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Join us for the webinar
on Thu, Feb 15, 12:30 PM ET:‚Ä®
‚ÄúRevolutionizing Utility Field Service Management with New Technology‚ÄĚ
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Join us for the webinar
on Thu, Feb 15, 12:30 PM ET:‚Ä®
‚ÄúRevolutionizing Utility Field Service Management with New Technology‚ÄĚ
Register
Join us for the webinar
on Thu, Feb 15, 12:30 PM ET:‚Ä®
‚ÄúRevolutionizing Utility Field Service Management with New Technology‚ÄĚ
Register
7 Dec 2023
5 min
Technology

5 Must-Have App Attributes that Field Service Technicians Need in 2024

Deploying AMI project on the budget

In today's fast-paced world of field service projects and asset management, efficiency is paramount. Stakeholders are well aware of the features and integration capabilities that can streamline operations and generate explicit reports. However, there is often a lack of understanding when it comes to what features actual technicians truly want from field service apps.

As a result, technology adoption metrics among field technicians paint a different picture. According to a study, around 57% of field service workers find devices and apps frustrating. Technicians not only spend considerable time learning how to use these apps and follow workflows but also face the challenge of recording data while striving to deliver excellent service, ensuring customer satisfaction.

Once, a frustrated project manager from a well-known company specializing in smart meter installation services booked a demo of our Fieldman work management software. He invited the CTO, COO, and other stakeholders to the meeting. Everyone showed up to a Microsoft meeting. The leadership seemed uninterested; they hadn't expressed any concerns about their field projects and only asked a few basic questions. We were puzzled!

The only person who was engaged and enthusiastic was the project manager who organized this meeting. He couldn't contain his excitement when he witnessed the simplicity of our field app. He requested a few changes in a workflow, and we were able to implement them instantly during the demo. He was delighted to discover that work orders could be separated based on the size of the water meters.

Simple interface of field service app for technicians
Fieldman field service app interface

The gap between the office and the field was glaring. Field technicians and supervisors were vocal about technology being a pain and burden, describing each smart meter installation as a struggle. The office lacked an understanding of how technicians worked and didn't pay attention to field concerns. Stakeholders were focused on features, integration abilities, and other factors important for management but unrelated to actual field service work. Yet, 70% of field service projects revolve around labor!

At Fieldman, we observe this gap more often than we would like. Instead of simplifying tech-related tasks for field technicians, leaders inadvertently slow down the fieldwork.

The investment in mobile technology by companies becomes compromised as field service workers grapple with app complexities. This struggle not only hampers efficiency but also escalates tension between the office and the field, impeding progress and hindering technology adoption.

There is plenty of¬†helpful advice¬†on adopting new technology, ranging from building the right company culture and relying on tech ambassadors to creating tech guide tutorials and practicing patience. While these tips are valuable, there's an easier and smoother path ‚Äď choose the right field service software. One that technicians, regardless of their age and work experience, will love.

Here are a few critical attributes and functionalities to look for in any field service app:‚Äć

1 Simple Design and User-friendly Interface  

According to Similarweb, in 2023, the most popular iPhone apps were Temu, HBO, Walmart, TikTok, YouTube, and Google. Field technicians, like everyone else, don't live in a vacuum, and many of them use these apps for shopping and entertainment after work. They are well aware that apps can be intuitive and simple, bringing this expectation to the workspace and anticipating field service apps that are as user-friendly as TikTok.

Instead, field technicians often find themselves equipped with bulky, outdated handhelds or cumbersome apps that only the developers who created them seem to understand. While it's true that field service jobs often involve long and intricate workflows, this complexity becomes a burden and a source of frustration for technicians. Especially for a younger workforce who have become accustomed to modern apps, viewing outdated solutions as dinosaurs.

A study by FieldAware revealed that 63% of field technicians believe their mobile apps are not user-friendly, emphasizing the need for simplified interfaces tailored to their specific workflows.  

The common argument is that complexity is essential for field service jobs; otherwise, the office wouldn't have all the necessary data for visualizing progress and creating reports. While this might hold true for outdated field service solutions developed a decade ago, modern field service apps leverage the latest technology to simplify complex workflows and enhance usability. 

Take, for instance, the example of Amazon, a complex marketplace. Developers were able to simplify it for users, demonstrating that simplification is not synonymous with sacrificing functionality. The same approach can be applied to field service apps. Removing unnecessary distractions allows field workers to complete jobs more efficiently.

When evaluating field service apps, prioritize simplicity. Save complexity for office portals. 

2 Universal Compatibility Across Smartphones and Operating Systems

There are two primary types of smartphone operating system users: Android and iOS. This is especially relevant to field technicians; some lean towards iPhones, while others favor Samsung or other Android smartphones. Why not facilitate field service app adoption by allowing technicians to use the app through the operating system they prefer and use daily?

This approach will significantly ease technology adoption for each field service worker. Most technicians belong to a group that isn't keen on trying numerous new things, exploring the latest technology, or experimenting with devices. Field service workers value stability and would appreciate using the same type of smartphone and operating system.

Whether a technician uses an Android or iOS device, the app should offer a consistent and reliable experience. This flexibility ensures that workers can utilize their preferred smartphones, maintaining familiarity and comfort. 

‚Äć

3 Data Collection with a Single Hand

The iconic American food, the hamburger, was basically born out of the need to drive and grub at the same time. Americans didn't want to stop for lunch or dinner ‚Äď they just wanted to keep rolling. That's why fast food joints and drive-throughs are everywhere around the world now.

Much like drivers, field technicians cannot afford to lose time. It's crucial to select field service apps that can be used with one hand.

This functionality encompasses the ability to scroll, search, and input data with just a thumb, leaving the other hand free for essential tasks.

In many utility jobs, field workers are required to wear protective gloves. It's easier for them to take off just one glove to tap or scroll the app instead of dealing with both gloves. 

Technicians can hold tools or equipment in one hand while effortlessly inputting information into the app with the other. Whether scanning barcodes of new inventory, taking photos of completed jobs, or navigating through the app's features, the one-handed design ensures that workers can maximize productivity.¬†‚Äć

4 Offline Functionality for Uninterrupted Workflow

Field technicians often find themselves in areas with poor or no network coverage, a challenge that occurs more frequently than expected, especially in rural areas. The absence of the internet doesn't mean technicians should halt their work or spend time searching for a signal atop a hill. At Fieldman, we've heard stories of field service employees having to go to the nearest McDonald's with Wi-Fi to upload completed work orders.

To overcome this challenge, a field service app should provide offline functionality, allowing workers to continue their tasks seamlessly.

Technicians should be able to input data, complete forms, and perform essential functions even without a network connection. When connected, the app can effortlessly sync and push the stored data, ensuring no information is lost.

The Fieldman field service app utilizes Progressive Web App technology, allowing it to work offline. Our data indicates that field service workers experience internet disruptions a few times during the day. It's crucial for apps to function without interruption to maintain productivity levels.

5 Utilizing an Applications Ecosystem

When exploring the essential features of a field service app, you'll come across extensive lists, often including functionalities like maps and communication chats‚ÄĒfeatures that smartphones already offer.

Take maps, for instance. Many users are accustomed to relying on established platforms like Google Maps or Waze for navigation. Field technicians, who are likely already familiar with these widely used mapping applications, would find it more intuitive and less stressful to continue using a solution they are comfortable with for navigating from point A to point B.

Similarly, for communication, WhatsApp can serve as a seamless extension of the familiar chat interfaces technicians are accustomed to.

Rather than reinventing the wheel with redundant features, consider focusing on a field service app's redirect and integration capabilities. This way, the app becomes a harmonious part of the existing technological ecosystem, ensuring a smoother and more efficient workflow for field technicians.

These five principles underpin the design of the Fieldman field service app. Recognized for its award-winning simplicity and user-friendly interface, the field service app boasts customizable workflows. Project managers have the flexibility to create workflows tailored to their specific needs, ensuring that field technicians never feel frustrated or disoriented, as they navigate only through the necessary steps.