Article content provided by XOi.
A recent article from XOi examines the importance of streamlining your field service software stack. As the market for field service software has matured, the landscape of technology has greatly expanded. On the surface, your options seemingly include a handful of large companies claiming to “do it all” and a constellation of smaller, feature specific platforms all promising to help service contractors operate more efficiently and profitably.
Unfortunately, this seemingly endless (and growing) supply of “solutions” doesn’t solve the industry’s needs. Contractors often face the choice between clumsy all‑in‑one software or narrowly specialized platforms that don’t address real situations that service professionals see on the job.
Bulky all‑in‑one options might do everything, but they rarely excel at anything. Specialized software, on the other hand, sounds great, but too many contractors end up with an expensive, expansive selection of best‑in‑class platforms that don’t work together. Many field technicians use as many as nine different apps in a single day just to complete straightforward jobs.
In an increasingly competitive industry facing a chronic labor shortage and the radical disruption of supply chains, it’s important to search for solutions that truly empower technicians, the people who are the heartbeat of field service. Let’s walk through 3 considerations to streamline your software stack.
1. Watch the minutes and the hours will take care of themselves
Field service technicians spend up to two and a half hours every day searching their tablets or smartphones for solutions to situations they encounter in the field. Whether it’s manufacturer’s specs, a product manual, a video tutorial, or regulatory data, the information they’re looking for is out there. Unfortunately, it’s widely dispersed and comes in a bewildering variety of formats, many of which aren’t compatible with each other or with technicians’ primary FSMs. Accessing and engaging with this critical information requires time, patience, and multiple applications.
Software touting a comprehensive knowledge base creates lasting value. If there is a process and procedure to finding useful data, the solution becomes a part of the company’s shared store of knowledge. This creates consistency and predictability in the input and output of information being shared, learned, and applied on a jobsite.
A knowledge base repository can take a technician’s search for answers from hours to seconds. Saved time=saved money.
2. Step into your technician’s workboots
Despite the flood of technology solutions available for them, technicians in field service industries are too often left out of the technology equation. Most technology products are targeted at owners and their leadership teams, not the techs in the field who use those products every day.
A tech’s job is hard. They need simple, intuitive technology to solve the real‑world problems they encounter on the job, regardless of their skill set or level of experience. Tech‑focused solutions mean a better job experience and translate into higher productivity. They also support making techs job‑ready faster, so contractors can gain competitive advantage in the cycle of recruiting, training and retaining talent.
Tech‑first solutions allow professionals in the field to:
- Capture photos and videos before, during and after every job. This provides transparency for customers and managers and helps build a shareable, permanent institutional knowledge base.
- Apply customized automated workflows to every jobsite.
- Access contextual microlearning such as easily digestible tips, videos and documents.
- Avoid tedious manual data entry and typos by utilizing Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and AI to pull equipment information, including make, manufacturer, model number and serial number, directly from a dataplate photo and transform into comprehensive work summaries.
- Automatically save all completed work, allowing techs and managers to search for a specific job by work order number, customer name, address, and any additional custom tags.
- With tech‑first solutions, contractors can connect and integrate best‑in‑class technology and build a rich ecosystem of premier functionality that goes beyond all‑in‑one solutions. When technology focuses on the technician first, it acts as a hub in which every part of the jobsite—from the field to the office—connects.
3. Don’t dam your data
Contractors need solutions that connect technicians with the equipment they service and allow teams to collaborate across the field service ecosystem. They seek innovative technology that sparks an entire system of intelligence.
Advanced artificial intelligence, machine learning and data collection transform the possibilities of the industry. Unprecedented data and analytics improve workflows and productivity and deliver actionable insights that contractors can apply for future growth and success.
If that data can’t flow from app to app, it’s worthless. Simply using a tool to collect key information won’t do your business any good if there is no way to analyze and actionize that information. Look for a solution that centralizes key data points into simple insights and reports. Your goal is to connect data points from your customer’s entire job history into a singular platform.
The true modern technology solution does more than just connect techs with an order form for parts and equipment – much more. It’s an ecosystem of industry intelligence.
The only digital tool your techs will ever need on a job site, XOi connects people, from all parts of a field service ecosystem, with the equipment they service. We go beyond the capabilities of standard field service app technology to deliver you a communication tool that will completely transform your business. Technicians that use XOi in the field collect critical job site data, connect instantly with the answers they need, and provide the back office with data to capitalize on revenue-generating opportunities.