. Quoting & Invoicing
Quoting and Invoicing basically allows you to track what items are to be included, and what are billable. It can range for basic tracking of inventory and time, all the way to automatic generation of invoices.
13. Inventory System
With inventory systems, you can track different parts and hardware. The systems can range from the basic assignment of tools, all the way to systems that can prompt for replenishment.
14. Maintenance System
Maintenance Systems can automatically create jobs, thus saving your team the effort of having to create them manually. Some programs may also send automatic reminders to return to a job site to do maintenance.
Some tools offer a high level of customisation such as company or industry-specific names in their forms. Other tools aren’t as flexible, or changeable. Having some degree of customisation in your forms can reduce confusion amongst your staff, as they can label fields in a way that makes sense to them.
16. Custom Built Solution
Custom-made means it is uniquely tailored to your requirements. A custom-built solution can take longer to deliver, but it enables for a perfect fit for your specific needs, processes, and little quirks of your company.
A good reporting system gives you a top-down view of all the jobs so you can track the progress across your teams and contractors. Good reporting can help you drive better performance, and help you quickly understand where the problems are.
Dashboards allow you to view a summary of performance for key metrics that are important to your business. Things like jobs completed per month, critical issues and missed dates are visible. Dashboards have the most value when they can be ‘drilled into’, meaning you can click through from the high level down into the job in question.
19. Search Functionality
Searching for various jobs, customers, audits, maintenance or inventory, either by name or other traits that they may possess is a useful time-saving feature for you and your entire team.
20. GPS tracking
GPS tracking means that you can track your field technicians and see where they are at any given time. It can also help you to better manage your vehicle fleet.
Notifications give you updates to any changes or job assignments that are relevant to you or a team member. Automated notifications let your team members know what they need to focus on now and next.
22. Access Permissions/Roles
Access Permissions can restrict certain users to access only certain parts of the software. This means that you can block access to areas that you want to be confidential e.g. internal users only.
23. Collaboration / Mentions
Collaboration means you can quickly bring people into the discussion for various jobs, allowing for easy teamwork.
We hope that this list of features explanations shed some light on the world of field service software.
Tipp: If you need more help with choosing the right field software for your business, why not check out Emvisage’s Field Service Software Guide? Here you’ll find a list with different field service software providers for small & medium-sized businesses, as well as a step-by-step guide on how to choose the right one for your business.