Spreadsheets in Field Service: The Biggest Mistake

How inappropriate would it be if we were still using the old brick-sized, heavy mobile phones, in this age of the digital revolution, where touchscreens rule?

Pretty cringeworthy isn’t it?

That’s probably how more than half, (according to Software Advice, a company that reviews field service software), that is about 54% of small field service firms feel about using whiteboards, paper and spreadsheet software for their businesses, in this age where custom field service management solutions are the norm. The reasons for this practice are varied, including cost concerns and even sheer inertia.

If you are one of those firms, let me bring to your notice, a simple fact.
According to an Aberdeen group study, the “best-in-class” field service technicians average an 89% on their first-time fix rate and a 92% compliance with stated response times.
How high do your technicians measure up with that?

Let’s face it! Field service is an innately mobile industry, which just cannot be done with static tools, sitting in an office room. And this has been so, for as long as the need for products to be serviced has been there. This is essentially why using spreadsheet software and paper for field service activities is simply not the right thing to do.

Here are some more reasons why you should consider moving away from spreadsheets to transform your field service operations:

Assuring Quality when Leveraging Contractors

Spreadsheets in Field Service: The Biggest MistakeField service companies, are always in a never-ending quest to find the best field service technicians to represent their company. And even after finding the best technicians and assigning work, you need to keep a track of your technicians’ performances to identify the top performers and the poor performers.
Now true, these tasks can be done on a spreadsheet. But it would require a significant amount of time to manually assess, rate and rank all of your technicians. Besides, the assessment you make would be just based on the information gathered manually from your organization. Imagine the time and effort involved in recording performance details in and out of the organization and analyzing them manually?

The truth is, spreadsheets are only as good as the person using it, and humans can make errors.

With an appropriate Field Service Management (FSM) solution, you can search and find the best technicians, as it provides relevant marketplace ratings to choose from. Like for example on eBay, where you get to check seller ratings before you make a purchase.
Moreover, FSM solutions can provide dynamic or real-time, accurate information on the performance of technicians, allowing you to make a better judgment. You can also use the software for screening your technicians and verifying their work experience, certifications, and other credentials before hiring them.

Real-Time Intelligence for Prompt Servicing

Dealing with 1,000 units of field service workforce, on a daily basis is no simple task. For the same reason, using spreadsheets to manage all their work could be quite precarious. One of the major reasons is that the job details of each technician lies static and dispersed in a number of documents, in a number of places. This means there is duplicated data, and even when the documents get updated at one end, it doesn’t reflect in other places until later.

FSM solutions can eliminate such issues, and allow you to aggregate everything under a single platform. This makes searching and locating specific information much easier. Moreover, you can quickly analyze the status of every single project that you have assigned, with just a glance, enabling you to effectively plan and complete tasks on time and under budget. The field service technicians can also enter real-time information straight from the field through their smartphones, which provides you with the much-needed real-time intelligence, to be responsive to customers and serve them better.

Effective Cost Management

Spreadsheets in Field Service: The Biggest MistakeField Service companies as such, face plenty of uncertainties around managing field service operations and hence find it difficult to accurately forecast costs and resources required. For example, specific information like the costs incurred on technicians in California, or the portion of total cost allocated towards a 100 contractors and the like, are often difficult to extract from the truckloads of paper and spreadsheets dealt with.
FSM solutions provide much better insights, filtering options, and in-depth analytics into the breakdown and estimation of service costs, allowing managers to get a better grip over general expenses.

Smart Routing of Services

The task of having to run through entire spreadsheets, just to check the availability of a particular technician, only to discover that the information provided in the spreadsheet has not been updated for several hours is itself tiresome. Finally ending up assigning the job to an unskilled technician, on account of non-availability of the required technician, when he actually was available, is the height of inefficiency.
The fact is that spreadsheet software can only do so much.
FSM software, on the other hand, can allow you to assign and route service to technicians in a smarter way, saving hours of time and effort. It also lets you control your workforce better, reduce customer response times, first-time fix rates and be more proactive.

Apart from these major benefits, Field Service Management Software can provide you with powerful analytics and insights about your business that a spreadsheet cannot. It can help you identify business opportunities and work towards them, by improving on your weak points too.
Moreover, spreadsheets are way too static for field service. It cannot give you the essential dynamic capabilities that an FSM solution can.

It is high time you made the switch to FSM software and grabbed the opportunities to gain the competitive advantage. Talk to our experts to know how Field Service Management software can give you better ROIs.

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    About the Author

    Ashmitha Chatterjee

    Ashmitha works with Fingent as a creative writer. She collaborates with the Digital Marketing team to deliver engaging, informative, and SEO friendly business collaterals. Being passionate about writing, Ashmitha frequently engages in blogging and creating fiction. Besides writing, Ashmitha indulges in exploring effective content marketing strategies.

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