Smart Ways To Implement Task Automation For Field Service Businesses

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Operations have always been costly for field service businesses. The key to becoming more cost-efficient is striking the right balance between order management and efficient workflow.

When it comes to business operations improvement, it’s helpful for field service companies to adopt smart modern technologies. This will allow them to transform their processes for not only their team members but also all key stakeholders, including clients. One way field service businesses can become more cost-efficient with the help of modern technology is by using automation software, like this one from Jobber.

Automation systems bring many benefits to a field service company––from increased productivity and efficiency to improved client experience. As a result, it makes a field service business more cost-efficient and sustainable. That’s why it’s been reported that at least 75% of organizations engaging in field service operations will automate their processes in the next couple of years. (1) Automating field service operations is more than replacing paperwork, though. The best automation strategies trigger the next steps automatically and support collaboration.

Unsure how to implement automation in your field service business? Here are the top five ways you can do it for optimal efficiencies and cost-saving in your business:

  1. Automate route planning for more optimized field service routes

The automation of route planning to minimize drive time is one way field service organizations can take advantage of automation.

Route planning is crucial since any slip in the schedule delays work completion. This is where automation comes in and is a highly valuable business asset. A route planning automation system considers historical and real-time traffic information to plan schedules out as efficiently as possible. (2)

Optimizing routes through route planning automation offers several direct and indirect benefits to a field service provider, like the following:

  • Increased efficiency
  • Significant fuel savings
  • Enhanced profitability

Automating route planning using a field service software system allows companies to keep managers in the loop, too. That’s because most field service automation apps use GPS trackers. Such a useful tool oversees on-field workers’ operations, providing field service managers precise details about the field workforce’s current location, distance from the job site, and actual arrival time. These pieces of information come in handy when there’s a need to assign urgent work to a nearby technician. (2)

  1. Customize and pre-program workflows

One of the biggest benefits of using automation software is customization and the ability to pre-program workflow and make it digital. Also, most field service systems allow administrators to directly send job details as part of a customized workflow to the field worker’s mobile device even before a technician reaches the job site. There’s also an option to upload everything to the system so the field workforce can access vital information, such as contact numbers, service history, the tools required, and the optimal route to the job site while on the go. (2)

Also, with a customized, pre-programmed workflow, field technicians no longer have to bring and read through thick instruction manuals or memorize complex troubleshooting steps. Instructions can now be accessed through field service apps and can even be supplemented by interactive schematics and how-to videos. This improves efficiency and ensures that the field workforce can promptly take care of client needs, keeping downtime as short as possible.

Furthermore, since a central information database already exists, technicians can now have the flexibility to update processes with more efficient steps on the fly. This allows field workers to solve the problem even quicker the next time they encounter it.

  1. Automatically assign or reassign jobs based on different factors

It’s already mentioned how field service management systems automate route planning and keep managers in the loop. This makes it possible to assign any urgent task to a nearby technician. It’s called dynamic scheduling.

Apart from proximity, many field service automation apps can assign or reassign jobs to a team member based on other factors, such as skillset, availability, and job priority. These factors can be pre-set so a specific job order always goes to the most suitable technician for the task. Such functionality is especially useful if there’s a need for reassignment because something gets in the way of the assigned technician, preventing them from getting into the site on time. (2)

Yes, it’s great to have a pre-program workflow, but the need to reassign a job is often unavoidable in this industry.

  1. Streamline field data collection and sharing

Many field service organizations document the before and after by capturing photos of the site, issues identified, specific tasks completed, and parts used. It’s normally a fairly lengthy process since technicians have to email their supervisor after taking a photo and marking it up.

The good news is that the entire data collection and sharing process can actually be automated. With a field service automation system, the field workforce’s photos taken using their mobile devices get instantly routed to the right back-end systems and people. (2)

A streamlined field data collection and sharing process improves efficiency. It also goes a long way towards enhancing a field service company’s accuracy. This is because when data collection and sharing can be done easily and are tacked on technicians’ mobile devices, managers are kept informed of every step instantly. As a result, the managers can also make well-informed decisions every step of the way.

  1. Automate external communications or reporting

Field service providers can also extend the automation of tasks to their external stakeholders. After all, field service automation programs aren’t designed to serve only field technicians, managers, or internal back-end systems.

For instance, the field information collected can also be routed to partners, clients, vendors, and regulatory agencies in real-time to keep them in the loop, making it possible to improve collaboration and manage expectations. (2)

Another way companies can automate external communication is when something gets in the way of the assigned technician, which will keep them late for an appointment. The automation software should be able to detect delays automatically based on a specific work order’s location and set time. The system notifies the manager, who’ll then automatically call the client of the delay or schedule/technician change. There’s no reason not to send a status notification to clients in today’s age of customers. In fact, it’s the quickest way to improve customer experience in a field service business.

Final Thoughts

With all the benefits that automation brings, it’s increasingly compelling to use field service automation and management software in a field service business. In fact, virtually every industry is now moving towards it.

Task automation in the field service industry is the cherry on the cake no more. Today, it’s a must-have tool for survival. That’s because quick and efficient service delivery can be the difference between you and competitors in today’s highly competitive market.

References:

  1. “Critical Capabilities For Field Service Management”, Source: https://www.gartner.com/en/documents/3989848/critical-capabilities-for-field-service-management
  2. “7 Ways Field Service Automation Can Improve Your Business”, Source: https://www.fool.com/the-blueprint/field-service-automation/

 

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