Many businesses follow the same path as they grow: starting with a manual solution, like a paper diary or an online spreadsheet, to a home-grown hybrid to the point where real-time scheduling is needed.
And service scheduling software has made some incredible advances in recent years, but choosing field service management software that integrates service scheduling software is not easy, especially with so many options available. Your chosen solution will affect each department, from accounting to operations, and everyone has something to lose if you choose the wrong product.
To make sure you get the right service scheduling software for your business—and get buy-in from all the right people in your organisation—ask these 8 key questions.
Once you have your answers, compare brands to determine which hits the most important points for you; for example, perhaps you’re most interested in solutions that have apps for service technicians and that can choose which engineer to send to each job—or maybe you really need a well-reviewed service scheduling software with a user-friendly interface to get key stakeholders on board. (Or maybe you want all of that!)
#1: Does the service scheduling software know which engineer is the best to send to a particular job?
Some service scheduling software includes a dynamic scheduling feature. With this feature, the software considers not only which engineer has the shortest travel time but also the best qualifications or certifications to perform the repair or installation.
A dynamic scheduling component, such as the Intelligent Scheduling feature in Commusoft’s field service management software, can:
- Help you fit in more jobs with less stress.
- Make customers happier with shorter service times and smaller service windows.
- Save money. Schedule optimisation software helps you save on fuel and maintenance costs for your field service fleet by creating the most efficient routes. Even more important, the Technical University of Munich reports that any offline component in a scheduling solution raises costs.
- Save time. In fact, businesses that use the Intelligent Scheduling feature in Commusoft save 10 hours of managing schedules per engineer every month!
If these benefits are important for your field service business, be sure to ask your FSM software provider if they offer a dynamic scheduling feature.
#2: Does the service dispatch software include a mobile app?
Once you set a schedule, or when you make changes, it’s convenient to be able to push the job information out to your service engineers in the field. This, of course, means you need to look at service dispatch systems that include apps for service technicians. With Commusoft, engineers can easily access their schedule and quickly be notified of changes though the diary on their mobile devices.
#3: Does the mobile app sync with the service scheduling software automatically?
Even better is to not have to manually update the schedule and push details out to your field service engineers, and instead let the software do it. With some systems, like Commusoft’s Intelligent Scheduling feature, the schedule automatically syncs to the field service engineers’ mobile app, which streamlines the process and reduces confusion and no-shows.
#4: How does the system handle unexpected changes?
Say the customer cancels at the last minute or an engineer doesn’t have the right tools for the job. Can the service scheduling software handle the change?
If this is a concern for your field service business, you’ll want service dispatch software that can handle changes on the fly to help you get right back on track. For example, when a job is cancelled or moved, Commusoft’s Intelligent Scheduling feature suggests an adjustment to the office staff; if it’s approved, the software automatically updates the engineer’s diary.
#5: Does the service dispatch software have a user-friendly interface?
There are a few reasons you might care about the look, feel, and usability of the service scheduling software:
- If your engineers have what’s commonly called “fat finger syndrome” they may have trouble navigating crowded screens and tiny buttons, leading to errors as they use the app.
- Sure, you might be technologically savvy, but the other key stakeholders in your field service business may not be. Showing them a service scheduling software with an attractive, user-friendly interface can smooth the way to approving and adopting the new technology.
- The easier service scheduling software is to use, the shorter the learning curve will be for your office staff, operations managers, and engineers—and the faster you’ll reap the benefits.
Are any of these situations relevant for your business? Then check out and test the user interface of each company’s schedule optimisation software to make sure it’s clear and easy to use. Commusoft take pains to develop beautiful field service software that’s easy—and even a joy—to use.
#6: How will this service scheduling software help the various areas of my organisation?
Depending on the exact features included in the service scheduling software, the solution can impact different parts of your business in different ways. For example:
- If the solution includes dynamic scheduling, your customer service team will love the smaller service windows and faster service times their customers will get to enjoy.
- The same feature will make your accounting department happy, since you’ll be spending less on fuel and fleet maintenance.
- A user-friendly interface will benefit the engineering department because your field service engineers will be able to learn—and start benefiting from—the service scheduling software in no time.
Look for a service scheduling software that has the most positive impact on as many areas of your business as possible. One of the contenders on your list doesn’t make the grade? Move on to another service dispatch system, and congratulate yourself for narrowing the search even more.
#7: What kinds of online reviews does this company have?
While we hate to put too much stock in review sites—they tend to attract either evangelists or haters—they can be another tool to help you decide between different brands of service scheduling software. The Conversation suggests looking for a product with a high average rating and a lot of reviews (Commusoft boasts an excellent rating with many client reviews), and combining the insights you glean from the review site with opinions from industry experts and trade journals.
#8: How much does the field service management software cost?
Used to be, small and medium-sized businesses couldn’t afford dynamic scheduling; for example, one common enterprise solution charges £100+ per user per month just for that feature, making it unattainable to the growing businesses that need it. However, Commusoft has levelled the playing field by creating FSM software that includes dynamic scheduling at much lower prices.