Marne Martin, CEO at ServicePower outlines the key considerations for field service directors exploring technology, people and processes…
The field service industry is exceptionally diverse and surprisingly complex. Providers vary in size, geographical coverage, services offered, parts required to conduct repairs, inspections, installations, and maintenance or facility management. In today’s competitive world, customer satisfaction is considered the number one indicator of success, even as productivity, cost, and parts inventory management remain essential.
Workforce management software (WFM) is the technology cornerstone on which the success of the operations relies. New technologies, like social, mobile, analytics and cloud, IoT and M2M data, also impact the industry, presenting new ways to perform work, improve first time fix rates, and new business opportunities.
How does a field service business select the best WFM technology? What must service operations consider to ensure measurable success?
WFM solutions differ greatly, as discussed last month, so it is imperative to consider your requirements early to maximize the likelihood that what is deployed delivers the functionality you require, at the costs you expect. This checklist will help you build a foundation strong enough to maximize ROI and improve customer service levels.
|Budget:||WFM implementation and maintenance costs vary. Determine if a license or a transactional SaaS model is best for your organization, evaluate the fully loaded costs, and make sure to have a partner that is willing to evolve with your changing needs.|
|Business Complexity:||The more complex your business, the more important true optimisation software, like ServiceScheduling, is to create the least costly schedules and highest customer satisfaction as the same time.|
|Business Objectives:||Make sure your business objectives are clear and your business partners are engaged and ready for any change management required.|
|Security Requirements:||In this age of hackers and identity theft, pick a solution that ensures your customer, employee and business data are safe.|
|Key Performance Indicators:||Agree on KPIs early and collect baseline data to measure improvements against.|
|Software Deployment:||To SaaS or not to SaaS? Decide if you want to deploy and manage an on premise solution or rely on vendor expertise.|
|Back Office Integration:||Increasing first time fix rates requires that technicians arrive with the skills, parts, and collaborative mobile dispatch software to support all tasks onsite. Decide during design what data, software and people access are required to support field work.|
|Integration Execution:||Decide if your IT team can support a WFM integration or if a system integrator is required to do the heavy lifting.|
|Training:||Don’t forget training. Staff must be trained to use the software as, how and when intended.|
|Continuous Improvement:||Stay abreast of new technology and changes in your own business. Ask for advice incorporating latest releases.|
Process and People are as Important as Technology
Create processes and people policies as part of the WFM deployment. Technology cannot alone create a successful field service operation. The underlying processes and people create success.
When developing an evolving operation, fundamental processes must be designed and implemented to ensure smooth operations and healthy ROI.
|Work Scheduling:||Work scheduling is not routing. It is the process and tools used to create basic staff work schedules: shifts, breaks, lunches, PTO, and non-schedulable time such as training or vehicle maintenance.|
|Forecasting:||Demand forecasting goes hand in hand with labor supply forecasting. Invest in tools to plot demand, geographical and seasonal. Business intelligence tools are great options for demand forecasting.|
|Management Plan:||Define roles, responsibilities and tasks. Create performance management plans so adherence and success can be measured, and rewarded or corrected. Managers and employees thrive when expectations are clear. Discipline is less painful when plans are defined, published and applied evenly.|
|Parts and Equipment Management:||Define processes for procuring, warehousing and allocating parts to jobs. Define accounting process for tracking distributor invoices and returns to ensure credits and charges are correct. Define use policy for company assets, like trucks and tools. Enforce the policy with tracking technology to prevent misuse or fraud.|
People are the most critical element of any field service operation. Create people, processes and policy to “sustain and maintain” your ROI goals.
|Create a Task List:||Define daily tasks. Employees accomplish more and feel more accomplished when they understand what needs to be done each day.|
|Create a Playbook:||A playbook is critical and often overlooked. It is an operational manual which defines policies that dictate employee interactions and utilization of WFM software and operational processes which support objectives and KPIs, driving operational excellence and productivity.|
|Plan and execute the ride along:||Once tasks and expectations are defined and understood, ride along or sit with employees to understand reality. Identify what is going on in the field, call center or warehouse, to identify potential opportunities for improvement.|
|Validation:||Inspect your expectations! Perform customer surveys. Audit work performed. Customer satisfaction cannot be assumed simply because a task list and schedule have been completed. Validate process and policy adherence to ensure employee success and customer satisfaction.|
|Manage Expansion:||Don’t overlook the ‘fiefdom effect’. Policy, process and technology compliance and utilisation must be consistent and measurable across the entire organization to objectives are met.|