Field services — the operational tasks conducted by a company’s employees at remote locations or customer sites — are becoming increasingly vital to the American workplace, even as the definition of “workplace” continues to evolve. As such, the management of these services, which include maintenance, repairs and installations, is of critical importance. In fact, a recent study(opens in a new tab) found that the global field service management software market is projected to grow from $3.24 billion in 2021 to $8.06 billion in 2028.

Field service management involves the end-to-end coordination and optimization of field service operations, including scheduling, dispatching, task assignment and monitoring of remote teams or technicians, to ensure efficient, timely and high-quality service delivery. It often relies on technology solutions to streamline workflows, improve resource allocation and enhance customer satisfaction. But there are numerous challenges that field service managers in industries such as HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), healthcare and construction must address to achieve success. Among them are rapidly changing technology, accurate scheduling, travel costs and worker safety.

What Is Field Service Management?

Field services describe any activities relating to the repair, maintenance or installation of equipment at a secondary location — tasks that can involve intensive planning, hazardous locations and the deployment of numerous employees and independent contractors. Not surprisingly, this can become complicated quickly. Field service management is the practice of managing field services, employees and equipment using software, workflows and communication solutions. For as vital and necessary as field services are to clients, they are fraught with complications that must be diligently prepared for in order to deliver the best possible results, on time, safely and in accordance with industry regulations. Efficient field service management can improve customer satisfaction, increase employee engagement and cut costs.

What Are Field Service Management Challenges?

The major tasks that fall under the purview of field service management include scheduling, dispatch management, work-order management and contract management. Each of these general areas is made up of numerous interrelated tasks requiring the participation of customers, contractors and employees, including field operatives and office workers. These tasks have historically been handled manually, making for a time-consuming and labor-intensive process, while opening the door to all manner of human error. And with so many interconnected parts involved in field service management, a small mistake in one area can have a cascading effect across an entire organization.

Key Takeaways

  • Ongoing technological shifts continue to reshape how field services are performed, reported and managed.
  • Many of the major problems that befall a field services organization stem from human error and oversight, a result of too many moving pieces that often aren’t properly captured and communicated.
  • Increasingly, the name of the game is simplicity, with success stemming from the consolidation and streamlining of technology. Rather than trying to sort through multiple systems, each performing one piece of the larger field service management function, companies can opt for software that automates routine tasks, creates dashboards and provides real-time collaboration between field service agents and their office counterparts.
  • The simpler the solution, the more effective the service. Adhering to this principle is a strong strategy for avoiding some of the pitfalls of the field service industry.

Field Service Management Challenges Explained

The field service industry is defined by mobility, with operatives visiting multiple sites to perform a variety of functions and tasks. Because of the mobile nature of the work — and because of the wide range of services and customers — tracking and managing all the moving pieces can become difficult. There are myriad ways for things to go wrong, and the less efficient a process is, the more opportunities for mistakes there are. As field service management technology has evolved, it has become easier for companies to consolidate and simplify many of these functions, turning challenges into opportunities along the way.

14 Field Service Management Challenges and Solutions

Field service management challenges can range from matters of administrative upkeep to on-the-job safety concerns. However they manifest, failures in these areas can cause breakdowns and inefficiencies in a company’s processes and culture. If not tended to, issues can result in additional costs, poor results and low customer satisfaction. Read on to learn about the most common challenges faced by companies offering field services, as well as practical solutions.

field services management benefits
Field service management challenges can range from matters of administrative upkeep to on-the-job safety concerns.

1. Accurate Scheduling

If accurate scheduling is a shortcut to efficiency and satisfied customers, poor scheduling is a quick road to dysfunction, irresolution and problems that can leave everyone involved (customers, technicians, office workers) frustrated and exhausted — not to mention dealing with additional costs incurred by repeated trips to the troubled site in question.

Some of the most common scheduling errors include overlapping events (two events scheduled for the same time slot), double-booking (two field service agents assigned to one task) and unavailable time slots (field service agents booked when they’re not available). These conflicts often result from manual scheduling processes. Whether the method is an online calendar, a spreadsheet or physical notetaking, it’s easy for information to become scattered and individual entries lost or overlooked.


A major part of the solution is simply being aware of the problem. Knowing from the start what to avoid when coordinating a schedule and being as clear and comprehensive as possible in the planning process can make a big difference. Additionally, scheduling capabilities available through modern field service management software solutions make it easier to consolidate disparate schedules into a simple and straightforward plan and to proactively flag potential conflicts.

2. Travel Costs

Intrinsic to field services is the travel involved for technicians to visit the different sites in need of attention. Any sort of transportation is obviously going to incur costs, from gas to tolls to vehicle maintenance. Field service management requires considering the cost of every stop that an agent or technician makes on a given day and determining how to manage this spending so that it doesn’t outweigh the value of the work done at a given site.


Field service management software can help companies manage travel costs by optimizing technician scheduling and routing, thereby reducing unnecessary travel time and fuel expenses. It also enables real-time tracking of field personnel, allowing for efficient allocation of resources and minimizing costly delays.

3. First-Time Fix Rate

The first-time fix rate in field services refers to the percentage of service or maintenance calls in which a technician successfully resolves an issue or problem during the initial on-site visit, eliminating the need for a return trip. A high first-time fix rate is indicative of efficient and effective field service operations. A 2022 survey(opens in a new tab) reported that 25% of field service cases require at least a second visit before resolution. While numerous key performance indicators (KPIs) should be tracked in order to measure a field service employee’s performance, first-time fix rate is paramount.

Any number of reasons exist as to why an issue may not be resolved after one visit, including scheduling conflicts, lack of sufficient information from the customer and not having the proper tools. Even if there is a predetermined expectation that an identified issue will take multiple trips to be resolved, repeated trips with little progress can demoralize both the client and the field service operative. If an operative’s fix-rate ratio begins to slide to an unhealthy balance, it may indicate larger problems with either the individual or the organization’s efficacy and preparation.


A clear line of communication linking the client, the field service technician and the home office goes a long way toward making sure that all parties head into the first appointment knowing what the problem is and the reasonable number of steps required to resolve it. Preparation won’t prevent all problems from occurring, but proper planning creates the best opportunity for a smooth resolution achieved in the fewest visits. Modern field service management software helps companies improve their preparation techniques, as well as technicians’ first-time fix rates, with the goal of facilitating transparency and accessibility among all parties.

4. Work-Order Management

A standard field service work order has five major stages: Identify the task, allocate the task, complete the task, inspect the task and record the task. Within each of these stages are component tasks that need to be completed in the proper sequence to enable each stage to progress and the work order to be completed. When work orders experience delays because of missed tasks or incorrect information, it can be indicative of widespread problems with how information is collected and how data is stored. This, in turn, can have a ripple effect on the entire organization.


The trickiest part of resolving work-order management dilemmas is identifying where in the process the delays and errors are occurring. With so many component pieces working in tandem, it can be difficult to discern where the breakdown is happening, particularly in those cases where siloed systems are used. Field service management software can help by automating the creation, assignment and tracking of work orders to ensure a more efficient and organized process. The software streamlines communication between home office and field teams, centralizes work-order information and provides real-time updates, leading to quicker response times and improved customer service.

5. Worker Safety and Liability

Field work requires technicians to frequent a wide variety of work sites, some of which could involve exposure to hazardous materials, use of dangerous tools and equipment or access to potentially dangerous locations, such as high altitudes or confined spaces. These types of situations, quite reasonably, place field service operatives on edge and prompt concern for their safety. Fearful technicians are not well-positioned to do their best work, and if they feel unsafe often enough, they may decide that they’re not suited to the work at all and quit. If retention is poor, that means there will be fewer people available to work, which can result in any number of staffing and situational crises.


Being prepared for precarious or dangerous situations empowers operatives to feel safe and perform their best. Companies should have an official emergency plan in place that is continually evaluated and updated. For example, if a field service agent is going out to a site that may prove hazardous, the home office should stay in contact as frequently as possible and pre-plan check-in times, which is especially vital in cases where the site is located in an area with limited cellular or internet service. Field service management software can enhance worker safety and reduce liability by enabling real-time monitoring of field personnel, ensuring adherence to safety protocols and guidelines. Additionally, the software stores comprehensive records, which might prove invaluable for liability protection and compliance in case of legal issues or disputes.

6. Overhead Costs

Field service is a costly enterprise in the best of times, and rising inflation has only exacerbated the amount of money needed to perform the necessities of the trade. Major costs that field service companies contend with include, but are not limited to, parts, labor, travel, fuel, equipment, training and staffing. And this doesn’t include the costs that will almost certainly accrue through the principle of breakage or Murphy’s Law. Mistakes and accidents do happen. Unexpected costs can — and eventually will — crop up.


A company can’t control how much things cost, but it can control how much it spends. Field service management software helps companies control overhead costs by optimizing technicians’ schedules, routes and work allocation, and by reducing travel time and fuel expenses. It also streamlines administrative tasks, automates reporting and provides data insights, leading to more efficient resource allocation and lower administrative overhead.

7. Technology Integration With Other Systems

Technology is constantly evolving, serving up both benefits and challenges. And even when a new technology is objectively better than its predecessor, its adoption can be delayed because people often find the old solution more comfortable and easier to use and prefer not to learn a new approach. A survey(opens in a new tab) conducted among field service professionals found that 62% of those polled had difficulty integrating new systems with their existing ones. A full 58% also cited managing technician adoption and training as a major source of hesitation with implementing new technologies, even those that were proven to save money and improve efficiency.


When it comes to technological strategy, it helps to work backward from customer expectations. Field service companies should first identify the major necessities that customers will require, and then tailor a technology solution that will satisfy those necessities without fail. Integrating field service management into enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, for example, streamlines operations, optimizes resource allocation and provides real-time data sharing, resulting in more efficient and cost-effective field service.

8. Inventory Management

Managing inventory is one of the most expensive and risky aspects of the field service industry, given that inventory assets are not static. Tools and parts become obsolete as time passes, or they deteriorate through lack of use. Additionally, inventory management presents challenges due to varying technician requirements and the need to travel to remote service locations. Managing inventory that is spread across multiple depots and transported via multiple service vehicles can be complex, leading to potential overstock or stockouts. This can result in excess inventory tying up capital or insufficient inventory risking missed service opportunities.


One way to address inventory management is to diversify the locations of storage units in use. Spreading inventory around decreases the impact of a major loss should any sort of issue arise, and it also provides technicians with more convenient and timely access to inventory. But, of course, companies need to balance these benefits with the cost of operating multiple storage facilities.

Another way to cost-effectively manage inventory is to keep an easily accessible, centralized repository of data. Field service management software provides real-time visibility into stock levels and usage, enabling better control of inventory replenishment and reducing the risk of stockouts or overstocking. It also streamlines inventory tracking across multiple service locations, optimizing resource allocation and helping companies maintain the right parts, at the right time, while reducing carrying costs.

9. Customer Relationship Management Practices

For field service industries, such as HVAC, plumbing, healthcare and IT services, recurring customers are vital to success. Customers respond best when field services are reliable and communicative and provide stable support.

While this would seem elementary, customer relationship management (CRM) can be challenging for field service companies for a number of reasons. These include:

  • Addressing the needs of a diverse customer base requiring tailored approaches to service.
  • Ensuring timely response and service delivery across various locations.
  • Maintaining transparent communication and data sharing between on-site technicians and remote teams.
  • Providing consistent service quality.


Field service management software can help companies provide effective CRM by enabling real-time communication between field technicians and customers. It provides detailed customer histories and preferences, allowing on-site personnel to deliver personalized service. Additionally, field service management software streamlines appointment scheduling, ensuring prompt and reliable service, which fosters trust and strengthens customer relationships.

Drive Long-Term Loyalty

Together, the right field service management system and CRM can help you deliver better customer experiences that drive long-term loyalty. But how much does a CRM cost and what return can you expect on this tool? This quick guide has the numbers you need for your back-of-the-napkin ROI calculations.
Get the Guide(opens in a new tab)
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10. Invoice/Payment Management

The daily processing of invoices is frequently overwhelming for many financial departments, and field service companies are no exception. Furthermore, a manual invoicing process can be painfully slow and increases the opportunity for mistakes to be introduced and items to be overlooked. This can have an exponential impact on the rest of the business, as time and money are both needlessly lost. Additionally, time spent chasing after customers for payment is time that could otherwise be spent closing and fulfilling new orders.


Field service management software streamlines the invoicing process by automating the creation of invoices based on service data, thereby reducing manual data entry and billing errors. It also allows for immediate invoicing at the job site, improving cash flow and providing customers with prompt, accurate invoices.

11. Performance Management

Performance management is challenging for field service companies because of the dispersed nature of their workforce, making it complex to monitor and assess the productivity of remote technicians. Ensuring consistent service quality across diverse locations can be difficult, and measuring performance accurately can be hindered by varied customer needs and expectations. Additionally, tracking and managing field service KPIs, such as response times and service completion rates, can be intricate in this dynamic and decentralized environment.


Organizations can use field service management software to consolidate performance data within one system and leverage a dashboard of KPIs to measure business performance related to every job, customer, service contract and technician. This helps companies improve decision-making, detect inventory leakage, track customer service improvements and increase profitability.

12. Keeping Up With Technological Advances

Technology is transforming field service management as mobile devices, cloud-based applications and advanced scheduling and routing algorithms automate operations and make them more efficient. Looking ahead, field service management will be impacted by the likes of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and other advances. However, this rapid pace of technological change presents challenges for field service management in terms of systems integration, training and investment, underscoring the need for a strategic approach for companies to stay competitive.


Field service management solutions include all elements necessary to manage field service employees, communicate with suppliers and connect with customers. When evaluating field service management solutions, companies should focus on deployment method, training opportunities and customer support. As they move beyond these important basics, companies should carefully consider advanced functions, depending on their industry and specific business needs.

13. Real-time Communication

It’s vital for field service managers to remain up-to-date on the status and location of their agents and technicians in the field, but sometimes those field calls necessitate going to an area outside of the network perimeter. One solution would be to have field technicians use their own personal mobile devices to stay in contact, but this can get tricky. Not everyone uses the same device, and everyone interfaces with their personal technology in their own way. For communication and tracking to be effective, there must be a uniform strategy for how devices are used and how those connections are maintained. Enforcing any sort of policy in this scenario is extremely difficult.


Because it’s difficult to assert authority over personal devices and applications, field service managers should defer to a professional solution. Field service management systems provide a web interface for office use and a mobile app for field use. This facilitates an easy transference of information, providing visibility in real time. And because this is an official, not personal, channel, field service managers can mandate a standard method of usage.

14. Adhering to Industry Regulations

Every site that a field service agent visits is subject to local, state and federal regulations, not to mention the specifications pertaining to any given industry. Industry regulations can impose strict compliance requirements that field service companies and their employees must adhere to. These regulations often govern safety, environmental standards and data privacy, necessitating proper training and adherence to specific protocols. Failure to comply can result in legal consequences, fines and damage to a company’s reputation, making regulatory awareness and compliance essential to field service management.


With the proper management tools, field service companies and their agents can ensure that they comply with industry regulations. Field service management software, for instance, enables the systematic tracking and documentation of compliance-related activities. It helps schedule and monitor necessary inspections, maintenance and safety protocols, ensuring that all regulatory requirements are met. Additionally, these tools provide a centralized repository for relevant records and data, simplifying audits and reporting processes, which are central to demonstrating compliance to regulatory authorities.

How Field Service Technology Can Help Address Challenges

Using the right technology is key to establishing a scalable and efficient field service operation. Field service management software empowers companies to streamline staff scheduling, elevate customer satisfaction and assess field service performance and profitability. Cloud-based systems enable field technicians, equipped with mobile devices, to maintain constant connectivity, facilitating real-time data exchange between the field and the home office. Automation and consolidation, meanwhile, remove the chances of human error.

By providing users with easy-to-use dashboards and enabling real-time communication with agents in the field, field service management solutions help minimize guesswork and manual processes, making it easier than ever to pinpoint problem areas and determine rapid solutions.

Manage All Your Field Service Operations in One Place With NetSuite

NetSuite’s Field Service Management Software is an integrated, cloud-based business management solution designed to take the guesswork and time-intensive labor out of field service management. It features streamlined scheduling and dispatch, a mobile app to improve field productivity, 100% inventory visibility and a reporting engine that expedites decision-making and can help increase revenue.

field services management benefits
NetSuite’s Next Service solution makes field service scheduling and coordination as clear and easy as possible.

Field services are integral to contemporary workplaces, but their success hinges on effective field service management. Even a minor error can trigger significant repercussions across a company, especially considering the multitude of interconnected tasks involved in each job. Increasingly, field service management technology is prioritizing ease of use, automation and integrated applications, with a mission to keep processes as simple as possible. By leveraging the right tools, field service companies can turn challenges into opportunities, enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of their operations.

Field Service Management Challenges FAQs

What are the issues or pain points with field service management?

Inefficiency and human error are the major pain points of field service management, with faulty or poorly recorded data resulting in conflicts related to how work is performed, reported and/or paid for. Convoluted and conflicting processes and lack of real-time communication can result in compromised services.

Why is effective field service management crucial for organizations in service-oriented industries?

Field service management enables optimal performance in both the field and home office. Managers oversee everything from scheduling and dispatch to work orders and inventory by monitoring job status in real time.

How does improper resource allocation affect field service management?

Improper resource allocation can lead to breakdowns in service and place limitations on the number of site visits that a field operative can make in a day. It can also lead to operatives being overleveraged and overworked, prompting the departure of valued employees.

How do communication breakdowns pose challenges in field service management?

Communication breakdowns in field service management can pose significant challenges by leading to delayed response times, misallocated resources and frustrated customers. They can also hinder the real-time exchange of critical information between field technicians and the home office, impacting the overall efficiency of service operations.

What are the three key elements of field service management?

The three key elements of field service management are resource allocation (including scheduling, inventory management and equipment maintenance), task management (including travel, work order and invoice management), and communication (including interfacing with field agents and clients, tracking job progress and managing customer relationships).