Whether you employ technicians to install and repair HVAC systems or mobile nurses to care for patients in their own homes, you understand that managing your field service operations involves a lot of factors competing for your attention. You must manage the schedules of personnel, issue assignments, account for all equipment at all times, plan for the likelihood of emergencies and at the end of the day, ensure that your customers or clients are satisfied with your services.
Sometimes, it feels like your commitment to providing fast, effective service takes precedence over productivity and employee satisfaction, but they’re really one in the same. By taking the time to learn and implement a few field service operations best practices that are appropriate for your processes, you can accomplish both goals.
Best Practices for Every Operation
A wide variety of employees’ jobs fall under the umbrella of field service. Despite the range of applications though, many practices can be universally beneficial.
Data Collection & Analysis
Technology has made a lot more data readily available to companies, giving them insight into many different elements and bringing to light potential problem areas that could affect their operation. These can include, but are not limited to, data on the behavior of workers in the field, the speed at which service is delivered, the time spent at each visit, travel logs and routes driven. Where previously, it would be difficult to assess efficiency, now you can break down your system and determine bottlenecks and other patterns.
You’ll uncover things such as which employees complete the most field visits, the average time taken at each site, the average travel time between locations and where there is room for improvement. The more information you’ve collected, the better equipped you are to make the right decisions. If you’ve foregone a deeper analysis of your operations under the belief that you know all there is to know about the goings-on of your field service workers, we recommend you take the time and resources to investigate. You’ll be surprised at what you find.
Consistent In-Field Communication
Communication is one of the field service operations best practices that can’t be ignored. Once you realize this issue and take steps to address it, you’ll start to see the benefits almost immediately. The solution goes beyond phone calls, texts and email, too, though those are definitely helpful. Investing in some kind of cloud-based software will allow everyone to share and access information no matter where they may be.
Employees will be able to access policies, handbooks, manuals, forms and other materials they could need unexpectedly. This will significantly cut down on what they need to cart around with them from appointment to appointment, and it will allow them to have all the information they need to do their job right the first time without a follow-up visit.
Ensuring a reliable means of in-field communication will also improve collaboration between workers. They should be able to easily reach out to other members of their team for assistance regardless of their location. This will expand the knowledge base of every employee and reduce the number of field workers that need to be dispatched to each location.
In order to implement one of the most important field service operations best practices within your company, you need to assess what support workers actually need in the field and look into the kinds of apps and software that can help deliver it.
In the case of field service providers, resources constitute everything you need to deliver your services. This can include the employees themselves, equipment such as toolboxes, personal protective equipment (PPE), vehicles, budgets for things such as fuel and much more. Failing to accurately account for the whereabouts of all of these things – even something as seemingly insignificant as gloves or face masks – can prevent the successful delivery of service. Therefore, it’s vital that you determine a method for keeping tracking of all of these moving parts.
There are a couple of field service operations best practices you can follow to better manage your resources. One is to adopt some kind of scheduling system that will track routes, arrival times and other data that will give you visibility into field operations. Another is optimizing your administrative workflows.
A lot of things get lost amidst the fast-paced activities of your workplace: equipment checkout forms, PTO requests, reimbursement forms, expense reports – the list goes on. If you aren’t up to date on one thing, it has the potential to throw everything else off. If you know where your people, expenses, equipment and other materials are at all times, you’ll eliminate scheduling mishaps, improve customer satisfaction, increase productivity and save precious time.
While it’s impossible to plan for every circumstance, you can at least plan ahead. After you’ve accumulated enough data and observations on your operations, you should be able to predict certain events with some accuracy and prepare months in advance. Resource capacity planning, for instance, will help determine if you have sufficient resources available and the skilled employees necessary to complete any task. Tracking data on jobs such as the average number of site visits per job, time per job and completion rate will help you allot an average number of jobs per day. Comparing data from month to month will also help you identify seasonal patterns, so you’ll be ready for peak times.
Regular maintenance will also help to prevent service failure. Field service operations tend to be designed around reacting to problems after they occur, but by tracking services and scheduling regular “checkups”, you’ll reduce the frequency and severity of emergencies, better control your schedule and improve satisfaction on all sides.
The Missing Link in Field Service Operations Best Practices
Many of the processes going on right now in your company are trackable with the help of software. One key area that has been looked over is mileage tracking and reimbursement. Many field workers drive their own vehicles rather than one owned by their employer – it’s just easier for everybody. Well, it’s easier until it comes time for the mileage reimbursement process.
As field employees travel from site to site, they’re responsible for tracking these miles in some way. In some cases, companies require mileage logs. In others, a GPS app may be used. SureMileage by CompanyMileage takes a completely different and novel approach. Rather than verifying the miles that were driven, SureMileage calculates the expenses to be reimbursed based on the most expedient route between point A and point B. Issues such as inflated mileage estimates and including personal travel on expense reports are completely eliminated.
Other features like integrated Address Books, a configurable approval workflow and integration with your accounting or payroll system ensure the mileage reimbursement process is seamless. With our solution, you’ll finally have a means of managing a key area of field service operation and accumulate cost savings. CompanyMileage customers see an ROI equal to ten times the cost of the service.
There are many field service operations best practices you should adopt for the benefit of your employees and customers. SureMileage is absolutely one of them. Request a demo today and discover a better way to manage employee travel and reimbursement.