Open Source Integrators: Open Source FSM Replaces Traditional Workforce Solutions
Large organizations such as FedEx, Amazon, Comcast, Cintas, or Coca-Cola have relentlessly integrated and refined their enterprise business processes over the last decade. Home-grown and proprietary field service solutions that integrate across all business functions are their backbone to streamlining operations and outperforming competitors. But the high cost of entry has left SMEs at a disadvantage. Traditional field services and ERP solutions are costly and, in many cases, too rigid for companies who need adjustments but can’t afford in-house developers or expensive consulting and development services.
Many companies also struggle with the conversion of business processes into technology. Ideally, the software can be tailored and configured to meet the needs. Still, in many cases, some moderate customizations to the business tools are necessary to optimize business processes and maximize returns. This conversion requires expert advice and a deep understanding of both processes and technology. Smaller organizations may need to rely on external help for this business system implementation.
“Industry experts have monitored the growing chasm between the large and smaller service providers with concern,” says Wolfgang Hall, who has advised delivery and service giants such as FedEx, Sears, Orkin, and Sempra Energy in field service automation over the last decades. “I realized three years ago that the market needed a more affordable but flexible enterprise FSM solution. When I looked at the high adaptation rate in open source business software, I saw a promising solution for the SMEs.”
Hall, who quit his job at a large proprietary software company and joined OSI, a business system integrator who focuses exclusively on open source solutions, sees the development of an open source FSM solution as an industry gamechanger.
“It was one of these magical moments where everything falls into place. We architected and developed the Open FSM solution in record time on top of Odoo, the open source ERP solution. Our ideas resonated well. We had immediate support from an entire community of developers and field service companies across the world.
We translate needs into solutions
Today, the Open FSM software is available as a free download and used by a growing number of service companies with fleet sizes from five to 500 vehicles. The standard Open FSM solution provides integration with sales, inventory, and accounting processes and can be used either with the free Odoo community ERP or the licensed Odoo Enterprise edition. It includes the typical scheduling, routing, and dispatching functions and adds parts, labor cost tracking, as well as recurring services.
“Providing the tools and technology was only the first step to make the small and mid-tier service companies successful, “ states Hall. “The ability to customize all workflows is necessary but also provides a challenge to get it right the first time. Managers cannot afford to experiment with critical business processes.”
To address the proper conversion of business needs into technology, Hall and the OSI team focus on thoroughly understanding a company’s business processes before making any technology recommendations. “Even though most field service processes look similar from the outside, once we dig in, we see a surprising number of individual differences that are important to the organization,” adds Hall.
With Open FSM, small and mid-tier field service organizations now have affordable technology to compete with the large organizations. Teaming up with seasoned experts like Hall and the OSI team allows even small organizations to leverage the broad IT and business acumen needed for successful implementations. Open FSM also enables service companies to stay competitive: as in many other technology areas, open source FSM is evolving faster than traditional proprietary solutions.
“What makes the Open FSM solution valuable is the level of innovation based on input from so many organizations. It shows us what to do and where it needs to evolve so we can continue to guide the open-source community,” concludes Hall.