There are two paths that you can take when searching for a Field Service Management (FSM) system. You can either purchase ready-made software or commission some additional, custom features. Customized features precisely reflect processes at your company. However, choosing the right system is not so obvious, as both options have their pros and cons.
It may seem that a custom solution tailored to your needs is always the right answer. After all, it should surpass products made for a wide user group.
In reality, many implementations show that it is the out-of-the-box FSM systems that prove to be more effective. Despite their evident advantages, customized tools have some not-so-obvious limitations.
Since the choice isn’t so clear, let’s consider arguments for each option.
Cost of Field Service Management systems
A customized FSM system is always built on the foundation of an existing, basic solution. Customers who choose this option are usually prepared for a much higher cost in comparison to the ready-made tool. The premise is that the higher cost brings a solution tailored to the company’s needs, that reflects business processes.
Ready-made FSM systems are usually much cheaper; however, their implementation is related to some initial limitations and misalignments. Sometimes they even require the company to modify its operations to align them to the purchased software.
This can be surely a challenge. It’s good to keep in mind though, that the go-to solutions are based on the experience of many companies and feedback of different users. Therefore, they may turn out to be more beneficial in the long run.
Available functionalities and adding new features
Ready-made solutions may include functions that seem to have limited usefulness and be unsuited for company requirements. This can make you feel like you pay for unnecessary features. With time and the company’s growth, such “excess” features may turn out to be useful.
Together with arising needs and new challenges related to employee management, company operations start to align to the system possibilities. Every new version of the app also offers additional features and further improvements. Users get new versions automatically, they don’t need to ask for them or pay additional fees.
Adding new functionalities to the system tailored to a particular customer isn’t so fast and easy. Usually, it requires a long time to implement and brings additional costs, especially in the case of large companies. As a pioneering solution, it can be a serious challenge for developers and have some initial operational issues.
Updating an FSM system
Besides additional features, there is another element related to the cost of an FSM solution. It’s the necessary system updates that help tackle arising industry challenges.
Economic and legal changes require regular modifications in employee management systems. This isn’t a problem in the case of out-of-the-box solutions. They are often updated, either for free or at a low price. Updates guarantee that these systems tackle even the most recent FSM challenges.
Customized systems modified according to the customer requirements don’t get updated as regularly. As a result, with time they may become outdated.
Keeping up with the new technologies
Perpetual development of technologies is another reason why regular updates are much needed. Out-of-the-box FSM systems are developed systematically and take advantage of the latest trends in technology, both software, and hardware. When it comes to customized solutions, with time, there is a risk of so-called technical debt.
The level of the FSM system’s refinement
Even the best, customized solution that’s created based on a ready-made system by an experienced team may be prone to some initial issues. Some of the challenges can be only discovered during work, so at the beginning of using the software, it’s necessary to include some time for potential adjustments.
Naturally, purchasing a ready-made FSM system seems like a safer option. Such a solution has been tested by many other companies and any potential errors have already been fixed. More importantly, this kind of software typically has significantly larger documentation including instructions and user guides.
The documentation of customized employee management systems is usually poorer, which makes it more difficult, expensive, and time-consuming to train users.
Getting to know the product before the implementation
There’s no doubt that an FSM system that’s tailored to your company’s needs has many advantages. However, one of its downsides is that you cannot see it before deciding to implement it. You cannot be entirely sure about how the application would look and work once it’s ready.
In this case, ready-made solutions provide peace of mind, as you can fully get to know the system before deciding on the purchase.
A user-friendly interface
Quite a significant difference between customized and ready-made FSM systems is that the latter is developed with an emphasis on usability and appearance.
IT teams that develop such products usually include a UX/UI designer. These specialists make sure that the system is attractive and intuitive to use.
Obviously, customized solutions are also created by professionals (don’t worry about that!). However, as customers may want to cut the costs of their systems, usability can be left behind and the team won’t necessarily include a UX/UI specialist. Therefore, such a solution may turn out to be not as intuitive and attractive as an out-of-the-box tool.
The need for maintaining the right IT infrastructure
When getting a customized solution, both in an increasingly popular SaaS model or in an on-premise mode, you have to remember to maintain the right system infrastructure. This may bring additional costs, such as hiring and paying an administrator and maintaining servers, databases, network tools, and others.
When it comes to an out-of-the-box Field Service Management solution, the software provider bears these costs and responsibilities. Usually, clients don’t need to worry about any infrastructure maintenance. This also has its price but it typically pays off more to leave all maintenance and security to a specialized IT company.
Matching the company’s needs
Sometimes a company has to adjust its business processes to match the software
Software perfectly reflects company business processes
Significantly lower due to the mass availability
High, as every product is modified according to the customer’s needs
Many extra features available in a basic version
Extra features are usually expensive and time-consuming
A ready-made solution may not meet very specific requirements
It’s costly but possible to implement special features
Meeting industry requirements
Easy due to regular software updates
Difficult, as every update needs to be commissioned
Keeping up with new technologies
Easy due to regular updates and new versions
Risk of a so-called technical debt
Costs and convenience of introducing new users
Low costs due to expansive documentation, instructions, and user guides
Higher cost, as new users need to be trained
Getting to know the product before the implementation
An option for viewing the app before purchasing it and learning about the experiences of other companies who use it
The solution can be only tested once it’s already purchased and implemented
The level of the system’s refinement
The solution is thoroughly tested and its usability and looks are meticulously refined
Higher risk of errors and, potentially, less attention given to usability and visual aspects
The interface is developed with an emphasis on usability and user-friendliness
To limit the costs, usability is given less attention
The need for maintaining a right infrastructure
SaaS model – a solution provider is responsible for maintaining the right IT infrastructure
In the SaaS model, a solution provider is responsible for maintaining the right infrastructure, but in some cases, it’s the customer that needs to take care of the infrastructure. This generates additional costs
So which solution would be a better choice for your company?
Customized solutions based on ready-made tools and tailored to customer needs in many aspects fall behind the cheaper and more flexible out-of-the-box solutions. Still, you have to remember their massive advantage, as they can superbly reflect even the most complex and unique business processes.
Then what companies should choose a customized FSM system? Most of all, large corporations with particularly complex business processes that need to be reflected in a fieldwork management system, e.g. telecommunication operators. This will be the best choice for such companies as long as they’re ready to commit to the cost.
In this case, it’s worth considering a reputable local provider, large enough to have all the required tools and industry knowledge but also small enough to be flexible and time-efficient.
For smaller companies or larger corporations with standard procedures, out-of-the-box solutions are a much more cost-effective choice. In their case, introducing new features may turn out to be uneconomical.
Practice proves that higher costs and inconveniences of customized solutions (such as lack of updates) significantly outweigh the benefits. Sometimes, companies notice that initially difficult changes forced by ready-made software start to positively influence company operations. It’s a logical outcome, as such software is based on the best, verified solutions.
Where to start?
Even if you consider choosing a customized solution, the best practice is to perform a pilot (or even a production) implementation of a ready-made system. The next step in this approach is introducing custom features – only if it turns out to be needed after all.
In the initial stage, you can get to know the software and verify your business processes and needs. This allows you to precisely define what exactly is missing in the system.
Moreover, this option limits costs, as you only need to pay for those modifications that are truly necessary and most effectively meet your company requirements.
If you can’t decide which approach is best for your company, message us!
Our specialists will analyze your business needs and advise the most optimal solution for your case.