Service scheduling is a hugely important part of daily operations for companies that work with a field service. But how is scheduling and managing appointments or service visits arranged at your place? Fortunately, the old-fashioned physical scheduling board of yesteryear has now been replaced by a digital alternative in most places.
But even an elaborate Excel file full of colored cells and copied data does not make a modern planner happy. Not only is it time-consuming to maintain such spreadsheets: manually typing or transferring data is also a hugely error-prone process. A modern service management planning tool is user-friendly and able to find the ideal balance between the needs of all parties involved: the back office, your service employees in the field and the customer.
In this blog article, you’ll read more about the challenges that are around the corner in the service planning process. We also look at the solutions and tell you how FieldBuddy helps optimize your planning and field service operations.
The challenges in service planning
Creating and maintaining excellent service planning is quite a complex job, especially if you do not have a modern and smart planning tool. The following points in particular often go wrong.
1. The amount of work is increasing
Many companies have been working with the same planning tool for years. Such a tool then becomes ingrained in the organization and often functions reasonably well for years. Things go wrong when a company grows. The volumes of work increase at a rapid pace, so you hire more service employees who also have to go to more and more different locations. In such a case, you often see that existing scheduling methods and tools no longer work and organizations start to feel the pain. After all, you want a healthy balance between the number of inside and outside service employees.
2. New variation on an old problem
Many companies have replaced the old planning boards on the wall with the ubiquitous Outlook or Google Calendar. That works nicely with three or four mechanics, but quickly becomes cluttered with more work and a larger field service. Plus, with a solution like Outlook Calendar, the back office doesn’t get information and status updates from the field. The result? Planners must constantly communicate with field service employees, mostly through channels such as e-mail, phone or WhatsApp (not always professional when exchanging confidential info).
3. Poor match between job and employee
Planners often schedule different types of work. A relatively simple maintenance job is different from a technically complex repair. Ideally, a company schedules mechanics and technicians for a given job based on (a combination of) certifications, expertise, availability, location and customer history. Many companies lack the oversight needed to organize this information.
You can guess the result: poor matches between the customer and a service person. Think of a mechanic who does not arrive at the customer at the right time or with the wrong tools. Or a mechanic from Eindhoven who has to drive all the way to Amsterdam, while his Amsterdam colleague still has room in his schedule.
4. Responding to unexpected events
It can always happen that service personnel or mechanics cancel at the last minute (for example, due to illness or other personal reasons). Many scheduling tools lack the flexibility to respond quickly to this and adjust schedules and planning to the new reality last minute.
The consequences of poor service planning
Are you dealing with one or some of the above problems? If so, it irrevocably affects your service, and not in a positive way.
- Unused resources go home earlier.
- Engineers don’t always know where to be at what time. They stand in front of a closed door or don’t have the right tools with them due to an erroneous job description.
- Customers sit all day waiting for a mechanic or service person who ultimately does not come.
Improve your service planning with FieldBuddy
With a good digital tool for field service management, you take your planning and service delivery to the next level and avoid the aforementioned problems and complications. With a digital planning board, you create a schedule that both employees in the back office and people in the field can view and adjust in real time. Is a job running late? Then the back office can immediately start rescheduling.
FieldBuddy is a planning tool that has the functionalities of a digital planning board, but can do much more.
Appointment confirmations and ‘first time right’
It is very easy in FieldBuddy to send appointment confirmations. This helps to increase the number of problems you solve right at the first appointment (“first time right”). For example, you can also send a notification to the customer the day before or the moment the technician leaves in order to streamline scheduling even more. By setting standard times, you can also estimate the duration of an appointment in FieldBuddy.
The right person for the right job
Using a map, you can see in FieldBuddy exactly who is most quickly available for a job in a particular region. In addition, there are columns where you incorporate your own information needs. After all, a maintenance job under a contractual obligation requires a different mindset and often different knowledge than incident management.
With FieldBuddy you determine your own list view. You choose which scheduled and delivered work orders you want to see, but also which information (location of a mechanic, type of job, expertise, specialties) should be leading when scheduling a mechanic or service employee. With content and color coding, you can define each block yourself. This allows you to see at a glance who is the most suitable person for a particular job and which employee is the closest. The map in FieldBuddy also houses optimal routes to ensure the best possible availability.
Many planners are used to Excel and find it difficult to switch to a new planning tool from this program. Because of its user-friendly and intuitive interface, FieldBuddy has a fairly low barrier to entry. Moreover, you can often import your history from your previous tool to FieldBuddy or integrate with FieldBuddy.
Historical data and real-time information
In our data-driven society, it is important that scheduling information is available in (near) real time. With the app FieldBuddy Swift, inside sales staff get real-time insight into scheduling. Field staff receive work orders via the app on their smartphone. They then immediately see all the necessary information, such as problem description, service history, contract and installation manuals. After work is completed, work orders are automatically processed and billed. In addition, the app tracks material usage and work time.
Service planning is all about finding the right balance
Service planning is an activity that ultimately revolves around finding the right balance between the needs of inside sales, outside sales, machinery and customer. It’s about optimally scheduling work across your available resources. You put work out to your field service and make sure it is done properly and efficiently.
The planner wants easy scheduling, while the mechanic does not want to drive too much and too far so that he can work as many productive hours as possible. And the customer, in turn, doesn’t want to wait too long for a service person. FieldBuddy gives you the ability to personalize the entire scheduling panel, allowing you to decide what you think is most important. This makes it a lot easier to find the ideal balance and schedule your service work optimally