Modernize Field Service powered by Appify

Today, every Enterprise Field Service (FSM) Software vendor faces the same challenges trying to deliver capabilities for global Customers, complex environments, and regional specificity. Field service is increasingly how your Customers differentiate, so how do you help  bridge the gap between technology and how their people need to use it?

To add to this challenge, your Customers are no longer tolerant of 5x – 10x implementation costs, multi-year projects, and ever increasing difficulty in proving time to value.  Appify, the next generation No-Code platform, offers you an opportunity to change the game on your competition. This post will talk about how you can change the conversation with your Customers and Prospects, slashing time to value, and get projects to completion potentially years ahead of schedule!

Enterprise Field Service Table Stakes?

You are all aware of the “must-have” capabilities to an Enterprise FSM solution, and as the vendor these are your table stakes. 

  1. Work Order Management 
  2. Scheduling and Dispatching
  3. Integration
  4. Customer and Asset Management
  5. Warranty and Contracts Management
  6. Inventory Management

Your solution will have additional capabilities and features in addition to these table stakes functionality, but your ability to easily integrate and to deliver flexibility in meeting your customers’ challenges will be how you win.

Real-World Enterprise Implementations 

Field Service Management (FSM) has been a category of software for at least 2 decades now. I was fortunate enough to have been a part of ServiceMax who revolutionized the industry by offering a cloud solution on the Salesforce platform, and taking at-that-time consumer devices, such as iPad and iPhone, and using them as business devices that make a mobile workforce truly mobile. 

ServiceMax, by extension of the Salesforce platform, is a Low Code solution because an application developer can achieve some outcomes through configuration, but mostly you must fall back on the ancient art of writing code. Of course, any time code needs to be written you need skilled resources for extended periods of time and you have bugs to be caught and resolved. This necessarily drives extended implementation times and undefined costs and unfortunately, each time Salesforce or ServiceMax issues a new updated release, the customer does it all again. I don’t mean to pick on ServiceMax, it’s just a solution I know well, but it’s important as this story is consistent across most Enterprise Software irrespective of software category.

As ServiceMax customers moved to standardize on the product across their global organizations, projects extend into years and implementation costs become multiples of the software cost. These problems become amplified by multiple back-end systems that need to feed data to the FSM solution (How many global enterprises only have one ERP?), as well as local processes and compliance regulations. Standardizing on a global field service solution is great, but the regional requirements are often where the project momentum slows and costs continue to rise. 

Fundamental Challenges!

For every new customer you acquire you repeat the same implementation process, but the implementation itself is unique to that customer because their environment is unique and the details of what and how they service are unique. I’m sure you recognize the challenges below and know the implications of them to the implementation project you’ll propose:

  • Customer processes, data objects, and business logic are unique to their business and tailored to asset services, regions serviced, and industry and regional compliance.
    • We’re going to need a large services engagement to scope, build, iterate and maintain this. Some will be configurable, but there will be customization.
  • There are business requirements that are not covered in the core product, requiring custom database tables and code to support.
    • We’re going to need a large services engagement to scope, build, iterate and maintain this. I’ll need developers that can build data objects, and all supporting code.
  • Core data lives elsewhere and FSM needs to be integrated to multiple systems of record, including multiple variants of key data sources such as ERP or CRM.
    • We’re going to need an external services company to do the integrations, rationalize the data models. The customer is not going to like that business data is getting duplicated, where is the source of truth? Now the customer needs a middleware solution, and that is going to at least double our project timeline and implementation costs.
  • The customer operates in multiple countries and all their processes are slightly different, and each country has its own regulatory and compliance rules, it all needs to be in local language.
    • Do we implement different solution variants in each country, or do we try and drive cohesive service practices globally? So now we have the pre-project to figure out how to do the project! More services, more cost, more time. 
  • In North American users have iPhones and iPads, but in Europe they’re mostly on Android and the back office is on the web.
    • So now we need to build multiple mobile experiences! We need local services and language skills, and that’s going to drive up time and costs.

Of course there are other challenges to: What about the Partner Service Network? On an acquisition journey of other providers! Sell other products besides FSM.

It is not hard to see why complexity grows exponentially, costs to customers continue to grow, and there is technical debt for every project but also in the core product supporting all the variations and innovation. It is not unreasonable to hear stories of global deployments “We’re 9 years into the FSM implementation project, and we’re 2/3 of the way to completion!”

No-Code and No Middleware

In the 20 years FSM has been evolving so have other technologies, and the next generation of No-Code platforms, Appify, can solve these fundamental challenges freeing your precious and expensive resources to focus on innovation of the core product capabilities. You can also give your customers a better experience, faster time to value, and significant reduction in implementation costs and risk.

With the simple addition of Appify on top of your existing stack these challenges become extremely manageable:

Appify Flex, an extremely powerful data modeling platform, is at the heart of this solution,

  1. Define the data model for the mobile or web experiences you need to create
  2. If the data object exists in an existing FSM solution, then connect to that object via API. No middleware, no integration, no data duplication.
  3. If the data doesn’t exist anywhere already then it can live in Flex. 
  4. If an object lives in your FSM product, but lacks a field you can store the field in Appify Flex – essentially extending the data model.

With the data model in place:

  1. Define business core processes and screens once, and build Apps for the different usage personas.
  2. See #1. Yep. That’s it.

All of this is done through drag and drop in Appify Studio, configured once and works across multiple mobile devices on or offline and on the web. 

Your best of breed field service foundation now has world class user experience – all in a matter of just weeks of configuration!

What about my customer deployments?

It’s exactly the same process that built the core offering:

  • Appify Studio to configure the solution, business logic, and screens
  • Extend existing data model to include customer specific data sources, connected via API to the Flex model
  • Country specific variants, simply configure country specific Apps with own data and logic as extensions to existing model in Flex

What were the challenges again?

  • My processes, data objects, and business logic are unique to my business and tailored to assets services, regions serviced, and industry and regional compliance.
    • Configure in the Flex data model including regional or industry specific extensions.
    • Configure business logic in Appify so your Customer can manage it.
  • I have business requirements that are not covered in the core product, requiring custom database tables and code to support.
    • Flex is extensible, just configure the objects you need. If you don’t have an existing system to store them, then Appify Flex will store the data.
  • I have to integrate to multiple systems of record, including multiple variants of key data sources such as ERP or CRM.
    • Just configure the object to reference the object in the external system, no middleware and no integration required. 
    • Don’t worry about maintaining object consistency or foreign key integrity, Appify manages it.
    • Appify 100% respects the security, authorization, and integrity controls managed by IT. IT is working to protect the business, and Appify works with IT.
  • I operate in multiple countries and all their processes are slightly different, and each country has its own regulatory and compliance rules, oh, and we need it all in local language.
    • Extend the data model as needed and configure Apps for each country or industry with the specific requirements, and they won’t impact everyone else. 
  • My North American users have iPhones and iPads, but in Europe we’re mostly on Android and the back office is on the web.
    • Configure once, the App will work on any supported device.

Appify also can support your Partner model in ways you may not have imagined, this agility easily keeps pace with acquisition integration. If a solution has an API, it can be part of the Appify data model.

This agility means you can respond to sales opportunities and customer requirements quickly and easily. Your customers can keep pace with their ever changing business landscape and implement ideas at the speed of thought.

It is real!

If you’ve been in Enterprise software as long as I have, this pace and ease of innovation seems unbelievable, but I can assure you it is real, we’ve done it – repeatedly. Powered by Appify brings the success our Customers have experienced and makes it available to be white-labeled for Enterprise Field Service Software Suppliers. The Appify mission is to make business life simpler, call today to see how we can make your solution simpler.

Focus on what you do best, and let Appify do the rest!

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Written by Jonathan Skelding VP of Business Strategy & Ops at Appify. Jonathan has been in the software industry for 30 years in a variety of global roles from engineering to services, alliances and sales.