Laraine Geddes from Kirona, experts in dynamic resource scheduling, mobile and field service technology contributes an exclusive guide to successfully managing your organisation’s field based workforce...
1. Eradicate paper based systems
Expecting field workers to use paper based records is fraught with potential disaster and inefficiency. Paper based systems often required duplication of work, with data having to be re-entered into back office systems.
- Deploy mobile applications in the field so that employees only have to record information once while in the field. This improves accuracy of data and frees up more time to carry out more jobs per day. Mobile communication can also reduce inefficient back office administration tasks, or be used to record the information needed for audits.
- Use a workflow driven series of checklists and fields on the mobile device to make sure individual workers follow a standard process. This will ensure continuity of good practice across a region.
- Mobile devices are far more secure than paper. If they are lost data can be locked down through encryption, or Mobile Device Management systems.
2. Dynamic scheduling
Efficiently appointing who visits which site is simplified using dynamic scheduling rather than manual scheduling. Staff availability vs skills vs customer/site availability is difficult enough to balance, add to that factors like service levels, job location, cancellations, even traffic on the road and efficient scheduling is almost impossible.
- Deploy dynamic scheduling software that can, in real-time, optimise the utilisation of workers in the field - the right person goes to the right location at the right time. This way they spend more time on site and less time waiting for the next job or, for instance, driving unnecessarily long distances to the next job
- Scheduling software can be tuned to deploy personnel based upon pre-set ‘rules’. Work with your technology vendor to utilise this feature so that services can be optimised; like prioritising workers that have visited the site or customer before, or restricting distances to be travelled by employees, or scheduling according to customer needs.
- Consider that most mobile working visits will usually need a follow up visit or another appointment made with a different worker – your scheduling software can allocate new appointments and visits – there and then3. Integrate Systems
Busy staff are often overwhelmed with the amount of departments or agencies they have to collaborate with and the number of systems that they have to provide information to.
By failing to integrate these systems, workers spend many more hours than need be, rekeying data into multiple back-office systems – duplicating effort and creating the potential for mistakes and errors.
- Choose a mobile solution that can integrate and ‘communicate’ with any system. If implemented correctly this will mean that staff will only need to enter information into their mobile devices once, whereby the data then populates all relevant back-office systems automatically.
- Integrating mobile applications with scheduling systems is particularly powerful. The mobile software can updates the schedule with the emerging day information; allowing visits to be automatically redistributed between staff where visits over-run, customers are unavailable, appointments are cancelled etc.
4. Visibility of front line services
By failing to have visibility of operations in the field, organisations fail to respond to challenges as they happen and lose the opportunity to resolve them at minimum cost and disruption to the customer.
- Providing mobile devices enables you to track all the factors which impact field performance like: routing of employees, time spent onsite, incomplete jobs, missed appointments, lateness etc. This data can be used to analyse operations, fine tune the scheduling engine or to demonstrate ongoing improvements in efficiency.
5.Having customer information to hand
Arriving at the customer’s location without complete historical notes puts the service provider at a disadvantage when providing its services and is disappointing for customers who expect their service provider to have comprehensive knowledge of their relationship.
- By using mobile technology the appropriate notes can be delivered to the workers’ mobile devices when they are needed. This means a professional can provide a service with the continuity the customer would expect. It also reduces the risk of them not being able to deliver that service on their first visit.
- Organisations can allow historical records to be sent to field workers for that customer, allowing them to see full details of historic work completed with any certificates, photos, contracts that are relevant. They can also see future planned work future work. This minimises the risk of duplicating work that has already been done or will be done during the course of a contract.