A challenging start to 2023
News that the Government is reducing its support for businesses with energy bills from April may feel like another blow to leaders who are already struggling to run their companies and protect jobs in 2023. Everyone is tightening their belts, cutting non-essential spend and having to make some tough decisions. The digital transformation of business that accelerated during the pandemic is now proving to be a lifeline for organisations that invested in software and solutions that improved processes and drove greater productivity. For those that haven’t yet made the transition, investing in smart designed-for-purpose business management solutions will be a decision that helps them to elevate productivity and profit – crucial in these challenging economic times.
Advanced’s whitepaper, Field Service Management 4.0 – the Next Generation, discusses the evolution of the function and looks at ways to prepare teams for the future, in the light of such a fast-moving environment and shifting goalposts. For field service management businesses, implementing the right solutions now will help them meet the specific challenges faced by the sector. These include:
Managing essential outgoings
In field service management, the highest value outgoings are likely to be the employee wage bill, running vehicle fleets, materials and component costs for repairs and maintenance, and supply costs for core products, such as carpets for a carpet retailer, or central heating boilers and kitchens and bathrooms for landlords. Businesses need solutions that help manage these costs and increase return on investment (ROI) in these areas. Business intelligence software can help collect and analyse data to see where costs can be reduced, or changes need to be made. This might include the need to recruit more employees with a particular skillset, or more efficient ordering processes for key components.
Field service management has traditionally been plagued by scheduling conflicts, with double bookings, unavailable slots and overlapping, often in conflict with other workforce planning processes. Manual scheduling must also factor in travel time and time to complete the visit, as well as resources wasted when the wrong operative – without sufficient experience or incorrect skillset to the job, as well as customer no-shows. In order to achieve high First Time Fix Rates (FTFR), businesses must be on top of mobile workforce management and asset management processes for optimised productivity. Dynamic resource scheduling software can help optimise individual working schedules, so operatives aren’t doubling back on journeys or making unnecessary miles. This helps to reduce fuel costs and keeps teams on time, so they can complete all scheduled jobs for greatest productivity.
The UK skills shortage means that good employees have their pick of jobs and employers, so it is crucial to provide them with the right digital tools that can make their lives easier. This allows them to focus on higher-value tasks and gain greater work satisfaction, with fewer of the frustrations of things like sitting in traffic, arriving at a job that is different to that initially described, or not having the appropriate resources on board to complete the job. Solutions that automate time-consuming manual tasks allow operatives to spend less time filling out forms with repetitive information and use it to devote full attention to the higher-value task in hand. We discuss other strategies, including the use of apprenticeships to build a sustainable talent pipeline, in more detail in our whitepaper, Field Service Management 4.0.
Achieving excellent customer feedback and rating is crucial for on-going relationships and driving new business opportunities. For organisations dealing with people in their homes, being able to provide real-time communication with customers is crucial. No one wants to sit at home from 8am to 6pm waiting for an operative to turn up. workforce management software with tools that provide updates such as Advanced’s Operative On Way empower the customer to do more with their own time and shows them that the business respects them and their busy lives.
Lack of visibility
From planning and scheduling through to mobilising the field worker and monitoring the service performance in real-time, digital solutions enable more efficient mobile workforce management, giving the sales team and managers a real-time view of field operations. There is no need for operatives to check-in manually when the sales team and managers can use tools like Job Manager to have visibility of progress at any time. This solution also helps to reduces time on the road and fuel costs, meaning operatives are being paid for the time they are carrying out productive tasks, not travelling back and forth to base.
Safety and compliance
Solutions that schedule preventative maintenance visits mean appointments can be scheduled ahead, coordinating with the customer’s own timetable. As well as being great for customer satisfaction this also enables the business to schedule critical compliance checks, such as gas safety, and damp and mould investigations and maintain best practice at all times. Another benefit to FSM businesses is that automating preventative maintenance visits can result in fewer unexpected breakdowns and repairs, making better use of employee time and ensuring machines like boilers are running at optimum efficiency with potentially lower cost.
Getting more from less
The pressures of the Cost of Doing Business crisis mean that organisations are seeking to identify strategies to get more from the resources they already have and optimise efficiency in every area. Digital solutions can optimise workflows. Automated processes greatly reduce the space for human error and ensure that important steps are not being missed, such as removing the need for a return visit just to get a forgotten signature.
For a mobile workforce paper-free digital records on a device can’t be mislaid or blow down the street and also help the business to reduce costs of paper, printing and recycling. Digital files significantly reduce requirements for storage space, allowing businesses to use the space for a more productive activity. Cloud-based solutions reduce on-premise technology costs too, including lower electricity bills, which will matter even more as government support for this is cut in 2023.
Perhaps most importantly for a business function dominated by a need for smart planning, resource scheduling, job scheduling and asset management, digital solutions provide leaders with insightful and actionable data. They can identify patterns and trends in customer preferences, operative productivity, and overall business management processes to support more effective forecasting and planning, while also delivering auditable operations. Data gives a powerful view of the entire business, from procurement and spend management, to operative deployment and catalogue of skills, making planning easier and more effective.
As the field service management function evolves, we are seeing a shift towards more remote diagnosis of problems, self-service options for customers and more remote maintenance and repair operations. All of these will mean customers get a more efficient service, driving better feedback, more repeat business, and positive referrals. Dynamic scheduling software is also saving businesses from sending operatives on so many physical visits, reducing fleet costs, fuel bills, and carbon emissions, while increasing the number of jobs they can complete in a day. Digital solutions are the key to making every penny work hard for the business, helping it to thrive during the current economic downturn and getting the balance right with cost-savings, retaining the best talent, maintaining high levels of safety and compliance and higher customer satisfaction ratings for a more robust approach to 2023.
Please download our latest white paper, Field Service Management 4.0 – the Next Generation for further insights about how to keep field service management operations effective, efficient, and ahead of the competition.