Contractors responsible for property repairs and maintenance contributed over £57 billion to the British economy in 2017. But, with the collapse of the giant Carillion and ongoing pressures from clients to deliver more for less, attentions on the stability and performance of contractors has heightened significantly.
In response, many are reassessing their internal processes to ensure their foundations are strong enough to deliver the service their clients demand in the most profitable manner possible.
They are turning to service management software to give them greater visibility and more effective processes, which then leads to service improvements and reduced costs. But, there are many field service management (FSM) solutions on the market, all with a plethora of options and functionality. To help sift through the detail, and to keep focus on the critical elements of what you are trying to achieve by implementing FSM software, this blog highlights three essential aspects that we believe must be present in every service management software solution, if it is to fully support the unique needs of a contractor.
Any contractor business fluctuates as contracts come to an end and new business is secured. This variation in itself can be challenging, but when you consider the domino effect it has, such as a change in processes, the requirement for different skills, new costs and KPIs etc., any software solution you have in place must be able to accommodate these changes. In fact, the solution needs to go beyond accommodating; it needs to aid these changes.
Due to the complexities of some service management solutions, any tweaks or amendments to the processes or information that sit behind, and subsequently make the software work, have to be updated by the supplier themselves. This incurs both cost and delay, neither of which work in tandem with the fast pace of a contractor business.
Therefore, whilst comparing field service management solutions, make sure you narrow down your search to software that you can self-manage. Check what aspects of the system you can directly amend, in particular, ensuring you can make adjustments to the processes (sometimes referred to as workflows), because it is here where inefficiencies can quickly accumulate.
2. Data storage
Our consumption of data as a society has grown at an exceptional rate. Today we generate more data in 10 minutes than all of humanity had ever created through to the year 2003.
Albeit on a smaller scale, this increase can be seen in every individual business. In fact, the more data you collate, the greater the appetite for data. After all, data is very valuable and an essential asset when improving efficiencies and service.
Field service management software is an excellent receptacle for data, the collation and analysis of which will make the working lives of all of your employees far easier. But as your use of the software evolves, you will quickly accumulate huge quantities of data. To accommodate this you can either utilise an ‘on-premise’ or cloud-based service management solution.
Our advice would always be to select a cloud-based solution, purely because this provides greater flexibility and added security. With a cloud-based solution, your software supplier will handle everything for you, but if you select an on-premise system, you will need to monitor and manage your data storage yourself, whilst also taking responsibility for the security of that data. You may also incur an initial outlay to purchase additional hardware to support your needs.
3. The needs of your workforce
With forecasts of a ‘workforce crisis’ by 2025 and an ever aging population, employee satisfaction and retention is high on the agenda for many contractors. When there is significant competition in the market, all eager to entice your employees to work for them, this need is emphasised further.
First let’s consider the younger generation entering the workforce. They have grown up around technology and will expect to use automated solutions at work. They will be tech savvy but with this confidence will come a higher expectation of the technology they use. Any inefficiencies or poor UX (user experience) will frustrate them.
In contrast, although the more experienced generation are coming to the end of their career, their knowledge is vital to pass on to the newcomers in the industry. Therefore, the need to retain this group is, for now, just as important as attracting the younger generation. But for them, they may be daunted about having to use software and nervous about change. So for this age group, they require a system that is intuitive and that will quickly reassure them.
Reaching this balance between the two generations will be a critical element to the ongoing success of your business, and the software you implement will play a considerable part towards this retention. For this reason, pay particular attention to the usability of the service management solutions you are considering. Assuming your workforce will use their mobile device to access, update and manage their workload, make sure the app follows a step-by-step process that is simple and easy to follow. But in the same breath, you need to ensure the functionality hasn’t been simplified too much. Does it still give the level of operability that the younger generation will expect?
We compiled this list based on our extensive experience working with contractors across the UK. You can have a look at how we have helped our clients adapt and grow their businesses in our case studies.
Alternatively, to find out more about how Oneserve can work in partnership with your contractor business, see the software in action by requesting a free demo today.