September 22, 2023

Field Service – On the Front Lines of Life and Death

  • Field Service Insights
Residential Field Services (5)

It doesn’t feel like entering a death trap when you step inside a building. But your health and safety are in the hands of various critical systems. And if those systems malfunction for any reason, you (and many others) could lose your life. 

Imagine the HVAC system stops working in an underground parking garage, allowing deadly carbon monoxide gas to accumulate in high volumes and drift into the floors above. Or think of what would happen if the sprinkler system or fire alarm failed to activate at the first sign of smoke. Hospitals have back-up generators to keep life support running in case of power outages—but what if the generators never came on?

In these and countless other instances, small mechanical failures can lead to significant tragedies. Fortunately, those tragedies are rare. That’s largely thanks to the essential but underappreciated work of field service providers around the world. They keep the systems running that make society safe to live in. And when field service suffers for any reason, safety does too, and society becomes more dangerous as a result.

To keep that from happening, there are sweeping rules and regulations to ensure that critical systems receive the maintenance they need when they need it. Providers must inspect, service, and repair equipment—from ventilator fans to sprinkler sensors—on a strict schedule. Equally important, technicians must document all their activities in whatever way regulators require. Doing all this right 99% of the time isn’t acceptable because the 1% that gets missed could be what causes a catastrophe.

Since so much depends on keeping critical infrastructure in perfect running order, service providers face major liabilities for any failure. Missed appointments or lost documentation can lead to substantial fines and fees. Much worse: Accidents and deaths caused by a provider’s negligence can open the door to massive lawsuits or permanent loss of license.

Safety compliance, therefore, is the highest priority for providers involved with critical infrastructure. Yet even the most seasoned and careful companies face challenges when it comes to getting everything right every single time. As long as those challenges continue, field service businesses are at risk…and so is the health and safety of everyone.

The Devil is in the Details

The importance of critical infrastructure isn’t lost on anyone, least of all the people servicing it. These providers put elaborate systems in place to ensure they meet all the obligations spelled out by laws or contracts. Typically, these systems work at first and continue working under perfect conditions. But critical infrastructure, by definition, is subject to dynamic, unpredictable forces that throw systems out of alignment.

Consider a provider who’s responsible for servicing fire extinguishers across a large college campus. The campus has over a thousand extinguishers, and each requires inspection and replacement at mandated intervals. As extinguishers get added or removed and the service schedules get out of sync over time, it becomes difficult to know where to send technicians, when they need to be there, what work they need to do, and how to document it. As a result, an extinguisher gets overlooked, the contents expire, and the device fails in the moment of emergency. One mistake—countless consequences. 

Field service providers can’t afford to make a single mistake when it comes to critical infrastructure. Few, however, have tools in place to make this possible. In fact, the tools currently in place may be the problem.

Excellence Through Integration

How do you keep important details from falling through the cracks? By eliminating the cracks.

The primary reason that appointments get missed, equipment gets overlooked, and documentation gets lost is because there are separate systems involved: one for scheduling, another for inventory and asset management, plus paper forms for collecting signatures. Information must eventually move from one system to another, and that’s where the problems begin.

Either the information doesn’t get transferred, can’t be transferred, or something gets lost in translation. In any case, details don’t make it where they should. It may not happen often or ever—it will happen eventually. Trying to keep separate systems working in perfect harmony makes mistakes inevitable.

The solution, then, is combining as many moving parts as possible onto one platform. Field service management (FSM) software brings the core functions of field service—scheduling, dispatch, asset management, work order histories, and more—under the same umbrella so that data moves freely, often automatically through every stage of service. Having a seamless foundation for service delivery means there are fewer places for mistakes, errors, and oversights to creep into the process, putting compliance and critical infrastructure both at risk.

For that same reason, however, most FSM software isn’t enough on its own. When service delivery is siloed off from finance, accounting, human resources, legal, or other parts of the company, the same risk outlined above comes into play. It’s just a matter of time before an important detail gets stuck in one system rather than moving into another. 

Next Service has become the FSM software of choice for providers involved with critical infrastructure for this very reason. Since the software runs on-platform with NetSuite, it works in perfect parallel with all that the NetSuite ecosystem is capable of. And since that whole ecosystem runs on the same databases and infrastructure, information moves quickly, easily, and accurately from one location to another. 

There has never been a better tool for servicing critical infrastructure—among countless other strengths that Next Service brings to the table. Schedule a demo to see how it could streamline, simplify, and scale what you do. 

September 22, 2023
Chris Ryan
  • Field Service Insights
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