After a rigorous selection and due diligence process, you’ve finally chosen a field service management (FSM) solution for your organization. So what’s next?
FSM software often has multiple features and configurations that enable planning, scheduling, and reporting for field resources—and it can be tempting to use all of them. But it’s important not to lose sight of the business goals that you were trying to meet in the first place.
Before you begin using your new solution, it’s crucial to identify your business drivers and key performance indicators (KPIs). You can then use these as guidelines for crafting a solution that will work best for your business.
Let’s examine some common KPI and objective priorities and how best to manage them.
Meeting Schedule Policy Objectives
Field service schedules are always codified by a set of rules. This might be that a certain task type can only be assigned to a specific technician—such as a safety task requiring an inspector. Or it might mean only some resources can work in a certain region—for instance if it’s a global or national organization where resources can only legally work in certain countries or territories.
When there are multiple scheduling options for a job, you must follow these rules but you also want to achieve your business objectives. Sometimes this means making tradeoffs on KPIs such as on-time arrival, travel time, labor costs, or number of tasks per day.
When starting out with a new solution, it’s key to get a handle on the primary scheduling objectives. Decide what’s most important to your organization. For instance, if your primary pain point is getting through a backlog of tasks, you probably want to focus on increasing the number of tasks per day. Once cleared, you can focus on other goals like cutting costs and travel time.
Satisfying Service Level Agreements
Typically, one of the most important priorities of a field service organization is meeting SLAs. That’s because missing SLAs can have serious implications, whether it be financial or legal, and be detrimental to customer satisfaction.
Many field service solutions offer alerts that flag when an SLA is missed. This could mean notifying dispatchers, managers, and field resources when travel is delayed, tasks are completed late, or appointments are cancelled. It can also mean triggering alerts every time a task is scheduled and dispatched or when the task status changes for any reason. Setting these many alerts might seem essential for ensuring full visibility into the workload and that you aren’t at risk of missing any SLAs. But it can be overwhelming to receive excessive notifications, that may risk clouding your insight.
It’s a better practice to take a simple approach to alerts. First, identify the most important service levels and then identify only those who need to be aware of these notifications and the actions they can take to achieve the SLA. For instance, if your customers complain most about missed or late appointments, that should be your number one priority. Does every dispatcher and team leader need to know every time an appointment is missed or late? Probably not. Identify who needs to know and only send alerts to them.
When optimizing schedules, it is important to allocate time to tasks as close as possible to the actual time it takes resources to complete the task. One way to predict the time is to adjust tasks based on the efficiency of the resource, such as whether a resource works slower or quicker. For instance, a resource just starting out might be slower at completing a job type. Based on this information, that resource might be assigned fewer tasks than a more experienced resource. On the other hand, measuring by average task duration would mean that no matter their experience level, the resource would be assigned a certain number of jobs based on the average job completion rate.
It might be tempting to immediately set metrics based on resource efficiency because it seems more accurate than basing scheduling on averages. While this is likely true, when starting out with a new solution it’s better to start by establishing baseline metrics with average task duration. That is, unless you know there are extreme differences between individual resource speed and task averages.
That way, instead of forcing an efficiency rating on resources right away and risking overloading the technician or tagging them as slow, you can gather enough data to get a more accurate resource efficiency. And should a technician finish a task quicker or slower than expected, the right field service management solution will allow you to easily dispatch additional work or assign another resource to the job. Advanced FSM solutions can also use machine learning algorithms to predict accurate task durations.
Ultimately, when starting with a new solution, your priority should be establishing the right goals and KPIs for your business. That way, you can effectively measure success and build up the metrics to continually improve the business.
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