Advanced Field Service Management in Odoo

What is field service management?

Field service management (FSM) goes by many names and covers a variety of topics, including mobile resource management, workforce management, mobile enablement, computer assisted dispatch, field-force automation, and work-order management. 

FSM involves administering field personnel to provide various services to customers. It represents an extensive business practice that reaches across multiple markets and segments and includes sales staff, deliveries, services, maintenance, and repair — anything that requires people in the field. Any company with one or  more vehicles may engage in field services. Some service businesses have only a handful of vehicles and routes to manage. In contrast, others, such as utilities, telco, health, construction, and delivery services may have thousands of field technicians.

Field service demand is growing rapidly: worldwide, the service sector has the largest job growth of all sectors.  In addition, the recent pandemic has resulted in accelerated transition from centralized to distributed services to reach individual households and companies.  With this massive growth, demand has never been higher for service management software.

Open FSM in OCA 

I joined the Odoo business software community with a background in proprietary field service logistics optimization and a conviction to focus on open software solutions. In 2018 we were approached by a number of customers who identified a gap in core Odoo to handle FSM operations.  Based on the demand and the experience with diverse proprietary solutions (including FedEx, Lowes, Sempra, Schindler Elevator, USPS, SAP, IBM, etc.) we developed an architecture and functional framework for Open FSM in OCA.  

As a result, multiple Open Source FSM applications are now available to provide organizations with the ability to manage their fleet and related capabilities. Specifically service organizations can schedule and dispatch field workers and technicians, assign tasks (such as preventative maintenance or house calls), plan and track work while managing assets, time, and inventory tracking. 

Within the Odoo Community Association (OCA) a growing group of technical and subject-matter experts is now developing and implementing open field service tools. The effort that started with just a few modules and customers has sprawled into a lively community:  HVAC, Teleco, Utility, Lawn Services, and Construction companies have joined in using and contributing to this workforce management software project.   As a result, the OCA community has now built over 50 open FSM modules for various field service needs.   The free OCA app downloads represent a significant value for businesses looking to improve how they operate in the field.  

Open FSM functions 

Medium to larger organizations with a need for field service operations can leverage Open FSM modules to create an enterprise system that manages tickets, dispatching, optimization, and field accessibility. Companies typically select a portion of the many FSM modules based on their specific needs. The Open FSM Odoo solution can be deployed on-premise or with public or hybrid cloud systems, using tools such as Docker, OpenShift, and other technologies.  Additionally, a tailored FSM mobile application is available for download (outside OCA) to allow disconnected operations, when mobile networks are not accessible and access for subcontractor portal users.

 Open FSM modules support: 

  • Demand and capacity planning, forecasting

  • Vehicle inventory for goods, parts, and equipment

  • Work order planning, assignment, and scheduling

  • Preventative maintenance and inspections via recurring orders

  • Ticket integration (Odoo Helpdesk integration available outside of OCA)

  • Time tracking, labor costs, project costing, and billing support

  • Analysis and reporting operations

  • Fixed and mobile asset tracking

  • Accurate inventory tracking on each vehicle

  • Profitability and efficiency analysis

  • Route optimization for optimal stop sequence

  • Equipment management (owned by own organization or the customer)

  • Mobile enablement (disconnected mode Android or iOS apps available outside of OCA)

  • Ability to assign work to contractors (portal users in Odoo)

Core Odoo Field Service App and Open FSM

After the Open FSM OCA release in 2018, Odoo SA released a Field Service app with Odoo Enterprise V13 in 2019.  The Open FSM team had a chance to collaborate early on with the Odoo product team on requirements, scope and testing to minimize overlap between the two solutions.  

The core Odoo application is based on Tasks and Projects using Odoo Enterprise.  It is targeted for customers with predominantly smaller fleets who do not require advanced FSM features.  Open FSM can be used together or independently from Core Odoo Field Service.  

Open FSM adds to core Odoo Field Service features to allow for inventory tracking on vehicles, recurring service calls, multiple location management, separation of resource and order schedules, multiple FSM orders per task, individual activities and templates, management of customer appointment time windows, approval management, conditional status changes, multiple workers per order, grouping of orders to sync schedules, and additional advanced features.  

Since OpenFSM features are currently being added at a faster rate and Odoo’s core Field Service Enterprise solution is not available on Community modules, there is no immediate plan to combine these complimentary FSM offerings.

How does Open FSM improve operation?

Whether an organization manages a fleet for sales, services, repairs, or anything else that requires staff in the field, the questions managers continually face are:

  • How can I improve my current services and deliveries to increase efficiency and customer satisfaction?  

  • How can I best leverage new resources to expand effectively?

  • How do I quickly respond to a shift in demand?

  • How can I best leverage extendable technology to accomplish my goals for efficiency, safety, quality, and customer satisfaction? 

Open FSM OCA modules help organizations to answer these questions via a cost-efficient toolset to allow for a comprehensive view and optimization of field service operations.  With the integration across other Odoo business modules, multiple departments can access FSM-related tools and data for numerous business processes.  Integration with Sales, Purchasing, CRM, Inventory management, Projects, Asset Maintenance, Accounting, and other modules provide authoritative data management and reporting across the entire organization.

Because Odoo is the predominant open source ERP used by millions of people worldwide, the software provides a reliable and flexible framework for adding new business modules available to the Odoo community. Due to the open source community, many developers support additions and issue resolution to the benefit of all.  We see an continuing increase in participation and features in OCA’s Open FSM.

  OpenFSM Timeline view (filter by order or worker)

What Open FSM looks like

  1. A workflow example demonstrates how Open FSM can be used:

  2. The sales person enters a sales order to sell a new piece of equipment to the customer.  The sale includes a package for recurring services to provide preventive quarterly inspection and maintenance.

  3. Upon validation of the Sales Order, an installation FSM order is automatically created with the desired schedule. 

  4. Additionally, a recurring FSM order for inspection and maintenance is created to schedule quarterly inspections. FSM will automatically create new Orders throughout the lifetime of the maintenance contract.

  5. The dispatcher schedules the work based on the time window preference of the customer and general resource availability.

  6. The dispatcher assigns a primary technician using skill matching for any license requirements or special skill needs. The dispatcher reviews territory assignments and other scheduled work in the area on the map.  

  7. The dispatcher uses the timeline view to review workers availability and  assigns a helper to the Order to support the installation for a portion of the job duration.

  8. The field service worker accepts the assignment and reviews all orders for the next day on their mobile app.

  9. On the install day, the FSM worker loads the vehicle with the equipment and creates an en-route status change on the mobile app. The warehouse team uses multi-step delivery to track the serialized equipment.  The worker uses the optimized route for all of the stops during the day to execute the work in the best sequence while reducing unnecessary mileage.

  10. Upon arrival at the installation site the worker changes the status to “Started” and performs the activities listed on the FSM order for install.  The FSM order specifies a sub-location at this address a particular floor in one of the buildings.

  11. The additional helper arrives at a scheduled time to help with equipment calibration.  

  12. During lunch break, both workers use the mobile app to check out for 30 min.

  13.  The dispatcher can monitor in real-time where workers are as well as the status of the orders. SMS notifications, an essential for dispatching, can be used to communicate any exceptions or urgent events.

  14. Upon completion of the job, the primary tech updates the job status to “Completed”.  

  15. The primary tech updates the work order with any additional parts and materials used and collects a signature from the customer.

  16. The FSM mobile app is used to make an automated timesheet entry for the accumulated work time. If the mobile unit is disconnected from the mobile network the FSM app will cache the updates and sync with the server once connectivity is restored.

  17. The dispatcher reviews the order status, parts, and total accumulated time for accuracy and submits the order for invoicing to accounting. Stock moves and purchase requests for parts replenishment are triggered as needed. 

  18. About three months later, the first  inspection/maintenance Order is automatically scheduled to proceed with the contractual recurring work.  Since a sub-location was used, the order specifically points the worker to the specific floor.  

Open FSM Map using symbol colors based on order status 

At the end of the FSM cycle, everything associated with the work order (parts, labor, equipment, etc.) can be sent to accounting for proper invoicing. Because all of the data is in one place,  accurate analysis and reporting can be done for all aspects of field service to assess operations.

 The FSM functionality supports the entire field service lifecycle and is successfully used by various types of organizations:

  • Telecom and Internet content and service providers

  • Utilities

  • Electrical contractors

  • HVAC

  • Flooring and home improvement

  • Lawn services

  • Safety equipment installation and inspections

Future roadmap for further innovation

Open FMS is under constant development and improvement, including the recent enhancement of route optimization based on travel time.  

Specifically, the community is working on these new capabilities that have already started or are planned:

  • On-site auto arrival notifications to customers

  • Ability to see both worker and order statuses on the map

  • Geographic representation of territories and work order sites

  • FSM order portal access (contractors and customers)

  • Route optimization across multiple workers and orders

  • Credit Card processing on mobile

  • Mobile estimation of jobs during sales cycle

  • Subcontractor management

  • Additional Functional documentation

  • Complete FSM V14 migration for all major modules

OCA’s Open FSM solution for Odoo has been growing quickly over the last four years and found a strong acceptance in small, medium, and large organizations due to its flexibility and expandability.  As more organizations take advantage of these capabilities worldwide and more community members assist in adding functions, the open source community is set to pass the features and functions offered by the largest proprietary solution providers. 

The field services industry will see a shift to open source at a rapid rate in the next five years that will eventually make proprietary solutions obsolete.   It is exciting to see the OCA community as the leader in this trend.

Want to learn more about Odoo FSM modules and solutions available in the OCA? Check out the OCA Days 2020 presentation from OCA member Wolfgang Hall, FSM sector lead at Open Source Integrators.

 Written by Wolfgang Hall

Field Service and Mobile Asset Lead
OCA 2021 Platinum Sponsor
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The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Odoo Community Association. Any content provided by our sponsors or authors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.

Advanced Field Service Management in Odoo
Open for Small Business, Rebecca Gellatly 16 June, 2021
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