A Manufacturer’s Complete Guide to Field Service Lightning

As we’ve discussed before, small and midsize manufacturers have a reason to pivot from pure production to a business model

6 min. read

As we’ve discussed before, small and midsize manufacturers have a reason to pivot from pure production to a business model that includes on-site product maintenance. As growth trends downward for many in the industry, field service can provide a lucrative new source of revenue without forcing your company too far outside its comfort zone. At the most basic level, you’ll need three things: A trained crew, a fleet of vehicles and an effective way to manage scheduling and dispatching. In this blog, our focus will be that last point on the list.

Field Service Lightning, an onsite support solution from Salesforce, is designed to power key aspects of field service coordination: Creating cases, optimizing schedules, dispatching mobile workers, and tracking vehicle locations and parts stock. You name it. For manufacturers seeking to overhaul their service processes — or create them for the first time — Field Service Lightning is an ideal platform to build them on. And with the right approach, the implementation process can go smoothly. If your company is considering or planning for FSL, here’s everything you should know.

What you should do to prepare:

No matter the platform, a major technology implementation is going to demand certain prep work. And Field Service Lightning, thanks in part to its many coordinated components, is no exception. To make sure your company is able to get the most out of the technology from day one, we recommend you do the following:

  • Have an inventory management system in place: One of Field Service Lightning’s core selling points is its ability to enable technicians to do their jobs with a single mobile app. Look up manuals via a secure portal? They can do it in the app. Collect a customer’s signature? They can do it in the app. Check nearby trucks for a part they need, but don’t have? They can do it in the app — with the help of an integrated inventory management system, that is. Think of it this way: If you don’t know exactly where your product is, neither will Field Service Lightning. To take advantage of this particular feature, you need to have a great system for tracking your inventory already in place.
  • When it comes to dispatch optimization, brace yourself for heavy customization: Field Service Lightning’s Dispatcher Console — the main working space for dispatchers — gives an excellent overview of your entire service crew, including the locations of every technician and every appointment. And with intelligent scheduling, dispatchers can optimize efficiency by automatically assigning the right person based on time, skills and location. However, this kind of optimization requires a good deal of setup. Before dispatchers can automatically assign the right resource to a job, a number of objects and work rules will need to be customized, including service territories, operating hours and skills. Be ready to define how they relate to your business (for instance, how would you break down your service territories?).
  • Analyze your case/quote/order → work order process. Before your implementation gets under way, ask yourself a few questions about how your company handles the case/quote/order-to-work-order process: What are the essential steps? Are you happy with it? Or do you think some changes need to be made? Field Service Lightning should be built to reflect this process, which means changing it down the line would demand a major technology overhaul. Save yourself that headache by conducting an audit now.

For more on these suggestions — including a list of which objects and work rules you should start thinking about — check out this blog: “Advice from an Expert: How to Prepare for Field Service Lightning.”


What you need to know about licenses:

As mentioned above, Field Service Lighting has many different coordinated components, which means the platform is used by a number of different roles. Each of these roles has a different set of responsibilities and therefore demands a different set of account permissions and settings. Ultimately, that translates to different kinds of Salesforce licenses. Here’s what you need to know about that:

  • Agent: Within Salesforce, an agent’s primary responsibilities are answering customer calls and creating cases based on them. If any cases require an on-site service visit, an agent will create service appointments to let their co-workers know what needs to be done where. That means they don’t necessarily need access to parts of the Salesforce platform specific to Field Service Lightning, like the Dispatcher Console or the Field Service Lightning mobile app — just Service Cloud objects like Cases, Work Orders, Assets and Entitlements. The standard permissions for “FSL Agent License” and “FSL Agent Permission” give agents the access they need.
  • Dispatcher: Once an agent creates a service appointment, it automatically appears in the Field Service Lightning Dispatcher Console. At that point, it’s the dispatcher’s job to assign the right person to the job and find an open time for them to get it done. To do this, they need the permissions for “FSL Dispatcher License” and “FSL Dispatcher Permissions.” Take note, however: Anyone who needs access to the Dispatcher Console needs these same permissions. So even if someone just wants to be able to see it, you’ll need another license to make that happen.
  • Technician: Technicians use the Field Service Lightning mobile app to see all of their upcoming appointments, map them out and understand the details behind each one. To do this, they need “Field Service Mobile” permissions. However, they also need “Field Service Scheduling” permissions, so that they show up as available resources in the Dispatcher Console. While these permissions fall under “FSL technician licenses,” they are completely distinct — you need to make sure your technicians have both.

For a more detailed look at the different types of Field Service Lightning licenses, check out our related post: “Field Service Lightning Licenses: Agents, Dispatchers, Technicians & What They Do.”

What you can do to ensure a successful rollout:

All right, you’ve done the necessary prep work and studied up on the different licenses you’ll need to purchase — now it’s time to cover the implementation itself. As you work with your implementation team, here are a few essential things to keep in mind:

  • Make mobile your primary focus: While it might seem intuitive to begin your build with the Dispatcher Console, we actually recommend you focus on the mobile app first. It’s a capable tool, but many of its features don’t come standard; without some key customizations, it likely won’t live up to its potential for making your employees’ lives easier. Specifically, we recommend setting up certain quick actions (shortcuts that make it easier to accomplish important tasks) and automations (triggers that cut down on the number of manual tasks users must accomplish).
  • Make time for user acceptance testing before launch: User acceptance testing (UAT) is a critical phase of any software or platform launch, but it’s even more important when the tool in question will determine the daily success of an entire team. With Field Service Lightning, we recommend you focus your training primarily on scheduling policies, which are basically the rules used to determine how a field worker gets assigned to a particular work order. Why? Because you definitely don’t want the system sending a worker to a job that’s 50 miles away when somebody else who is much closer is available.

Interested in a more granular look at quick actions, automations and scheduling policies? We suggest this read: “Field Service Lightning: 2 Keys to a Successful Rollout.”

Okay, those are the basics: all the early-stage info you need about Field Service Lightning. If and when you’re ready to take the next step of your journey, let us know. We’d love to help you figure out the best next steps for you and your team.



Danielle Sutton