How to Select Service Management Software

    11/22/17 10:00 AM

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    Not all service management companies are the same

    Experience shows that the service management industry is diverse and has varying business functionality requirements. The diversity can make selecting service management software challenging due to this complexity. Service management software is also part of the ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) family as the software selected can impact all aspects of your business.

    Have a plan

    A simple way to help narrow down the service management solutions available is to make a list of requirements. Ask your various department heads to list five to ten functional requirements they would like to have and create your list. As we all know, it is hard to go shopping if you don’t know what you are shopping for.

    Another task is to make a list of business requirements as desired from the executive team. These requirements will likely differ significantly from those of the day to day transactional users of the business system.

    The next area of focus is your three to five year business goals and plan. Areas such as:

    • Do you have a plan to diversify?
    • Do you plan to make future acquisitions?
    • Do you plan to expand to new locations and sites?
    • Do plan to have an increased focus on sales, revenue and employee head count changes?
    • How will these plans be achieved?

    You need a service management focused ERP system to support these objectives and possible changes for the business.

    These factors should be blended together when gathering all the important determinants on how the service management software toolset can address your present and future business requirements across your enterprise.

    The next step is to categorize your requirements and prioritize the list. Once this is done you can start matching your company’s criteria against the functionality provided by various service management software vendors.

     

    A great resource for those evaluating service management (ERP) software is our ebook, How to Select ERP...and not regret it.

     

    Don’t overlook these areas…

    First time software researchers may miss some important software requirements simply because there’s so much to cover in the evaluation. Below are five important areas that are often overlooked:

    1. Integrated accounting

    Many service management software packages don’t have accounting functionality and a fixed assets module. Without those modules you will have to use an interface from the service management software that connects to your accounting software such as QuickBooks. This may sound like a good option for some but keep in mind that now you have two systems to maintain from two different vendors. Interfaced accounting functionality is not the same as a fully integrated system that has its own accounting.  Many times there is a manual interface and dependency on Excel. We often see companies that are outgrowing QuickBooks or Peachtree and are ready to make the transition to a more robust service management tool.

    An additional consideration is this: If a component of your three to five year business plan includes the addition of sites and/or companies, then you should make sure the service management solution can support multiple sites and entities in a single database to facilitate accounting organization efficiencies.

    2. Business specific functional requirements

    Many equipment companies have different requirements than typical field service-oriented companies. Equipment businesses may require rental and rental counter functionality. They may also require counter sales functionality. Finally, many equipment sales and rental companies provide both internal and field service and repair activities, and the service management software should be able to support all of these requirements.

    3. Mobile accessibility

    Most all service management software providers have mobile capabilities. It is important to ensure that your current devices or equipment available to you are compatible. One other area often overlooked is whether you can use the mobile devices in areas without internet or cell signals. If you have service techs going to remote areas, then untethered mobile device ability should be reviewed carefully.

    4. Software deployment options

    On-premise deployment, third party hosted, or multi-tenant cloud subscription deployment are the options evaluators need to consider. First you need to understand what these options truly are  and which makes most financial sense for your company to pursue. A good rule is to estimate how long you intend to use the new system and then do a cost comparison for that time frame and the available options. For example, if you think you will use the new service management ERP system for about seven years before replacing it, then that should be the time frame used for comparing on premise, hosted, and subscription options.

    5. Software supplier stability

    Never underestimate the importance of choosing a good service management software vendor. There are hundreds of service management software companies and many are very small. It is important to choose a company that is a business application leader and has the resources to continually develop and support the service management solution. The service management software market is young compared to the ERP market where much consolidation has already taken place. Changes can and will happen with some companies being purchased, some folding, and some flourishing. Do your research to ensure you will have a system with strong new development resources and a good support/help desk infrastructure.

    Treat your search for a new service management software solution as though you are investing in an asset - one that can help your business grow. Focus on areas that are needed to assist meeting your company’s grand plan goals while also making your transactional users become more effective. We are happy to discuss and review your plan for selecting service management software.

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    Tim O'Brien

    Written by Tim O'Brien

    Tim has over 20 years of successful experience helping companies improve their processes and operations using enterprise software solutions. Those enterprise solutions include Enterprise Resource Planning for manufacturers, Service Management for service oriented companies, and Enterprise Asset Management in the process manufacturing industry.