Know Your Options for Cloud-Based Field Service Software

The benefits of SaaS and perpetual license models, and why subscription-based pricing shouldn’t be your only option.

Maintenance Software

The market for field service management software is predicted to almost double in size over the next five years to over $5 billion. Driven by the increasing adoption of mobile applications and wearable devices among field workers, this industry shows no sign of slowing down.

Field service management software is mandatory for companies that need to profitably deploy engineers working off-site while protecting the customer experience. With instant communication and real-time data, the right software gives enterprises the ability to meet both emergent and contracted service demand, improve technician utilization rates and ensure service-level agreements (SLAs) and other customer commitments are met.

Software can also include advanced algorithmic approaches to real-time schedule optimization that automates dispatch decisions, taking into consideration technician skill sets, inventory on each truck. Industrial pioneer Henry Ford let you buy a model T in whatever color you wanted ... as long as it was black. This single color approach made for more efficient production, and today some software companies sell only through SaaS for the same reason. It is more profitable for them to impose conformity on their customers.

Customers may only buy through SaaS, but some companies still want to own the software outright through a perpetual license. And yes, you can get the benefits of cloud and still buy a perpetual license. Field service management software vendors ought to give you a choice: subscription or buying the license outright. There are pluses and minuses to each approach, but your vendor should not make the decision for you.

Subscribe for Lower Up-Front Costs

Purchasing software on a subscription basis allows a customer to pay for the software on an expense budget rather than a capital budget. This can be beneficial because the expense may be assigned to a given department’s operating budget and is well below the normal threshold for a capital budget spend.

The lower up-front investment of SaaS also makes it attractive for businesses looking to start with a smaller footprint and scale up or down depending on fluctuations in technician numbers. Organizations can implement field service management in a single division or office as a proof of concept. When starting with a small number of SaaS users, businesses can always consider wider implementation and scale the solution across a broader number of users when needed.

Piece of Mind

Up until the internet and broadband connectivity became a central component to most businesses, software was sold by default on a perpetual license basis. Purchased through a one-time license fee, the solution can be run either on a company’s own hardware or private cloud.

The fact that the software is a central part of the business seems to be a factor for some of our customers. They want to own the software so they can more confidently build their vital processes around it. The cost of the license is paid up-front and allows businesses to own the software outright with the rights to use it indefinitely. It is usually purchased with a contract for ongoing maintenance and support, but most of the cost comes at initial purchase.

A company can provision software sold through a perpetual license on their own servers and support it with their own IT personnel. Or they can place it in a private or public cloud run by a third-party vendor, which could be their software vendor. Running software in this way allows a company to outsource common IT administration tasks while ensuring the server capacity can scale effortlessly to meet user count or transaction volume demand.

Commitment is a key concept when it comes to organizations opting for a perpetual license. The fact that the license purchase hits the capital budget is important from an organizational standpoint. It means that from the top of the organizational chart on down, there is buy-in for these new processes and this new tool to maximize the profitability of the service organization.

From Strategy to CI

A field service software buyer should prioritize their specific requirements first before looking at deployment models and license methods. It is important to remember that regardless of whether the FSM solution is purchased through a perpetual license or by subscription, FSM software will always fall short if it does not address the entire service lifecycle.

Beyond scheduling, dispatch and field mobility, there are many areas field service applications should include to drive substantive value. Automated call handling, routing and dispatches are important to optimize call center functionality and day-to-day tasks, while traceability systems and spare parts management can give complete control over supply chains – keeping businesses safe and compliant.

Reverse logistics is another key requirement for businesses dealing with complex repair environments, as is project management for instant communication with remote personnel out in the field. Strong support for serialization will ensure compliance in regulated industries and support recalls when necessary,  decreasing the potential of lost revenue, missed service-level agreements and unhappy customers.

So, ask hard questions not only about how your cloud field service software vendor will facilitate your choice of licensing model, but whether they can help you meet and exceed customer expectations. Regardless of how you pay for your field service software, what you are really buying is a new business capability and your choice should focus on if the software matches key business needs instead of the delivery model. With a fully optimized FSM solution available on both models, businesses can make sure their field service operations can meet customer needs, now and in the future.