Field service management software brings the activities and status of your on-the-road staff, vehicles, assets and even your customers together to give you an overarching view of where everything is at, from geographic locations to financial history.
Anyone from courier companies to plumbers, builders and other HVAC tradespeople spend most of their time out of the office in the course of doing business, and FSM software combines information about their activities to give you overall business performance insight.
It might be used to dispatch and situate vehicles, track the stage an employee is at in a given task, determine the amount of physical stock being delivered or installed, or connect to the inventory control, billing, HR and other systems to enable your people and assets to do their work seamlessly.
Comparison of the top FSM software options for small business
Standout field service management software vendors
HouseCall Pro – Best FSM software for mobile workers
Of all the services compared in this story, HouseCall Pro is the one most aimed specifically at on-the-road workers in HVAC, plumbing, gas, or maintenance industries. It’s built for the non tech-savvy user, and even more importantly, the interface is well-designed for both desktop and mobile browsers, giving you an at-a-glance snapshot of the reports and metrics likely to be most important.
From there it’s easy and intuitive to drill deeper into the data from a clear central dashboard, with premium features that make the whole experience of using it seamless. The dashboard is split into different reporting blocks that show various parts of the business like inventory, live jobs, unpaid invoices and more, and it’s easy to customize by just clicking/pointing and dragging blocks around the dashboard or letting you add or remove others.
ServiceFusion – Best FSM software for a bigger organization
ServiceFusion‘s wheelhouse is aimed at a mid-size company. It has a more corporate-style price tag, but also while most of the FSM applications in this list cost little more than your weekly sandwich bill, a lot of ServiceFusion’s expanded features will be overkill for a start-up or emerging business.
As a fuller featured tool it includes an unlimited number of users, data imports, personalized training and support to get up and running, and with such a full feature set it could conceivably act as the hub of almost all your business operations. With call tracking and routing, it can assign field workers for maximum efficiency, the full CRM suite lets you manage all your customer interactions and the comprehensive estimating lets you create estimates with pre-loaded products and service items, prioritize jobs once live, and keep track of the reps who get share of the final commission.
Workiz – Best FSM software for customer/staff communication
Another platform suited to a larger organization, Workiz is built on the philosophy of seamless communication. Included in the platform is a full suite of notification and alert utilities to communicate with your teams and customers without having to include or connect to third party communications applications.
One of its biggest strengths is the pre-loaded communications with customers. Whenever a tradesperson is on the way to a job the customer gets an automatic notification by text, personalized with everyone’s names and expected arrival time.
Workiz also contains the ability to set up custom notifications, triggered automatically at certain stages of a job or when certain behaviours or milestones are reached.
But the backbone of communications it’s built on doesn’t end there. It has voice over IP (VOIP) and SMS engines built in so you can make, receive and record calls and texts from right within the Workiz interface.
Jobber – Best FSM software for top-of-view reporting
Jobber’s biggest strength is its user-friendly reporting tools, where various elements of your field assets and staff are brought together to give you the best possible overall viewpoint of your field service activity. The dashboard consists mostly of neatly arranged reports, and you click on any to drill deeper through a secondary sidebar interface and get more information and more granular reporting options.
The quoting and estimate engine is also well made, and a particular standout is the ability to send quotes by text rather than just email, which research says people are far more responsive to. Further communications to remind a potential customer of the quote and seek their approval or feedback are also built right in. What’s more, the quoting engine doesn’t produce generic, everyday text-based messages, it lets you add your own branding and design to make the communications your own.
ServiceNow – Best FSM software for connecting to other services
Originally developed for the development and delivery of software products, ServiceNow has evolved into a perfectly suited field service management solution; its ticket-based workflow system adapting easily to field service operations. SMEs and startups might be a little intimidated by the learning curve involved, but the investment of time and training might make it a critical part of the operation from job estimates through to completion.
As a born-digital service, it was created to connect with a host of other online services so it shares data seamlessly with other services like accounting systems and CRM platforms. Even more impressively, ServiceNow uses all the data it accesses to present an easy-to-access record of every job that lets everyone interact with the job in progress.
Jira – Best FSM software for scaling cheaply
Jira is a service offering from the online platform services provider Atlassian, and like all the other tools available from the company, it’s built to connect with every other product under the Atlassian umbrella seamlessly. Because it contains nearly two and a half thousand third party apps, you can be assured you’ll find the tool you need in the Atlassian ecosystem.
It began life as a bug testing and traffic tool for software development and apps, but the workflow behind it is just as applicable to countless other industries and work styles, field service management being just one of them.
Price is also a huge plus, with its mid-range plan costing only $7 per user per month, which makes it incredibly easy to scale no matter how big or small your operation. But even the free plan is user friendly, so if you have neither the time nor the energy for another software learning curve, you could do a lot worse.
Zendesk – Best FSM software for measuring satisfaction
Mention Zendesk’s name and most people will think of website chat clients. It’s an area the company continues to command, but as a field service management solution its products are hard to look past, especially when you consider the metrics around customer satisfaction and conversion Zendesk has claimed.
The Zendesk platform synthesizes customer interaction across an entire job, and triggers a host of customized actions like pre-loaded chat responses based on its progress. The interface then displays all the history you could possibly need, from individual interactions to payment history and more.
Zendesk is also the platform with the most varied service offering, with seven tiers of support and features ranging from free to around $200 per user per month, so whether it’s just you and a handful of drivers/service techs or a staff of dozens, you’ll find a service level with a budget and set of features to suit.
Salesforce.com – Best FSM software for CRM
Like Zendesk and website chat windows, most people equate Salesforce.com strictly with CRM. But because the CRM workflow is so similar to that of field service management as jobs are raised, actioned, completed, billed and ultimately archived, it’s a viable FSM contender.
Where the CRM element of Salesforce.com’s most-known product is a finely tuned orchestra recording and parsing every aspect of customer contact and interaction with your business, the FSM elements do the same thing with your vehicles, roving staff, products and other assets.
Salesforce.com has taken the philosophy behind its industry-leading CRM tool and built a dedicated FSM platform called Field Service Lightning, which lets you create work orders from any customer contact, figure out and share schedules, assign and manage jobs intelligently and efficiently. It works just as well through your desktop or mobile browser as it does as a standalone Windows-based application, so if you don’t want your FSM to be a strictly cloud-based product, you’re covered.
Major features of FSM software
Implementation options for desktop or mobile
A lot of field service management applications are by their nature cloud platform tools. Anybody from operators to field staff and even customers need to interact with and take action on the next step along a job’s pipeline, and the advantages of storing the data in a central online hub accessible to anyone on any device (given the appropriate access credentials, of course) are obvious.
Security, data accessibility, server maintenance and every other aspect of data management you’re probably not interested in is all taken care of by someone else as part of your purchase price or monthly subscription.
Hosting your FSM online is also more applicable if you recruit the services of third party plugins, many of which will only work online through APIs or other network-based connections.
But there’s an argument for buying and deploying the data store and hosting infrastructure on your own local machinery and devices too, depending on the way you work and interact with it. Security might be one, adherence to a slightly older ICT infrastructure you don’t have the budget to refresh yet might be another.
Plan out who needs to be able to see and manipulate your FSM data and the choice between locally or cloud hosted will become obvious.
Real-time availability and updates
If you have more than ten or 12 staff out on the road, managing their workflows, pinpointing their locations and processing their activities with customers will be too unwieldy for paper lists or spreadsheets. Too many things change, and you need a system that updates the overall picture on a granular basis immediately.
Without it, you might not think a text from a tradesperson telling you where they are or a call from a customer trying to reschedule an install or maintenance appointment are big deals in themselves. But add up a handful of them an hour, a dozen a day and a few hundred a month and you’re spending valuable time (and wasting money) fielding them when FSM software could take it all out of your hands for the monthly price of a casual customer lunch of burgers and fries.
The good thing about enmeshing location tracking into your vehicle fleet is that the infrastructure to take advantage of it already exists. Your drivers and techs all have a cellphone, and even if it’s their own they’re likely to have location services enabled.
So in many cases it’s just a matter of switching on the tracking option in your FSM backend and assigning codes identifying your fleet in the software and its overall status the state of your fleet is available at a glance. Even more efficiently, it’s visible to the rest of your FSM system, which can smartly route drivers to jobs based on their current workloads, locations and schedules – all without you having to lift a finger.
Lastly, it can also give your waiting customer full and automated visibly into when to expect their job to be fulfilled.
Field service management and customer relationship management (CRM) software would seem to be made for each other. CRM software is your point of view on how your business is performing in customer service, both in overall metrics and drilling right down to each individual customer interaction.
Those data points come from real-world customer contact, and of all the systems in your organization to track and manage your business pipelines, FSM generates an outsized proportion of them. Every time a tradesperson or HVAC tech shows up at a customer premises or issues a bill, every time you receive payment and/or a customer review or feedback, frequency and number of bookings, the size of the account and everything else that comes from your FSM system is gold ready to be mined for CRM insight.
If you have a manual process to connect the two based on scrawled notes, text documents or lists – or worse, no process at all – you’re missing out not only on opportunities to improve and grow, you’re spending more time (and therefore money) doing what an FSM system with built-in CRM does on the fly automatically.
Inventory tracking is a little similar to vehicle tracking in that it allows you to see where your stock/product inventory is at any one time – critical if you manage or engage with more than one warehouse or supplier.
But there’s more to it, and it can be a much more complex job than tracking a vehicle fleet. Parts, products or inventory might come from any number of providers upstream and they might all go to disparate jobs (or all to one), mix and match depending on availability or more. It’s comparatively easier to log a vehicle callout fee for a job, but the pipeline through which inventory moves can be anything but straightforward. Get it wrong from the outset and you’ll only cause yourself a huge headache trying to sift through records and piece together where it all went wrong. If you sell or distribute physical stock, inventory control might be a life saver.
Choosing a field service management software
It should all start with a flowchart. Itemize what you do or sell, take into account the staff and resources used to move it to and from customers, and identify not just the market you serve but any you’d like to expand into.
At each point along the chain of provision, supply, booking, action, billing and satisfaction follow-up, the process will reveal the features you need – including those above and plenty more.
That homework will give you a shopping list descending in order of importance from critical to desired, and from there it’s time for research mode, investigating the features of the various platforms on the market to see if they fit the bill.