Asset Management

Get the right software purchasing fit for service requirements

Cover story: Software strategy: As companies’ field service offerings, managing people, hardware assets, and software brings additional challenges, field service management software must address the entire service lifecycle.
By Andrew Lichey November 1, 2019
Even if managing people and assets seems like “old hat,” field services software may help. Courtesy: Mark T. Hoske, CFE Media and Technology

As the number of mobile applications and wearable devices being used in field service grows, so does the choice of field service management software. This new breed of service software allows enterprises to meet emergent and contracted service demand, improves technician utilization and ensures service level agreements (SLAs) are met.

While this software can be sold as-a-service (SaaS) or owned outright through a perpetual license, some software companies only sell through more profitable subscription-based licensing. This shouldn’t be the only choice when investing in cloud-based software, though. Companies should consider these three options.

1. Lower upfront costs with a subscription license

Buying software on a subscription basis enables customers to pay for software on an expense budget as opposed to a capital budget. This is desirable as the expense may be assigned to a given department’s operating budget and is well below the normal threshold for a capital budget spend.

The lower upfront investment of SaaS is also attractive for businesses starting with a smaller footprint because they can scale up and down depending on fluctuations in technician numbers. Organizations can implement field service management in one division or office as a proof of concept. When starting with fewer SaaS users, businesses can consider a wider rollout and scale the solution across more users when required.

2. Peace of mind with one-off payments

Before the internet and broadband connectivity became central to most businesses, software was sold through perpetual licensing. Purchased through a one-time license fee, the solution can be applied on a company’s hardware or private cloud.

Mission-critical software ownership for business operations seems to be important for some consumers. They want to own the software to confidently build vital processes around it; owning software outright also allows companies to use it indefinitely. It is generally purchased with a contract for ongoing maintenance and support, but most of the cost comes from the initial purchase.

Companies also can provision software sold through a perpetual license on their own servers and support it with their IT personnel.They also can place it in a private or public cloud run by a third-party vendor, such as their software vendor. Running software this way allows a company to outsource common IT administration tasks while ensuring the server capacity can scale to meet user count or transaction volume demand.

Commitment is key for organizations opting for a perpetual license. The fact that the license purchase hits the capital budget is significant. From the top of the organizational chart down, there is potential for these processes to maximize the service organization’s profitability.

3. Field service software options

Field service software buyers should prioritize specific requirements before assessing deployment options. Whether the solution is purchased through a perpetual license or by subscription, field service management software will fail if it does not address the entire service lifecycle.

Beyond scheduling, dispatch, and field mobility, field service applications should allow automated call handling and routing, while dispatches are important to optimize call center functionalities. Traceability systems and spare parts management also give control over supply chains, which helps keep businesses safe and compliant.

Reverse logistics is another key requirement for businesses working within complex repair environments; so is project management for instant communication with remote personnel in the field. Strong support for serialization ensures compliance in regulated industries and recalls are supported when necessary — reducing lost revenue, broken SLAs and dissatisfied customers.

Don’t cut software corners

No matter how software is paid for, companies need to remember they are buying new business capability. The choice should focus on if software meets key business requirements, and if the field service software vendor can assist in meeting and exceeding customer expectations through a deployment model that works best for the circumstances.

Andrew Lichey is product manager for field service management, IFS; Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media, mhoske@cfemedia.com.

MORE ANSWERS

KEYWORDS: Field service software, software licensing, SaaS

A subscription license may lower upfront costs.

Purchasing software may cost more but offer peace of mind.

Field service software options should look at the service lifecycle.

CONSIDER THIS

As you expand review models to include more services, are your software models also advancing?

ONLINE EXTRA

IFS provides more information on IFS field service management software.


Andrew Lichey
Author Bio: Andrew Lichey is product manager for field service management, IFS.