As our focus begins to shift towards next year planning it is important that we are able to assess and interpret the data we have gathered across the year, but your data is only as good as its application, writes Tom Bowe, IFS
It’s that time of year again, preparing budgets and setting goals for next year, even though it probably seems like just yesterday you were doing so for 2015.
Soon, if you haven’t already, you will be gathering data from this year like volumes and revenues. To plan what’s next for your field service organisation in 2016. If you have an integrated or best-of-breed field service solution, ideally the data you have collected from the field, and your customers, will help you navigate your decisions.
But does all your research and planning apply to the real world? Do you need to do complicated calculations to attempt to understand capacity, resourcing and demand?
2015 saw another year of field service growth, with more organisations applying IoT practices and other technological advances to help cut costs, increase efficencies, and ensure customer satisfaction. More data than ever before was being fed from the customer and the field to back-end systems. But your data is only as good as its application.
By its very nature a forecast intrinsically contains some degree of error
What if you could know, as close to real life as possible, what resources you would need, and where, to meet your 2016 field service KPIs? What if you were given visibility into the success of your predetermined KPIs, and suggestions for improvement? Imagine having an interactive tool at your fingertips that would allow you to run multiple real-life field service scenarios simultaneously. Imagine that same tool being able to store all your results and present them in a printable dashboard that you could take to management.
Such a tool does exist, and we call it the WISE (what-if scenario explorer). This easy-to-navigate forecasting and planning tool forecasts your resources based on your predicted demand; new contracts, possible acquisitions, and shifts in business. It allows you to drill down into the resulting schedules to see what the real-time schedule would look like.
So why does this all matter? Field service is an ever-shifting and highly demanding industry. It ebbs and flows with seasonal changes, shifts in demand, and multiple other factors so if there is so much potential change then why bother?
By its very nature a forecast is always wrong – it intrinsically contains some degree of error because it is based on many factors including past performance, future unknowns, confidence levels and statistical extrapolation and correlations of this data.
The skill therefore is to build a forecast that’s as close to being accurate and believable as possible thus minimising the margin of error. With any forecasting errors minimised, the impact on your KPIs becomes more predictable.
Here are some of the Key Performance Indicators that can be positively affected by scenario planning and forecasting:
- Headcount: (Having the right number of people, when and where they are needed)
Run real-life scenarios by feeding the WISE your organisation’s data and see whether you should add or reallocate resources. If you need t o add resources to meet demand, the WISE will show you where regionally you should be hiring. It also provides territory balancing to ensure your service areas have proper coverage.
- Response time: (Planning to respond reliably within the SLA or appointment window)
The WISE will predict your response times to service calls and will also calculate the number of SLAs you will meet with your current resources. It will then make suggestions to help you increase your SLA hit rate.
- Customer Satisfaction: (Directly correlated to #1 and #2)Scenario planning and forecasting provides territory balancing to ensure your service areas have proper coverage. Not only will you be able to more easily achieve your SLAs but you will also be able to provide new customers with reliable first time service.
- Operating Costs: (Reducing overtime and travel costs)With a forecasting tool that can not only tell you the outcome of your current operations but help you determine what organisational changes are needed to meet your demands; you have the ability to reduce your upcoming costs. By automatically seeing where your technicians should be located based on demand, you can ensure your technicians aren’t travelling unnecessary distances.
A scenario planning tool can be used to help establish goals and expectations for the fiscal year, but it can also be used for short term planning as well. It can help your organisation understand how to best manage new important contracts, proactively plan for changes in seasonal demand, and more.
When you start budgeting for 2016, rather than wonder why you are bothering, instead, reverse the mentality and question “why not? Using WISE could have a notable impact on your service delivery metrics and bottom line. WISE will show you where regionally you should be hiring. It also provides territory balancing to ensure your service areas have proper coverage.