Elliott Kim | 08.07.18
Summary >

While there are many field service management methods out there, not all are created equal. Some best practices may seem beneficial in theory, but when applied can do more harm than good. This is especially true when it comes to KPI tracking and benchmarking—the key to improving services processes. It’s important to find a solution that yields accurate metrics so you can continually improve the business.

Below, we discuss three field service practices that may unintentionally do more harm than good when it comes to tracking KPIs.

1. Automatic Status Reporting via Geofencing

One common field service management method is using geofencing to automatically report a technician’s status. In other words, the solution (using mobile GPS) would automatically mark a field tech as “on-site” or “started the work” if their location is near the customer address. In theory, this would make it easier for a mobile worker to check in and out of a job site because they wouldn’t have to manually report anything. Ideally it would also mean more accurate reporting, because the tech wouldn’t be able to lie about being onsite.

In reality, geofencing doesn’t always yield accurate insights. Just because a technician is on or near a jobsite, doesn’t mean they started the job. Consider these scenarios:

  • The resource arrived near the customer site, but is looking for parking
  • The resource was involved in an accident nearby, or is stuck in traffic a street away
  • The resource arrived early and stopped at the coffee shop down the street
  • The resource is onsite but has no access key to start the job

In each of these scenarios, the geofencing would automatically report the tech’s status as “started work” because they are in close proximity—even though the work has not started . Now you have imprecise job duration records and can’t improve efficiency moving forward.

A better solution is to track and trace location, but ultimately rely on user status reporting. Tracking the tech’s location is useful for letting customers know when help is on route, and it’s also a good backup plan for recording data. But self-reporting will ultimately yield more accurate job durations. Not to mention, it’s easy for the resource to record with a mobile device.

2. Predictive Job Duration

Predictive job duration estimates the most precise time it will take to complete a job based on all relevant task and resource properties. And it continuously learns and improves from historical data. This means that as a tech gets more efficient at fixing a specific issue, the expected job duration will shorten over time.

When used correctly, predictive job duration can be highly valuable and lead to greater schedule accuracy and workforce efficiency. But it’s easy to run into some problems. Consider this scenario:

If Field Tech Jimmy realizes that his assigned job duration is elastic, he might work slower so the FSM system gives him more time to complete future jobs. Meanwhile, Field Tech John might be getting better and faster at completing a job type, so the system gives him less time in the future. Now he’s working harder than Jimmy, yet it’s harder for him to meet SLAs. Now there’s no incentive for John to continue to work quickly. Not to mention, you’re getting the wrong KPI measurement of tech efficiency and true job duration.

To avoid this, always monitor for any abnormal behaviors in job duration. If something falls outside of the standard variation, talk to your team and be there to listen to any of their concerns. And to track more accurately, try comparing techs against their past performance and against the entire company. For instance, from the results you might see that Jimmy performs better in the mornings and assign jobs during that time. Or, by comparing Jimmy’s results to the entire workforce’s performance, you might find that a specific job type has a longer duration overall.

3. Rule Relaxation for Emergencies

Many service organizations allow for dramatic rule relaxation and relaxed scheduling decision parameters to accommodate emergencies. In theory, this makes sense. Emergency jobs take priority and must be addressed as soon as possible.

But what happens when you send a tech to a job who doesn’t have the skills to finish it? Yes, your response times will be high and customers will be happy initially. But when the tech can’t fix the problem on the first try, your customer will be left in the middle of an emergency and will have to schedule another appointment. Not to mention, because you are only focusing on response times, it seems like your organization is performing well in terms of responding to emergency. In reality, you still aren’t meeting SLA compliance because first-time-fix rates are low.

Instead of relaxing rules, use a FSM solution with frequent, automatic in-day scheduling optimization. The right tool can proactively rearrange resources, match skills, and reshuffle the schedule without breaking commitments. This, in conjunction with live traffic updates to optimize routing, will help you make it to every job and fix solutions the first time.

 Ultimately, analysis is key in continually improving the business and optimizing the service chain. Without tracking the right metrics, you can’t improve efficiency. It’s critical to adopt the right field service management practices to ensure you’re capturing the most accurate data.

For more on KPI tracking with field service management solutions, head to the ClickSoftware blog.