In field operations, team management, sometimes called operations management, is especially important. The goal, to maximize service levels while controlling and reducing costs,is complex. Coordinating the activities of personnel who are physically distant from each other involves coping with a range of timing issues and communication problems that are not present with in-house staff. The solutions to these problems have been honed through years of hybrid workforce management experience. Try these options to better manage the workforce.
- Advanced scheduling including work order management--information management that minimizes duplication, miscommunication, improves personnel deployment selection to match the job profile, and maximizes the efficiency of workforce deployment.
- Outsourcing--managing third-party employment to cover unique situations and service personnel overload.
- Communication--managing the communication system so that field staff can obtain information and assistance from team members and dispatchers when needed. This function is vital for those working alone.
- Parts management--monitoring parts inventory, depot repair activities, internal repair activities to make sure field service workers have on-time parts delivery and equipment functions optimally.
- Communities--providing adequate access to consumers and optimal visibility and transparency between the company and the outside community. This includes quality control and customer feedback.
- Contracts--managing obligations, warranties, sales and fulfillment of service contracts. The business obligations of operations management includes maintaining a rate of contract renewals and maximizing revenues.
- Social--maintaining team relationships among far-flung team members, monitoring the social ticker to keep standards high and increasing the rate of ticket closure.
Characteristics of Field Operations Teams:
Many organizations are evolving into hybrid workforce operations as they move away from nine-to-five employees. Field staff are characteristically either remote solitary employees or small teams relying on their own initiative an company provided mobile tools and information to solve the problems they are tasked to complete.
Control over productivity level and time to completion are more difficult than they would be for direct staff. Asset or fleet management software records vehicle activity in real-time, allowing supervisors to directly determine start and stop times at each field staff location, the number of locations visited, idle time, and any moving violations.
Company identity and brand identity are more difficult among remote staff. Yet maintaining company identification becomes very important for maintaining engagement and the way customers perceive the organization. Identifying uniforms, insignia and badges have become very relevant. Standardizing procedures to represent the company methodology requires increased training and supervision. Standard billing and report entry forms strengthen field staff identification with the core company and its brand.
Mobile workers change the dynamics of management. No longer can managers dictate and obsess about day-to-day activity of their employees. The supervisory information operations managers have is often limited to indirect metrics. Regular on-site contacts are necessary to maintain the allegiance of employees to a core company location. Managers must regularly and openly reinforce company goals and values through face-to-face contact.
Operations Management Software:
In order to be useful, operations management software has to fulfill two fundamental needs of field workers. Software for operations management has to be fully portable. The software has to integrate its data-base modules with its communications module. Therefore, the software must:
- Unite the team: optimizing communication and information exchange. Equipment and parts inventory information should be available to field workers through an easy to read dashboard system. Instructions to field workers should be presented in text as well as audio. It should log contacts so that records could be audited later.
- Provide basic office functions accessible to workers in the field. Operations management software should integrate seamlessly with other business and accounting software packages. Information critical to the work of each field operator has to be presented in clear form from any platform including smart phone. Field operations software can include entitlement, service and maintenance contract offers, billing or payment acceptance to make interactions with customers easier. The software has to have appropriate security for financial information transfer. In many cases, the software has to have off-line capability for filing reports to be later filed.