Whilst improving productivity, efficiency and most importantly customer satisfaction should be at the top of every field service company's agenda, unless you have properly addressed how you can monitor and manage your processes you're going to have an uphill struggle. Aviram Hinenzon, Vice President with ViryaNet explains why...
When implementing your mobile workforce management system, you may not be thinking about performance management.
You’re so focused on the implementation that you may postpone your performance management initiative. And keep postponing. Until you’ve moved onto something else. So your performance management initiative never gets started.
Now your new mobile workforce management system is generating data. Awesome! You have all this data, but you still don’t know what you should fix. Dang it. Should have started that performance management initiative when you had the chance.
It’s too easy to focus on “what needs to get done now”. To continuously improve, you must move the focus from the “things that you do” to the “things you can do better”. You also need to understand what “better” means to you.
Taking the First Step
The first step in determining the things you can do better is to define your business goals.
Mobile workforce management is a complex process that includes workforce planning, assignment decisions, and plan execution. So it’s important to align this complex process with your business goals.
You must start with the business goals that are most important to you. Service organisation goals are usually related to:
- business processes
- customer satisfaction
- productivity utilisation
After defining your goals, you must identify the business questions that need to be asked to address your business goals. For example:
- Are we following our optimised routes?
- Are we meeting our service level agreements (SLAs)?
- Are we using overtime? If so, are we using overtime effectively?
- How can we improve our planning and scheduling to increase our efficiency?
You can plan better for your future by analysing your history and addressing your planning and operational analysis.
To address your business goals and to continuously improve, you must identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) that must be measured. Keep in mind that you must combine several KPIs together to understand any issues related to your business goals.
Measuring and Visualising Data
Then, you must develop your KPIs by collecting your data in a database that’s best suited for reporting. For example, you could use a Star Schema database which already contains your KPIs calculated and structured for performance management. To measure and visualise your KPIs in different dimensions and different timeframes, you need to develop a query package to retrieve your KPIs from the database.
When selecting your data visualisation tool, you must consider your specific needs. Some data visualisation tools are “heavy” business intelligence platforms that have many capabilities, but require IT involvement. Other “lighter” tools with data visualisation and dash-boarding capabilities are more suitable for business users. You should select the tool that meets your needs and helps you achieve your results quickly and efficiently.
Now you must combine your KPIs into charts and combine these charts into dashboards. To help you make informed decisions and translate those decisions into calls-to-action, your dashboards should have a balanced view of several aspects of your business (e.g., financials, productivity). Monitoring and analysing your metrics with the use of a mobile workforce management solution allows you to generate Balanced Scorecards and dashboards that can help your organisation make business decisions and take action.
When creating your dashboards, you must identify your dashboard users and their roles in your organisation. These users may require different dashboards with different data. For example, typically, executives and customers will need only a high-level summary of data. However, your supervisors and operational managers will require more detailed dashboards.
Maintaining a Performance Management Practice
After creating and customising your dashboards, you must train your team to maintain a continuous Performance Management Practice. For example:
- What are you going to measure?
- How often are you going to measure?
- How will you adjust your dashboards over time (e.g., when your business goals change)?
- How will you adjust your baselines and target lines after your business goals have been achieved?
As you collect and analyse your performance data, you need to confirm the accuracy of your data. Using data accuracy dashboards, you must define the ranges of what’s acceptable as reliable data for your field service organisation. Also, we recommend that you measure the improvement of data accuracy over time. Your data accuracy is an indicator of your employees’ compliance in reporting.
When you discover any service inefficiencies, identify the root causes of these problems by asking yourself, “Why did this happen?”
Then, transform your goals and KPI measurements into decisions and calls-to-action for operational changes. These calls-to-action may include adjusting your mobile workforce management software or making other changes, such as:
- policies (e.g., overtime)
- processes (e.g., communicating with the customer)
- behaviours (e.g., mentoring worst performers)
After you’ve applied corrective actions to the issues you identified, you need to measure again. With these measurements, you must determine if the actions you applied have truly helped your organisation to improve towards your goals. Then, in order to attain or retain your best-in-class status, you need to benchmark your organisation against others in your industry.
Remember that your goals will change over time. So, periodically, you should review the implementation of your Performance Management Practice. And once you have achieved your goals, you must adjust your baselines and target lines for new goals.
Performance management is a continuous effort that has a direct impact on your people, processes and systems. As a service organisation, you need to define your goals, build your business processes, and measure your performance against business objectives. When you’re thinking about implementing your mobile workforce management system, you need to think about performance management or you can’t improve your field service.