When it comes to developing field service software, companies have two fundamental choices.
- They can buy or license an off-the-shelf software from a vendor.
- They can develop a custom application, building the app to work with their business processes.
Which road should they choose? Different circumstances call for different approaches, but the nature of field service software – and the work it supports – means that custom app development provides some key advantages.
Specialized software for specialized processes
Some types of business apps can afford to be off-the-shelf. Take Accounting, for example. Most off-the-shelf Accounting software generally supports the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles or GAAP. When companies need software to support a highly commonplace, standardized process such as this, the off-the-shelf software makes sense.
But not every business process is so straightforward. Field service processes are often among a company’s most highly specialized – and for this reason, field service software needs to be specialized, too.
Consider the complexity of field service operations: from the various stages of inventory management to performance monitoring, reporting and communication for field service techs, and processes for managing sales and personnel. Often, these functions are conducted across many locations throughout a region or around the country. Each process may be highly unique to a given company, and the way these processes work together to drive the company day in and day out is unique to that company.
To capture, facilitate, and optimize specialized business processes most effectively, field service software must conform to those processes. At one time, custom software was too expensive for smaller companies – so only large companies could benefit from it. But today, that is just not the case.
What do the benefits of custom field service software look like in practice?
Collecting and leveraging data
Mobile devices like phones and tablets have become highly commonplace – and that presents an opportunity for businesses. These devices mean that powerful technological capabilities are already present in the pockets of your team members: cameras, Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS functionality, document management, barcode scanners, and much more.
With these tools, it’s possible for a custom app to become a new way of collecting data that might not have been easily accessible or discernible before. For a field service company, it would allow them to track company vehicles and equipment, allow employees to track their time, handle customer documentation and approvals in the field, and increase communication between dispatch and field employees.
Across industries, companies are looking for ways to leverage “Big Data.” A custom app helps to collect the data you need that is tailored to your business and your needs. This is one of the key opportunities of custom apps: by collecting data about your business processes, you can analyze, iterate, and optimize your processes in real time to make your business more effective.
Custom field service software can deliver more than data collection and analytics. You could streamline the purchasing process by enabling buyers to place orders straight from the app. A custom app would then be able to generate an invoice and send it to the customer, along with a delivery estimate. Because the app is built specifically to connect your various business processes, it can make them run much more smoothly.
The examples I’ve discussed above are highly distinct – and that’s the point. Field services take many different forms, and to truly drive and optimize the processes behind those functions, software should be designed and built for those specific processes. By leveraging custom field service software, companies can give themselves the tools to not only streamline processes at the heart of their businesses but also optimize those processes for greater success in the future.