Written by 9:54 pm Uncategorized

Research report: Are field service standards falling? Part One

09/11/2014 23:29

Field Service News has recently undertaken an exclusive research project, sponsored by TomTom Telematics to explore the standards of field service companies.

Are they improving or are they falling? Is it that standards as a whole are now under greater scrutiny than ever before as we all become more and more expectant on getting results as soon as we expect them now that we inhabit an age of instant information thanks to the Internet?

Across the next four weeks we will be publishing a series of features that looks at the findings of this research…  what about those companies that are pulling ahead of the competition and not only delivering to their customers’ expectations but exceeding them and delighting them? What tools are they using to do so? What about those falling behind the pack – what are they getting so wrong?

There is also an accompanying report to this series which you can access by clicking this link…

About the research:

The research was conducted over a 2-month period in which we contacted members of the field service news online subscription as well as using the reach of Field Service News throughout the social media channels. We had a wide number of respondents from companies of differing size from those with less than 10 mobile workers through to those with over 2,500. Our respondents also came from a diverse collection of industries including Manufacturing, Retail, Healthcare, Transport and Local Government amongst many others.

The types of technology being used:

To establish whether field service standards are falling, improving or just staying static, an important starting point is to explore how significantly some of the technology, which is designed to make life easier for field engineers, is actually being applied. Would we see a dramatic difference in standards between those who are using the latest field service technologies and those that are not? To give us some understanding of the type of technologies that were used we asked our respondents to let us know if they were using  ‘real-time telematics when creating work schedules’, ‘dynamic scheduling and planning’, ‘intelligent scheduling around emergency call outs’. On top of this we also asked how they inform drivers of their jobs and work schedules and whether they offered job-tracking functionality to their customers. So first up lets take a look at who’s using what in field service industries…

Real-time telematics data:

In fact it was a completely even 50:50 split of companies who are and are not using telematics data. We do see bigger trends shift [quote float=”left”]Of those companies with 500 or more field engineers 84% of companies using telematics data.[/quote] When we look just at those companies in the extremes of both brackets however we certainly see a trend emerging.  Of those companies with 500 or more field engineers 84% of companies using telematics data. This is in stark contrast to those companies that had 50 field workers or less. Here the number of companies using telematics data in real time is just 17%.  

Dynamic Scheduling:

At first glance it seems a similar situation with dynamic scheduling also. Of the group as a whole 56% of companies were using some dynamic scheduling. Again looking at the outliers, amongst those companies with 50 engineers or less this figure dips dramatically to just under a quarter of companies (24%). Similarly again as we focus on the larger companies this figure once more leaps to an incredible 89%. Again it seems that those companies with larger workforces are taking more advantage of the tools that are available.

Intelligent Scheduling around emergency call outs:

[quote float=”right”]With the group as a whole we see a very marginal majority of companies using intelligent scheduling around emergency call outs with 54% of companies surveyed using them.[/quote]Given the trends above it would be a safe bet to assume that we would see similar trends in this area also with the largest organisations  predominantly using such tools whilst the smaller companies are either able to cope without out or as yet to see the benefits of the approach. Again starting with the group as a whole we see a very marginal majority of companies using intelligent scheduling around emergency call outs with 54% of companies surveyed using them. Amongst the smallest organisations this comes down to just 17% of companies actually using intelligent scheduling. However, unlike the previous two options (dynamic scheduling and use of real-time data) we see slightly less of a significant leap in those using it. In fact 63% of companies with a large mobile workforce are using intelligent scheduling. Still a considerable majority but not as exaggerated as in the previous two examples.

The haves and the have nots:

Before we move forward lets take a moment to stop and consider the reasons for the wide gap between the large and small in terms of the technology they are using. One possible argument that could support the statistics are that perhaps smaller companies may not need such sophisticated methods to maintain the standards they deliver. This is of course will be proven one way or the other later in this report as we look at the varying levels of standards that are apparent amongst companies of all sizes.

This certainly could hold true when we look at both dynamic and intelligent scheduling. As we have looked at before in a number of features there are many levels of scheduling systems available with dynamic and intelligent systems being both the most complicated and the most costly. However, for a small organisation sometimes these types of systems can be impractical as the effort in establishing the correct rules and data logic in place to get the desired results can sometimes be counter productive for a small organisation where a simpler ‘assisted scheduling’ solution would be more suited to their needs.

This logic in some part could also explain the reason why fewer larger companies are using intelligent scheduling, as it is perhaps the most sophisticated form of scheduling engine available currently, so perhaps even prohibitive for larger organisations who are able to operate with just a dynamic system in place?

[quote float=”left”]Whilst there are certainly existing arguments about which types of scheduling systems suit companies of varying sizes there can be no doubt that the ability to track driver and field engineer data in real time can only be a positive[/quote] However, where this theory does fall down is in the discrepancy when we look at the use of real time data.

Whilst there are certainly existing arguments about which types of scheduling systems suit companies of varying sizes there can be no doubt that the ability to track driver and field engineer data in real time can only be a positive for a company regardless of size, both in terms of their own internal efficiency as well as the level of service they can deliver? Again as we continue this series we will uncover the truth to this supposition, as with the number of companies offering telematics solutions, the availability of such solutions is high while the costs are reasonably low.

If the evidence supports the theory that such tools will help improve service delivery then it will be hard to see an argument for smaller companies not taking this step at the least.

If you want to know more about this research then you can access the full report by clicking this link.

In the part two of this exclusive series we will look at how field service companies are communicating from the office to the field, what the best in class companies are using and what impact this can have on productivity…

This series is sponsored by: 

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