Many businesses carry inventory. Whether it’s a distributor working to move the inventory from supplier to customer, a manufacturer who needs to convert raw materials to finalized goods, or a retailer who needs to carry enough products to satisfy a customer demand, field service businesses need to know what they have available and know when to reorder.
But there’s one big difference for field service companies—much of the inventory you carry is on the move and in use. Whether it’s being stored in the home office or in the service vehicles, this inventory is dynamic—you never know what you will need tomorrow.
For example, the weather is heating up, and for many homes and businesses, the air conditioning is going on for the first time in months. Let’s say four clients have the same HVAC unit go down tomorrow. Do you have the materials and tools to handle all of the requests? It’s a good question to have the answer for.
Following our earlier deep dives into the importance of dispatching and route management, service management, equipment management, and the role of the field service business, we would today like to explore one of the biggest challenges for the field service business, discuss why it’s so important to have a complete understanding of your inventory—no matter where it is, and show you why integration is so important.
The Challenges of Managing Inventory for Field Service Businesses
When your business relies on being in the right place at the right time with the right parts, your inventory is constantly on the move. One of the many challenges in field services, tools and repair parts are typically spread across multiple vehicles and warehouse locations.
Lost Sight Means Lost Business
But this makes for an issue—if a part is necessary 50 miles south of your home base, and the only one you have is on a truck headed in the opposite direction, you have a problem.
If you’re lucky, you were able to figure this out before the technician reached his or her destination, making for a simple “hey, can you stop for a second so we can pick up the part?” More often, however, companies relying on poorly integrated inventory management aren’t this lucky, unable to find out this is the last part they have until they make frantic calls to each technician to see who has it and how far away the truck is.
Disparate and disconnected inventory management means delays, and delays mean disappointed customers.
The Danger of Shortages
The situation above at least meant you had what you needed—but what if you don’t have inventory at all? How long would it take you to find what you need and at what cost?
Maybe you have a supplier right down the road—a simple call to a McMaster Carr, Graybar, or Fastenal can get you the right materials in an hour.
But what if you run out of a part that will take days or weeks to receive? Assuming a customer is willing to wait, you’ll end up paying out of pocket for rush manufacturing and delivery. More likely, your customer can make a call to your competitor.
The Costs of Overstock
Stockouts are bad for business, but these need to be balanced with the costs that go into having too much inventory. You only have so much truck space, so much warehouse space, and every square foot matters.
In this, you’re not just accounting for the purchase cost but all other associated costs such as storage, handling and insurance. Add to this the risk of damage, obsolescence, theft and deterioration, and inventory costs can quickly add up well beyond the line item cost.
How Integrated and Intelligent Inventory Management Keeps Field Service Businesses on Path
From customer satisfaction to business margins, inventory management is critical to your field service company, and the right solution can help you gain the visibility, understanding, and control you need to succeed.
Inventory tracking software can help you control system-wide inventory to efficiently manage your field service process without losing track of costs. Receive inventory to a specific location and drill down to change item default lot/serial numbers, valuation methods, accounts, and more.
Built in the cloud, integrated with your technology stack and configured to your needs, Acumatica’s inventory management gives you granular control and understanding of every single tool or part—whether it’s in your central facility or stocked away in a truck. Here are just some of the ways that a connected solution delivers:
- Inventory management connects with equipment management to show you what you need when you look at a product to be serviced.
- Inventory management connects with purchasing to automatically trigger replenishment orders when you cross a certain threshold.
- Inventory management can allow you to send a part to a specific location, notify your dispatcher when a part arrives, and allow for easy service scheduling.
Acumatica for the Field Service Business: Your Secret to Competitiveness
It’s not easy to run a field service business, but the right tools can help. Delivering on customer expectations is challenging, margins are tight, and your success relies on your reputation. If you’re looking to connect your business—dispatchers, technicians, inventory, and back-office—you need a connected solution that makes your job easier. Acumatica delivers.
Designed with all the complexities and challenges of the field service business in mind, this fully integrated business management solution helps you connect your processes and deliver for your customers.
At Cloud 9 ERP Solutions, an Acumatica Gold Certified Partner, we have the experience in delivering fully integrated business management software to firms like yours. We know that business management software affects nearly every facet of your operations and therefore has many different moving parts—all of which need to be tailored to your needs and tested to ensure they will make your business better.
Interested in learning more? First, take a quick tour through Acumatica's Field Services Edition.