Automation offers efficiency—and that’s exactly what field service businesses need. For 73% of field service technicians, too many of their working hours are filled with paperwork. Manual paperwork is tedious, adds a lot of minutes to every appointment, and doesn’t even create cohesive records for the central office, even with the most diligent team.
Many businesses switch to ERP systems like NetSuite for field services in the hope of shrinking those paperwork challenges through standardized forms, customer histories, and transparent workflows. However, NetSuite offers far more than simply cutting down on the time technicians spend creating a log of their activities.
Because NetSuite is such a robust platform, it can facilitate everything from real-time appointment setting and instant invoicing to workflow support so technicians can complete every step of a custom job or routine appointment. The efficiencies your NetSuite ERP can offer all come down to how well it’s optimized to suit the operations of your unique business.
Using NetSuite for Field Services Solves These 5 Challenges
Your team may have already identified the core business objective to tackle for the future. If you haven’t, consider these goals based on the biggest challenges field service organizations faced in 2023:
- Create processes for complying with both standard and custom SLAs or contracts (a top challenge for 46% of businesses)
- Train and empower your staff (40%)
- Facilitate better adoption of new technology (37%)
- Have better and newer technology (37%)
- Offer new services that align with a changing market (29%)
Whether you’re rolling out a new NetSuite implementation project or want to make it a more valuable core of your tech stack, you can build it to align with your goals. See how NetSuite can help through integrations, modules, and connected data fields.
Challenge 1: Creating Work Orders and Standardizing Services
You may have work orders coming in from multiple sources: homeowners through their portal or app, on-site managers creating multiple work orders, or salespeople breaking down annual contracts into specific work orders.
You can configure your NetSuite iteration in intake work orders from all these sources, combine the data with customer information from the account-level pages, and create tasks that are sent to the right technician at the right time. NetSuite for field services can help every stage of this process:
- Easily schedule and reschedule appointments.
- Select standard, one-time, or custom service options that are added or removed from the appointment.
- Generate workflow documents, checklists, and reminders for every appointment (this includes custom services that are unique to each particular property). These workflows can automatically flag incomplete fields so everyone receives the right standard of service and mistakes are caught quickly.
- Automatically compile the information into material and supply lists so technicians know what to load in their trucks at the start of each day.
- Make documentation faster because the forms automatically pull in account-level details and dates.
- Instantly make completed appointment documents part of customer records so the central office can respond accurately to customer calls.
Challenge 2: Changes in Appointments: Scheduling, Services, and Supplies
Changes can be a logistical nightmare for field service businesses of any size. A landscaping client might request emergency services after a storm, an industrial client may have a hazardous chemical spill that needs specialized equipment, or an ongoing telecom project might have several on-site deployments that are constantly changing. Trying to navigate appointment changes is difficult because:
- Trying to locate an available technician takes time.
- Technicians may need to drive to a central location for supplies, further delaying completion.
- If you plan daily routes to be as efficient as possible, a one-off change can derail the rest of the day.
- Any delays can frustrate customers (especially customers who didn’t cause the delay).
It’s possible to manage some of these challenges manually, but NetSuite for field services streamlines the process and makes the work easier, faster, and more efficient. For example, a properly setup NetSuite can:
- Monitor technician locations, schedules, and on-truck supplies to recommend the right choice for an emergency call. You can even identify the right fit based on the technician’s specializations or certificates.
- Trigger downstream changes automatically so you don’t have to manually rework schedules due to an early morning disruption.
- Instantly send information to the technician through updated work orders and direct messages.
- Get alerted if any changes cause scheduling conflicts, overtime, or missed appointments so your customer service team or operational managers can take the right steps.
When your team is on high alert because of rushed change orders, a big storm in the area, or other upheavals, NetSuite for field services provides simple process management.
Challenge 3: Providing Pricing Quotes and Invoices
Accurate estimates, quotes, and pricing are must-haves for field services. Residential clients may call for an assessment because of a direct mail flyer or other campaign. A new branch of your legacy customer might schedule services, expecting the same pricing. Of course, many customer relationships start with a free estimate for services. To make it all work, your field technicians (who often double as salespeople) need to have the right information to confidently deliver pricing.
Because NetSuite uses the cloud, field technicians can input work details into an up-to-date pricing calculator and instantly get a quote. The pricing will account for active campaigns in the area, the type and size of service, and any ongoing contracts that apply to the customer. They can even input multiple scenarios to help prospective clients choose the right services for their budget. The instantaneous convenience provides a lot of value for customers.
Then, as the work gets done, the estimates turn into invoices. You can send invoices to clients with the right payment terms, pricing details, and line items because all the information is pulled from the centralized system.
Challenge 4: Having In-Depth Customer Profiles for Different Work Sites
Your field service technicians never have to walk in blind when they have a tablet or mobile phone that connects to NetSuite. You can generate tasks that align with each work order, and those tasks can automatically pull in details like the address, past appointments, custom requests, and notes the previous technician made. The tasks can also link to the entire customer profile so technicians can provide personalized service, know which contacts to look for, and make sure customer service remains high.
That same level of detail and personalization can also be worked automatically into NetSuite for field services through workflows, checklists, and appointment documentation. Whether it’s as simple as noting that a residence has requested supplemental ant control treatments or having a detailed breakdown of which equipment needs maintenance at different industrial sites, your technicians can work item by item without having to remember custom one-offs or worry that they forgot something.
This can help account managers ensure key accounts receive what they need, help technicians work efficiently, and even help new technicians (or new-to-the-site technicians) manage the job with minimal friction.
Challenge 5: Expanding Into New Geographic Areas or New Service Types
Field services never stand still. Your organization might be transitioning to explore off-peak season services so you can maintain more full-time staff, or there may be more niche services available for you as your region expands. Alternatively, you may want to extend your service area radius or open new franchises further away. NetSuite developers can make your ERP better support these growth efforts through:
- Integrating your marketing tools into NetSuite so you can monitor campaigns and how they affect your operations
- Do the heavy lifting in organizing and deploying teams to cover a wider area as efficiently as possible
- Automatically add new services, promotions, and calls to action in checklists for field service technicians and door-to-door promoters
- Create badges or lists that identify technicians who are trained and certified in new services so they can be deployed
How Professional Development Services Can Customize Your NetSuite for Field Services
NetSuite offers a seemingly simple benefit—automatically sharing and using data fields—that translates into dozens of advantages for field service businesses. Because that premise has universal applications, the software is incredibly robust and can be challenging to use straight out of the box. It might also be overwhelmingly complex or not integrate with all your legacy tools.
That’s why it’s important to have professional NetSuite developers customize the software to suit your field service’s current needs and future goals. Look for development services that follow these steps:
- Understand What Your Business Truly Needs: Your business is unique, so out-of-the-box programs and templatized coding processes won’t work well. Instead, your NetSuite developers should gain a deep understanding of your services and business processes to find areas where custom work provides the most value.
- Integrate Data Fields So Everyone Has an Accurate Picture: Integration is a fundamental part of making NetSuite valuable. Developers can map fields within NetSuite and across different programs so information flows accurately between field techs and the central office.
- Develop Niche Functionalities Through Modules and Custom Code: Customization is also vital, but it shouldn’t be first. Instead, look for developers who can find the right advanced NetSuite modules for your business to do a hefty portion of the specialization and then use custom coding for the remainder. This workflow is more efficient and cost effective, and it means your NetSuite service cares more about serving you than upselling you.
Make NetSuite Work Harder so Your Teams Spend More Time Providing Services in the Field
Every type of field service has its challenges, but technology can help your business and technicians work more efficiently. NetSuite has the tools and powerful automation your business needs to streamline every customer appointment, marketing campaign, long-term job, and invoicing process.
At Limebox, we offer comprehensive NetSuite implementation, development, and coding services so that your ERP is built the right way for your business’s workflows and operations. Contact us today to see how we can modify your NetSuite for field services in your niche.