This is a two-part article on Field Service Management (FMS) Software and Accounting Software. Read the first part that discusses Accounting Software here.
In this article, we continue to discover some business solutions that can be helpful for your skilled trades business. In part 1, we reviewed Accounting Software, its features, strengths, weaknesses and limitations. Now, we will explore Field Service Management (FSM) Software.
What is a Field Service Management Software?
In simple terms, Field Service Management Software helps business owners manage vehicles and employees who do not work on company property. It is mostly used for service, installation, construction or repair based businesses where the workers travel to the customer or client’s home or business to perform their job. More specifically, FSM software entails scheduling of job orders, dispatching of service agents, tracking vehicle location, and job status. FSM software also integrates related back-end office support such as creation of quotations, job orders, dispatch reports, and invoices; billing, inventory, and basic accounting. Common service jobs done are design, installation, construction, and repairs. FSM software is very beneficial to skilled trade providers and companies.
Types of business that often implement field service management tools are:
Electricians who design, install, maintain and repair electrical wiring and control systems.
HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air-conditioning, and Refrigeration) Technicians who install, maintain, and repair HVAC systems.
Masons, carpenters, and construction workers who build houses and other structures.
Plumbers who design, install, and repair piping, plumbing, and waste disposal at home and office.
Nurses who provide homecare for the elderly and disabled.
Cable Technicians who install cables and phone lines.
Engineers who investigate and repair leaks; preventive maintenance and repair.
What exactly does Field Service Management Software do for you?
Scheduling and Dispatch Management – Schedule appointments as customer requests come in, assign technicians to do the job, and optimize service routes.
Quotation, Purchase, and Job Orders – Create quotations based on customers’ requests and turn it into purchase and job orders as approved and agreed.
Invoicing and payment – Once job orders are approved and fulfilled, instantly create billing invoices. Sometimes, payment processors and facilities are built-in for seamless integration to accounting and financial software.
Job status updates and reports – Real-time status updates on jobs. Increases worker productivity tracking their accomplishments.
Inventory and stock management – Track stock levels and inventory in different locations. Automate ordering when stocks are on the brink.
Vehicle/Serviceman tracking – Track technicians when on road and on the work site.
GPS navigation and route optimizer – With a GPS capability, optimize routes for a well-planned servicing to customers.
Business Reporting – Generate up-to-date reports to keep you on the lookout for well-thought business decisions. Gives a customizable overview of business performance.
What are the Strengths of FSM Software?
As FSM centers mostly around customer relations in the field, you can have a better understanding of who you serve and cater to their needs by meeting and talking to them personally. This is a goldmine - understanding your customers will help you provide better service.
Through real-time, up-to-date tracking of all work processes from documentation to receiving customer service requests, and from scheduling to dispatch, to billing and payments, you will be able to stay on top of everything that is happening in your business.
Workers productivity can be increased by monitoring their work progress. You will be able to manage your field workforce by creating smooth scheduling and dispatching the right technician for the job, your field operations productivity will also be increased.
What are the weaknesses?
While Accounting Software can be an ‘all-in-one’ tool for your business, Field Service Management Software is mainly focused on your external business operations with some back-end office functionalities. Because it is so specific, it may not address your entire business process, leaving pockets of inefficiencies.
We are drawn to conclude that Accounting Software and Field Service Management Software have their own strengths and weaknesses to serve your business requirements. Accounting Software is more robust for internal business functions, while FSM Software excels at external operations. That being said, though there are overlapping functions, these two softwares can be complementary to each other for a total business development tool.
Choosing the best business solution is dependent on your business needs and requirements. General businesses might find Accounting software more useful, while industry-specific, such as skilled trade businesses, might benefit more from FSM software.
Either of the two would be useful and could work wonders for your business, but be on the lookout for these factors as these will help you decide further:
As mentioned, Accounting Software and FSM Software can be complementary to each other. But can the two be integrated? Good software must not only integrate internally with its own add-ons and modules, but also integrate across other tools and platforms. If the software can export data to PDF, TXT, or CSV files, then it’s highly capable to integrate with other business platforms.
Can the software address your scalability goals? Think about where your business is headed and about your growth either horizontally or vertically. From being a start-up, to a growing business, to becoming an established enterprise. Can your software adapt to your growing and changing needs? Find a software that will let you export your data in case you need to deploy a more capable solution to handle your requirements in the future.
Consider products that offer vendor support, product upgrades, add-ons, and supplemental features to help you get the most out of your solution.
Where does your data live? If it’s in cloud, then go for it! Cloud-based solutions are the way to go for businesses to store data and processes.
You probably thought that we’d suggest an obvious winner at the end of this article. But it turns out, that Accounting Software and Field Service Management Software are two different animals in the business solution jungle. It was not an apple-to-apple comparison, as we thought it would be. We ended up presenting the features, strengths, and weaknesses to help YOU decide what best suits your specific needs.
Again, it really depends on your unique needs and how you can adapt. Either could be an excellent option, or a combination of the two or maybe a combination of some other business solution available. But what will matter the most is how you understand your business and the path you want to take; where you are now and where you want to go; do you understand your varying requirements? and are you ready to adapt to external factors that can greatly affect your business?
The reality is that doing business is ever-changing. New ways and technologies have cropped up and continue to evolve. Your start-up company will soon grow. Even established and large enterprises must adapt to this dynamic business environment. After all, change is indicative of progress and so you must gladly take it on. Find the solution or solutions that would be best for you, long term. We can help you decide.
SnapSuite is a Toronto based software company that helps businesses in the B2B industrial and skilled trade industries increase their operational efficiency using simple to use software tools.
Call us at 647 494 8011 to learn more about how we can help your business.
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