by   |    |  Estimated reading time: 4 minutes  |  in AI, Automation, IFS Cloud, Servitization   |  tagged , , , ,

Scheduling service technicians efficiently poses a significant challenge for many companies today. With high volumes of jobs and resources, customer SLAs, and intense competition, this challenge will only intensify in the future. This is precisely where automation can revolutionize scheduling processes, and IFS is at the forefront of this transformation with its planning, scheduling and optimization capabilities. 

The AI-powered planning, scheduling, and optimization capabilities in IFS Cloud can be utilized for the most complex scheduling requirements. By maximizing workforce utilization, reducing travel and improving service quality, businesses can boost revenue and enhance end-customer satisfaction and retention. 

However, transitioning from manual to dynamic scheduling involves more than just a technological change—it requires a mindset shift for all stakeholders involved. Neglecting the human element can jeopardize the successful adoption of AI and automation. Understanding the reasons behind user skepticism is critical for a smooth transition process, ultimately allowing these same users to embrace the benefits of automation. IFS addresses these concerns in several ways. 

Building confidence in automated scheduling 

Users may doubt the accuracy and reliability of automated scheduling algorithms, fearing that important details may be overlooked or mishandled. IFS addresses this concern through schedule Explainability. This functionality allows users to understand why certain activities have or have not been allocated in a schedule. By providing explanations for automated decisions, trust is built, and dispatchers gain insights for future considerations, such as high-demand skill requirements. Additionally, a staged transition process can be adopted, where automated scheduling is initially only used to suggest the schedule to use, and jobs are still dispatched manually. In time, automated dispatch can be enabled, with dispatchers managing only as an exception. 

Enhancing the Role of a Dispatcher 

Manual dispatchers may fear job obsolescence or replacement by machines, leading to resistance towards automated solutions. However, in the era of servitization, where organizations shift towards service-based models and outcomes, dispatchers can access higher-value roles. Automation empowers dispatchers to manage exceptions in automated schedules and contribute to strategic objectives. For example, the ‘What-if Scenario Explorer’ enables dispatchers to analyze operational changes required to meet strategic objectives and optimize resource allocation. 

When questioned about the impact of AI, the Chief Strategy Officer and Executive Vice President of Design & Emerging Products of Adobe offered an insightful perspective. He stated, “I feel like our human potential has always been held back by the laws of physics essentially. The mundane, repetitive labor you need to do to get anything done is what holds back our ingenuity… if you have more ingenuity per human being, maybe you can actually do more as a company.”  

By utilizing advanced scheduling technologies, dispatchers can leverage their ingenuity and expertise to differentiate their service offerings. By reducing time spent on labor intensive tasks, dispatchers can dedicate their time and expertise to solving complex challenges, providing value-added services, and delivering exceptional customer experiences. The integration of human ingenuity with AI-driven tools has the potential to drive innovation, productivity, and differentiation within organizations. 

Change Management Learning Curve 

Users might hesitate to learn and adapt to new scheduling systems, perceiving them as complex or time-consuming. Transitioning to dynamic scheduling necessitates effective change management. Involving a change management partner early in the process and understanding the human aspects of automation are crucial for project success.   

Furthermore, it is essential for the software to allow for emergency manual changes. The IFS planning, scheduling and optimization solution addresses this by offering various features. For example, bulk changes to activities can be made manually from the scheduling UI. These capabilities provide dispatchers with flexibility, but it is important to use manual changes responsibly, ensuring they do not negate the benefits of a fully dynamic optimization engine. 

By comprehending the human aspect of automation and dynamic scheduling, businesses can successfully drive transformation. It’s essential to recognize that humans play a vital role in the success of any technological adoption or business transformation journey. 

As we look to the future, the latest developments in technology can accelerate our move to predictive scheduling. Just as the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the move to cloud, these advancements have the potential to unlock new levels of productivity, efficiency, and customer-centricity in the world of field service management. 

To read more about how IFS can help you transition to dynamic scheduling, have a look at our most recent roadmap here: Fall 2023 Roadmap | IFS Community 

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