Which SaaS Provider to Choose: Best-of-Breed or All-in-One?
By Brad Hawkins, Chief Solutions Officer, ServicePower
If you’re scaling your business or your customers want more control over how they communicate and schedule their field service workers. It might be time to revisit, or invest in, field service management (FSM) software.
A plethora of options exists, including those that are add-ons to existing customer relationship management (CRM) platforms or those offered by enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendors. On the surface, it might appear that adding FSM to a tool you own is the best choice financially. After all — you’re already using this vendor, so these optimized for FSM capabilities should integrate seamlessly, right?
The prominent all-in-one vendors have other focuses and specialties for which they’re known, like accounting, HR, CRM or sales. Field service management software isn’t their bread and butter. For example, FSM counts for less than 2% of Salesforce’s business. So why add FSM to an all-in-one platform when other options exist? It’s true that a field service organization (FSO) still needs a CRM and an HR platform, but in many instances, it makes more sense to choose a best-of-breed solution specific to your FSM needs.
Best-of-breed vendors live and breathe FSM
The best FSM providers feel like a business partner, improving operational efficiency, increasing revenue, improving field service work efficiency and creating satisfied customers — all while helping you keep your organization performing at the top of your market.
When you’re researching FSM options, consider what they have to offer in regard to:
- Advanced field service worker enablement
- Contractor onboarding and credentialing
- Customer portal for two-way communication and self-service
- Intelligent dispatch for contractors and technicians
- Rapid invoice payment for contractors
- Real-time AI-based schedule optimization
- Robust reporting and analytics
- Technician enablement, including scheduling and mobility options
An all-in-one vendor can address tasks like job completion data or work order management, but it’s not as effective as FSM software in managing the needs of field service technicians or customers. Because they don’t specialize in delivering optimized field service experiences, these vendors just don’t have the insight into this industry’s specific requirements.
Empowering field service workers
Field service workers appreciate the autonomy of having full visibility into their schedule, not having to manually manage and check inventory, having their routes automatically adjusted based on traffic conditions, or their schedule modified in real-time based on the actual time it takes to complete a job, the first time. Instead of requiring technicians to manage logistics and deliver a service, it allows them to focus on their area of expertise — providing an exceptional field service experience.
FSM software also allows contractors to submit invoices electronically for fast reimbursement. When contractors know they’ll be paid quickly after they finish a job, they’re more likely to maintain the partnership with your company.
Elevating customer service
Businesses can grow revenues between 4% and 8% by prioritizing customer service. In fact, almost 80% of customers will stick with a company after a mistake — if the customer service is exceptional. The NTT 2023 Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report found 90% of organizations agree that positive customer experiences (CX) will directly affect their net profit.
It’s impossible to deny that excellent CX drives loyalty, fosters long-term relationships, increases retention rates and generates higher revenue. Investing in technology that supports CX efforts can pay dividends.
With FSM software, customers gain a user-friendly, easily-accessible self-service option that enables them to make or update appointments, communicate with their assigned field service worker and know in real-time their worker’s location — an expectation for busy customers who don’t have time to wait during a long service window for their worker’s arrival.
Championing operational efficiency
A Gartner report found that 63% of service and support leaders have prioritized improving operations in 2023. To remain relevant and competitive in a tight market requires organizations to embrace automation — something FSM tools are well-equipped to handle.
Let’s revisit the all-in-one versus best-of-breed debate. The biggest argument for leveraging an all-in-one solution to address a service company’s FSM needs is easy integration. But not all CRM or ERP system modules were created equal. Many lack the depth and breadth of functionality the service organizations rely on. Salesforce, for example, rose from a blending of multiple acquisitions. Using its FSM might require more administrative resources — or a higher budget — to ensure all the systems work together without issue.
On the other hand, best-in-breed vendors design their software to integrate with the big all-in-one vendors’ platforms seamlessly. It’s also easier for these best-in-breed vendors to pivot quickly to address and incorporate evolving technology or adjust functionality to meet industry demand.
A modern FSM tool benefits everyone: the company, its employees, contractors and customers.
The actual cost of best-of-breed
Many conversations about which option to choose boil down to dollars and cents. While selecting an all-in-one vendor may save money initially, those cost savings are often short-term. With some all-in-one vendors, implementations and upgrades can take longer than expected. You may find partway through onboarding that the integration requires additional products or consultants, which drives up the initial investment.
Another unanticipated issue is that most large CRM and ERP companies lack the in-house expertise in field service management challenges leaving organizations to do their own troubleshooting. Navigating these complexities without support costs resources and time, increasing time to ROI. The implementation process can also include hidden fees so you should build them into the budget and:
- Analyze your business requirements at the beginning of this process to confirm the solution aligns with your needs.
- Ask your implementation team to develop a project plan with clearly defined milestones, deliverables and timelines to allocate resources appropriately.
- Leverage change management practices, including communication with field service technicians, customers, contractors, employees and other stakeholders to address concerns, answer questions and provide information.
By choosing a best-of-breed solution specifically built for field service management, you’ll improve operational efficiencies more quickly, increase revenue and achieve ROI faster. FSM vendors protect your operating costs because their platform helps improve schedule compliance and eliminate wasted time (and repeat customer visits).
Industry-leading best-of-breed FSM tools offer historical and real-time data access, including trend analysis and operating margins. This robust reporting creates a holistic view of your business operations and analytics. The customizable dashboards and unified reporting provide enhanced forecasting and planning, improved visibility for field service managers and company executives and more efficient operations.
With this data, leadership can adjust and tweak systems to increase productivity, leading to better first-time fix rates and higher revenue. Organizations with a field workforce should want a tool built and designed with its customers and field service personnel in mind — one that has embraced digital transformation to deliver operational efficiency. Best-in-breed products provide the most effective solution for workforce management, exceptional customer service, cost savings and greater ROI.
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