What is field service?  

Field service consists of work carried out offsite, particularly at a customer's premises rather than at a company's facilities. This type of work is vital across various sectors, including IT, manufacturing, utilities, construction, telecommunications, HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning), and healthcare technology. The deployment of field service workers in these domains underscores their critical role in ensuring operations are maintained efficiently, customer satisfaction is achieved, and on-the-ground solutions are provided.  

What is a field technician? 

A field technician serves as the face of their employing organization, dispatched to various offsite locations primarily to address customer-related technological issues. This role encompasses installing, analyzing, troubleshooting, and assessing technology-related problems. The need for specialized skill sets and the project-based nature of these roles often entice workers to work as independent contractors.   

Types of field technician jobs 

Field service work lends itself to numerous types of businesses, especially those that require on-premise IT support. IT field technicians focus on either the installation of electronics, or the maintenance (sometimes known as “break-fix”) of those electronics. These jobs often focus on:  

  • Fiber optics  

  • Network cabling  

  • Digital signage 

  • Security 

  • Point of Sale (POS) 

  • PCs, servers, and printers 

For a deeper insight into field service's common roles and tasks, see this list from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.   

Finding and retaining top IT field techs 

Finding qualified IT field services talent is challenging for many companies. The WorkMarket IT Field Service Marketplace shows that there has been a rise in demand for contractors since the pandemic. In the past two years, there has been a 51% increase in the cost per work order and a 26% increase in the number of contractors hired by businesses. This means that companies hire more workers to meet client demand and pay more per job to get the same work done. 

So, what can businesses do to attract and retain top independent contractor talent? Paying contractors quickly and on time is key. Keeping them consistently engaged with work orders is also vital for retention. Providing workers with an easy and seamless onboarding process means you can deploy workers faster and keep them engaged. Additional incentives, like a user-friendly mobile app for on-site work, access to benefits like insurance, and the option for same-day payments, can further motivate contractors to stay and accept ongoing work from the business.  

What does field service management software do?  

Businesses that rely on field service technicians often turn to field service management software to streamline the processing of work orders, automate scheduling, and monitor assignment progress. This helps organizations adhere to customer service agreements and optimize operations for greater efficiency. For businesses that utilize independent contractors, there is field service management software specifically designed to simplify the contractor management lifecycle. Here are some of the ways they help businesses streamline processes from onboarding to paying contractors:   

Seamlessly onboarding contractor field techs 

A field management system for contractors should facilitate the onboarding and verification of these workers at scale. This includes automating worker tax ID and bank account verifications, as well as collecting and storing all necessary documentation like W9s, certifications, licenses, and contractor agreements. These platforms should provide an easy self-onboarding experience for contractors while helping ensure that contractors meet business requirements before being assigned work.   

Scheduling and dispatching technicians   

Having a large team of field service contractors requires a system that simplifies creating and managing work orders. Field service software lets you quickly generate new tickets, schedule them, and send them to the right workers. When setting up a work order, you'll need to include job descriptions, time, location, frequency, and pay (flat rate, by the hour or blended) on a template, which can be easily replicated for recurring work orders or edited for new ones.  

Finding the right worker for a job means looking for someone qualified and in the right area. Many platforms allow you to organize workers into pools of talent based on criteria like geography, skillsets, and more. These 'labor clouds' enable you to send and assign work orders to targeted technicians whom you have already vetted. Furthermore, you can build automation rules for job assignments – for example, “If no worker accepts a job within this geographic area, expand the radius by 5 miles.”  

Managing work orders and contractors 

A main benefit of using a field service management system is that it lets you track technicians and work orders in real time. A centralized dashboard is key for overseeing workers and projects, especially across locations. The dashboard allows an organization to filter and view projects based on their status - whether they are in progress, unassigned, delayed, or completed and ready for payment. With real-time updates, a business can ensure it meets its service level agreements. 

Given the on-the-go nature of field service jobs, field service management software will include a mobile app that allows workers to check-in and check-out while on-site, communicate with managers in real-time, and upload proof of deliverables. All of these capabilities provide organizations with visibility to run their operations.   

Efficiently paying field contractors 

One key feature of an effective field service management system is its ability to pay workers quickly and with their preferred payment method. The system should be flexible, supporting various payment options such as ACH, platforms like PayPal and Venmo, and international payment methods.     

Additionally, the system should have the ability to pay workers in bulk to save time.  

Beyond handling payments, the system should also help organizations to remain compliant when paying their workers. This can be achieved by creating an invoice audit trail for every transaction. As work orders are completed and approved, the software should automatically generate invoices based on agreed payment terms. At year-end, it can then automatically furnish and electronically file 1099 NEC forms with the IRS while ensuring that workers receive their copies too.  

API integrations with other systems 

Businesses use various types of software to operate such as customer relationship management (CRMs), enterprise resource planning (ERPs), human capital management (HCMs), service and ticketing systems, and accounting tools. For those using a field service management system, seamless integration with other existing systems is crucial. API integrations allow real-time data flow between systems to create a single source of truth and reduce administrative burdens.   

Picking the right partner for your IT field service business 

When choosing the right field services management software for your business, you should consider several factors:   

  • Breadth: Many field service software systems do not have a marketplace. A select few like WorkMarket’s IT Field Service Marketplace connects businesses with a network of independent contractors based on skill sets, geography and more.  

  • Flexibility: It’s important to choose a platform that can connect to your existing systems to reduce administrative burdens and maintain a single source of truth. For example, WorkMarket by ADP has an open API that allows for easy integration with other systems like accounting software, CRMs, and ERPs to ensure seamless workflows.   

  • Scalability:  As your business grows, you want to ensure that your field management software can scale with you. Automation should be built into every part of the contractor management lifecycle so you can easily handle higher volumes of work across any number of workers. For example, WorkMarket can streamline the verification of US tax IDs and bank accounts, automatically generate invoices on behalf of contractors, and furnish and file 1099 NEC’s at year-end.  

 To learn more, check out the WorkMarket self-guided demo here.