Evaluating Field Service Management Software: Asking the Right Questions for Your Business

by

Christopher Schobert
Director of Communications
Blog
|
May 22, 2019
|
4
minutes to read
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Deciding on field service management software for your plumbing, HVAC or electrical business is one of the most important and possibly costly decisions an owner will ever face. A poor choice can mean your growth will slow — or stop entirely — while your competitors leap ahead. On the other hand, a strong, informed choice can make you the envy of your peers.

Knowing how to evaluate software, then, is essential. And whether you are reaching out to or being called by a software company, talking shop at a trade show, or browsing a software company’s website, you need to understand what to look for.

Before moving on to the questions you need to ask any software company you are considering, there are things you need to ask yourself.

  • What features do I need?
  • What features might be important to me in the future?
  • How can I be sure my team will be open to a change?

Let’s explore what you’ll want to know from representatives of any software company you contact, or that reaches out to you. Here are a few of the questions you need to ask.

“What features are offered?”

No two software options are exactly the same, so look closely for the features you know you’ll need every day, like scheduling, dispatching, invoicing and reporting. But never assume a feature is available — ask, and make sure.

No two software options are exactly the same, so look closely for the features you know you’ll need every day.

This is also a time to be careful about getting caught up in bells and whistles that are enthusiastically shown to you but will really add nothing to your bottom line. An ability to show video presentations (that you need to create) to customers who need a new toilet is nice. But is it really going to drive sales more than taking some of that extra money you’d spend and bringing in a sales trainer to work with your team?

It’s also not a bad idea to search for news about software updates. Most companies will highlight the latest software updates on the news or blog pages. Release notes are also a useful resource. Some companies, such as Slack, have a lot of fun with release notes. (Example: “Want to upload multiple images at the same time from the message box? In both channels and threads? Of course you do. And now, you can! Hurrah.”)

Seeing news of recent updates is a good sign. Software that does not evolve is never going to be a long-term solution for your business.

“Will my team be able to use this?”

Software will do your company no good if it’s too difficult to use. So where do you turn for the real dirt on usability? You certainly will want to ask the software company representative you are speaking with to outline what makes their product easy to use.

However, Capterra is another great option. The business software site features user ratings and reviews, making it an unbiased resource for info. You will note that one of the ratings categories is “Ease of Use,” and as you scroll down the page you’ll see that each user’s individual rating for that category is at top. Also make sure to check out Capterra’s annual usability rankings.

“How will my team be trained?”

Remember the old coach’s saying, “You’re only as good as your training”? Spend some time on industry message boards and you’ll see that complaints involving training are a common occurrence. Imagine spending weeks or months deciding on software only to find that the training you need is not going to happen. Or, if training is an option, that you have to pay extra for it and it doesn’t effectively get your company or your team ready to use the new system.

Complaints involving training are a common occurrence on industry message boards.

But in addition to (often justified) complaints, you’ll also see praise for companies like Pointman that devote significant time and resources to the training and implementation process. When chatting with a company representative, ask he or she to break down that process in detail.

Oh, and remember, training doesn’t end a couple weeks after you bring on a new system. You surely will have turnover in your business. No one wants it, but we know it happens. How will new members of your team be trained? Can you afford to have a system that all of a sudden no one can use, or if they do, they are doing so incorrectly?

If they can’t explain that process properly, it might not be the company you want to put your time, money and trust into.

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