Taking Control of Your Mobile Workforce

Taking Control of Your Mobile Workforce

How to optimise performance without compromising quality

How a company’s mobile workforce performs is critical to the customer relationship, which in turn is a significant factor in the company’s profitability. Arrive late or fail to resolve a customer’s issues and your brand image may be diminished, with customers seeking competitors to meet their demands.

To prevent this, field service companies are investing in the fundamentals of a well-run field services structure—workers, technology, data, and execution. Companies with a strong grasp of these elements stand to outpace the competition and boost profits.

According to Aberdeen Group, companies that adopt these fundamentals are also more likely to achieve the goals that top the list of priorities for field organisations. Of the field organisations polled by Aberdeen for its Field Service 2013 Workforce Management Guide, 56 per cent cited increasing revenue as a strategic goal, while 52 per cent and 45 per cent cited improving customer satisfaction and increasing productivity/utilisation respectively as strategic goals.

Technology Can Help

Clearly, the proper tools benefit both the worker and the business. Not only do they empower the worker and enhance productivity but they help to regulate budgets by controlling fuel and labor costs, streamlining delivery schedules, reducing vehicle wear and tear and increasing revenue. To assist workers, companies are investing in technology to access data that would help them improve forecasting and hence also improve workforce allocation.

One example of this technology is workforce management. Organisations that implement this solution realise significant benefits, including real-time visibility into the work schedule and activities of their mobile workers; this facilitates real-time scheduling and routing decisions to optimise workloads and reduce overtime costs. In addition, workforce management solutions provide real-time reports showing areas of improvement needed to increase productivity and reduce unnecessary data entry and paperwork.

Operating in conjunction with workforce management are next-generation technological solutions such as fleet management, GPS tracking and geolocation applications, which enable organisations to make strategic decisions about integrating and streamlining operations. Back-end logistics help to optimise travel time, projected time of arrival and allotted time to complete a job. With dispatchers communicating through in-vehicle or handheld devices, field workers have the information they need, when they need it, to enhance performance and productivity.

Next-generation solutions such as change management and performance management facilitate improvements as an organisation develops. Change management is integral to worker training; successful execution of changes requires communicating with and preparing employees and fostering a culture in which employees understand the changes and why they are needed.

Likewise, performance management helps organisations develop and execute strategic initiatives to achieve key goals such as robust sales, regulated costs and accelerated profits. Managers must communicate these goals clearly to workers as well as the standards, metrics and methods used to monitor progress.

Optimising Data to Make Intelligent Decisions

Solutions like performance and change management are contingent on having relevant data to make intelligent business decisions. Workforce and fleet management, GPS applications, routing tools and daily logs all capture large volumes of information that, when properly organised, can deliver invaluable insights.

Best-in-class organisations integrate the statistics and data into usable information through predictive analytics. By compiling and analysing reports on miles driven, traffic patterns, time on site, proximity between driver stops, idle times and fuel use, among other data points, managers can accurately identify patterns, initiate improvement and quantify results. Once equipped with this information, managers also can take steps to eradicate poor driver behavior, improve routing and scheduling, match the right worker to the right job and implement dispatch and back-office adjustments as needed.

Retaining Top Performers

Best-in-class organisations understand the ramifications of having an under-trained, under-qualified workforce. When a company sends a field worker on a service call, the worker needs to resolve the issue the first time. According to Aberdeen, however, 25 per cent of cases are not resolved on the first visit, which erodes customer confidence and reflects the need for worker training.

Managers can use technology such as workforce management with its performance management capability to evaluate field worker performance and determine who delivers the best results. Once managers identify best-in-class workers, they should do what they can to retain them. Key to this is consistent communication combined with ongoing training to enhance job performance.

Aberdeen found best-in-class companies were more than 35 per cent more likely to use workforce management solutions such as performance management tools to optimise resources and workforce management processes.Aberdeensays laggards need to automate workforce management to catch up with the efficiency and enhanced response times of best-in-class companies.

One of the advantages of field-service management software, including workforce management, is that it can be configured according to a company’s top initiatives, whether that is responding to customer calls faster, fuel efficiency, reducing overtime or regulating performance. The goal is to get the right technician on site with the shortest waiting time for the customer.  With today’s progressive technology, there’s no reason why a business can’t activate the most efficient and effective workforce possible.