IFS Planning and Scheduling Optimization (PSO) is well known for driving down costs and increasing efficiency and throughput in field service and maintenance scenarios. Yet, in a challenging economic climate, IFS PSO also offers the opportunity to fuel sales growth, increase profitability and reduce customer attrition and employee churn.
Traditionally, service operations have applied IFS PSO capabilities towards increasing throughput and minimizing costs. However, focusing solely on these attributes can sometimes lead to a sub-optimal experience for customers and employees. For example, providing only ‘nominated day’ appointments may be operationally cheaper. Still, it hardly delivers the same customer experience and convenience as a guaranteed, self-selected one or two-hour slot.
IFS PSO is much more than a way to drive savings. It offers multiple benefits that can enhance strategic revenue, customer experience and employee satisfaction.
PSO TECHNOLOGY AS A POWERFUL SALES TOOL
Regarding sales, IFS PSO technology can underwrite a service partner’s promise of performance. Cubic Transportation, an IFS customer for over 20 years, operates and maintains transit systems such as the smart passenger gates and payment processing solutions used by Transport for London’s Oyster card passengers.
When tendering to provision TFL’s passenger transit systems for the 2012 London Olympic Games, a major factor in securing the business was the ability to model its real-time response ability with IFS PSO. As Mobility as a Service (MaaS) models gain traction in cities worldwide, IFS PSO presents a powerful tool to manage complex, infrastructure-critical service workforces.
PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE SHOULD NOT BE AN AFTERTHOUGHT
Contractually, many service organizations must orchestrate scheduled preventative (planned) maintenance and unscheduled (break/fix) work orders. However, planned maintenance work is often manually deprioritized in favor of more urgent breakdowns or other priority customer requests. The result is a backlog of PM work being pushed out to the end of each period.
In contrast, IFS PSO leverages a value-based model, dynamically prioritizing the highest-value jobs. Using a value curve algorithm, the value of any deferred planned maintenance progressively increases over time. ‘Value’ here is not just monetary; it also encompasses multiple other variables such as criticality or regulatory compliance. By automatically re-prioritizing work orders, planned maintenance jobs are never ‘forgotten’ but become an increasingly visible part of routine daily workflow.
FROM ‘ONE-SIZE FITS ALL’ TO PROFITABLE MULTI-LEVEL SLA’S
IFS PSO enables the delivery of differentiated service response times, allowing service providers to move from one standard ‘next day’ response to same-day 2/4/6-hour premium service level agreements with multi-level contracts and pricing.
However, while lucrative, it can be challenging to deliver against and avoid one-size-fits-all scheduling.
Unlike human-made decisions based on spreadsheet data to dispatch engineers, IFS PSO instead undertakes scheduling encompassing any number of complex factors, such as the urgency of different SLA commitments, the location of the workforce and the technical skills required. The system allows organizations to embrace the enhanced revenue opportunities presented by multi-level SLAs, knowing that sufficient resources are in place to meet customers’ regulatory obligations.
These multi-level SLA’s provide customer choice in contract commitments, which in turn results in significant revenue and profitability gains.
ENHANCING EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE (EX), RETENTION AND WORK-LIFE BALANCE
Facing low unemployment and a skills shortage, attracting and retaining field service engineers and dispatch staff is challenging. Growing environmental awareness sees many potential and existing employees scrutinizing their employers’ Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance. Deploying IFS PSO ensures that all travel routes and schedules are as efficient as possible, minimizing mileage, reducing fossil fuel consumption and vehicle emissions.
Optimization can also sequence and optimize work and appointment bookings, including scheduling the last call each day to reduce the engineer’s travel time home – clearly a significant work/life balance benefit. It can also schedule appropriate rest breaks during the day, including the ability to accommodate EV fleets. For example, arranging lunchtime stopover locations with EV charging stations for engineers using electric vehicles.
When operating manually, it is virtually impossible to allocate and sequence any volume of field visits efficiently: there are simply too many variables to assess. Instead, transformative AI technology in IFS PSO creates an Automated Intelligent Travel Profile (AITP) using global mapping data from TomTom. The system fuses real-time journey data from millions of sensors, probes and GPS devices to intelligently power travel calculations on the fly, enabling instantaneous scheduling to minimize engineer travel and congestion delays. Truly dynamic scheduling enables IFS PSO to automatically re-prioritize and re-allocate jobs in the event of sickness, holidays, or overruns, removing the need for manual intervention.
IFS PSO transforms the role of a traditional planner/dispatcher to that of an exceptional manager and customer experience champion. Instead of fire-fighting service competing requests, planners can instead focus on value-added work at The Moment of Service™: making calls to survey customer satisfaction, closing out jobs for immediate billing and using the opportunity to cross and upsell services. Once again, driving further revenue enhancement.
Using IFS PSO, global washroom hygiene services provider PHS has successfully prioritized customer satisfaction by attenuating throughput. The technology has created day and time-specific appointment windows where needed, provided customers with on-screen technician tracking and self-service rescheduling tools, and reduced time pressures for its 1,100 UK engineers.
AUTONOMOUS SELF-IMPROVEMENT WITH EXPLAINABLE ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (XAI)
Using Artificial Intelligence and machine learning, the dynamic scheduling engine (DSE) powering IFS PSO is effectively self-learning. The longer the system is in use, the more advanced it becomes. For example, IFS PSO can recognize engineer proficiency by monitoring service tasks over time and recommend the experience needed for different tasks. This intelligence can shape the way future jobs are planned and allocated. Schedules can be optimized by calculating accurate durations for a particular service or repair and what percentage of cases result in a first-time fix. The same insight can also inform pricing levels for different SLAs and clients.
Explainable AI (XAI) shares the rationale and logic behind digital decision-making by machine learning algorithms. In IFS PSO, the step-by-step reasoning for decisions made by the system are available for scrutiny, thus supporting a continuous improvement (CI) mentality. Notably, all of this is enabled by the business without needing a third party.
LOOKING AHEAD: IFS PSO AS A STRATEGIC, FACT-BASED BUSINESS PLANNING TOOL
In addition to orchestrating tactical agility, IFS PSO provides powerful fact-based analysis and insights for strategic planning. Management can leverage the system to optimize the entire service network, enable the right-sized workforce and ensure sufficient network coverage to meet KPIs.
Using the embedded What if Scenario Explorer (WISE) tool, organizations can model their maximum SLA promise capability based on their current workforce, territory by territory. WISE can calculate the service network requirements needed to meet new business goals. For example, to deliver 4-hour SLAs to customers in a given geolocation, the system might identify a need for ten more engineers, each with specific skills, deployed in defined areas or even recommend existing engineers to be up-skilled. This allows calculation of the total cost investment needed and evaluation of the business case based on potential revenue increase. Moreover, by accurately calculating the workforce required to meet contractual obligations, WISE helps ensure employee quality of life is not sacrificed just to win business.
Increasingly, IFS PSO customers enjoy enhanced revenues, increased customer satisfaction, a superior employee experience and the ability to plan for future growth with confidence.
To learn more about digital transformation in field service with IFS, visit: https://info.ifs.com/see-it-experience-it-believe-it.html
Do you have questions or comments?
We’d love to hear them so please leave us a message below.