Ask anyone responsible for dispatching field service technicians how hard their job is, and you will get one of two polar opposite reactions. They will all confirm that it is a high-pressure environment; caught, as they are, between the needs of the field force, the company management and ever more demanding customers. Those that are new to the role will also tell you it is fiendishly hard, while experienced dispatchers will assure you how straightforward it is.
Why the difference of opinion? In a word, experience. Getting to be great at assigning, dispatching and ensuring the service delivery of a team of technicians requires hard-won skills, time, perseverance and resilience to ride out the tough times. All too often, companies become dependent on a few long-serving and very knowledgeable staff in this critical role as the fulcrum between the field and the back office. But, it remains true that scheduling is a fiendishly difficult problem – in a mathematical sense as well as in everyday work. The more experienced staff develop strategies for coping with the complexity, generally be simplifying the problem and applying some straightforward techniques like sending the nearest technician, or knowing that Jim always does the work at that particular customer site.
The challenge of developing an efficient plan for a static situation is hard enough, but in field service nothing is ever static. Time moves on, engineers complete jobs, or get delayed, customers call with new requests – the list of variables seems endless. The bottom line is that humans simply do not have the time they would need to build a perfect plan, it needs software. And that software needs to be specifically designed for the particular needs and variability to be found in any field service operation, general-purpose scheduling applications simply do not fit.
We have built IFS 360 Scheduling from the ground up to be a 100% fit. Its architecture, the technology implementation, and its very DNA – real-time dynamic scheduling – are all aimed at optimum service delivery. That is maximum customer value at minimum cost to deliver. If, like us, you believe that automating 95% of all dispatching decisions would transform your performance, then you can read more about our Dynamic Scheduling Engine in this white paper.