Residents of the Grenfell Tower were expressing concerns about the building’s fire safety standards long before the tragedy on June 14th this year. In February 2013, they warned that the fire extinguishers, along with other fire safety equipment, had not been tested for 12 months. In November 2016, they said that only a catastrophic fire would force the building’s management to properly address the maintenance of the building’s fire protection systems.
They were right. In fact, the Grenfell Tower disaster has put fire safety on everybody’s radar. Those who’ve been tempted to cut corners in cash-strapped times have had a wake-up call, and now companies up and down the country are scrambling to review and tighten up their procedures.
An urgent industry
The urgency of the fire and security industry can’t be overstated. It guards properties and saves lives. When it fails, it can cost both. Grenfell has amplified this simple but often overlooked reality. As a result, security, fire detection and life safety systems have never been more important, and providers of these systems have never been under more scrutiny.
Post-Grenfell, customers are going to be extra concerned about maintaining security and fire safety in their buildings. That means fire & security systems providers are going to be under extra pressure to make sure their products are top-quality and their maintenance services are consummate and highly responsive.
Horizontal vs vertical: the field service management software debate
A security & fire safety provider needs to have a field service management (FSM) system in place to govern its installation and maintenance activities. As to the kind of system, the list of options is long and varied.
Many companies use a combination of software solutions, sometimes partly integrated with each other, other times completely segregated. They might use separate software for sales, maintenance, customer contract management, asset management, invoicing, and so on. The software is often old and replete with duplication, delays, and manual, paper-heavy, human error-prone processes.
In an age where automation, integration and mobility have become vital to the operational efficacy of most service businesses, this slow, siloed approach is rapidly becoming obsolete — not least for a fire & security company that has to be at the top of its game. Now, providers are looking at streamlined systems that can take care of everything, with real-time data that can be accessed by scheduling teams, technicians in the field, and customers all at once.
But the real debate now is between horizontal and vertical FSM software. Vertical software is aimed at addressing the needs of a specific field service industry, whereas horizontal software is useful to a wide array of different markets.
Fire & security providers have typically opted for vertical software because of the market-specific customisations. These are useful for a small business, but can be a hindrance for a business that is changing and growing. Too much customisation can make software inflexible and unscalable. And the current push across all industries to digitally transform means that any hindrance to change is a problem.
Horizontal FSM software is designed to be used across the field service industry as a whole, and is often sought after by companies looking to scale up and future-proof their processes. Horizontal software is typically more flexible, scalable and versatile because providers have identified problems and needs across the industry as a whole, and drawn strengths from a multitude of market-specific programs along the way. It’s one of those instances where a one-size-fits-all approach can actually prove more effective.
Why fire & security companies are going horizontal
What we hear most often from the fire & security companies we speak to is that they’re anxious to improve their performance — particularly in the wake of increased awareness of fire safety — but that their specialist fire/security software won’t let them. Or it’ll let them, but only up to a point. Expanding their field teams, product range and service offering is where the specialist software starts coming unstuck.
This is why fire & security companies are turning to companies like Asolvi. Two of the leading-edge solutions we provide for the fire & security market, Tesseract and WinServ, are horizontal products. They offer general field service management functionality that is useful to a wide range of industries, from HVAC to catering to medical and pharmaceutical equipment. Over the years we have identified common issues, preferences and needs in the field service industry and developed solutions that make every stage of the service process smarter, easier and more efficient.
As horizontal products, Tesseract and WinServ are much more flexible and scalable than market-specific alternatives. We have focused on getting the basics right first. This is why our functionality for contract management, asset management, job planning, scheduling, mobile working, invoicing and reporting is so powerful — because these are the fundamental elements of FSM regardless of the industry you’re in. It’s the reason fire safety provider Surefire decided to upgrade to Tesseract from an inflexible vertical application.
But Asolvi products go one step further. Even though Tesseract and WinServ are technically horizontal, our development teams have been working closely with fire & security providers over the years to add functionality specially for them. WinServ, in particular, has a multitude of purpose-built features for fire & security. They include a dedicated area for certification documentation, custom tabs, inspection checklist builders and critical industry-specific reports such as false alarm analyses and maintenance performance statistics.
So, with Asolvi, you get the best of both worlds. Flexible, scalable horizontal FSM solutions with key fire & security customisations.
If you’re a fire safety and/or security company and you’d like to hear more about how we can transform your service operations, please contact us or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.