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Boots on the ground – How FSM software affects field service workers

Does your workforce have more driving time than productive time ahead of them today? It wasn’t that long ago when I was leading teams that were working with paper work orders or with a home grown system. It continues to amaze me that some field service operations whom depend on remote work forces to take care of their customers still have not invested in field service management software.

If you have read any of my past blogs, you’ll know that I have worked in the in-home repair business for over 30 years in varying roles. Being in the business for that long, I have seen field service operations manage their field resouces both with and without FSM software.

As a Manager in the services industry one of my responsibilities was to ensure my team was as productive as possible. Providing solutions to customer’s problems was top priority. Customers do not want to wait very long to have someone come to their home and provide a service. However, it’s not easy to juggle jobs without the use of a FSM software. I remember spending countless hours every evening and every morning working with my routers attempting to move calls from one person to another in an effort to make the most productive routes. Then, no matter what, you would end up with mistakes. You would move a call to someone who didn’t have the skillset to perform the work or you would move a call that had to be run after 6:00pm to someone who only worked until 5:00pm. Then you would have to manually shuffle the calls all over again. When you finally thought you had the routes right, an employee would question their route, or someone would call in sick.

I have spent a lot of time riding along with Technicians. Consistently I observed technicians spending more time driving or performing administrative tasks than fixing customer’s problems. It was not uncommon to see technicians driving a lot of miles in population-dense markets, where we should have seen the exact opposite. With the complexity of products, different brands, models, parts, specialty tools, skills, work schedules, customer’s schedules and traffic patterns, it is impossible to route efficiently without the use of a FSM software.

Administrative tasks I have observered:

  • Looking for a street in a map book (do they still make these?)
  • Researching and ordering parts via phone
  • Looking through service manuals for bulletins &/or schematics
  • Calling other employees or depot looking for a part, a supply or tool
  • Writing down truck stock parts they have used to ensure they get them replenished
  • Calling into Dispatch to process a credit card payment
  • Calling each other to swap calls because they each have a call at the same house

Employees want to spend their time at work doing what they do best, not driving and doing research. Observing the field based techs, doing their daily jobs, through riding along with them is very insightful. If you want to know what can be improved upon and how to get it done, do a couple of ride alongs.

The lack of visibility is is a key issue when not utilizing FSM software to schedule and manage employees.

Examples of items that could be visible with FSM software:

  1. The location of employees
  2. The location of company vehicle, tools and parts
  3. The status of jobs to be performed for customers
  4. Employees who are stuck and need help
  5. Employees who are running ahead and can do more
  6. Employees with the same skill sets crossing paths
  7. KPI reporting

Invest in a FSM software and you will benefit from robust optimization that will produce the most productive routes. You will see improvement in productivity that will allow you to expand into markets you do not currently cover without additional headcount. Dispatchers will have visibility to remote workers and their progressthroughout their day. Dispatchers can be more proactive by moving calls in the moment from workers which require help to those who are ahead of schedule. Some administrative tasks become much less time consuming and some will go away all together. Your customers will love you, your employees will love you and your shareholders will love you.

If you have interest in learning more about an industry leading FSM software visit our website here.

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