How to improve field service planning and productivity using existing data?
Another year is done and dusted. For many field ops managers, the New Year signifies new beginnings. And the focus swiftly shifts to the future. Along with questions like “how can we improve field service planning this year?” Improvement for the year ahead is on everyone’s agenda. But that doesn’t mean forgetting the past. On the contrary.
By looking at historical business data and asking questions, field managers can better understand their operations,. They can make more accurate estimations, plan better, and significantly improve performance. Let’s take a look at a few ways to use historical data and run a tighter, more profitable ship.
Is your glass half full or half empty?
As captains of their field service teams, operations managers are responsible for ensuring work is completed on time. Also for ensuring everything is on budget, and to a good standard. Knowing whether you tend to be optimistic or pessimistic when estimating timelines, costs, and resources can help you adjust your estimations. To reflect actual values and prevent a negative impact on operations.
So, before you delve into your existing data, we encourage you to note down your instinctive answers to questions you address when planning. Such as: “How many hours do you need for a new construction?” Or, “How much does a repair typically cost/generate in revenue?” Then look at the actual values in your reports to learn if you have an optimism bias. For example, if you think a new construction takes five days but actually takes seven, you may consider adding a margin to your estimates for this project type.
Help your field team meet fluctuating demand
Meeting SLAs, providing high quality service regardless of demand. Also having a happy field team are all top priorities for field service managers. To meet customer expectations and optimize revenue, field teams need to be reactive rather than proactive. Field operations managers need a good idea about the amount and type of work that lies ahead and their capacity to handle it.
Service history data, such as number of hours logged for a given time period, can help you understand your team’s output speed and more accurately predict demand for your services. We encourage you to identify any trends. And to ask questions related to service demand. For example, the type of work clients mostly request. Or the number of hours your team requires to complete the various services.
In Expert Service Solutions (ESS) Mobile Office Manager, customers can view this information on a project by project basis or as a department as a whole, where you can see hours spent per job type (e.g., new construction, recurring, repair) over a defined time period.
You may also note any spikes or dips and investigate the reason for them. For example, external factors like seasonality and the weather. Or internal ones like marketing campaigns or technical issues. This will help you understand how such events can affect demand and better prepare for them.
Make more accurate financial projections
Creating a fiscal budget is essential for projecting costs and controlling spending. Operations managers often have KPIs tied to budgetary goals. So it’s important to be as accurate as possible when projecting future budgets (revenue and costs).
In particular, budget variance data (the difference between your predicted budget and actual values) can help you make more informed and accurate budget estimations for the month, quarter, or year ahead. It can give you insight into performance across different business areas, how performance varies from one variable (such as time period or region) to another, and the reasons for any variance.
In Mobile Office Manager, the Budget vs. Actual Budget report gives you a global view of budget variance across your operations and also allows you to drill down into data at the project level so you can pinpoint the reason for any variance (i.e., difference between projected budget and actual budget). For example, did you go over budget because there was an issue with equipment? Once you understand the reason for variance, you can seek remedial action to prevent reoccurance, and be better informed when making future budget estimations.
Plan better for unexpected service requests
While it’s difficult to predict unscheduled work, looking at historical data and asking relevant questions can help you reduce the chances of it occurring.
Prevention is better than a cure. Based on historical service data, you could ask questions to help determine when elevators start playing up and offer preventative maintenance contracts to help prevent emergency callouts, like an elevator breaking down mid-service.
But no matter how well you take care of your elevators, unexpected events and emergencies are unavoidable and you must be prepared. Analyzing emergency ticket data, for example, can give insight into how you handle these events and help you predict your team’s future response (like response times and recovery times).
Look beyond the organization
It’s important to look beyond your company, to the elevator industry. Even further, to the economy, to see which external factors may impact operations. Make sure to take your findings into account when planning for the year ahead.
For example, how is predicted elevator market growth in your region looking for the next few years? Should the economy do better this year than previous years? If growth is good and the economy is stronger, you could consider increasing your workforce to meet an anticipated increased demand, for example.
A final word
We’ve only touched on a few of the many ways you can use data to make predictions, improve planning, and enhance your elevator field service operations. We hope to inspire field managers to become more curious about their data. And also more data-driven in their approach to operational planning. Because those who understand their past performance can better plan for the future and optimize their chances of success.
See for yourself how ESS solutions can help you improve the performance of your field operations. Try out Mobile Office Manager for free today.