In general, you know what to look for in field service management software—like a mobile app, a good diary, and excellent support. So you check the software review sites and select the solution that seems to have everything you need.
But once you’re actually using the software, you discover a lot of missing features and functionalities that you would never have thought of when you were in research mode.
It’s kind of like buying a house: You got the big kitchen and the workshop space you knew you wanted, but it’s only after you’ve been living in the house for a while that you wish you’d paid more attention to the awkward floor plan and the lack of a separate laundry room.
To save you from buyer’s remorse—and to give you expert-approved tips on how to choose FSM software—we compiled the top 10 things field service businesses regret about the first solution they purchased. To compile this list we not only talked with field service business owners like you, but also scoured the reviews on sites like Capterra, GetApp, TrustRadius, SoftwareAdvice, and Crozdesk for common themes. Just scrolling through the G2Crowd Field Service Management reviews proved to be a goldmine of information.
I Wish I Knew...
Here are the top issues that give field service businesses buyer’s remorse.
‘I wish I knew…’
- I didn’t have to get roped into a contract.
- If the solution doesn’t have SMTP, all my customer emails will get stuck in spam folders.
- How important the mobile app is.
- Slow syncing between the mobile and desktop apps slows down the whole business.
- I should have picked a solution that integrates with the software we already use.
- How important it is to be able to customise invoices and other documents.
- A solution may look great at first glance, but if they don’t introduce new features frequently it quickly loses its usefulness.
- The certificates we use aren’t included in the software.
- My engineers don’t have internet access on every job.
- I should have selected an FSM solution that can grow with my business.
Want more detail on these regrets, plus how to choose FSM software so you don’t fall victim? Read on for the full story.
1. I wish I knew...I didn’t have to get roped into a contract.
The FSM solution seems perfect for you, so you sign a 24-month, three-year, or even a five-year contract. And only then do you discover that the software is missing a key functionality you didn’t know you needed, or it doesn’t work as advertised.
Even worse, their customer service seems to evaporate when you have a complaint, because they know they have you locked in no matter what.
It’s a common complaint we hear in person from plumbing and heating, HVAC, and electrical businesses, and also in software reviews like these:
‘He conned me into a 24 month contract, which they claim is standard.’
‘Cancelled...found out that this hadn't been done. Wanted to lock me into another year of payment.’
‘I attempted to cancel the automatic contract renewal via phone, and was told it was canceled via phone, and of course it wasn't.’
Unless you’re 100% certain an FSM solution has everything you need—and everything you will need as you grow—opt for one of the many solutions that don’t make you sign a long-term contract. Yes, month-to-month or 12 months contracts do exist!
2. I wish I knew...if the solution doesn’t have SMTP, all my customer emails will get stuck in spam folders.
You won’t find a lot of reviewers complaining about this obscure problem, but it’s one we hear in real life from field service businesses: Emails you send through the software go out through the software company’s email provider, which increases the risk of emails being marked as spam.
This means your customers may not receive your emailed invoices, reminders, certificates, and estimates—and of course you don’t know it’s happening until it’s too late.
To avoid being one of the businesses that says ‘I wish I knew…’ about this issue, look for a solution that lets you send documents and communications through your own email provider.
3. I wish I knew...how important the mobile app is.
You were so enamoured of the slick desktop app, you didn’t pay much attention to the mobile version. But the mobile app is what your engineers have to use all day long, day in and day out.
On review sites you’ll find many, many complaints like these from field service that neglected to consider (and thoroughly test!) the mobile app before they implemented an FSM system.
‘Calendar is not on mobile version.’
‘None of this is mobile friendly.’
‘We tried to get this up and running for nearly a year before we gave up on the mobile functionality.’
‘Not being able to access the admin portal from a mobile device is another downside because you cannot add or edit jobs while you are on the run.’
‘Some components (such as mobile workers) can become very expensive.’
To head off this problem, ask these questions before signing on the dotted line:
How often the mobile app is updated.
Whether mobile access costs extra.
Whether you need specific devices, and whether you can provide your own or you have to purchase them from the software provider.
Which desktop features are available on the mobile app—like diaries, invoicing, parts management, and additional works—and which are not.
How long you can demo the mobile app before committing.
Also test as many functionalities as you can. Examining the mobile app as thoroughly as you do the desktop app will ensure you’re happy with your purchase—and make your engineers happy, too.
4. I wish I knew...slow syncing between the mobile and desktop apps slows down the whole business.
You ask all the right questions, you test the mobile app—but you only discover once your engineers are actually using the app in the field that it doesn’t seem to want to sync with the desktop app.
This is a common issue in FSM software reviews:
‘The offline sync is very buggy and has many limitations.’
‘Not updated properly sometimes. Job update delayed.’
‘I would push them to let you have a free trial so you can see how slow and buggy it is.’
Slow syncing means your office staff and operations managers don’t know what’s happening with your engineers in the field, and that they miss parts requests, change orders, and other important information while they’re waiting for data to sync up.
Don’t wait until you’ve implemented FSM software to discover the slow syncing problem. Instead, insist on a trial run where you can check out how the solution works in real-time.
5. I wish I knew...I should have picked a solution that integrates with the software we already use.
One big regret field service businesses report is that the FSM software they implemented doesn’t sync with the most common accounting software.
Check out these comments from a popular software review site:
‘I wish it could sync with desktop QuickBooks.’
‘I was told this application synced seamlessly with QuickBooks. It doesn't.’
‘Their QuickBooks sync is very cumbersome and does not sync all the data.’
If businesses experience this problem when using QuickBooks, a product of the largest and highest-earning financial software company, imagine how much worse it is for businesses using Xero, Sage, FreeAgent, or other financial software.
Before implementing a field service management solution, make sure it integrates with the software you already use every day. This will help shorten the learning curve and ensure buy-in from your engineers and office staff.
6. I wish I knew...how important it is to be able to customise invoices and other documents.
We hear this one a lot: You implement an FSM solution thinking you’ll be happy using their templates for invoices, estimates, and so on—but later you realise how important branding is and wish you could customise key customer documents in the software.
Not only that, but you may discover you include different information in your invoices and estimates than the software allows, which puts a crimp in your business processes.
To avoid buyer’s remorse, look for a solution that lets you customise everything you need right in the software. Even if you don’t think you need that functionality now, you may want it in the future, for example if you decide to rebrand your business to attract more high-end customers.
7. I wish I knew...a solution may look great at first glance, but if they don’t introduce new features frequently it quickly loses its usefulness.
You probably know how quickly technology changes. That iPad you spent so much money on last year is already obsolete!
It’s the same with FSM software: The features that look great today become outdated as technology and digital workflows change.
Just take a look at these comments from field service software review sites:
‘The system can be too reliant on human input. Would like to see a few more automated features throughout.’
‘I think the software should have more updates.’
‘Some updates seem to hurt more than help. Especially when it removes things.’
‘With the last update, they have changed the task feature. It still keeps all your tasks in one place, but it is much more difficult to navigate.’
As you can see from these complaints, even if a provider does offer new features, they may not always hit the mark.
To head off this issue before you commit to an FSM solution, take a look at the company’s product website to see how often they introduce new features and improve old ones. Also be sure to check out the online reviews for the software; if the company doesn’t release enough features, you’ll hear about it there.
8. I wish I knew...the certificates we use aren’t included in the software.
Need a particular type of certificate for your business, like gas, electrical, oil, fire & security, or renewable energy certificates? Most field service businesses do, and we hear them complain when their current FSM solutions don’t offer the certificates they need.
Even if the software does offer the right certificates, they sometimes lack key features—like customisation, digital signature capture, or checklists. So don’t implement FSM software and then say ‘I wish I knew…’ Instead, ask lots of questions about the type of certificates that are included and make sure you can fill, sign, and send them digitally.
If you use a type of certificate that’s not included in typical FSM solutions, find out if the provider can create bespoke certificates.
9. I wish I knew...my engineers don’t have internet access on every job.
Here’s something that’s easy to forget when researching FSM software: No matter how amazing the mobile app is, if your engineers happen to be at a job where they don’t have internet access, the app is useless.
These field service businesses learned that the hard way, judging by their reviews:
‘The app doesn't currently support an offline mode—hence it doesn't work if there isn't an internet connection, or if it temporarily loses the connection.’
‘No offline support for areas with no cellular signal.’
‘Currently no offline functionality but am told that is in the works and coming soon.’
Learn from these businesses’ ‘I wish I knew’ regrets by making sure the solution you implement offers offline support. You will need it.
10. I wish I knew...I should have selected an FSM solution that can grow with my business.
You have ten engineers, so you sign on for a field service management solution that allows up to ten engineers, and that has everything you need for a business of your size. Then your business is ready to expand, and the very software that helped get you there puts a stopper in your growth.
Buyer’s remorse and stalled growth are double trouble for your company. That’s why it’s crucial to look to the future when you’re researching a new FSM solution, and buy for the business you want to be—not the business you are now.
Also: If you’re a growing field service business and you find your progress is stalling, read our 2019 Restart Guide for Field Service Businesses. Get access instantly—no need to register! You’ll learn how to quickly reboot your sales, customer service, engineer management, and parts management, so you can kick-start new growth.