In the simplest of terms, return on investment (ROI) measures the return on an investment relative to the cost of that investment. It is a key performance indicator (KPI) businesses use to identify the profitability of an expenditure or investment made by the business. It also ensures a company is achieving the best business outcomes from its available capital and takes the guesswork out of future business decisions.
Some ROIs are easier to calculate than others; for example, in a marketing campaign it’s worked out by taking the sales growth from the product line, subtracting the marketing costs and then dividing by that marketing cost to get a percentage.
Field service management software ROI, however, is a little more complex. There are the obvious tangible benefits of cost savings, but it’s important to get a clear picture of the less tangible benefits that also impact the ROI. The overriding consideration is productivity gains, which can, of course, be expressed in dollar terms. If a worker’s productivity rises by 10 percent and that worker is paid $100,000 per annum plus on costs of 20 percent; i.e. total $120,000, the productivity rise means the business is now receiving an additional $12,000 worth of work for no further expenditure.
The elements that need to be included when calculating ROI in software are the cost of the software relative to the total field technician cost, including transport and equipment. Calculating productivity gains needs to factor in time savings, use of equipment and efficiency, offset by the cost of the software. If a field management software solution works out to be a cost of say $1000 per technician in the field per annum, and the total tech cost can be divided into $100,000 for labour and $20,000 for transport, productivity would only need to improve by one percent to break even. Any more than that and the gains are easily quantifiable.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, however, and it’s important to drill down into the productivity gains to discover so many more intangible elements that are difficult to factor into the ROI on paper, but have a profound and important impact on the overall financial performance of the company and the key service KPIs of most companies upon it. These include:
Immediacy of information – when a field service worker has to return to their vehicle or, worse, head office, to access information or forms necessary for the job in hand, time and effort are wasted. The right software means answers on hand at the touch of a button 24/7 and the benefits are felt across the board – for the customer, for the worker and for the business’ bottom line.
Transparency of processes and information – knowing the status of a job as well as where a field service worker is and what they are doing at any given moment leads to total transparency for the back office and the customer. Such features as real-time map locations, current workloads and jobs that may be in jeopardy due to missing SLAs (service level agreements) mean transparency. This leads to confidence, which in turn leads to repeat jobs and contracts – all of which inevitably impacts ROI.
Integration – standard APIs (application program interfaces) that facilitate integration between the field service software and back office systems such as ERP (enterprise resource planning), EAM (enterprise asset management) and CRM (customer relationship management) systems result in streamlined and comprehensive workflows, where no element is overlooked and each job is completed with all regulatory checks and balances achieved.
So, when calculating the ROI of your investment in software for your field service workers, consider the investment in the product relative to the total investment you make in your field service worker and always remember to include the more difficult to quantify elements, which have a significant impact on overall business performance