What is Workforce Management?

Workforce management at its most basic level  is essentially a combination of processes and technology businesses use to manage their workforce and its related productivity.

It is generally comprised of the following elements across a multitude of businesses, including: attendance management and timekeeping, scheduling and shift management and labor planning and forecasting.  

However, in industries which must conduct field based services for business or commercial customers, workforce management, particularly mobile workforce management, takes on added importance and complexity.

In the field service industry workforce management certainly includes attendance management and timekeeping, scheduling and shift management  as well as labor planning and forecasting. However, field service operations also must consider managing demand, scheduling, mobile technician or worker enablement, work order management, operations and analytics, according to Gartner’s report, “The Six Categories of Field Service Management Application Functionality and Why You Need Them”, Jim Robinson, March 2018.

Let’s look at each category and consider why it’s important.

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Managing Demand

The demand for service comes from many channels in modern field service operations. A critical consideration for field service operations is offering customers a channel in which to request service that is easy to use, responsive and can be done from anywhere, at any time and from any device. Social media and 24x7 connectivity have changed consumer expectations.  Phone calls with long wait times are no longer acceptable. Best-in-class field service organizations offer customers the ability to schedule service via branded web portals, directly from their website, via mobile apps or via IVRs and even via some social media platforms. IoT is one of the newest ways service can be requested, and it doesn’t even have to be initiated by the customer. Connected machines can alert field service organizations of required maintenance and pending failure before customers are aware of issues. The key here is that businesses need to create easy ways for customers to request services from their operation and mobile workforce.

Managing demand, however, includes more than the service request. When a request is initiated, depending on the actual service requested, estimating and triaging prior to onsite arrival may be required and is a critical element of workforce management, since a variety of personal may be required to complete the entire work order from initial request through onsite completion.

Once those initial processes have been completed, the job must be scheduled to the best employee or contractor based on skills, geography and schedule availability, within its contractual response or SLA times, with the parts, accessories and additional helpers, for instance, to complete the work in the expected time frame. The field service organization and its workforce must also proactively communicate with customers regarding scheduled work, and any potential changes to expectations, which leads directly to the next category.

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Scheduling

Scheduling work can take many different paths, which ultimately provide varying levels of automation, productivity and customer satisfaction improvements to the organization.

Often, smaller, less complex organizations rely on basic or manual scheduling or rules based scheduling.

Basic Scheduling
Automated, Rules-Based Scheduling
Intelligent Schedule Optimization
SLA scheduling and Dependent or complex job scheduling
Part Scheduling
Third party Contractor Scheduling
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Mobile Technician Enablement

A critical component of field service execution is mobile technology. A survey of consumers by The Service Council indicated that at least 50% of the time, field technicians arrived on-site with NO mobile technology. Mobile technology is more than a cell phone. Mobile field service applications provide field techs with the process, information and access needed to complete a job in a single truck roll. Using configurable, cross platform technology, field service organizations can provide employed or contracted technicians with the ability to clock in or indicate work commencement, provide a schedule including the parts, tasks, forms and data to be collected, navigation including traffic information, as well as the ability to deliver estimates, process payments and collect survey responses. Field technicians need mobile technology to do their jobs and delight your customer.

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Business Intelligence

Business intelligence in today’s field service operations is a collaborative, real time experience that extends from forecasting and planning through service delivery and claims reimbursement. Using the latest in cloud technologies, data can be collected from across the operation and used to plan labor supply, including utilization of third party contractors and analyze technician data, including productivity of staff and response as well as potential fraud within the contractor ranks. More importantly, BI solutions should provide field service organizations with the ability to feed data back into the business, in real time, so that adjustments can be made to fine tune operations to deliver the best customer experiences, while decreasing costs and improving productivity.

Key Workforce Management Challenges

There are several challenges to workforce management deployments, including technology selection, integration, buy in and evolution of the business.

 

Current state vs. goals

When selecting a workforce management application, one must consider the existing state of operations and the agreed upon goals for the project, and match the technology’s capabilities to meet the goals and support both the complexity of operations and the volume of work performed by staff. Consider if and how then, to automatically and intelligently incorporate contracted labor and the tool which will drive the highest adoption rates within your contractor network. Workforce management solution vary greatly by vendor, and as suggested above, often utilize the same terms, but perform and deliver vastly different outcomes. Evaluate which will best achieve your goals.

 

Integration and Deployment

Once a section is made, integration and deployment options must then be considered. Cloud and SaaS solutions are increasingly popular due to the reduced hardware and software costs associated with the cloud, and its ability to scale quickly with volume. As security has become stronger, fewer concerns exist regarding customer privacy, thus also making cloud options desirable.

Integration is the next challenge. Well thought out integration plans deliver the best long term results. Determine whether your team as the skill and capacity in house to integrate your existing applications and processes with your workforce management technology. If not, systems integrators can be great resources, both in terms of expertise with specific solutions, as well as from a fingers on keyboards perspective. Either way, be sure to include subject matter experts and MOST IMPORTANTLY stakeholders from across the enterprise, from the C-Suite, to techs and the call center.

Hidden factors and unaddressed concerns with the project, technology or outcome can derail the best planned project quickly. This follows on with buy in as well.

 

If the stakeholders from top to bottom and back to the top aren’t bought into the project, it will not achieve its intended results. Get buy in from the entire team.

 

Evolving Your Solution

Lastly, workforce management is more than a software deployment. If takes effort to deploy the processes and technology to start, and it takes effort to maintain them. It takes effort and planning over the long term to ensure that your technology adapts with your business. As your goals change, as consumer expectations evolve and as new technologies emerge, such as digital assistants, you must consider how your workforce management solution needs to evolve with the changes to continue to support your business for the long haul.

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Key Benefits of Workforce Management Software

Workforce management software benefits your organization in a multitude of ways, enabling your field technicians to improve your customers’ experience, while also delivering operational benefits.

Better work order management
Better work order management
Increased productivity
Increased productivity
Improved schedule adherence
Improved schedule adherence
Improved first time first rates
Improved first time first rates
Improved response time with contracted labor utilization
Improved response time with contracted labor utilization
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Reduced schedule and operational cost

Workforce Management Software Industry Applications

Any Industry can Benefit from Workforce Management Software.

Workforce management software can be used by any industry with mobile workers to better enable field teams to deliver great customer experiences to B2B as well as B2C customers.

However, it’s important to define the nuances between servicing B2C versus B2B customers, your specific industry use cases, as well as the workforce with which you deliver services.

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Workforce Management Software Industry Applications

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B2B versus B2C

According to Gartner’s report  “Key Processes for B2C Field Service Management”, published 14 December 2017 by analyst Jim Robinson, some field service management solutions support service delivery to both B2B and B2C customers to varying degrees. Consumers increasingly desire faster onboarding and shorter arrival times, and have an overall expectation of a better customer experience, but will often move on to the next provider if forced to wait to schedule or receive service. B2B customers often have contractual guarantees in terms of response time or SLAs and direct support channels used to request services.

When choosing the best workforce management solution for your business, define your customer’s desired service journey and configure processes and technology to support it each step of the way.

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What do your Customers Want?

Listen to your customers. Understand how they want to interact with you, what they expect from onsite personnel and how quickly they expect you to respond and ensure that your training, processes and technology support their expectations, especially when there are differences between what a residential customer expects than what a commercial customer expects, and tailor your services to each.

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Specific Use Cases

Every industry is different. Where consumer centric industries might be focused on turning wrenches to fix broken products, an industrial industry may be focused on using IOT data from connected machines to prevent broken products. Insurance teams may be focused on not only policy holder response, but also on the safety of staff in hazardous conditions, whereas a retailer is focused on the speed of delivery and installations of products. Even the length of a work order varies greatly between industries, with appliances repair averaging 45 minutes, whereas telecom or utility maintenance work or security installation in a new construction could take days to weeks. Define the kinds of work your team must perform, and deploy process and technology which supports each specific instance.

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Workforce Composition

The field service industry in general has begun to increasingly understand the benefits of deploying a hybrid workforce model which incorporates contracted and employed labor. However, the adoption of that model varies between industries. It’s important to evaluate whether the hybrid model works for your business, and if so, to select and deploy technology which intelligently and seamlessly enables you to dispatch either or both.  Most importantly, recognize that if the hybrid or a fully outsourced model works best for your operation, that contractors are managed differently than staff technicians. Gartner states that it’s important to deploy process and technology for contractor management which:

  1. Ensures a consistent company branded experience
  2. Provides contractors with process and technology that enables them to easily work with your organization
  3. Streamlines communications
  4. Provides standard processes for claims, authorization and escalation

Onboarding, credentialing and dynamic dispatching is also important when dealing with contractors. Your customers trust your organization to send safe, skilled workers into their homes and businesses. Do the homework to ensure that is in fact, true. Using technology which enables  you to use rules and ranking, such as quality, costs or even OEM authorization, provides you with a mechanism, much like AI used in schedule optimization, to select and dispatch the best contractor for every individual work order.

It’s also critical when dealing with contractors to recognize the power of the checkbook. Volume speakers louder than demands. Contractors are more inclined to adhere to your rules and processes if they are receiving large volumes of work in one software solution. Forcing a new technology with a single workflow adds overhead for them. Aggregation platforms drive volume through a single pipe, with common processes, increasing contractor adoption of the technology, and your processes, exponentially, therein enhancing your ability to deliver seamless service with contractors as well as your own staff.

Workforce Management Software: Success Stories

Any Industry can Benefit from Workforce Management Software.

Workforce management software can be used by any industry with mobile workers to better enable field teams to deliver great customer experiences to B2B as well as B2C customers.

However, it’s important to define the nuances between servicing B2C versus B2B customers, your specific industry use cases, as well as the workforce with which you deliver services.

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Case Study

Brandsmart creates the best-in-class field service operation on ServicePower foundation

In this case study, Brandsmart, a US based retailer used ServicePower’s field service management solution to manage its repair field technicians, as well as file claims under manufacturer warranty. Key Improvements from deployment of ServicePower included:

  • Reduced costs
  • Improved OEM billing rate
  • Improved completes per day
  • Decreased cycle time
casestudy-aig
Case Study

AIG Warranty Increases Customer Satisfaction and Profitability with ServicePower

AIG Warranty uses a contracted network to deliver repair service under service contract and extended warranty, using our Contractor and Warranty Claims Management and business intelligence solutions. Key Improvements from deployment of ServicePower included:

  • Positive NPS
  • Increased proactive touches with end customers
  • Decreased time to onsite and progress time
  • Improved first time fix rates
  • Increased customer profitability
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Developing a Mobile Workforce Management Strategy

Developing a mobile workforce management strategy encompasses more than HR processes or mobile technology. It must consider multiple functions within the organization, processes and technology, as well as performance management, and achieve buy in before to implementation from the top down and back to the top

Consider your Customer’s Experience
1. Consider your Customer’s Experience
Plan
2. Plan
Evangelize the Vision
3. Evangelize the vision
Emerging Emerging Technologies
4. Embrace emerging technologies
Engage with a technology partner that understands what is possible
5. Engage with a technology partner that understands what is possible
Consider cultural impact
6. Consider cultural impact
Mandate
7. Mandate
Relentless improvement
8. Relentless improvement

Critical Features to look for in Workforce Management Software

What features to look for in a workforce management software solution. And why they are important

Customer Experience

Consumer engagement is critical to faster service and the best field service experiences. Look for workforce management solutions which provide an intelligent digital experience which enables customers to book appointments at their convenience with trained and credentialed employed and contracted workforces, check status, communicate with technicians and track their locations is expected in today’s digital economy.

It is also critical for the solution to provide a single, accessible repository for diagnostic data, triage information from the customer or connected equipment, service history, asset information that is easily available for both the customer and the technician.  Likewise, the solution should offer customers the ability to do more online, such as registering product purchases, buying additional products and services, and posting reviews of the service experience.

Consumers can research purchases and buy online, right now. Their expectations for service post-sale is exactly the same, and they also want their service experience to be ideally such that they want to buy more from the product or service brand.
The best workforce management solutions easily engage consumers where when and how they desire with the service contract provider.

Technician Enablement

Field service personnel, including technicians, insurance adjusters, installers, delivery personnel- the face of the post-sale experience. As service industry employees, it is in their very nature to want to do well by your customers, to be faster and smarter at their jobs, so that they can delight every customer and walk away feeling accomplished. Enable them with robst, end-to-end workforce management software which enables them to guarantee more equipment up-time and better first time resolution rates.

Workforce management software should enable your teams to deliver faster, smarter service.

Customer engagement software provides an end-to-end digital experience. Artificial Intelligence-based scheduling software automatically positions techs for success, selecting the best resource for every job, and scheduling shorter, realistic service windows that techs can achieve, making service delivery faster for consumers. IoT integration revolutionizes the service model, allowing field techs to proactively service and maintain products before they fail, and predicting future service requirements such that service contracts can be used to extend product lifecycles beyond the traditional break-fix model.

Mobile workforce management software with access to assets, inventory, service history, information and expert resources makes techs smarter at every appointment, armed to resolve issues through personalized service delivery, and adding value for consumers through additional services which improve the long term value of every product.

Look for mobile workforce management software solutions which best enable your field technicians to deliver great customer experiences.

Unified Platform

Leading mobile workforce management software sets the stage for faster, smarter service delivery that provides solid operational visibility and efficiencies, with a Unified - and integrated - platform.

Functional groups ranging from manufacturing and quality, to IT, marketing and sales, customer service and field service delivery require a unified platform which supports the full customer service lifecycle. A unified platform improves your organisations ability to deliver faster, smarter services with employees, contractors or both, increasing service capacity and decreasing time to service. It can also standardize onsite process with configurable mobility, while decreasing the cost of service with schedule optimization and dynamic, logic based contractor dispatching. No longer do you want to be making myopic decisions that don’t enhance your brand and the service experience for your customers. A unified platform improves the process of performing service on your behalf for contractors, creating a faster, smarter model through integrated warranty claims management, which also reduces claim costs and fraud, ultimately better protecting warranty reserves. A unified platform is the basis on which a great consumer experience is executed.

Knowledge

The right mobile workforce management software should not only collect and present information throughout the service delivery chain from IoT connect products and the customer directly down to the tech onsite, but should analyze all of that big data, feed it back into the organization so you can fine tune operations right now, as well as strategically plan for future growth. Use the data to predict your next move, allowing you to forecast the future status of your operations, including parts, staff, and infrastructure.

Flexibility

The best mobile workforce management software is flexible and robust enough to not only apply artificial intelligence based algorithms to the scheduling process, optimizing schedules and routes, but it continuously optimizes the schedule as new jobs come in, staff issues need to be dealt with, or changes occur to existing jobs. Flexibility is all about dealing with today’s reality, automatically handling the unexpected, while helping position your team and your customers for a better tomorrow. Is your current software intelligent and flexible enough to maximize productivity while automatically handling the exceptions that pop up? Look for technology that will empower your organization to change direction rapidly if needed, and that will proactively allow you to service your customers.

Usability + Implementation

Even if you have found the best possible technology with all of the features you could want, it will be a wasted investment if your employees cannot use it easily and if you have problems implementing it. Choose vendors with a proven record of on time, on budget deployments. Choose mobile workforce management software which can support your local requirements as well as those of the rest of your team, around the world, without subsequent, separate deployments. The software should be the same regardless of where service is rendered, except for the obvious, like language, for instance. Modern user interfaces, easy to learn functionality, and cross platform mobile technologies improve the adoption of the software within your mobile workforce, improving your chances of delighting your customer with every visit.

Customizable + Scalable

Your mobile workforce management software should support future growth and new business opportunities. Scalability is accelerated when your technology combines all of the requirements listed above and moves your team forward. Look for software that is configurable to ensure you are getting the most relevant data and information to your business. The more intelligent and powerful the scheduling algorithms, the better the contractor onboarding, credentialing and management, the more configurable the mobile tools, the faster and smarter service levels you can provide.

Mobile workforce software is the foundation on which faster, smarter field service operations are built.

Deploying a Workforce Management Software Solution

Mobile workforce management deployment is the critical second step in a mobile workforce management project.

There are several approaches to mobile workforce management software deployments, depending on the organization’s requirements, size and complexity. It’s important to address the former to ensure the best deployment section. Mobile workforce management software deployments can be carried out in several ways, including the following.

 

Waterfall

A waterfall mobile workforce management deployment is suitable for large, structured projects, and can take from 3-12 months to deploy.

  • 3 – 6 Months, module
  • 4 – 8 Months, multiple modules
  • 6 – 12 Months, part of larger client project involving integration and change management

 

Agile

An agile mobile workforce management deployment is best suited for clients who prefer an iterative more agile approach and are willing to break the project up. Elapsed is similar to traditional waterfall. Each phase can last from 2 – 6 weeks depending on integration and complexity.

 

Best Practice

A best practice mobile workforce management deployment is best suited for clients hosting in our cloud willing to work with industry best practices and defaults. Best practice deployments can take 2 - 4 weeks, and utilize default process. They include quick or no integration. Best practice mobile workforce management deployments can take 6 weeks (+) if there is semi-custom process and only basic integration required.

ServicePower employs a formal mobile workforce management deployment methodology which is focused on delivering value and helping customers achieve business case.

 

We use industry best practices to manage mobile workforce management deployment from kick off through a formal transition to our long-term customer care organization.

 

The methodology includes formal steps: Kick off, functional requirements, technical requirements, design, integration, configuration / data loads, regression testing, UAT, training, and launch support.

Additionally, our mobile workforce management consultants offer support during and post implementation, including:

 

During Deployment

  1. Change Management Execution- Perform stakeholder analysis, create communication/messaging for field leaders, lead stakeholder communications meetings, etc.
  2. Integration Support- Assist with integration against our APIs to ensure customer knowledge to support solution long-term
  3. Sign-off- Require internal and client sign-off on deliverables before moving to the deployment phase (diligent about process)

 

After Deployment

  1. Value Realization Assessment (VRA): Analyze results vs. business case and recommend people, process and technology changes to continuously improve KPIs (6 months post launch)
  2. Business Simulation: Run VRA recommendations through analytics tools to “prove” the benefits before implementing
  3. Tune-up: Support customers with implementing post-VRA recommendation
  4. Service Channel Strategic Analysis - Build and assist with deploying a strategic plan for using mixed labor channels, employees and contractors, to achieve business objectives and metrics
  5. Workforce Fraud Analysis - Evaluate contractor data and recommend improvements such as claim validations, audits, and issues within the contractor network, including: repeated ‘same home’ jobs indicating fraudulent claims, high percentage of repeat work, labor only claims, excessive part use, excessive mileage charges, high percentage of customer education claims, etc.
  6. Performance Management - Develop performance management plans which define the metrics, team communications and execution steps required to drive continuous technician improvement, business productivity goals, and customer satisfaction.

Impact to your Organization

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Mobile workforce management solutions offer solid benefits, ranging from measurable cost and productivity improvements to softer, customer related improvements.

According to Strategies for Growth’s 2017 Field Service Management Benchmark Survey Update respondents, the following are the most notable benefits of an FSM solution.

  • Reduction of total cost of operations- 25%
  • Improved field technician utilization and productivity-26%
  • Competitive advantage-30%
  • Customer end to end engagement-35%
  • Improved customer satisfaction-39%
  • Ability to run a more efficient operation by eliminating silos-44%
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Other opportunities and benefits “bubbling” just under the 25% mark include:

  • Reduce ongoing/recurring costs of operations (19%)
  • Improve service delivery time (16%)
  • Foster enhanced inter-departmental collaboration (15%) and completely automate our field service operations (12%)


It’s important to evaluate what benefits your stakeholders are looking for, and both evaluate whether solutions will provide the benefits, and if so, collect data pre and post deployment with which to measure success.

Frequently asked Mobile Workforce Management FAQs

What is mobile workforce management?
What is included in mobile workforce management?
What does a mobile workforce management project include?
Why is mobile workforce management so important to organizations with field resources?
What industries does mobile workforce management touch?
What does AI mean in field service or mobile workforce management?
What is the difference between manual or rules based scheduling and AI based schedule optimization?
What is a contractor?
How can you manage contractors providing field based services?

Workforce Management Software 3rd Party Research

 

Gartner - How to Achieve Scheduling Optimization in Field Service
Analyst Report

How to Achieve Scheduling Optimization in Field Service

Learn how to ensure success with Optimization Technology in this new report from Gartner!

ServicePower-Placeholder-Image.png
Analyst Paper

Frost and Sullivan's 2017 North American Mobile Workforce Management Report

Where must you invest in field service operations to drive results for your business?

Gartner - Key Processes for B2C Field Service Management
Analyst Report

Key Processes for B2C Field Service Management

Learn how to improve your customers' experience with this new report from Gartner!

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