You’ve probably spent years building up your field service business. You’ve worked hard and are good at what you do and now you have a successful business.
You started out being frugal and spent your money wisely on your tools and employees, not on your back office and field systems. But now you’ve reached a point where your paper and spreadsheet processes are hindering your growth. You need your company to work smarter, not harder.
Here are the clear signs that you need a field ticketing system:
- Rekeying paper field tickets into your accounting system
- Lost paper tickets
- Inaccurate invoices
- Delays from time of service to sending out an invoice
- Lack of communication between field and office
- Lack of utilization and job costing reports
So, once you make the decision to use a field management software system, how do you decide which one?
There are dozens of field ticketing systems. These systems can be general to fit most businesses, or can be specialized for specific types of businesses. Some are best suited for small companies, while others can handle large enterprises. Some are full featured, while others are basic and easy to use. There are lots of choices.
Here are some tips for selecting a field service ticketing system:
Define your requirements
Number of Field Service Employees Connecting to the System
Some systems can handle thousands of field users, others cannot.
- Determine your current needs and future growth. Get a system that will grow with your business, but be realistic in your growth projections and don’t pay for scalability you may never need.
- Does your business have a seasonal cycle that requires adding staff and then releasing them? If so, consider a system that allows you to determine your license count on a monthly basis
Specialized Industry Requirements
Most field service tickets are a combination labor, equipment, materials and charges. If your business requires industry specific workflows or information, make certain that the system meets these requirements. Examples include:
- Special regulatory reporting needs
- Multiple language support
- Uncommon labor practices (across state/provincial lines, unionized workforce)
Stand-Alone Field Ticketing or ERP System?
Basic ticketing systems will create a field ticket that can be used for billing. Other ticketing systems will integrate with ERP systems:
- Stand-alone systems create tickets that become the invoice for your customer. The billing data is then manually re-entered into your existing accounting system.
- Systems that connect to QuickBooks® are common. These systems will automatically create the invoice in QuickBooks for rapid and accurate billing.
- Systems that integrate with full featured ERP systems can also pass back labor, equipment costs and consume material from inventory.
How will your workforce access the system? What devices will they use? What happens if they are offline?
- Does your workforce use a standard company issued device or is it a personal device? Make certain that the system’s app is supported by devices deployed by your workforce. Some systems use a browser-based interface, so device and app vendor are not a restriction.
- Will your workforce need to access the system when they are in a dead cell signal area? Make certain that the system has an offline capability.
- Is an electronic signature from the customer a requirement? Make certain that the device and system support electronic signatures.
The user interface needs to be both easy to use and full featured to meet your data requirements. The system is only as good as the willingness and ability of your workforce to use it.
- Does the system allow configuration of the layout or field names? Changing the field names to your business’ terms will speed uptake.
- Is the screen uncluttered and easy to read, especially on smaller devices?
Consider Your Budget
Total lifetime ownership cost needs to consider the following:
- License costs – price per user, per month is the most common
- Implementation fee – cost to setup and configure the system
- Support costs – included in the licenses or extra
- Device purchase costs including cellular charges
- Training costs – included, extra or online
- Length of contract
Choosing the right field ticketing solution can be a time-consuming and sometimes confusing process. But your business will benefit from making the right choice by:
- Increased customer satisfaction
- Increased efficiencies
- Decreased operating costs
Consider your requirements and your budget before making your decision, and you will end up with the right system that will serve your business for many years to come.