How to perfect the art of field service scheduling

Workforce planning – the art of field service scheduling.

How to achieve maximum utilisation whilst keeping operational costs low.

Scheduling – a simple concept but one which is difficult to perfect.  In fact, field service scheduling is one of the most challenging aspects of mobile workforce management.  Your customers expect you to get the right person to their job at the right time and with the information and equipment necessary to complete the work quickly.  Meanwhile, you need to achieve maximum utilisation whilst keeping operating costs in check. This blog looks at ways you can master this delicate balancing act.

Recent research from The Service Council found that improving daily schedule management and communication is a top priority for service organisations.  In an age where customers expect a slicker more attentive service this is understandable as scheduling inefficiencies pose a very real threat to reputation and profit.

The only way to meet the demands of customers and remain competitive is for your operations to be scheduled efficiently and effectively. So how do you achieve this?

3 steps to optimal field service scheduling

Issue #1 – Under utilisation

Utilisation may be a simple percentage but many different factors impact the final result.  The length of time it takes to complete a job, cancellations and emergency call outs all affect your utilisation rate.  Predicting these figures is extremely difficult. As a result, operatives can find themselves either with time to spare which costs you money, or with too much work to do which risks damaging morale and customer service.

The solution: Monitor and record details of all jobs so that you can analyse trends and establish your optimal scheduling amount.  By continually analysing your key metrics you will be able to minimise downtime and maximise utilisation.

Issue #2 – Misaligned schedules

Inefficient field service scheduling is not only the cause of the greatest frustration within your service team, it can also be very costly.  The most common issue is allocating an engineer who doesn’t have the skill set or parts necessary to complete the job.

The solution: Multiple processes need to be improved to ensure schedules remain efficient.  Firstly, you need to ensure the initial diagnosis is accurate.  Your call centre needs to understand what skills and parts will be needed to complete the job and assign appropriately.

To then assign the job, your scheduling team will need to know which of the available engineers have the right skills.  Alternatively, you may want to evaluate the skillset of your entire workforce and identify training opportunities to maximise the resource you have available.

Finally your operatives need ready access to the right parts and stock. This can only be achieved efficiently if you can track your inventory. You need to know what parts have been used and predict which ones will be needed for future jobs.

Issue #3 – Inability to reschedule

Traffic jams, sickness and customer cancellations are all inevitable glitches, but if your scheduling team learn of these issues secondhand, rescheduling delays are inevitable and in some case, it may not be possible to reschedule.  Valuable time will subsequently be lost and profit margins diminished.

Setting aside the cost of customer dissatisfaction; for a service organisation with an average hourly rate of £25, the financial cost of 30 minutes of wasted time a day is £2,900 per engineer, per annum.

The solution: Give your scheduling team real-time visibility over all operations so they can respond dynamically to impromptu events. If your operatives can alert the scheduling team of delays in real-time and your scheduling team can have sight of each operative’s location they can quickly adjust the schedules to accommodate the changes. Such visibility will also identify job delays and monitor performance levels.

Conclusion

Effective scheduling of your mobile workforce is undoubtedly central to business performance.  These needs can all be met by field service management software.  By delivering intelligent automated scheduling, real-time visibility and analytics functionality, the software will help you remain competitive, meet customer demands and retain happy employees.  Find out more about Oneserve’s field service management software here.