Routing is at the heart of field service. On the most basic level, it shows technicians where to go and when, and helps operations managers monitor job progress.
The routing and scheduling of service vehicles significantly impacts every aspect of operations, including the quality of customer service, employee satisfaction, and revenue. So, it’s in the best interests of field service businesses to get routing and scheduling right.
Yet planning optimal routes is complex. It involves juggling a ton of variables: strict timeframes, customer locations, technicians’ workload, and more. And you have to be prepared to adjust schedules for any changes that crop up throughout the working day, like emergency call-outs. The process can be long and cumbersome.
At Expert Services Solutions, we developed a route builder feature to offer a more intuitive way to build routes and help our customers save time on admin and on the road. Let’s take a closer look at route building in ESS.
What is the ESS route builder?
The route builder is a feature of our Mobile Office Manager ERP for field service professionals. It enables field operations managers and technicians to plot, modify, and view service routes easily on an interactive map.
What’s in it for field operations teams?
1. Automatically see your tickets plotted on a map
For field teams, visual map tools like Google Maps are indispensable. They not only serve as a direction tool, they also calculate the best route and give real-time visibility into field operations. This is key to saving time on the road and servicing a large number of customers as quickly as possible.
To use maps for your field service operation, firstly you need to import your ticket data into the map. Often, this is done manually—i.e., you would copy every single location over from a spreadsheet into your map. This isn’t efficient, and becomes even less so the more customers and technicians you have. Frankly, your valuable time could be put to better use.
The ESS route builder imports ticket data from Mobile Office Manager and Mobile Service into Google Maps so you don’t have to. This means you only have to input your job data once into your ERP and it will automatically appear on your team’s map. So anytime you or your team create a new ticket or modify an existing one, everyone can see the change on the map right away.
2. Quickly spot opportunities to reduce travel time
Due to the nature of field work, technicians spend much of their time travelling from one customer to another. Transportation (i.e., vehicles and fuel) is a significant cost for field service operations that use vehicles for travel. Plus, the more time technicians spend driving, the less they have for customers.
The route builder gives you insights so you can optimize routes, significantly minimize road time, and reduce transportation costs. As each technician’s route is color-coded, you can easily spot room any locations that would be better served by a closer technician. Then, make any necessary adjustments, like assigning a different technician to the job, or switching up the order in which tickets are seen to.
Screenshot: Each color represents a different route. In this example, an operations manager could consider optimizing the yellow and lilac routes to cut down travel time. Locations are widely dispersed (jobs are at the northernmost and southernmost points).
3. Improve work distribution with scenario templates
For field ops managers, distributing tickets fairly across the field team is a huge part of running a successful operation. It can help ensure employees have enough work to stay busy, yet not so much that they wind up stressed, or compromising the quality of service. But knowing where to make changes without compromising employee satisfaction is challenging.
The route builder comes with templates that help users ensure an even distribution of work across their remote workforce. Specifically, the tool offers the flexibility to simulate different scenarios so you can make changes to your current routes and immediately see the impact. For example, you can see the impact on employee hours and revenue when you distribute the workload from one route across a number of other routes.
Screenshot: This example shows the impact of redistributed workload. The left-hand table shows the impact on hours, billing, etc.; the right-hand side shows the new route.
4. Monitor ticket status in real time
To get job status updates, field ops managers would traditionally have to communicate with their service technicians, by cell or email, for example. Here, a couple of issues arise: technicians aren’t always available, these conversations take time, and as the number of jobs increases, the more difficult it becomes to keep track.
Route planner’s GPS tracker enables you to track work progress in real time. At a glance, you know the exact location of your technicians, and you can see which tickets are waiting to be picked up, which are in progress, and which are completed. That way, you can rest in the knowledge that customers are being serviced on time, or intervene where necessary.
The route builder is a feature of MOM, our ERP for business management teams. Sign up for a free trial of MOM and start optimizing your service routes today.