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8 Effective Ways to Increase Efficiency in a Worker Shortage

image credit: (c) Louisville Water Company
James Strohecker's picture
Managing Director Demand Gen Associates

Marketing professional with proven success in energy/renewables, utilities, responder and industrial safety markets. Ability to create, produce and execute innovative marketing and...

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  • Jul 27, 2021 10:35 am GMT
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There’s a shortage of workers and drivers.

You know this.

  • Many operations are faced with a rapidly retiring workforce.
  • Worker time (and overtime), productivity and efficiency management are critical.
  • The new millennial workforce – if you can find, hire, and keep them – doesn’t have deep energy/utility/operational knowledge.
  • Most new workers don’t want to write on paper. They expect an app to provide everything from driving directions, to how-to’s, to where the horizontal and vertical infrastructure is.
  • User expectations have increased. Customers want an immediate, trackable response about their issue and an “Uber-like” experience. They don’t want to call your field center – they want to use an app and be notified of their service status 24/7.

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You’ve Got to do More with Less.

It's a mantra - but it's true. As the workforce retires and hiring/training gets tougher, you've got to do more with less. And at the same time, you've got pressure to reduce the expense line.

Also, field technicians and contractors need updated information to effectively do their work. Digitally. On a mobile device. With instructions and updated workorders about where they need to be and what they need to do. The apps that deliver this info have to be rugged, simple to use and easy to access without training.

 

Modern Mobility Increases Productivity

Digital Modern Mobility and real-time communication are critical to increase your field workforce productivity and efficiency. For example, in an emerging or critical situation if a crew is down the street, that crew can be sent real-time to fix the issue. With Modern Mobility, your operations team can easily see the location of remote assets on a live, interactive map. They can also review the routes that technicians take to get to a job to improve productivity.

A digital Modern Mobility app will also provide field crews an easy to use, worker-friendly "single view" for all types of work that they’re doing. The app can:

  • Provide asset location, repair manuals, appointment updates and restrictions, weather info and travel directions.
  • Deliver updated workorders -- and efficiently get crews to the next job.
  • Eliminate paperwork, field invoices, timecards and manual re-pricing errors.

 

Field Service Productivity Checklist

In the face of a worker and driver shortage, this handy checklist can help you increase your current team’s productivity and get your technicians to the right place at the right time with the right tools to do the job right the first time.

  • Provide field work routing directions sent directly to crews to get them quickly to the next jobsite. 
    Reduce travel time and fuel consumption. Allow your technicians to better meet appointment windows and focus on service delivery. Modern Mobility and a cross-silo “Single Face of Work” to the last mile that enhances field service, worker productivity and customer satisfaction.
  • Focus on the Field Crews and eliminate multiple applications – each with different logins, user interfaces, and no offline accessibility – and automate/simplify field service forms.
    By providing them with a single, easy-to-use, mobile-first application, Field Crews will focus on work and increase productivity.
  • Communicate digitized, real-time workorder status updates that allow dispatchers to immediately assign crews to the next, closest, skill-demanding, or highest priority jobsite.
    Assign and deploy the crew that’s closest to the incident or new jobsite to resolve the field service request more efficiently.
  • Have all work (customer service, asset maintenance and emergencies) planned in a single, scalable scheduling engine.
    A modern in-memory high-capacity scheduling engine can also deliver an accurate work route optimization schedule that reduces truck rolls, optimizes dispatch call centers and allows your team to react faster. It also helps lower your carbon footprint.
  • Eliminate paperwork forms, workorders and scheduling. Combine all field- and asset-oriented (short and long cycle) work into a single scheduling and appointment engine.
    When field technicians use paper forms and manually enter a large amount of repetitive information, it leads to incomplete and inaccurate data, as well as manual data re-entry processes and expense.
  • Give technicians updated customer service history information.
    User-specific info allows field service workers to increase service continuity and get to and resolve the issue more quickly and cohesively. This increases customer satisfaction.
  • Reduce unproductive truck rolls via customer-centric scheduling and service-tracking communications.
    A Connected Customer application allows them to book and change appointments, track field crew location in real-time on a map, and sign digitally.  Their satisfaction goes up, your call volume goes down.
  • Integrate invoicing, timekeeping, inventory and workorder applications in a mobile (online or offline app) to increase efficiency. More efficient invoicing, and reduction in paper scheduling and dispatch can help you consolidate roles – thereby increasing cost savings and revenue.

 

The Last Mile: How to Modernize and Develop Modern Mobility

Evaluate your situation and work-related silos. Assess (manual) processes that can immediately be improved. Look for industry examples of how to create a “Utility of the future.” Then contact a proven, trusted provider of industry-focused, mobile field service and asset management solutions that connect customers, employees, contractors and assets with AI-powered access to real-time information. The trusted provider will help you transform the customer experience, improve worker productivity, and create extreme efficiency to meet the challenges of today and the demands of tomorrow.

 

 

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jul 27, 2021

It seems for field workers, a lot of this will be making their life easier and so they'll enthusiastically be for those changes. That said, inertia and upending existing systems can also be stressful to long-time employees-- are there any particular ways where you expect to see pushback on these modernized solutions? And how do you overcome that resistance? 

James Strohecker's picture
James Strohecker on Jul 28, 2021

Great question, Matt. 
The simple answer is that with a worker-first application, all field crews (employees and subcontractors) have a single native mobile app that’s easy to use, deploy and maintain. As a result, technicians can focus on their jobs and use a mobile device for all (formerly paper-driven) forms, data access, routing, and communication – whether online or offline.

 

Some comments from notable industry leaders bear that out:

 

“One of the worst mistakes you can make is to start with the technology first. You need to start with the processes, or the problem you’re trying to digitize. Then look at the people who’re involved in it. Then look at the employee experience. Is it a seamless, easy experience? Because if it is, then the data is going to flow – and that data’s going to flow to the customer and there’s a great customer experience . . . We thought the challenges were going to be with the field crews – they were using all paper-based processes. But in fact, it was the planners that had the biggest challenge – rather than shuffling papers for their field crews, they’re looking at a screen trying to determine if the algorithm routed all the requests properly, and we would get to all our customers when we said we would,” said Michael Salas Senior Vice President & Chief Information and Digital Officer, SUEZ North America, in the Energy Central Power Session: De-risking Utility Operations in a Contactless Environment.

 

According to CS Week's 2021 Rising Star, Obe Everett, Director of Program Management & Business Systems Support for Louisville Water Company:

“We had to get our workers the most modern and easy to use digital tool in their toolbox. Today, that’s an iPad and our field mobile application from KloudGin – It’s the most powerful tool in their ‘toolbox.’ The mobile App includes visual maps and GIS views of work, field resources, equipment, and assets. These are key to us responding quickly and seamlessly to customer service requests, asset maintenance, leak investigation, hydrant flushing and valve exercising programs. Our biggest game changer was real-time mobility for everyone involved. Our field resources now have online distribution maps, with asset location data, valve status, flushing activities, full work order history and can capture all field data at their fingertips. We asked our technicians about the new mobile application, and one of our field crew members said, ‘I wish I could hug the KloudGin App!’”

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jul 28, 2021

Great insights, thanks for the follow up James

Paul Korzeniowski's picture
Paul Korzeniowski on Aug 30, 2021

Good points. The technology can be challenging but the business process alternations are often more vexing. Individuals like routine and tend to be leery of change because it pushes them out of their comfort zone. To be effective, energy companies need to recognize the challenge and put a plan in place to deal with employee concerns. 

Henry Craver's picture
Henry Craver on Jul 29, 2021

Everything you said about millennial workers has become even more true post-covid. I recommend checking out the work of Matt Mullenweg, co-founder and CEO of Automatic (WordPress parent company. The guy is a pioneer when it comes to remote work and he gives tons of advice on going remote but also just using tech to run projects more efficiently. Here's an interview I found with him from last year. 

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