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Field Engineer Online Marketplace Platform: All The Necessary Tools, Fine-Tuned Daily

Field Engineer CTO Kaushik Bhaumik oversaw the design and development of the Field Engineer platform, the system that is at the heart of the company’s services that help businesses find and engage with contract engineers. In an interview with CRN, he does a deep dive into the platform’s capabilities and the benefits it offers solution providers.

The foundation of Field Engineer’s business is its online marketplace platform, an automated, largely custom-developed system that drives the engineer-contract job matchmaking services and other capabilities that support engineers and the businesses that hire them.

“All deliverables are tracked on the platform,” said Field Engineer CTO Kaushik Bhaumik. “It provides tools for everything from the job management to job tracking, to troubleshooting, call and chat, reporting and payments. Everything is built into the platform.”

Engineers interested in taking on contract engineering jobs download the Field Engineer mobile application (Android or iOS) and submit information about themselves to the platform’s database, including their technical skills, vendor and product certifications, geographic and day/time availability, among other things. Field Engineer does the vetting of the engineer candidates, such as verifying certifications and performing background checks using services such as Checkr.

Meanwhile, solution providers that need engineers for contract jobs submit Statements of Work—detailed, stepby-step descriptions of the job to be performed, the location and time, and a proposed hourly rate or fixed-rate fee. Based on the job description, the Field Engineer platform’s algorithms search the database and develop a list of the best candidates, which is then presented to the customer.

The platform’s algorithms, using artificial intelligence and machine learning, are constantly improving, according to CTO Bhaumik. “These rules are fine-tuned on a daily basis to better serve the customer. The system understands and it keeps learning.”

But the Field Engineer platform does much more than simply match engineers to jobs. Based on the Statement of Work, the engineer’s progress is tracked through the Field Engineer smartphone application, including when he or she arrives at the job site, completes each step of the job, and finishes the job. The engineer also uses the application to submit photos of an installed system, get a customer signature or provide other documental evidence that the job was completed to the customer’s satisfaction.

The Field Engineer platform handles all the payments for the work. The business or solution provider pays the full cost of the job to Field Engineer, which holds it in escrow until the job is complete. When the job is done, the engineer is paid through any one of a number of services including PayPal, Payoneer or other country-specific payment services to which the Field Engineer platform is directly linked via APIs. Field Engineer takes 10 percent of the job payment to the engineer as its fee.

Here’s more from Bhaumik on the platform’s evolution.

CRN: The Field Engineer platform is key to the company’s operations. How was the system conceived?

Kaushik Bhaumik: The idea was [founder and CEO] Malik Zakaria’s. He had a lot of experience with procuring engineering services in the telecom industry. We wanted to develop a system in the market that provides companies with on-demand engineering resources, especially in telecom and networking. It was Malik’s idea for the business. He came up with the idea, he and I brainstormed the system, how we could make this a reality, and I took the idea and gave it technical shape, turned it into a platform.

How was the platform developed and how is it maintained?

This is a totally custom application by our own Field Engineer team. There is the platform with a lot of micromodules. All the modules are built by us. We have the match engine, an algorithm-based search engine that matches jobs to engineers’ profiles that have been properly vetted. ... There are certain things we did not build from scratch, like the payment services gateways. We have a full range of developers, designers, administrators, hardware and software architects, a quality assurance team, a deployment team and production support, hardware managers.

What steps does the Field Engineer platform perform in assigning contract engineering jobs?

The cycle starts when companies post jobs that could be anywhere around the world. The platform’s algorithms suggest the engineers best qualified for the job, and we send a notification to the engineers, who have our app on their phone. Engineers decide if they want to apply for it. Companies see the list of who has applied for the job, with the best candidates at the top, and decide which one is the best in the pool and assign the work to them.

But the platform goes beyond just the job- engineer matchmaking capabilities?

The platform is a full stack of freelance engineering services. It’s not just posting a job and assigning a job. Between posting the job and getting the job to completion, there are a lot of tasks that need to be done. The platform helps the [contracting] business and the engineer track those tasks. For example, if an engineer is installing a router in a customer’s network, the customer has defined all the work steps, and if there are 10 steps in the work process, they are defined in the system. All deliverables are tracked on the platform. It provides tools for everything from the job management to job tracking, to troubleshooting, call and chat, reporting and payments. Everything is built into the platform.

It sounds like preparing the detailed work order—the Statement of Work—is critical.

We want to make that very clear. The customer creates a clear scope of work so the engineer knows what he has to do. They are following a guide, so the customer is satisfied that all the work is done. Everything is controlled in a very clear manner. That’s the goal. We have seen issues in the past where the scope of work was not clear, and that causes a lot of friction between the engineer and the customer.

Aside from the automated capabilities of the platform, what other benefits are there for both parties in using the Field Engineer services?

There are benefits for both parties using the marketplace. The main benefit is we are vetting engineers, we are taking responsibility for the job being done by the engineer, making sure they do it. From the engineer’s perspective, we make sure the contracting company really has the money and we secure the funds so that when the job is done they get paid. We are taking care of both sides’ interests. Our goal is to make sure that both parties are helped by this platform. The company gets the job properly done and the engineer is doing the job correctly and getting any help he requires. All the tools are available in the platform. The goal is to improve the quality of the services and to make it on-demand.

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