We found this content on ITBusinessEdge.com, and were immediately reminded of one of the greatest values of ERP Systems: To get better insight into a company and enable the team to provide better customer service, which pays off in a healthier company.
So, with that in mind, especially from the perspective of Field Workers and Field Service, we examine some common challenges field service workers face and how these issues can be solved through ERP and better business planning.
Field Workers Need Simplified Status Reporting
For field workers, status reporting can be irritating and time-consuming. Yet, these practices are necessary parts of safety, productivity and optimization. There are many people in a company who need to have a clear vision of what’s going on in the field:
- The dispatcher wants to know if engineers are on time;
- The supervisor wants to know what each worker is doing or has done;
- Management wants to know if customers are being taken care of in the most efficient manner.
Solution: Simplified Status Reporting and Field Service Management Software That Works in Both Directions
A mobile field service management software/workforce management solution like Infor Service Management Mobile allows engineers to quickly and easily let dispatchers and managers know the status of their job and what’s happening throughout the day. The team at Essential Software Solutions has extensive experience in Infor solution installations, maintenance and support.
We’ve found our Infor systems also help these folks:
Office personnel – simply glance at the schedule for any update and be confident that no job has been missed.
Field workers – can quickly continue with the task at hand without disruptive phone calls from dispatch; they also know that help can be sent immediately and schedules can be arranged to accommodate any situation.
Field Service Workers Need to be Safe
Dispatchers are concerned about not only getting the job done, but also keeping field engineers safe. Safety issues can be improved with a good mobile solution and proper status reporting.
For example, by watching real-time job status updates and identifying exceptions and deviations from the schedule, dispatchers can:
- Send a spare or missing part,
- Send assistance to finish a complicated job,
- Send help in an emergency situation.
Field Service Workers Need Improved, Easy to Use, Mobile-Accessible Time Sheets and Job Forms
Field engineers often find filling out time sheets and job forms is a lengthy process, so they put off doing them. This task becomes a burden that is done at home after a long day when exhaustion is setting in and the mind is going blank. Forms are haphazardly filled in, information is lost, forms are forgotten and jobs stay open for days just waiting for the proper paperwork to be completed. In some cases, engineers are paid according to the job type and amount, so forgotten or missing paperwork can result in inaccurate payroll.
Solution: Make Forms Accessible in a Mobile Device
Mobility can play a big role in overcoming the barriers to paperwork and can simplify mundane tasks. With the ability to access forms and time sheets from a mobile device, engineers can complete the admin tasks and paperwork for a job in 3 to 5 minutes instead of 30 minutes.
With this time freed up via streamlined admin tasks, engineers can focus more on customer care, the job at hand, and spend more time with the customer explaining the products.
By having access to new and in-process work forms in a mobile device, engineers can:
- Enter details and complete forms throughout the day as the job finishes.
- Send forms to the dispatcher to start immediate processing.
- Cut down on the backlog of paperwork and late-night sessions.
By connecting the mobility solution to the company’s backend system, a field worker’s productivity can be improved further:
- Form fields can be populated with customer and job information automatically.
- Billing and payroll accuracy can improve dramatically.
- Data can be archived and retrieved instantly.
Infor Service Management allows field workers to work offline in remote areas and still enter data. When the field workers return to their offices or hotel rooms, they can access the main system and synchronize their daily work data with the system.
Infor Service Management also bridges the gap between departments by providing users at all levels with real-time analytics and KPIs at a glance. Whether the user is a remote tech, a contact center agent, or the CEO, the software offers real value. One of the biggest benefits is that Infor Service Management speeds up work across teams because it eliminates duplicate data entry. Because users are all working on the same centralized and up-to-date information, there are no gaps or discrepancies.
Here is an example of how ISM Mobile (Service Management) looks:
Field Service Workers Need Ability to Schedule or Move Lunch Breaks
When it comes to lunch, most businesses allocate a certain amount of time for their employees to eat. This usually happens at the same time every day, for the same period of time. When it comes to field workers with a list of tasks to complete, however, taking a lunch break can cause complications. A daily schedule that doesn’t factor in lunch means that when an engineer stops to eat, he or she will deviate from the schedule. This, in turn, can cause missed SLAs (Service Level Agreements), overtime costs and regulation violations.
Solution: Freedom to Lunch
A flexible lunch break is imperative to field workers who want to catch a bite to eat on their own terms throughout the day. Lunch breaks can be automatically scheduled at the beginning of the day and be viewed as a floating break that can be moved. Both engineers and dispatchers can have the freedom to reschedule this break according to the events of the day. If a job is taking longer than expected, the engineer can contact dispatch and reschedule the start time of his or her lunch break, and at the same time, automatically reschedule the remaining jobs for the day.
Flexible lunch breaks allow:
- Visibility on the scheduling board
- Engineers to eat at a convenient time
- An accurate schedule by adjusting the remaining tasks
- Compliance with the service level agreements (SLAs).
Infor Service Management Resource Scheduling helps to match technician skills with job requirements as well as provide total visibility of available partners and material capacity for better utilization and allocation of resources.
ISM Resource Scheduling offers:
- Flexibility Partner Definition
- Drag and Drop Scheduling
- Skills and Certification/Location Matching
- Email Notification
- Automatic Service Order Generation.
Here is an example of how Infor Service Management scheduling looks:
Field Workers Need to Simplify the Many Little Routines Between Jobs
A field engineer’s day is filled with small routines — and every time a new task is started, the same routine is played out over and over again. These routines can become tedious and time consuming when done many times each day.
In a typical routine between jobs, an engineer will use a mobile device to check traffic, call the customer and fill in job forms. This requires exiting one app and flipping back and forth between others, as well as opening and closing several external apps before completing one simple task.
Solution: Find an App that Helps to Automate Some of the Repetitive and Time Consuming Parts of the Routine
Engineers need a mobile solution that will integrate seamlessly with other apps on the device with the click of a button. There are some mobile apps that will allow an engineer to launch an external application by clicking a button within a form. With this type of app, the engineer can dial a phone number by clicking a button directly from the screen without having to flip to different applications.
A fully automated solution such as Infor Service Management is able to handle this process. Once the engineer has finished the current task, the automation process will prompt him or her with the number of the next client; when the engineer is ready, a push of the button will begin the call.
Field Service Workers Need to Cut Down Travel Time
Travel time has a direct effect on service engineers and their job performance. Sitting in traffic and having no control over time is stressful. Starting in one place, traveling across town in heavy traffic to the next job, and then learning that the subsequent job is around the corner from the first job is not only frustrating, but also a waste of time, gas and mileage.
Solution: Help them Start with an Accurate Schedule
A good scheduling system will enable mobile workers to reduce travel by as much as 20% or more. This can be achieved by using accurate street-level information for routing purposes and by taking into account all potential street obstacles. These include slow traffic in urban areas and the need to cross a fast highway by traveling to the nearest overpass. Each obstacle translates into missed appointments, delays and sitting in more traffic.
A good scheduling system such as Infor Service Management will allow engineers to:
- Plan their schedule around street obstacles
- Reduce the number of actual miles driven
- Spend far less time stuck in traffic and sitting in vehicles
- Devote more time to the job site and what they love doing
- Increase productivity and the company’s bottom line.
As stated, there are many ways to improve the effectiveness and and productivity of your field services team using proper Service Management software.
For further details on Infor Service Management and the various modules available, see: www.infor.com/solutions/service-management/. For more information on how Essential Software Solutions can help you improve efficiency and job satisfaction for your field service team using Infor Field Service Management software, contact us or phone 1-800-661-4456 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To read more reasons why an ERP system can be of great benefit to your business, read our post “Why Invest in an ERP System“.