The User’s Guide to Salesforce Field Service Lightning

Amar Tejaswi Uncategorized
Field Service Lightning

It’s been a year since Salesforce launched the Field Service Lightning, a new product offering in the Salesforce Service Cloud. We don’t know how well it’s doing in the market since Salesforce won’t really talk adoption numbers.

For that matter, we don’t even know how many Salesforce users have migrated from the Classic to the Lightning framework. Salesforce doesn’t like to talk about it, probably, because, the numbers aren’t too encouraging.

But, there is no escaping the Lightning. Salesforce Classic is great but with the company definitively moving towards Lightning, including saying future updates will be Lightning focused, it is inevitable that companies switch. It has to be done at some point.

The company is, therefore, trying to give users more and more reasons to switch and Field Service Lightning was one of them. Slightly toothless (and, surprisingly, a straight release without a beta version) at first, the Summer ‘17 Release loads quite some ammunition into the barrel.

But, what exactly is the Salesforce Field Service Lightning? How does it really work? Is it good enough and does it add value and so on and on…

Plenty of questions there. And we try our best to answer some of them in this post we call ‘the complete guide.’ Of course, no guide can ever be complete.

Anyway, let’s get started.

So, what exactly is Field Service Lightning?

Well, to give a long answer, Salesforce isn’t the kind of company to rest on its laurels and past success and think revenues will be delivered to it on a platter. It is constantly trying to expand its horizons, identifying new business opportunities like getting into the CPQ market with its acquisition of SteelBrick or developing its own console.

Field Service Lightning is Salesforce’s field service management software. Until its release, Salesforce had no owned app to relay customer record information directly to service people in the field. Third party software like ServiceMax would fill in that role. But the ambitious company that Salesforce is, Field Service Lightning is its attempt to close that void.

Field Service Lightning lets customer service teams delegate work to field service technicians and monitor them and lets the latter access customer records in the field from within Salesforce.

In Salesforce’s words, “Field Service Lightning connects your entire workforce on one platform to deliver smarter, faster, more personalized on-site service to your customers.”

Field Service Lightning App

Field Service Lightning App. Source: Salesforce

Why did Salesforce launch Field Service Lightning?

Exactly. Salesforce identified that there was a gap. Until Field Service Lightning, there was nothing in its product offerings for field servicemen. And as the company says, there is merit in connecting the entire workforce through one platform and make it more end-to-end. Whether a majority of Salesforce users think that way is another matter.

Salesforce’s own Service Executive Survey found that 87% executives believe their company should invest in field service technology. About 92% believe companies need to adapt service models in line with customer needs. So, yes, there is a solid case for investment in the field service technology for Salesforce and hence it made the leap.

Is Field Service Lightning available in Salesforce Classic?

Yes, it is. However, since Salesforce has taken up a Lightning first (rather Lightning only) approach, several new features being made available continuously through the Summer ‘17 and future releases will be limited to the Lightning edition only. They will not be back compatible with the Salesforce Classic edition.  

How does Field Service Lighting actually work?

If you are looking to invest in Field Service Lightning, this is what you want to know first. But, before we get to that, let’s look at how a typical field service management instance runs. There are three basic stakeholders in the entire process:

1. Call Center Executive: First point of contact with the customer. The customer raises a service request and the executive creates a record in Service Cloud. The call center executive can also book an appointment for a technician but no further than that.

2. Dispatcher: The FSL Dispatcher is supposed to be managing the records, their word orders, appointments in coordination with the field technicians. Dispatcher Console is set up on top of the Service Cloud Console within Salesforce. The idea is to ensure optimum utilization of field resources while providing high quality service.

3. Field Service Technician: Field Service Technicians use the FSL mobile app on their mobile devices to receive service orders, update them as required and even take customer signatures. They can view customer records and all associated information in a single view.

Field Service Lightning Process Map

Field Service Lightning Process Map. Source: Salesforce

The catch for field technicians here is that the Field Service Lightning mobile app is still in beta on Android though a version 2.0 has also been released for iOS. The Summer ‘17 Release says most of the good features from the iOS app version have been brought to the Android app. However, it’s still in the beta stage.

Now, as to what Field Service Lightning can actually do for you, there are certain tasks it accomplishes.  

Work Orders: Appointments and work orders can be created from within Service Cloud Console on Salesforce. These can be linked to existing records, contracts, accounts and so on.

Manage Assets: Track customer assets and setup automated service scheduled based on customer asset information.

Smart Scheduling: According to Salesforce, Smart Scheduling helps increase field workforce optimization assigning appointments to technicians based on location, skills, proximity and other rules.

FSL Mobile App: As pointed out, it’s still primarily available only on the iOS but supposed to give field technicians high visibility into customer records, appointments, work orders on their mobile devices. Salesforce1 mobile app can also be used in lieu of the FSL app.  

Dispatcher Console: Dispatcher Console is from where the dispatchers work assigning work orders, track and monitor service delivery in real time.

Analytics: No. Not really. If you want analytics, you need to purchase a separate license for Wave Analytics and integrate it. However, you can create Service Reports and Custom Field Service Lightning Reports. Too many licenses, you think? Wait till you ask the next obvious question.


What licenses do I need to get all of this up and running?

In a recent report, Gartner did mention that there is licensing inflexibility that Salesforce customers often complain about. Now as far as the Field Service Lightning is concerned, to make the whole thing work, you’ll need at least one Service Cloud user license per organization and at least one Dispatcher Console user license per organization.

So, Field Service Lightning is built on top of Service Cloud which means you’ll definitely need the latter to get up and running. Good thing is a lot of features are commonly available across the Dispatcher Console and FSL mobile app there’s a period to the expenditure.

Is there a case for considering Field Service Lightning over ServiceMax?

Why just ServiceMax? There is even Click Field Service Edge which is in itself a field service management software and other established vendors like Oracle and Microsoft. Ironically, Salesforce licensed parts for scheduling and optimization from ClickSoftware. That was probably to cut down to go-to-market time but either way Salesforce probably thinks that its presence is required in every niche segment that is connected to the CRM industry.

That said, since there are multiple field service management vendors out there, as already pointed out, so the question translates to how Salesforce’s field service management offering is better (or different) than others. There is still a lot of tug of war going on between Classic and Lightning with users switching back and forth for various reasons. But the advantages of having your service cloud and field service management system on the same platform are obvious. The integration would be much more cohesive, data moves without silos which means Service Cloud on Salesforce as a unit works better. It’s just the case of getting all the eggs in one good basket. But again, which vendor provides a better product is a subjective assessment.

Isn’t ServiceMax a partner?

ServiceMax has very close ties with Salesforce as do many other companies who grew in the Salesforce ecosystem. Apttus, which calls itself the world leader in the Quote-to-Cash segment, is built on the platform and boasted of very close ties to Salesforce. Yet, Salesforce launched its own CPQ product offering a month before it launched the Field Service Lightning. Salesforce executives think of it as just healthy competition and an increased range of choices for customers.

How hard is implementation? Would a consultant be required?

It’s hard to say definitively because each company and its use cases are different. But then again, many Salesforce admins have suggested that Field Service Lightning implementation is fairly simple and administrators themselves can get the job done. However, this is not to say consultation wouldn’t be required. It just really depends on the organization.

Has there been any improvement in the Summer ‘17 release?

The latest Salesforce Summer ‘17 release did have a bit for the Field Service Management in the form of the Android mobile app, though still only a beta version. There have been some other updates as well like version 2.0 of the Field Service Lightning managed package with improvements in scheduling, optimization and the Dispatcher Console. With the Summer ‘17 release, bulk jobs can be scheduled at once, conflicting appointments can be automatically resolved and rescheduled and also optimizations for last minute cancellations.     

So, hopefully that answered a few of your questions. A lot of users do have questions around Field Service Lightning specifically because the documentation isn’t strong enough yet. But Salesforce is apparently making efforts at resolving the situation.


Using Salesforce Field Service Lightning for optimum levels can be hard for new users or even seasoned users. We can help you get the most out of your Salesforce.

Amar Tejaswi

Amar Tejaswi

Engineer by qualification and marketer by profession, Amar contributes to marketing efforts at Whatfix in ways he can.
Amar Tejaswi

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