Performance Management: Why it matters in field service

Jul 13, 2015 • FeaturesFuture of FIeld ServiceMIllennialsPerformance Managementperformance metricsfield servicefield service management

Last month, Marne Martin, CEO of Servicepower, evaluated the need to focus on the technology required to operate a field service operation and discussed recruiting, training, motivating, and retaining new Millennial employees (Technology and Technicans in field service). This month, Marne discusses the importance of performance management and how to implement it in your organisation.

Once the technology and staffing are taken care of, performance management is the next essential step to the success of a field service organisation (FSO). It involves accessing meaningful metrics, working across teams, and aligning execution to improve performance across the entire field service organisation. It involves having the right people communicate the key messages from the metrics and implement change, using analytical information to drive continuous technician improvement, business productivity goals, and customer satisfaction. This is where the best organisations differentiate themselves. Performance management provides the opportunity to train and encourage Millennials with a responsive performance culture in mind.

What is Performance Management?

Performance management is an employee centric program including metrics, leadership supported processes, and technology used to measure employee performance against pre-defined targets driven by company strategy and goals. A well-formed performance management programme incentivises employee behaviours that support company strategy and goals by measuring and reacting to positive or negative performance metrics. Flexible technology which provides easy to understand analytics that can be viewed conveniently, on a variety of devices, is essential. It also requires committed management that mentor and drive accountability, as well as a group of technicians that are motivated to continuously improve.

In the following sections, we define the building blocks of implementing performance management in your organisation.

 What are the Most Important Metrics for field service operations?

ServicePower has published several pieces on key performance indicators (KPIs) for field service, including a white paper, and a new infographic which defines the top KPIs measured by best practice field service organisations - those companies leading in service profitability.

The top KPIs include: customer satisfaction, total revenue, total service cost,  service revenue, mean time to repair, on site response time,revenues under SLA/contract, SLA compliance, contract renewal rates, field technician utilisation, first time fix rate, service parts revenue, customer retention.

62% of best practice field service organisations list development and improvement of metrics or KPIs to measure field service performance as their top strategic action.

The survey on which the infographic was based indicated that 62% of best practice FSOs list development and improvement of metrics or KPIs to measure field service performance as their top strategic action!  It also indicates that best practice FSOs measure field technician utilisation and productivity less frequently than peers, because they’ve already deployed intelligent scheduling and optimisation software.


So, assuming intelligent scheduling and optimisation technology is in place, what should a robust performance management plan look like?

Each plan should include the following:[ordered_list style="decimal"]

  1. Defined targets:-The operations team must decide on the baseline, and define standards or targets for scoring technicians.The KPIs mentioned above are clearly important to the best practice, top performing FSOs. Other KPIs to consider include net promoter score,  quality/inspection score, and sales.
  2. Defined scoring methodology:- Scoring  can be done a number of ways, but typically the process is similar to school grading scales, which takes individual scores and rolls them up to a total score for some time. For example:[unordered_list style="bullet"]
    • First time fix rate = 90%
    • 95-100% = Exceeds expectations
    • 85-95% = Meets expectations
    • 0<85% = Does Not Meet expectations

What are the Prerequisites for a successful performance management process?

The devil is in the details. Once targets or KPIs and scoring methodology is established for each field technician, it is a matter of measurement and issuing ‘grades’ for each technician. It is also necessary to establish the process which will be used to manage the plan.[quote float="right"]Ensure the plan is easy to use,  has a defined dispute process, recognises that money talks, and encourages collarboration and competition


Ensure the plan is: [ordered_list style="decimal"]

  1. Easy to use. Measuring, scoring, delivering the results and incentivising behaviours must be easy to administer. The process must deliver score reviews regularly, using real time information delivered to the technician on his/her connected device. Subsequent coaching must be built into the process if technicians do not meet targets/KPIs following score reviews indicating shortfalls.
  2. Has a defined dispute process. The plan should incorporate a defined process for technicians to dispute metrics, in a non-confrontational way. For instance, give technicians 5-10 days to dispute a score before closing out the report for the month. Providing technicians access to real time metrics, eliminates surprise. However, escalation processes need to be defined as they will be needed from time to time.
  3.  Recognises that money talks. When possible, tie compensation to meeting or exceeding targets and also tie performance improvement plans to missing targets.
  4. Encourages friendly competition and collaboration. Sometimes, creating competition associated with individual, team or department scores can drive additional motivation for improving scores. Likewise, collaboration can help share best practices especially if an organisation recruits new technicians often.

Utilise technology to make performance management programes easier to administer.

Technology solutions often offer integrated business intelligence tools.[quote float="left"]Analytics data may have a negative impact on some KPIs, but yield improved overall results for a company.

Take advantage of reporting and dashboards available in your field service management software to establish targets/KPIs, continuously measure them, and use the data back at all levels of the organisation, such that it can be used to fine tune operations. The analytics data will also help to quantify and communicate gains from collaboration with other departments, such as improving call center triage for improved first-time fix, or considering parts availability when dispatching a technician. Both may have a negative impact on some KPIs, but yield improved overall results for a company.


Ensure that your technology is simple to understand and use, and provides data to all silos within the organisation, including the individual technicians.

Ensure that the right security is in place to limit the technician view to his/her own scores.

Establish user hierarchies. Scores typically roll up from the technician, to a higher level. Set permissions such that each user may view data and scores for his or her own team members.

Perhaps most importantly, the analytics technology must be flexible so that management can adjust targets when needed, and use the data across function groups, such as operations, marketing and sales, to drive continuous improvement across the enterprise, as well as new business opportunities.

What are the keys to successful deployment of a performance management programme?

  1. Agree on metrics across the company before discussing with technicians. It’s difficult to deliver concise, understandable targets/KPIs when they conflict, or business silos have different priorities. For instance, quality and productivity can be at odds. Agreement must be achieved before delivery to field technicians to avoid confusion and disputes.
  2. In union environments, rolling out a process takes longer and requires more approvals. Understand the environment in which you are working and plan ahead to facilitate / enforce adoption.
  3. Pilot the plan before rolling out to the entire field organizations.

Is Performance Management Applicable to 3rd Party Contractors too?

Absolutely! Though some employee KPIs, like those above, can be utilised to measure and score 3rd party contractors, often the metrics are slightly different. The following 3rd Party KPIs can also be used to measure the effectiveness of contractors:

  • Jobs accepted, % work-in-progress, job status, repair turnaround time
  • Claim submission time
  • % Parts used on claims
  •  Number of parts used on claims
  • % Labour only claims
  • % Trip charges
  •  Fraud

Now About these Millennials: What is the performance management opportunity?

Millennials grew up with technology, gaming, and social media. Find ways for the Millennial workforce to show self-expression by developing ideas for improved processes and efficiency. Facilitate sharing throughout the organisation.[quote float="right"]Make field service cool. Spending time around field service technicians is never boring


Make sure that they feel connected to their fellow technicians, even from the field. Encourage best practice sharing and competition to improve and be the best.

Make sure that the performance metrics tie into financial and other rewards so that your Millennial workers don’t become jaded about putting in the effort to sustain continuous improvement.

And lastly, make field service cool. Spending time around field service technicians is never boring. Their stories and humor are usually second to none, so facilitate interaction between the older generation that perhaps didn’t see technology as their friend, and the Millennials who couldn’t imagine being without it. This helps transfer knowledge from more experienced workers and drive KPIs achievement by new employees that need to learn about company assets, but also how to work in a world enabled by IoT.



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