In this the second instalment of our on going series looking at some of the key insight delivered in Advanced Field Service’s Management Handbook 2016 we take a look at one of the most important areas of any field service operation… scheduling.
Scheduling your field engineers is undoubtedly one of a service managers core key performance indicators (KPIs), central to business profitability, and a key target on which you and your staff are measured.
Get it right and you increase the chances of business success. Get it wrong and the consequences can be disastrous, with resources overstretched or your engineers and technicians ‘sitting on the bench’ waiting for the call. There are multiple factors to consider when getting the right scheduling solution for your organisation, such as...
What type of call are you doing?
Is your engineer being sent out as an urgent response to fix a breakdown in an emergency or are they preforming routine planned maintenance? And what type of service do your engineers deliver when they are on site? Is it your strategy to just fix the immediate problem before moving swiftly onto the next customer, trying to get as many jobs in per day as possible?
Or does your company take the viewpoint that a more sensible approach is to have your engineers go above and beyond when on site, so your engineer will take their time to make sure all potential problems are addressed in order to reduce the chances of another call-out in the near future? Finally what about your business model? Do you work on a pay per call basis or does the customer have a warranty, a service contract or a rental agreement?
What is your routing allocation model?
How can you ensure engineer days are utilised with maximum efficiency? Do you split your engineers into specific geographic regions? What about routing and tracking tools to help your engineers get from one job to the next? And what type of scheduling tools are you using – dynamic, assisted, none at all? Is this right for your business or should you be exploring scheduling options in greater detail?
Can you categorise the calls you do to plan the day effectively?
How do you optimise the number of calls per day your team is able to handle effectively? Also how do you balance the workload amongst your engineers? What considerations do you put in place to ensure you are getting this balance right? How should you be dividing your teams into large site service jobs? Is it better to concentrate on multi-location quick fixes or is a mix and match approach a better fit with your company and your team?
What about where in the week you try to place your planned maintenance work? Is it better to show a bias towards the latter half of the week to free up capacity for a start of week breakdown rush or is it more sensible to have an even spread across the week so you don’t face the possibility of preventative maintenance being continuously pushed back to accommodate emergency calls?
What is your skills/parts allocation model?
Of course it’s not just a case of getting an engineer to the job, we need to be getting the right engineer to the job. How easy is it for your team to dispatch jobs based on the engineers skill-set and knowledge base? Of course this is a two way street – do you know what skills each job requires and do you know what engineers have what skills?
How easy is it to access that information? Do you have systems in place to manage this or does your call centre team have to know all about your products and your engineers’ individual capabilities? What about building your engineers skill sets up - can you train all your engineers to do everything, and then keep them up to date? Is it plausible to do so? Or would it be more sensible to have area experts, specialists in certain maintenance and repairs? Is there a risk of over-utilising sought after individuals if you take this approach?
Do you understand the site access profile?
Finally what about the access your field service engineers will have to your customer’s site? Are the customers’ premises open on a 24/7 basis, 9 to 5 or appointment only? Again are you relying on staff knowledge to ensure you don’t dispatch a field service engineer out to the job when he can’t get access or do you have automated systems in place to help avoid this?
All of these questions are key to helping you build up an understanding both of how your business is currently approaching scheduling and what changes you can make to get things running ever smoother…