The global pandemic has brought many changes within the field service management industry. With more people working remotely, the customer parameters for interacting with service technicians have also changed with the fast-evolving technology landscape. Workforce management software helps businesses with their digital transformation while meeting the changing needs of their workforce and customers.
We’ll take a closer look at workforce management software, examine some challenges, cover evaluation requirements when looking for a solution, and explain the benefits of deploying workforce management software.
What is workforce management software?
Simply defined, workforce management software is an online platform that, among other features, manages staff scheduling and operational processes to optimize employee productivity. The software is typically comprised of functionalities such as scheduling, dispatching, route optimization, inventory management, contractor management, and claims management.
Today, with the widespread adoption of mobile platforms and devices, workforce management software will often have a mobile platform component that businesses (users of the software) can deploy to manage and collaborate with their field workforce.
It’s important to define workforce management software as a solution created specifically for this need and not erroneously label workforce management software as a collection of disparate technology solutions/platforms. We’ll take a closer look at why this try to “build it on our own” approach is not truly workforce management software and examine its shortcomings later.
What are some challenges faced?
Challenges field service organizations face with workforce management include:
Outdated manual, paper-based approaches
Workforce management has historically relied on manual, paper-based approaches for managing, onboarding, training, scheduling service technicians. As an example, a field service business may employ whiteboards, manually-entered (and printed) spreadsheets, and other paper-based forms. Unfortunately, the result is often a labor-intensive, time-consuming, and human-error-prone approach that usually increases cost/complexity rather than reducing it.
The workforce is changing
The U.S. is experiencing a mass exodus of talent in the field service industry due to an aging workforce and a lack of technical workers entering the industry. Analysts predict that the shortage will impact 70% of field service businesses.
While the aging workforce leaves the industry, many businesses employ third-party technicians; in fact, more than 73% of field service companies today deploy a third-party workforce. These organizations are in need of a workflow management approach that can help them navigate the new workforce changes.
Customer expectations and customer retention
Customers today demand fast, easy, and quality interactions with businesses and services. This is partly due to the massive consumer digital adoption paired with expectations of immediacy. Field service businesses must be able to adapt and meet these customers at these critical touchpoints (online, mobile, etc.) while meeting their high expectations.
Improving customer retention is another challenge field service companies are facing. Businesses must provide a valuable service offering, positive customer experiences, and build an effective relationship with each customer. Customer retention challenges also include:
- Improving response times
- Increasing first-time fix rates
- Providing self-service customer portal
Workforce management needs to evolve
As the workforce and customer expectations change, field service businesses need to adapt and align with the changes. Many field service businesses want to take digital transformation steps, but don’t know how to start. With various marketplace vendors, businesses face the challenge of evaluating the different solutions.
Questions arise: Which solution is ideal for my business? What are the workforce management software requirements? What solution will scale with my business? What solution will help future-proof my business for success? Who has the expertise, experience, and support for the continual partnership?
What are the benefits of workforce management software?
Let’s examine some of the benefits workforce management software provides and how it can overcome the current obstacles field services businesses face.
Improve work order management
Intelligent workforce management software can help field service organizations improve their work order management using digital technology. This removes the manual, paper-based approach that creates complexity and is prone to error. Workforce management software can help clearly define the customer’s requirements, what parts or specific service is needed, coordinate the task and process, and other critical logistics.
Increase schedule adherence
Scheduling is an essential task with workforce management but can also be a difficult process when using legacy approaches. Workforce management software can optimize schedule adherence in a digital and centralized place for all team members. Depending on the solution, the software may tap into real-time data, such as drive time, distance, traffic congestion, job duration, location-based information, and tech efficiency.
Augment contracted labor management
A blended workforce is defined as a staffing model that uses both full-time employees and contracted workers. As field service businesses increasingly use contracted workforces, they need to better manage these contracted employees. Workforce management software can help businesses onboard and manage this specific workforce as well as other benefits.
Improve customer relationship and retention
Workforce management software can retain essential customer information to help you improve additional interactions with them. Meanwhile, if the software deployed increases on-time scheduling and overall customer satisfaction, businesses can then further solidify their customer retention goals.
Some software solutions also offer online, self-service customer portals. An intelligent workforce management software solution that offers a self-service customer portal can improve customer engagement--whether it’s helping them diagnose their service problem, sending photos and videos of the issue, or other allowing customers to schedule service calls.
Utilize data insights
Workforce management software can help field service businesses leverage internal data to improve resource management, augment customer relationships, identify training gaps, improve staff performance, and more. Data is critical but you need a workforce management software solution that knows how to tap into usable data insights.
Increase cost savings
Removing outdated, complex and error-prone approaches can help you streamline operations, increase productivity, and customer satisfaction. The right solution can help you with continuous optimization to ensure that each new request and existing work order are managed to reduce overhead costs as much as possible.
What to look for when evaluating workforce management software?
While there are various marketplace solutions, not all workforce management software providers are the same. Follow these best practices when selecting workforce management software solutions.
Here’s what to look for:
Advanced dispatch software capabilities -- Select a software solution that serves and dispatches to multiple workforce models including employed, third-party and blended workforces. Look for solutions that feature criteria-based scheduling, real-time availability & updates, and seamless integration of onboarding and scheduling.
Intuitive and easy-to-deploy -- Workforce management software needs to be easily deployable and adaptable, otherwise your team will not use it and it becomes a wasted and costly investment. Partner with a solution provider that has developed software that is easy-to-use for all stakeholders including full-time staff, contractors, and customers.
Customizable and scalability -- Consider solution providers with workforce management software that is configurable to your specific needs. This can help maximize your technology investment while increasing productivity, adoption, and reducing costs. Partner with a technology provider who will also scale as your business grows. Don’t be caught with software that is stagnant and limiting. Evaluate software providers that offer customizable options that may include the integration of mobile platforms and devices -- for both your workforce and customers. And, as your business scales and grows, you want a solution that will help facilitate that scalability.
Knowledge of industries -- Make sure the workforce management software provider is knowledgeable of your particular industry. Some industries may have specific demands on the technicians, customers, type of service requested, and other parameters that might impact the way you deploy the software. Look for solution providers that have experience in working with the industry (or industries) your business interacts with.
Ongoing innovation -- Whether it’s a mobile platform functionality, using AI, or tapping into other emerging technology, consider a workforce management software provider who is dedicated to evolving with the changing technology landscape. How does the solution utilize and maximize AI or Machine Learning? Does the solution use analytics or predictive analytics? Does the solution integrate with IoT devices that are becoming increasingly common?
Customer service -- Does the workforce management software you choose come with customer support? Is there any ongoing training? What happens when questions arise? Or are you abandoned once you purchase the software? All of these are relevant questions to consider when selecting the right workforce management software partner. It’s wise to team up with a provider who will be there for customer support, ongoing training, and a commitment to your success.
How ServicePower empowers businesses with innovative workforce management software
The field service industry will continue to evolve. Workforce management software can empower organizations to adapt to the changing workforce and consumer landscape. However, digital transformation doesn’t need to be so complex and challenging. Fortunately, ServicePower has the experience and expertise of helping businesses from various industries advance their transformation. In fact, ServicePower has been recognized by Gartner for its ability to streamline the service workflow and improve time to achieve an ROI. ServicePower meets all the evaluation criteria covered and is purpose-built for managing today’s blended workforce models.
See a custom demo of ServicePower’s Workforce Management Software.