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What Does Contractor Management Mean in Field Service Management?

When talking about your workforce, what does 'third party' or 'contractor' actually mean? In this context, it means a contingent work force managed as contractors by a specialist vendor.

Traditionally, HR has hired contingent workers, often through an employment agency,  with HR or procurement handling the selection of individuals and deciding how many and what skill sets to use. However, with the growth of the "gig economy," field service companies are now starting to use third party contractors in their labor models to meet customer demand, which falls to groups other than HR to hire, credential, on board,  manage, dispatch and pay.

What is Hybrid Workforce Management Technology?

Only field service management technology with functionality built to both optimize staff with AI-based schedule optimization algorithms, plus a SaaS solution built specifically to manage a contractor network supports these models.

Hybrid mobile workforce management software is used to both optimize employee schedules, dispatch parts, gather status updates and communicate with dispatchers and customers.  It can decrease schedule costs, improve productivity and first time fix rates as well as schedule compliance, driving a better customer experience.  Integrated solutions built for contractors can do much the same thing, without the optimization for those which receive work from multiple  sources such as manufacturers, retailers or third party service contract administrators. 

Integrated contractor management solutions  enable field service organizations to recruit, credential, authorize, train and on board independent contractors.  Dispatching software can send jobs to each independent via mobilized portals or pure mobile technology, enabling the same status collection and communication with dispatchers and customers as the organization experiences with its staff.

Using hybrid solutions, like ServicePower's, service managers can intelligently combine employees and contractors to meet goals and provide customers with a seamless, high quality service experience.

Creating a Hybrid or Multi-Channel Workforce Strategy

Creating a strategy to balance the your employed and contracted workforce is critical.

Mobile workforce management solutions with intelligent brokering technology can streamline the physical dispatching process. However, one must decide in which uses cases to use one or the other, or both.

For instance, contractors are often dedicated to specific geographies, remote or non-major metro areas, for instance. They can also be used to fill white spots, where there is no employed coverage at all or in cases of high demand, when an employed resource simply cannot arrive soon enough. Field service organizations can also use contractors in cases where reimbursements are less desirable, saving high revenue jobs for the internal workforce.  Contractors may also have special skills not economical to maintain internally. Contractors may enable a field service organization to scale quickly in times of need, like massive failures or during catastrophic events. The key is to define when and where contractors fit into your model.

Deploying  your Strategy and the Technology

Once you've defined your strategy, software implementation kicks in. Using hybrid mobile workforce software enables field service companies to configure schedule optimization and mobile tools for staff, as well as recruit, credential and on board contractors. The lynch pin though, is smart brokering technology with transforms the strategy into reality. Using AI technology and rules, the field service management software can be configured to automatically select the most appropriate field resource, employed or contracted, based on the business's requirements.  Automation and intelligence are critical here. Drag and drop scheduling or after the fact 'route optimization' are not good enough. The brokering logic must decide which workforce to schedule and send appointments through each channel, considering the nuances of managing each. 

Contractors are Different, and Need to be Managed As So

You cannot optimize part of a day's schedule, which is why using a tool specifically architected for contractor management is so important.  You can, with contractor management software, dynamically dispatch ranked contractors, automatically selecting the best fit for each job, and digitally book capacity from their schedule.  You can track status from web portal updates or real time mobile solutions.  Your managers must be cognizant of the fact that contractors get work from multiple sources. You must determine how to incentivize them to prioritize your work over competing job sources.

Managing claims for payments is a nuance you don't typically deal with in an employed labor model. It's super important to consider with contractors. Your teams must configure Warranty Claims Management software with the rules, validation and logic required to protect  your warranty reserves and eliminate fraud, while also processing claims clearly and in real time, issuing payments for approved claims quickly.

With contractors, repeat trips, no part claims or a higher percentage of rescheduled jobs are all triggers you might not see in an employed model which absolutely require over site in a contractor or hybrid labor model.

Mixed Labor is the Norm Not the Exception Now

Managing seasonality or demand spikes , white spots, special skills and even catastrophes really begs for contracted labor.  Strategically factoring contractors in your labor mix enables your organization to prevent having employed technicians stand idle, which can cause them to lose their skills - or even quit to find a more interesting job. You can streamline your employed workforce and strategically back fill with contractors, intelligently servicing your customers with a consistent, branded workforce. 

Field service management solutions which intelligently schedule both employees and contractors are more flexible and facilitate the right balance of labor supply to meet your customer commitments. 

For more information on ServicePower's Contractor Management or Warranty Claims Management solutions, click below.

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