Like millions of other companies, you may be looking for intervention management software. Field Service Management (FSM) is currently undergoing rapid growth. According to Mordor Intelligence, this booming sector is expected to be a $7.10 billion market by 2026. This rapid development can be explained in particular by the changing expectations of consumers, who are increasingly turning to digital solutions to monitor operations in the field in real time.

As a reminder, the FSM encompasses all the processes, tools and technologies implemented by companies to manage and optimise operations in the field. Traditionally, these activities were managed manually or almost manually, with little optimisation, lots of emails and a lot of elbow grease. In fact, the use of restricted communication systems limits the visibility of ongoing interventions at a time when consumer expectations following the health crisis are growing.

On the one hand, several software publishers enable companies to automate and optimise their field service management processes. On the other hand, the shortage of technicians in most advanced economies is pushing companies to make better use of this scarce resource. ADEME studies point to a shortfall of several thousand repairers in France over the next few years. These optimisations are based on access to real-time information, such as details of the work to be carried out, the procedures to be followed, the spare parts required and much more. They can also communicate directly with the control centre and customers, enabling seamless collaboration and faster problem resolution.

While there is an overall trend towards digitisation of FSM solutions, the market remains highly fragmented, with a large number of players. Choosing a FSM is therefore a challenge, especially in the absence of a clear interpretation key. In addition to Gartner’s Magic Quadrants for FSM, we offer you a different perspective on FSM in this first of a series of articles. Our analysis is based on 20 years’ experience in the home appliance repair sector.

According to our analysis, there are three types of players in the FSM field. It’s important to be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of each. Setting up an FSM is a complicated, time-consuming and often costly process, involving many players within your company.

The final function of this software remains broadly the same: to give a technician the means to resolve a technical breakdown. Publishers are therefore seeking to differentiate themselves by taking an economic and technological approach to the problem. Understanding this is the first step to a successful project.

Let’s take a closer look at these categories of FSM actors:

1. Integrated solutions:

Most of the major ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) or CRM (Customer Resource Management) suppliers offer FSM solutions integrated into their systems. Their solutions are based on the control of flows within the company, and offer seamless integration between all departments. In this way, the “field” is connected to other essential business processes, such as stock management, accounting, quotations and resource planning. Examples of suppliers of ERP-integrated solutions include Salesforce Field Service and SAP FSM.

Integrated solutions offer major benefits in terms of productivity gains. These solutions enable companies to optimise their internal operations by centralising data relating to interventions in the field, such as service requests, technician schedules and intervention reports. This data is automatically synchronised with the relevant ERP modules. This approach eliminates re-typing and data processing, reducing errors and resource requirements. What’s more, integration with stock management means you can accurately monitor availability and proactively manage orders. It’s easier for technicians in the field to get the parts and equipment they need at the right time.

Although they are justified by the efficiency gains they deliver, ERP-integrated solutions are often costly and invoiced to the user. This high price may limit their adoption among subcontractors and small businesses. These companies may find it more advantageous to opt for stand-alone solutions or solutions with a bottom-up approach, which often offer more flexible pricing tailored to their volume of users.

2. Stand-alone solutions:

Other suppliers offer stand-alone solutions entirely dedicated to field service management. They can either provide high added-value solutions such as route optimisation, or offer greater flexibility and less costly deployment. They can be adapted to the different needs of each company without being limited by the other modules of an ERP system. The IFS solution is one of the leaders in the first approach. Its expertise in managing a large network of highly specialised technicians justifies its cost. Praxedo, a French company, is a representative of the second approach, which enables it to penetrate into the market of smaller companies.

The three common approaches proposed by stand-alone solutions that can guide your choice are:

a) Easy-to-implement solutions: Some stand-alone solutions are designed to be deployed quickly, without the need for complex integration with other systems, enabling companies to start managing their field services without significant delays. They are particularly well-suited to companies looking to kick-start quickly or with simpler needs in terms of managing field operations.

b) High added-value functions: Stand-alone solutions can also stand out by offering high added-value functions that meet specific business needs. For example, some solutions offer scheduling optimisation functions, enabling you to maximise resource efficiency and reduce response times. Other solutions may include ready-to-use consumer portals, offering customers real-time visibility of their interventions, the ability to schedule appointments and provide feedback.

c) Lower costs: Stand-alone solutions are often appreciated for their generally lower costs compared with ERP-integrated solutions. This makes these solutions more accessible, particularly for subcontractors and small businesses with larger volumes of users or specific needs that may not be covered by integrated solutions.

By opting for a stand-alone solution, companies can benefit from a personalised approach. On the other hand, integration with other services (ERP and CRM) is often less complete and the productivity gains from integrated solutions more difficult to achieve.

3. Bottom-up solutions:

Between these two approaches, there is a third type of FSM actor with a bottom-up approach. These players are present in markets where service providers in the field play a central role and the principals do not have sufficient market share to impose their solution. In this model, service companies use the same FSM for several manufacturers or principals. These solutions enable manufacturers to effectively manage and coordinate the maintenance and repair work carried out by their networks of authorised repairers. Among the players in this segment are Service Power and Agora Plus, which focus on connectivity and collaboration between repairers and manufacturers, improving the efficiency and quality of interventions in the field. In the insurance sector, we can mention Synaps.

For these solutions, one factor is decisive: the number of principals in the industry. This ratio of principals to subcontractors influences the need for common tools to enable subcontractors to standardise their processes. In industries where the number of principals is high in relation to the number of subcontractors, it is essential to have common tools to harmonise working methods, intervention protocols and monitoring reports. These tools enable subcontractors to comply with the requirements and standards of the various principals, while maintaining consistent operational efficiency and quality of service.

Standardisation of processes is crucial in this context, as it reduces errors, simplifies the exchange of information and ensures a consistent experience for principals. Bottom-up solutions focus on putting these common tools in place, facilitating collaboration between repairers and manufacturers.

These solutions often offer functionalities such as centralised platforms for managing call-outs, schedules and resources, access to technical documentation, billing management and monitoring and reporting tools. The data and reports generated by these tools also make it possible to assess performance, identify opportunities for improvement and maintain greater transparency between the various players in the intervention chain.

In sectors where the ratio of principals to subcontractors is lower, companies can have greater flexibility in adapting their processes to the specific requirements of each principal. In this case, the use of common tools may be less critical, as it is easier to tailor procedures to individual expectations.

These three types of FSM players therefore offer different approaches to meeting companies’ needs in terms of field service management. Each company can choose the solution that best suits its specific needs, taking into account its business processes, objectives and technological constraints. In addition, technological change and rapidly evolving consumer expectations mean that a company’s FSM strategy needs to be continually reviewed.

There is no doubt that technological advances such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) will continue to influence and shape the future of the FSM.