Inventory and Warehouse Management remains one of the most mismanaged components of Field Service. Since most business functions have gone mobile, integrating this process can achieve greater efficiency, productivity and customer satisfaction.
To understand how mobilization and integration can improve inventory management, we must first understand the inventory issues currently burdening service departments. The most common and most costly issues stem from a service department’s responsibility to get the right parts to the right customer in the most efficient manner possible. This responsibility is continually increasing, as customers are constantly demanding better service, and inventory costs continue to rise. To remedy these concerns, organizations need to master these inventory best practices:
- Set up an early warning system that can alert field managers to low inventories and other key business conditions.
- Make their technicians a more integral part of the spare parts and inventory management process by adapting to mobile or handheld devices.
- Leverage data collected from the field in order to improve their parts planning and forecast.
- Have an integrated environment with back-end systems to handhelds with constant or real-time data exchanges happening across the board.
Precise and coordinated inventory management is vital to the success of a service department, so the level of functionality that system alerts provide can be a driving force behind improving processes and cutting costs for the organization. Coupled with the other features that mobile field service software provides, inventory alerts make service organizations extremely efficient in an integrated environment.
Since technicians carry, unload and stock specific spare parts, giving them the ability to monitor and update their inventory from a mobile device can greatly simplify parts management. Top-class field service software like ServiceMax allows technicians to track and search spare parts in their service van, other technicians’ vans and the company’s warehouses and facilities. With part visibility across the board, techs know how and where to quickly acquire parts needed for their work orders when they don’t have them stocked in their van.
In recent years, the introduction of software-as-a-service (SaaS) pricing models has made Field Service Management (FSM) attainable for even smaller service companies, which gives them a chance to compete against larger corporations. Examples include: window cleaners, landscapers, plumbing and/or HVAC technicians. Instead of paying for an expensive upfront license and even more expensive IT infrastructure, businesses can pay a monthly subscription fee to access cloud-hosted FSM software. SaaS deployment also enables greater mobility, since the system is accessible from any device with a web connection, rather than an allotted physical network.
Furthermore, with an integrated environment, the visibility of information across the board, like stock on hand, invoices and sales orders in the system in real time, generated by technicians using their handhelds, can all be accomplished with a simple integration between field service software and other key systems (like accounting), making an organization a force to be reckoned with.