The world is different today than it was just six months ago. Today, to maintain customer experience expectations while keeping costs at or below normal, it is crucial to evaluate the makeup of your entire service processes, including operations and field work. At the heart of it all, you need to evaluate how to get the most out of your team—from individual roles to the technology used across the organization.
Over the years, I have learned from some of the most successful companies what it takes to build a highly effective service workforce. This is not a one-size fits all approach by any means, however it will help provide direction if your business is looking for new ways to increase operational efficiency.
Know Your Field Workers’ Skills, Training and Certifications
Even for service companies that conduct only a few different types of field work, knowing your field workers’ skills, training and required certifications is a fundamental aspect to the anatomy of a highly effective field service workforce.
When you know the skills and certifications of your workforce, achieving new levels of efficiency is possible, including
- Improve the customer experience by quickly dispatching technicians to service calls
- Increase first time fix rate, sending the right technician (with the right equipment, parts and resources) to the right job the first time
- Complete more jobs in a day
Further, maintaining a list of each field worker and their certifications helps to ensure the technician is qualified to complete the work in the first place.
In the end, you can be confident in scheduling the right person to the right job at the right time.
I feel so strongly about employing skill tags that I wrote a blog on the subject.
Coordinate Schedules Across Service Work and Teams
Field service work varies by industry in resource utilization needs, intensity and duration. Some organizations maintain internal assets, while others service customer assets, adding another layer of variability.
I have found the common thread is how service work is coordinated and distributed among a field workforce. This ties into the aforementioned section on knowing the skills of your workforce.
Generally, utilizing service scheduling software will enable much better coordination of service work to be distributed across a team.
Forecasting resource utilization and demand is an achievable endeavor, given the right tools and technology.
Additionally, providing your workforce with a field service mobile application that displays a list of unscheduled work can be an opportunistic gold mine. If a technician is working on a service call that is in proximity to an unscheduled job, they can take advantage of the situation to work on jobs located nearby.
Establish a Field Service Operations Center (FSOC)
The anatomy of a highly effective field service workforce often involves finding synergy whenever and wherever possible. Lately, I have been thinking about how our own field service management software at Field Squared really helps move companies forward, do more with less, reduce costs and realize revenue faster.
What separates the good from the best service businesses comes down to a simple concept: being organized.
In organizing your entire service operations, I believe it is necessary to establish what I call a field service operations center (FSOC).
Much like a network operations center (NOC) or a security operations center (SOC), the goal of a field service operations center is to gain a comprehensive, consolidated view across an organization’s entire operations, including
- Schedules and dispatch
- Work orders, maintenance tasks or other field work
- Assets and inventory
- Time cards and labor or job costs
- Location of mobile workers
- Status alerts and notifications
At the center, and serving as the foundation of the FSOC, is field service automation software.
Along with the aforementioned capabilities, the best FSOCs require additional mission critical elements within the software.
Workflow Automation: The ability to automate an organization’s embedded, proprietary business processes from the simple to the highly complex.
Native GIS: The ability to geocode assets (i.e., nodal, linear, polygonal) provides the ability to schedule and dispatch field work based on specific site locations to the point of the specific segments of an asset based on latitude/longitude. Moreover, access to the full asset model with asset attributes in a single pane of glass is ideal, because it enables real-time asset monitoring.
Internet of Things (IoT): Integrating with IoT systems is increasingly becoming a requirement for many organizations. Access to information-rich telemetry data sharpens in-depth analysis, surfacing opportunities for operational improvements.
Integrations and Open API: Field service software that is also considered a platform will be more effective in the long run. The software should have a few out-of-the-box integrations; integrate with other third-party systems via API, web services and SFTP; have a well-documented Open API to allow the end user customer to integrate systems on their own; integrate with custom and in-house built applications; and, finally, allow the organization to build their own applications on top of the field service software itself.
All in all, the anatomy of highly effective field workforce is not overly complicated but readily achievable with the proper resources. When it comes to making investments in software to help get you there, the requirements you define should be well thought out.
No two organizations conduct field service work or asset management/maintenance work the exact same way. The best long-term investment is the one that fits the organization from the start, growing with the company over time to future proof your investment.
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