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The benefits of self-sufficiency for field service management teams

image credit: Image courtesy of @publicpowerorg
Alan King's picture
Alan King 1434
CEO & Founder Dusk Mobile

Alan specialises in the design, build and running of utility centric workforce management software and has extensive experience delivering across asset intensive industries, including energy....

  • Member since 2019
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  • Apr 20, 2022
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Traditional planning and scheduling of field-based work saw jobs and tasks issued to women and men for completion. Based on the size and type of job, this could have been via 2-way radio, then mobile phones or paper job packs collected from an office on the day of the work.

Times have changed and technology solutions are more accessible than ever before due to improved web-based tools. The smart phone tide of the last decade has lifted billions of people around the world into proficient digital users. This rising tide has driven a demand by staff to do more in the workplace with technology, particularly in the field.

 

So, how can you support your staff to do more?

Start by empowering your staff. The women and men in the field are experts at what they do with 30 and 40 year field based tenures not uncommon around the world. Uber has capitalised on a number of successful concepts, which has led to the phrase being coined of “uberisation”. One of these is the ability to choose work from the smart phone app through self-service.

Uber drivers look for the next job to complete and your field staff can do the same. With your field staff, this could be work that isn’t due for another 4 weeks but rather than waste a return visit, it can be completed while in the vicinity on other work.

 

What are the benefits of field force self-service with additional work?

In short, many!

  • Reducing costs – This includes truck rolls and skilled labour. If you have the staff and equipment in the area, it makes sense to utilize them if you can do safely.
  • Feeling valued – Your field staff are experts and while some are happy to receive scheduled work each day, in discussions with our customers, others value a degree of autonomy.
  • Customer impacts and reputation – This could be negative from utility outages occurring twice or more in quick succession or positive by bringing forward planned work or deliveries.
  • Increased profitability – By looking in the vicinity for upcoming work, costs are reduced. This can be extended to include optimised use of materials beyond point one above.
  • Safety – If the planned work can’t be completed for any reason, such as bad weather, choosing other local work that can be safely completed means staff and equipment can still be utilised.
  • Creating value – What else can be captured onsite or locally at the time of other visits? This could be replacing electrical equipment but observing vegetation pruning or another electrical asset in need of maintenance ahead of its planned date. It could be picking up an item from one customer but also picking up an additional item for another supplier from the same customer.
  • Return on Investment – Typically this is short. The reason being, most of the information is already available and change is concentrated on technical functionality to “pull” or “request” jobs along with training in this new functionality.
  • Introducing AI – Empowering your field staff could be as straight forward as showing upcoming work around them by coloured pin on a map and letting them choose. It could go beyond this though and based on the frequency and type of work, proactively suggest options to your field staff to choose from or accept.

 

How can you get started with field self-service?

  • As with anything, what gets measured gets improved. Dashboards and KPI’s are key.
  • The right type of technology is important; however, it is safe to say that if your field service management team are working well already, you have well-oiled smart devices and data to build on.
  • IoT sensors integrated to your field service management software drive further value and optimise onsite location visits.
  • Connect to more core systems directly or indirectly through software.
  • Collaborate with internal teams across your lines of business. Bringing your office and field staff together along with IT will ensure everyone is on the same path forward.

 

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