What is Field Service Scheduling?
Scheduling is the process that organisations use to ensure that services and field workers are scheduled and dispatched as efficiently as possible. The processes behind actually scheduling field workers can vary, from fully manual paper-based rotas that have to be distributed to field workers as they enter the office to the more efficient dynamic scheduling, which employs an intuitive software solution like field service management software.
Utilising an automated management solution frees up scheduler time to manage issues and assess data that provides actionable insights for the organisation. It transforms how field workers work by increasing productivity and efficiency and provides customer satisfaction with improved service delivery.
Why is Field Service Scheduling Important?
Why is it important that field workers and services are scheduled and dispatched? Without some sort of workforce management in place jobs simply won’t be completed on time or to the standard expected. Service delivery would suffer as there would be no real time visibility for workers, customers or service users of when a visit or job is going to be actioned.
Scheduling is important in maintaining structure within your field service, however some of the current processes are more of a hindrance to field workers than a support. Take for example an organisation who utilises paper rotas, these have to be completed by schedulers and communicated to field workers, whether by email or handed to them each day, meaning field workers have to come to the office first. Changes aren’t easily made, so an emergency job or visit can result in an entire day having to rescheduled, queue a lot of stress and trying to find a suitable field worker to complete the additional work before speaking with all the affected field workers and rescheduling their days.
With paper-based systems like this, neither the organisation nor field workers are able to react to changes in the day, they are restricted without real time information and as a result not able to utilis their time or capacity effectively. With changes to their schedules comes knock on effects throughout the day, with planned work delayed or rescheduled, causing wasted travel and time, as well as affecting service delivery to customers and service users. Delays result in missed SLAs which can be a costly expense for organisations.
Innovative Features of Field Service Scheduling
How can a field service management solution transform these processes to become more efficient and productive? Dynamic scheduling solutions have a number of key features that can transform field service scheduling:
Flexible scheduling options
Having a field service management software solution that provides multiple levels of schedule management, from fully automated for larger deployments, which enables the solution to schedule all field workers based on factors like availability, skills or location and send those schedules to workers devices. Changes that happen throughout the day can easily be placed and the solution finds the nearest person free, reallocating work to ensure that downtime is kept to a minimum.
Other levels of control can allow scheduling decisions to be overridden or even fully manual scheduling for much smaller deployments, the benefit for all is being able to see in real time where each person is at any one time.
A scheduling solution should have an interactive dashboard that provides real time indication of the overall status of the organisation schedule, informing the person managing the schedules of the current utilisation of the overall workforce and individual resources. It should also highlight the level of supply and demand for specific skills, allowing transformative business decisions to be made.
Alternative View of Your Workforce
A solution that includes a map view with locations of work and resources as pins enables schedulers to gain a creative view of their workforce in the field at any point in time. With in-depth details contained within the selected resource, schedulers can see upcoming planned work. With a “map view” the optimum travel route for each mobile worker can be seen, providing accurate travel information and can highlight if there will be a delay to attending the visit on time.
How do these features improve field service scheduling?
They provide a clear picture of where your field service teams are in real-time, this visibility ensures that any issues or delays can be flagged quickly and resolved either manually, or by allowing the automated scheduler to do so. With changes being conveyed automatically to field workers, they have minimal disruption to their day, as well as no wasted travel to a visit that has been reallocated, or to the office to collect paper schedules. Instead, their time is used more effectively, giving them additional capacity in their day to complete more visits or tasks to the standard required.
With the right scheduling solution in place, organisations benefit from increased data of the daily capacity of the field service, travel times, delays, to name a few. With this data they can gain actionable insights that will allow the organisation to plan ahead, allocate budget more effectively and begin to streamline processes throughout service delivery.
Together with a field service management solution, organisations can begin to truly transform their field service.
For more information, take a look at our eBook, “A 10 Step Guide to Effective Field Service Scheduling.”