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In my time studying field service organizations, one thing has become very clear: no two organizations are alike.

field service infographic 1I read an astonishing fact in an infographic published recently by Field Service News: 21% of service organizations admitted to having to fit the way they work around their software. Forgive my level of shock, but this number seems very high. Considering the vast and complex service landscape and the wealth of products that exist to drive efficiencies and improvements, surely today’s software should be aiding service businesses and not constraining their operation?

In my time studying field service organizations, one thing has become very clear: no two organizations are alike. Spanning verticals, examining multiple industries, and running complex business processes, each field service organization is unique and has its own pain points and sets of goals. Even within the same industry, field service organizations structure themselves differently and execute differently. So naturally, field service management software vendors cannot tailor completely to the varying intricacies of all differing organizations. They should however, be able to offer a customizable and scalable solution while tackling those major processes and pain points that organizations share.

If you are changing the way you work to fit your field service management software, or worse still, working around your software, you have the wrong solution for your organization. How can you measure improvements to your processes, margins, and more if you are changing them during or after the implementation that was supposed to aid or ease these elements in first place?

How do you avoid being in this place at your organization?

Here are four ways to ensure that a field service solution meets your goals and expectations, and not the other way around:

At the RFP Stage

To start your search for information from field service providers you may have downloaded an RFI/RFP template like those offered by Technology Evaluation Center (TEC). You may plan on sending out a generic RFI/RFP that you use throughout the organization. Before you hit the send button (so to speak), make sure your field service team (the high-level employees who are spearheading this buying process and are most affected by the software) identifies your specific field service pain points, your non-negotiable’s, your expectations, and any questions you need addressed that affect your specific processes, employees, strategies, and policies.

At the Discovery Stage

Make sure that the vendors you shortlist can demo their product(s) using YOUR data, and preferably against your desired business process or workflow. This will demonstrate how well their solution will work with the input it will have to process on a daily basis. If there are too many workarounds, this is not the right product for you. Also, make sure you get references from organizations that use similar systems so you can ask about integration and workflows.

Lastly, if you are looking to cover only part of the field service process, focus on vendors that do the same. If you are looking for end-to-end software, ensure through demos that the solution addresses all the functionality desired. Don’t settle for customization or integration as the answer for missing functionality.

At the Implementation Stage

Make sure you have the right resources working on the implementation. Understand that if these resources are not dedicated to the project that they are being asked to do additional work –something will suffer. Consider part-time help, job sharing, incentives, or other programs that make the implementation team want to participate. This includes educating your whole field service team on the new software with detailed instructions on how their job could change, training guides on how to use the new software, and manuals or WEB sites that can be referred to later. But remember, this isn’t just about implementing a new product: it’s also about changing the mindset and approach so the team you select must be knowledgeable and fully brought in to the changes.

At the “After Go-Live” Stage

Stay current with the vendor’s latest release. Upgrade your solution whenever possible. You are paying for it so why not?  It shouldn’t be that difficult or disruptive. Have access to at least one resource that monitors your solution. Run regular reports to ensure that your employees are using the software accurately and offer consistent training. If your business grows or changes, make sure to reach out to your vendor to see how they can help. The software must be able to adapt to your changing business environment.

blog-field-service-managementYour field service solution should be just that – yours. It cannot be called complete, end-to-end, or even out-of-the-box software if it forces your organization to bend to its will in order to reap any sort of benefit. What should you expect from field service management software vendors then?

You should expect transparency.

IFS won’t spin something just to sell its software. We won’t tell you that it is “on the road map” or “with some configuration it could work for you.” What you see is what you get. That’s why we have some of the highest customer satisfaction rates in the industry.

You should expect some level of configuration.

With over 25 years in software, IFS has sold its solutions to hundreds of organizations in multiple industries. We know what makes you different is what makes you successful. With easy integration to other systems (whether that’s our own IFS Applications or another solution) and configuration options that fit the way you work, not the other way around, IFS makes field service management about your organization.

It’s time for field service management to start working for you, for it to empower your organization to deliver best-in-class customer service while helping you function like a well-oiled machine. Expect more from your field service management solution, and the ROI will speak for itself.

Change your approach to field service today – Download our Integrating IFS Field Service Management whitepaper.

Images courtesy of Field Service News and Capterra

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