How Field Service Efficiency Offsets Inflation's Bite
As both domestic and global inflation squeeze Field Service Management (FSM) organizations, the importance of identifying and leveraging efficiency is crucial. This is particularly true when the cost of doing business prevents workforce growth. Even in the absence of threatening macroeconomic factors, maximizing efficiency serves longer-term growth and profitability goals.
To this end, the right tool can promote savings and enable generation of additional revenue. FSM organizations should evaluate solutions that include all required capabilities on the same platform — from scheduling and execution to virtual collaboration and graphical information systems. A unified platform reduces the IT effort necessary to implement and maintain the solution, versus using multiple third-party applications — one of many ways Field Service Management technology can improve customer experience while minimizing burdens on those providing the service.
Thus, the most effective approach to gain efficiency (and, by extension, reduce costs) is by enabling technician jobs to be performed more easily, faster, and with greater safety. In addition to the key aim of efficiency gain, empowering field technicians to better perform their jobs also reduces call center burden and imbues field service organizations’ customers with greater confidence in the company’s capability and aptitude.
A comprehensive FSM solution can help organizations navigate employee turnover, acting as a connectivity and training resource for both veteran and novice employees. Greater efficiency derives from routing/travel optimization (Fig. 1) and more effective mobile tools (e.g., graphical information displayed on a screen, from manuals and diagrams to service history).
Fig. 1 — Depiction of daily field service plan analysis using OverIT solutions
Virtual collaboration technology helps technicians of all experience levels to better diagnose issues or to solve them remotely. The effectiveness of virtual collaboration is further enhanced by using artificial intelligence (AI) to predict which parts may be required to fix an asset or to complete a job, leading to higher first-time fix rates, maximizing uptime, and cutting costly repeat visits. AI-enhanced virtual collaboration also can facilitate a frictionless self-service approach, drastically minimizing incoming phone calls/emails/chats to the contact center and, in some scenarios, eliminating the need to send a technician on-site (Fig. 2).
2 — Depiction of virtual collaboration using OverIT solutions
This approach also codifies the collection and storage of organizational knowledge: when a field technician encounters and resolves a novel customer problem, the focus shifts to making that knowledge accessible to the next technician who needs it. This can be accomplished by giving technicians access to a comprehensive service history of each site, providing contacts capable of sharing guidance, and ensuring technicians know the info exists and how/where to access it.
Also, by tracking customer and asset health trends using Digital Twins, Field Service Management technology informs more accurate forecasting of time periods when additional workforce capacity may be required to meet demand for services. In turn, this helps FSM organizations decide when it may be advantageous to hire a full-time employee or to use external contractors.
Implementation of FSM technology should be viewed more as a business process change than a software purchase that will provide a one-time boost in efficiency. For example, many of our customers are interested in augmented reality-based (AR) technology (e.g., virtual diagrams). Those provide significant value, but it takes time to identify and design AR models, and to train field technicians to be comfortable in their use.
Instead, identify and focus first, perhaps, on critical asset types or work order types that contribute most to stunted efficiency at your organization, or result in the highest volume of hazards and emergencies. Being able to pinpoint the greatest sources of inefficiency can greatly reduce the technology’s timeline to a tangible ROI, as well as lead to the discovery of future applications.
1. Segalotto, Jean-Francois, et al. “IDC MarketScape Worldwide Field
Service Management Solutions for Utilities 2022 Vendor Assessment,” IDC Marketscape, January 2022. IDC # US47455521. https://www.idc.com/getdoc. jsp?containerId=US47455521&pageType=PRINTFRIENDLY
2. Robinson, Jim, and Wallin, Leif-Olof. “Gartner Magic Quadrant for Field Service Management 2022,” October 2022. ID G00758313. https://www.gartner.com/en/ documents/4020406