Technology is a great enabler for growing businesses. It helps break down barriers, which allow companies to compete on levels that traditionally were much harder to penetrate due to their competitor’s strong held points of differentiation. However, while technology opens the door for your business to become more competitive, it also does the same for your competitors too.
The difference between success and failure can rest on an organisation’s appetite for continuous improvement and their adoption of best-in-class technology and work practices. This approach must be fueled by more than a willingness to improve; it must be an appetite, a culturally embedded desire for innovation and a thirst for creating value-added benefits for your clients. This is what will allow you to stand out as a leader in your market.
Workforce management software is one such enablement tool that has far-reaching benefits across customer satisfaction, productivity, compliance and cost-reduction, to name a few. I often find terms such as ‘efficiency’ and ‘effectiveness’ get used interchangeably when discussing objectives of business improvements. When an organisation implements a best-practice workforce management software application and harnesses its value through well-developed processes, there is no doubt it achieves the hallmark of efficiency and effectiveness. Doing the right things, while doing things right.
For organisations focused on delivering a service infield the challenge to manage ever-changing business priorities, constraints, objectives and the associated value these bring requires a repeatable schedule optimisation process.
At its greatest capability, continuous schedule optimisation uses artificial intelligence through multiple algorithms operating to search for the best possible schedule. This level of predictive analytics allows businesses to circumvent future operational inefficiencies and plan resources needed based on demand. Software, such as IFS Mobile Workforce Management, operates in real-time which means efficiency and effectiveness are maximised as changes in the schedule are reacted to without anecdotal evidence or assumption.
In a manual environment, if there is a power outage, a staff member has to go home sick, or a technician is stuck in traffic, these variables can cause a significant chain reaction resulting in a scheduling nightmare. However, with the sophistication of leading advanced resource planning based on parameters set, the system will weigh up all variables. This automates and optimises the process required to match the right person with the right task based on location, current traffic congestion, equipment in use, qualifications, availability and other relevant factors while adhering to SLA response times.
The positive ripple effects this level of efficiency and effectiveness generates for a business is immense.
There are numerous permutations of the direct and indirect benefits of effective workforce management software. If we consider the interrelationship between cost, productivity, safety and the customer experience, we can begin to see how cumulative the benefits can be.
Routes are highly optimised, thus, travel time is reduced, as is fuel cost and vehicle wear and tear. When technicians/crews have a greater amount of available time, they operate closer to capacity. In times of availability, they can also facilitate maintenance jobs to be completed whether on-site or at a nearby location, avoiding future travel time and cost.
Workforce management software allows for flexible boundaries. For example, John, a technician picks up another job originally scheduled to Sarah. Sarah, instead, has had to cover another job for Paul, who is stuck in traffic. All technicians complete a full day, on time, without driver fatigue and overtime costs being incurred.
TODAY, TOMORROW & BEYOND
Aside from simply coordinating scheduling requirements based on immediate needs, you should be looking to align with workforce management software, which can handle demand changes and long-term forecasting.
Typically, through the implementation of a sophisticated software system, you should expect to reduce the ratio of dispatchers to technicians. This increases the number of daily jobs completed by each technician.
As time progresses, the level of reliable insights you can glean from the software will allow for effective forecasting of resources and future recruitment requirements to meet projected future demand. Moreover, the ability to balance requirements for crews and teams alongside individual technician requirements, in both short and long-term work, facilitates an ability to make well-considered plans.
Visibility into the past, present and future allows businesses to make a number of tactical and strategic decisions. Without it, a reliance on instinct and subjective opinion can creep in, which alone can limit the effectiveness of planning and goal setting. Additionally, at an operational level, functional system visibility allows users to see where technicians are as well as the active status of their jobs.
In this digital age, success is derived from surrounding yourself with the right people and the right tools, and in the service management context, that includes the right workforce management software.
For example, businesses have reported that deploying IFS Mobile Workforce Management resulted in 15% reductions in travel and overtime costs, 40% improvements in technical/crew productivity and a greater than 20% improvement in SLA compliance and on-time delivery.
If your business allows gaps such as these to open between your performance and that of your competitors, then the likelihood of success becomes a real uphill battle.
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