Throughout the remainder of 2023, I will continue my blog series that discusses the core features of SAP Field Service Management. In this blog, I will discuss Crowd Service and some of the exciting features the solution offers. These blogs/videos reflect the updated features we have published on the Field Service Management website. See the existing blog series below:
What is Crowd Service within SAP Field Service Management?
Crowd Service is a fully integrated component of SAP Field Service Management that enables businesses to tap into a network of on-demand external technicians, partners, and freelancers to perform service tasks on behalf of the company, thereby expanding their workforce and enhancing their service capabilities. With SAP Crowd Service, organizations can easily onboard new service providers, assign work orders to them, track their performance, and process their service reports. Through the use of advanced algorithms and machine learning, the system matches the right worker with the right job based on their skills, location, and availability. SAP Crowd Service also provides real-time visibility into the status of service requests, allowing businesses to monitor and manage the progress of field service tasks executed by third parties. Moreover, crowd technicians also have the ability to use the integrated Field Service Management mobile app for field execution or perform the work the work via a shareable link with access to a Smartform – this process typically varies from customer to customer, depending on their requirements/preferences. This means technicians can download the app, bring their own device to work (if approved by their company) and get to work. This level of simplicity and transparency enhances communication between the company and the service provider, which ultimately results in better outcomes for everyone involved. In the remainder of this blog, we will take a look at some of the key functionality that is offered in the solution, but first, I encourage you to watch this quick Crowd Service demo:
Within the crowd marketplace, the crowd owner has complete visibility over their external workforce. Here companies can manage their network of partners, external technicians, and other service-related documentation required on their partner network. Companies can easily drill into each partner and view or modify key partner information and verify that they have all of the updated skills and qualifications along with expiry dates to ensure that the service team has the most up-to-date knowledge and training to perform their jobs safely and effectively. Furthermore, these skills and documents can go through an approval process with the crowd owner to maintain compliance with any relevant industry regulations or internal policies. The crowd marketplace also shows all of the history completed by the service provider, allowing quick data retrieval and collaboration between the parties. From the crowd marketplace companies can also invite partners via email, or by an invitation URL. Once the partner is invited to the crowd workforce, they will receive an email and be prompted to complete the registration process. Once registered as a crowd partner, they will have access to the Partner Portal and be able to accept/execute service jobs, which I will discuss in the next section.
Crowd Workforce - Technician Skills
The Partner Portal in SAP Field Service Management is a web-based portal designed for companies that provide field services as a partner to other companies. It allows partners to manage their own resources, access job information, as well as plan, schedule and dispatch technicians. The Partner Portal provides a range of features to enable effective collaboration and communication between partners and service organizations - this means partners can receive job assignments from service organizations, track the progress of work, and provide real-time updates on job status. They can also create and manage their own service teams, assign jobs to specific technicians, and track the availability of their resources. Within the Partner Portal, the crowd partner can maintain their company information, including their service areas, billing information, documents/certifications, as well as technician information including skills and required documentation. Later in 2023, we will also enable crowd partners to manage timesheets directly in the Partner Portal, as well as the ability to edit Smartforms that are linked to an activity to ensure data accuracy and provide additional feedback. See roadmap items below:
AI-based scheduling is a powerful tool for optimizing third-party external work assignments in SAP Field Service Management. By collecting data on the availability, skill sets, and geographic location of external contractors, companies can optimize scheduling to ensure that the right contractor is assigned to the right job at the right time. AI algorithms can quickly adjust to changes in the schedule, ensuring that external contractors are utilized efficiently. AI-Based scheduling can be leveraged by using both the best-matching technician algorithm as well as using fully automated scheduling. Automated scheduling sends service requests using the pre-defined logic and ensures that contractors receive notifications and updates in real-time, improving their productivity and responsiveness. In addition to this, by using the Policy Designer, customers can create their own custom policies from scratch to tailor the AI-based scheduling to their businesses specific needs. For more information on AI-Based scheduling in SAP Field Service Management, I encourage you to read this blog.
Best Matching Technician - Crowd Assignment
SAP Crowd Service can also run integrated to your SAP S/4HANA or ECC environment to create the relevant purchasing documentation. Purchase orders and requisitions can be created/deleted from several triggers on the SAP Field Service Management side such as a dispatched activity, activity release, acceptance, rejection or a technician assignment update. Furthermore, if desired, the solution can be configured in such a way that technicians can order necessary parts and equipment directly from the field, streamlining the procurement process and reducing the time required to complete service requests. Once the work is completed, the invoice can be generated and paid against the original purchase order to the third-party service provider. From a technical POV, having integrated procurement with SAP Field Service Management eliminates the need to create custom interfaces, meanwhile from a business POV helps allows organizations to better manage their inventory levels, control costs, and ensures that third party work is requistioned, ordered, and paid for in a simplified manner. For more integration on the integration flow for purchase orders, see here. The image below shows the integration to a purchase order for services in SAP from an activity accepted by the crowd partner in SAP Field Service Management:
Purchase Order Integration
Crowd Service is a must-have for any customer running SAP Field Service Management and has heavy use of contractors. With its integrated crowd marketplace and partner portal, the solution offers access to a wider pool of talent, making it easier for businesses to find the right resources for any job. Moreover, the AI-based scheduling ensures that the right resources are assigned to the right job at the right time, ensuring service precision and customer satisfaction. Lastly, by taking advantage of the integration to SAP ECC and S/4HANA for requsitioning, purchasing, and invoicing, businesses can manage their entire service operation from end-to-end, without custom interfaces, leading to a simplified technical environment and intuitive business processes.
The Crowd Service offering is a key area of focus for further development effort, see some of the exciting roadmap items below: