Management is a difficult task in any given situation. Leading people in any effort requires a balance between inspiring them to move forward and ensuring they’re doing so correctly and at the right pace. But when your staff takes to the field — often splitting off into different teams to handle various projects or client needs — management and leadership take on even more challenges.
So, how can you manage a staff that’s rarely all in the same place at once? And how can you keep everyone on the same page when they’re so often in different vehicles and potentially on opposite ends of the city from each other? Field service scheduling software was made to solve these very problems.
Here are six ways this type of software is revolutionizing management for field service companies.
1. Automation adds computer and data intelligence to scheduling processes.
Good field scheduling systems include built-in intelligence. That means you can create rule sets and processes and allow the system to act on them, taking a lot of work out of research and personnel scheduling.
For example, perhaps you don’t want anyone working more than a certain number of hours a week. That might be for budget reasons — you want to limit how much overtime you pay. It could also be for safety — you want to ensure overworked staff isn’t putting teams in danger or increasing the risks for errors on the job. Either way, you can set a rule in your scheduling system that makes it impossible for anyone to be scheduled for too many hours.
Other automations that can help take the work out of the scheduling process while ensuring better overall processes include:
- The ability to align the right resources with certain jobs
Jobs can be coded by experience level, specific certifications or skills required or how many people are necessary to complete it within given time limits. Employees can also be tagged with matching certifications, skills and experience levels, and the field service schedule system is able to match up appropriate resources with each job.
- Efficient scheduling of routes
With enough data, your system may be able to do much of the scheduling work for you, prioritizing job order for utmost efficiency given available routes, materials and resources.
- Addition of inventory
You don’t want to schedule a job when the equipment isn’t available yet or assign a team to go out to a client’s home when no van is available to transport them. Including assets, equipment and inventory in your planning helps avoid these issues.
2. Real-time data minimizes misunderstandings and enhances efficiency.
Much of the work of managing field teams takes place via phone calls, texts and app communications. It’s easy for information to get turned around and for misunderstandings to occur.
Field service software that provides real-time data can help prevent these misunderstandings, which means you and your staff can spend less time ironing out what you meant to communicate and more time actually getting the job done.
Plus, when you know where your teams are at any given moment, it’s easy to step into a busy situation and call an audible when something changes. And since your team knows you can see where everyone is and what’s going on with the big picture, they’re able to trust your call and put the play into action knowing it’s the one most likely to bring everyone across the goal line.
3. Onboard access in the field takes the tedium out of many tasks.
One of the great things about field scheduling software is that it can be used on mobile devices such as tablets or smartphones. That means you can make certain elements of the software available to your employees so they can access it in the field or from work vans.
Here are just some of the reasons you might want employees to have this access:
- You can use the system to create, manage and track quotes, invoices, receipts and digital signatures on customer agreements. That reduces a lot of the tedium of paperwork for everyone, which is something staff is likely to appreciate. It also reduces a lot of the potential for errors, including mistakes on invoices and missing documentation. And that’s something your billing office and bottom line will thank you for.
- Employees can see their schedules in real-time. That means you don’t have to wait for all the ducks to line up before you send people out for the first job of the day. You can add items in later. It also means you can swap out resources, slot in emergency jobs or recall teams as needed throughout the day without going through a lot of trouble to make phone calls and reroute people manually.
- In some setups, employees are able to add their own information to schedules or update the system when a job is taking longer than expected. Automations can kick in to adjust schedules, reroute resources or call customers to let them know about new timelines.
4. Invoicing and payment processes are faster and more accurate.
All that data and communication available to everyone typically means invoices are more accurate and payments come in faster than with paper processes. In many cases, your field service staff might be able to process payments at the location using tablets or a smartphone. In other cases, digital documentation gathered with the field service software makes same-day billing possible. You may be able to integrate your field service software with other programs to get even more benefits.
And in all cases, management spends a lot less time going over handwritten tickets and converting them into accurate and professional invoices. Automating those processes could save you or your office staff anywhere from a few hours to a few days each month, which frees up time for client-facing work such as marketing, sales and customer service.
5. Employees are empowered to make choices with confidence.
Field service scheduling software helps empower your people to make proactive, common sense decisions while on the job. That serves multiple purposes:
- It cuts down on unnecessary back-and-forth communication, which saves time. (And since time is money, that’s good for profits!)
- It reduces the amount staff needs to rely on supervisors for relatively mundane decisions and information, which helps promote critical thinking and leadership among the ranks. That’s good for your company’s growth potential and future.
- It helps teams appear even more professional and trustworthy. If someone has to call you for every decision, they’re going to look like a rookie to clients, and that can lead to the client calling you, too, or second-guessing your staff’s work.
6. Data and analytics support better mentoring and coaching.
Finally, when it comes to the human resources part of your business, the data available in your field service scheduling system can be invaluable. You can use it to easily see where an employee might be struggling with certain jobs or whether they’re engaging in time-wasting behaviors each day. It also lets you see who’s shining at certain elements of the work. All of that provides fodder for more valuable feedback and training sessions.
7. All of this saves you time and reduces stress.
Finally, all of these benefits combine to make your job easier and less tedious. And when you’re less stressed as a leader, you’re more able to identify real issues, offer creative solutions and support each employee so they can do their best work for your company.
Do you want to put the benefits for a field service scheduling software to work for your business? Reach out to Visual Planning today to schedule a demo and find out more about how we can help you manage your business, resources and employees.