Field Service Optimization: 4 Tips for Improving Your Operations
We live in a remarkable time of technological progress. Gone are the days when field service workers were using legacy systems, spreadsheets and paper and pencil to track activities and complete their work orders. Though these may have been established processes at one point, companies with field service workers must keep up with the changing pace of technology. Digital tools are a powerful assistant to help you and your team manage their daily field service tasks.
As a field services manager, you are responsible for overseeing a variety of day-to-day operations and a distributed workforce. On a typical day you’re juggling multiple responsibilities, covering both in-house staff and contractors, customer requests, allocating technician support, coordinating your dispersed field workforce and keeping systems up-to-date. But, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. How do you effectively manage distributed work? What tools do you have in place to successfully do so?
As a manager and leader of a team of field service workers, you should be familiar with the latest technology that can help you drive compliance, productivity and optimize your work operations. But did you know that, as a general rule of thumb, the technologies we use evolve every 24 months into the next generation? This emphasizes the importance of staying up-to-date with technology solutions.
Mobile, digital technology, like Connected Worker® from Parsable, are an effective tool that managers can use to: foster communication and collaboration among teammates out in the field, gather and distribute work requirements, capture information and data points for reporting purposes and organize your teams’ workloads.
A connected worker is always connected to the information they need to successfully complete and log the details of a task no matter where they are.
This includes forms and checklists, standard work instructions and operating procedures, even quick and easily digestible training or lessons accessible on demand. It promotes a harmonious working relationship between the worker, the information they need to get the job done right, and the data the company needs to track and monitor operations in real-time. In order to make this a reality, the content must be digital and interactive, and the workers must be equipped with smart, mobile devices.
The Challenges Field Service Managers Face
According to Deloitte, field service managers encounter a number of day-to-day challenges, which include:
- Increasing each field rep’s number of on-site visits
- Managing fluctuations of field service demand
- Getting the right parts to the right location
- Maintaining employee satisfaction
Historically, field managers have little input into the technology stack, solutions and development of these systems. At the same time, non-managers often develop these systems with a limited view of how they are used. When it comes to enterprise solutions, field managers don’t have the time to consider the many aspects of their technology stack.
Instead of complicating things, what you really need is a simple implementation that’ll minimize downtime and increase your teams’ productivity. Field managers need a digital tool that can:
- Provide event notifications
- Enable leading/lagging notifications
- Provide process and time tracking
- Allow for supervisor job shadowing
- Distribute work packets
- Monitor equipment conditions on the ground
4 Tips on How Technology Can Help Optimize Field Service Operations
Advancements in technology have an impact on how field service managers operate. These solutions provide an opportunity to resolve the challenges that you and your team face on a daily basis.
Here are 4 ways to improve your field service operations.
Move Away From Paper
Is your team still creating paper-based work orders or scheduling on whiteboards? Take paper out of the hands of everyone and digitize that information; instead, work orders and checklists can be completed on a mobile app. Using mobile first applications to quickly and seamlessly report project and work order status instead of end of day ticketing. This ensures technicians are following their workflows step-by-step, and drives compliance among your team out in the field, and compressing reporting times.
Streamline Your Team’s On-Site Performance
By connecting your team via a single mobile app, you’re able to accurately track and record on-site performance. Having access to arrival and departure times, the details of the work performed, logging of information – all improve accuracy and accountability among your dispersed team. In addition, you can use the information available to compare active jobs with previous completed jobs, reassign work or adjust schedules.
As a field service manager, you oversee all of this information and have real-time visibility into the activities and schedules of your field technicians. If a worker runs into an issue, you can streamline on-site problem resolution and, if needed, assign jobs immediately based on the information you receive, as it happens.
Tap Into Data and Measure Results
Measuring performance and the data captured by your field service team is a very important step in optimizing your operations. This information provides greater visibility into each worker’s quality of service and data points into the tasks performed. It allows you to verify work is actually completed, versus estimating or hoping jobs get finalized.
For example, Connected Worker from Parsable allows you to integrate multiple data feeds to provide a unified operating system that enables you to capture potential untapped (or dark) data. By deploying a no-code platform at scale, our customers achieve improvements in productivity, safety, quality and customer service. These improvements are particularly valuable for companies trying to cope with the increase in demand following the COVID-19 crisis and to minimize the risk for field staff on the ground.
Provide Technicians With Additional Training
Finally, due to increasing competition, high customer demand and an aging workforce, many companies choose to outsource their field services to independent contractors. Working with contractors can create an additional layer of complexity, but it doesn’t need to. You can all work as one team, collaborate together and provide these workers with in the moment training.
Field managers should consider standardizing work operations with easy to implement, off-the-shelf technology that provides training and a faster time to value. They can then identify opportunities, and provide tailored support to field staff and monitor their performance.
In our new world of distributed workforce management, it’s clear that the only way to lead a business to success is to understand and manage the technologies that contribute to success, and to locate the potential pitfalls of these technologies. As a field service manager, you have a responsibility to more effectively manage your distributed workforce, leverage technology to foster collaboration, maximize efficiency, achieve the best business results, and guide employees in the most appropriate way.