Field Workforce Management: The Key to Employee Productivity

Field Workforce Management: The Key to Employee Productivity
Productivity
By Cristina Kuptzin-Johnson | 9 minute read

You could be losing thousands of dollars in low productivity and not even realize it. In fact, without the right tools, productivity is not the only thing in your field service company that is suffering.

From customer service to repeat service calls and more, you may not be aware of how much money is leaking from your company due to low productivity.

This post aims to help field service managers get a handle on how to better manage their field workforces and crews.

The Problem With Traditional Field Management

McKinsey has done multiple studies on how field service companies’ profits suffer due to poor field management.

After all, it’s difficult to manage your teams when you don’t actually know where they are, what they’re really doing, how long it’s taking them, and what things are affecting their productivity levels.

In the past, field management relied on reports from the field. This meant decisions were being made based on past events. There was no simple way to get accurate, real-time updates on, for example, when a technician arrived, started, and then completed a job.

Incomplete information or missing data slowed the process of improving productivity and increasing customer satisfaction.

McKinsey reports that a U.S. cable company that adopted technology “increased the number of jobs created each day by 80 percent” and decreased the time customers waited for appointments with technicians.

In the same report, they show a ride-along initiative revealed “ample opportunity for improvement” including better job routing and eliminating time-wasting activities such as:

  • Technicians arriving late to their first job
  • Taking long coffee breaks
  • Eating leisurely lunches
  • Finishing early

The actual jobs took little time. The average amount of time wasted each day on these things? Around two-and-a-half-hours per day.

The average hourly pay rate of a field service technician is currently $20.60 which, at that rate, means $51.50 per technician, per day.

The Evolution of Field Management

In the same report from McKinsey, adopting field management technology “led to major performance improvements” from their field workforce.

Not only did productivity increase by 20 to 30 percent, but costs lowered by up to 40 percent, repeat visits went down by as much as  20 percent, and travel time was cut by as much as 30 percent.

Helpful technologies adopted by field service companies include:

Real Time Routing Software

Shortened response times are one of the perks of routing software. When you know where your workers are in real time, you can send the nearest tech to handle the situation which doesn’t just save fuel costs and driving times, but improves customer service.

Call-Ahead Solutions

When your technicians are able to call ahead before driving to a location to ensure the customer is home, it can save on travel time and reduce the impact of cancelled service calls.

Wireless Handhelds

From tablets to mobile phones, having access to customer information, jobs, scheduling, and more - right at their fingertips - slashes time-consuming tasks like filling in forms and logging hours. From their mobile devices, they record things with pinpoint accuracy or check their schedules quickly and easily.

Since technology today is instant, you can run reports and get details as they are entered in real time.

GPS Tracking

GPS Tracking helps improve productivity by tracking where your technicians are, how long they took at a job, how long of a lunch break they took, or which locations they are closest to. Technology that provides Geofencing ensures your workers are at the work site and reminded to clock in and out when they enter or leave the pre-established boundaries.

4 Steps To Implement Lean Field Management

Your workers are the face of your company and represent the mission, vision, and reputation of your brand. If they are not a part of the solutions that improve productivity, you will be less likely to achieve the results you want.

That’s where Lean management will help.

For field service industries, Lean management is defined by experts as “a systematic way of checking every process to find and extinguish waste. By eradicating unnecessary spend, time and resources, organisations can focus on adding value to customers.”

It’s not a heavy-handed, utilitarian approach. Rather, it’s an inclusive and transparent way to improve both your bottom line as well as the experiences of your employees and customers.

1. Get Connected

For field service companies, communication can get lost. It’s a challenge to keep everyone on the same page but - as with any great company - everyone needs to be armed with (and a part of) growing and improving the company overall.

Building loyalty is accomplished by ensuring healthy relationships among your workers and a commitment to your company’s mission and vision.

Make sure all employees - from back office to management to field crews to shareholders - share the same passion and ideas for becoming the best.

Keep communications open and encourage everyone to participate in reaching goals, both individual and collective.

2. Identify Issues

It’s tough to fix anything if you don’t know it’s broken. Make sure your people know they are a part of finding problems and suggesting solutions. They should feel comfortable in reporting issues and making suggestions for improvement.

Consider a company-wide invitation to identify and report errors or defects before your customers see them.

3. Enable Them

Make sure all of your employees have the right tools to accomplish the company’s goals. Technology can be an intimidating prospect for some, but when they understand how it will work, how it will help, and how much easier their jobs will be, they’ll be much more likely to jump onboard.

4. Report Results

Transparency is an important part of today’s most successful companies. This means being open with your employees about the results of their efforts, acknowledging victories - large or small - while also being willing to admit to shortcomings and failures.

Transparency from leaders and managers fosters trust and employee happiness. Your workers will truly feel appreciated and represent your company in a powerful, positive way to your customers

Conclusion

With the evolution of technology, today’s field service companies will need to replace outdated, traditional practices that cost them time, money, and valuable employees.

It doesn’t have to be a major shift that disrupts the whole company but, rather, could start with a simple solution that helps you ease into a digital transformation.

Including your employees in these decisions will increase the chances of them accepting these changes so you can get back to growing your company and improving your services.

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