Stay on Track and Be on Time With FSM Scheduling Tools

Stay on Track and Be on Time With FSM Scheduling Tools

It can be a cliche to talk about how important time is to your life, but there are huge elements of truth to it. Since time is a precious, non-renewable resource, there’s much research on how successfully using time is the key to personal happiness.

Successfully using time is also a key to field service organization happiness. Here’s why.

If you were to make a list of the 10 things that irritate your customers the most, how far down the list would you get before you had something about scheduling or technicians being late for appointments? With most FSOs we work with, it’s a top two or three concern of their clients. Almost nothing annoys a customer more than waiting a long time for a technician.

Now, you won’t always be perfect in this regard. Heavy traffic happens. Car accidents happen. Presidents come to your town. There are dozens of reasons why your technicians might be late for an appointment — and oftentimes, you don’t have control over them.

That’s why you need to assume control over the areas you can.

If you use Field Service Management scheduling tools, you come much closer to this reality.

FSM scheduling tools allow you to see all your technicians’ schedules on one interactive grid. If a new urgent customer call comes in, you know where all your techs are — so you can reroute the one closest to the new need. If inventory is needed for a new job, you can route a technician closest to the inventory center. Because they all have GPS on their devices and in their trucks, you can also guide them away from traffic snarls.

All that is internal — that’s how you deal with your technicians and their schedules and the adjustments that often need to be made.

The other major advantage of these tools is external, or how you deal with your customers.

If you have an app or another mobile aspect to your business (which you definitely should, but that’s a topic for another post), you can send push notifications and messages to customers about adjusted technician arrival times. If it’s going to be much later than they expected, you can call them and then send a message explaining the situation. The customer might still be frustrated, but it will be a lot better than a technician arriving 5 hours late with no context.

Schedule mix-ups are a mess for everyone. Controlling them is all about effective communication and using the technology at your disposal. FSM scheduling tools allow you to do both without distracting your employees from other business functions.

FSM scheduling tools are just one reason to buy FSM software, but we understand it can get costly. If you’re a small business with limited resources, this is even more true. We put together a checklist of reasons (and rationales) to help you convince your boss about the value of FSM software. Download it now — and if you have any questions about your business model or market, let us know.

6 Steps


FSM Calendar

Use FSM Software Calendar Integration to Keep Your Team Productive

Use FSM Software Calendar Integration to Keep Your Team Productive

Josh Bersin, who works with the talent management team at Deloitte, is considered a ‘thought leader’ in spaces around management, making the most of your people, and general productivity relative to time. He recently wrote a post on his website called “The Art of Doing Less.” He wrote the post after coming back from a meeting with leaders of different industries held in San Francisco. This quote sticks out:

“The most important resource our people have is their time,” said one of the HR leaders from a well known media and technology company. “So what I’ve learned after nearly 20 years in HR, is that we need to do away with almost 75% of the things we do.”

The quote speaks to bigger ideas about time management, and how to make the time you do have at work be the most productive it can be.

If you run an electrical field service management shop, you likely have a lot going on. There are recurring client requests as well as urgent client requests. In addition to making sure your electricians are on point and making all of their appointments, you need to be managing new leads, invoicing, your CRM, etc. It can become overwhelming, especially in busier months.

There are also a lot of moving parts in your electrical FSO. Some people are out for pockets of time, especially in the summer. The electricians are always in the field. When certain people go on vacation, you lose their functional knowledge for that amount of time. It’s only worse when people leave your shop, especially if they head to a competitor.

How do you keep track of all this?

One of the most effective tools we’ve seen — especially for busy small business electrical FSOs that have limited resources — is field service management software. There are many options on the market right now, but here is one key thing you’ll need to make your electrical FSO more productive: calendar integration.

Why?

For calendar integration, there are two benefits. First, if the electrical FSM software integrates with your existing calendar system (Outlook, Google, etc.), that’s a big win in terms of set-up. Second, everyone’s calendar is laid out onto a main calendar that everyone else can see. So you can look at the grid ahead of time — it’s colorful, too! — and see when people will be out of office and what the electricians’ schedules look like. It allows you to identify potentially problematic areas around low staffing, or see where revenue dips may be happening (determined by fewer clients).

These issues relate to making your FSO more productive. Some people view that as a six-month or longer project. We’ve got a “hack” for you. We can help you get there in 30 days. Yep! Just a month. Are you interested? We put this information into an eBook, which you can download now. The path to productivity in electrical FSM is part of the path to revenue, so check it out today. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

30 Days eBook


Increasing Productivity

A Four-Step Process to Increasing Productivity & Effectiveness

A Four-Step Process to Increasing Productivity & Effectiveness

Building a field service management business is hard — and remember, the building of said business is only a portion of your life. You still have friends and family to consider, as well as yourself. How do you balance it all?

Here’s an idea on personal productivity and happiness from Stewart Friedman, who teaches at UPenn’s Wharton Business School. He believes there are four essential domains to life:

Work
Home
Community
Self
A ‘Four-Way Win’ is when you integrate the areas to an extent, and then make a tweak that essentially benefits all of them. Simple in thought, right? Harder in execution. (Here’s another Friedman article on designing Four-Way Win experiments.)

In 2005, Friedman’s team analyzed 300 business professionals and the results are within this graph:

So the basic result, then, is like this:

Think of the four areas
Align your actions and your values with those four areas in mind
As a result, you’ll likely think less about work and see increased satisfaction and performance in all areas

Cool, right?

Friedman himself lists the barriers to seeking Four-Way Wins as:

Fear
Ignorance
Guilt

That’s a logical list of impediments to balancing out your life, and many business leaders can be guilty of all three as they try to grow their concept into a revenue-producer. The key is to minimize the problem areas.

If you take the Friedman work on face value, then all you’re trying to do is align the four areas. You don’t necessarily have to prioritize work less; you just need to bring it into a context with the other three areas. Here’s how Friedman himself summarizes:

Barriers to creating meaningful changes in where you focus your attention — your most precious resource — are real, and there are ways to surmount them. Take action that’s within your control and that you believe will benefit the people who matter most to you in all the different parts of your life, gather data on your impact, and continually adjust so you’re increasingly able to do what’s good for you and for them. Your mindset will shift as you start to see more opportunities for realistic four-way wins. You just have to look for them, as a leader, in all parts of your life, by doing the basics: Envision a better future and bring others along with you.

The last line is awesome: Envision a better future and bring others along with you.

Shouldn’t we all be chasing that?

This requires work on your part: figure out what you want to focus on, how you want to track it, how you want to evaluate it, etc. You need to do that and, in the process, take time away from answering e-mails from stakeholders and the like. (It won’t hurt your business. It will just make you a bit more well-rounded.) It’s challenging. But if you even remotely believe those satisfaction/performance numbers, why not try?

To find out how to make your team more productive, download our eBook here.


Paperless Organization

8 Steps to a Paperless Field Service Organization

8 Steps to a Paperless Field Service Organization

Why should your field service organization consider going paperless?

In 2016, many field service organizations are moving to a more fluid, paperless, mobile-and-cloud-based operations model. Before you begin the same journey, though, it’s important to understand why it needs to happen.

First off, and somewhat comically: storing tons (literally) of paper-based invoices, manuals, and other field service data can literally collapse your office, as happened with the North Carolina Department of Veterans Affairs.

In general, though, going paperless should help improve:

Information Access
Spare Parts and Inventory Management
Task Management
Field Access Management
Invoicing and Work Orders
Scheduling

Going completely paperless may be an impossibility for some field service organizations right now, but embracing a paperless field service mindset is crucial. In the last 5-10 years, it’s shifted from a ‘nice to have’ business element to a ‘need to have’ business element for many of your clients.

How can your organization go paperless?

There are numerous tips and tricks, including:

Start with a focus on electronic invoicing: This leads to more effective invoicing, less potential for human error, and can create a bottom line boost as a result.
Make it less convenient to print at every desk: Simply shifting away from a ‘printer on every desk’ model to a ‘one major centralized printer and credits per employee’ will increase the rate of paperless and mobile adoption.
Build easy-to-access PDF manuals: Going paperless for work orders and invoices is a plus, but remember: your field service technicians need access to other elements while on a job. If you turn your manuals into PDF guides and store them via a cloud-based solution, your field service workers can access them from anywhere. Optsy can help with this process, as well as many others.
Develop equipment guides: This is similar to the above; essentially, you want your field service workers able to access all their tools in a paperless format. This will require digitizing equipment guides and turning them into PDFs.
Understand the modern customer: One of the main reasons that paper-driven organizations persisted for so long is that customers often wanted a hard copy of their invoice at the end of a job. Modern customers, though, typically prefer something e-mailed to them — they will subsequently handle how it’s stored or organized on their end. (Everyone wants to go paperless, not just field service organizations!) If you do encounter customers who want hard copies, simply explain that you’ll digitally send them records and they can print them out themselves.
Creative an effective customer-facing portal: Customers want to be able to see the field service technician at every step of the process, from scheduling to final invoice. Optsy will work with you on making sure your portal is easy for customers to understand and access; in the process, we can move toward paperless at every step.
Prioritize inventory alerts: This is a crucial step in the process. With a strong paperless inventory management system, field technicians can track and search parts from their vehicle, as well as being alerted to nearby warehouses or offices that have parts necessary to complete their service orders.
Shift your mentality: There can be an attitude in business around “We’ve always done it that way,” which is dangerous. You may have been a paper-driven organization for decades, with an excellent system for organizing work orders, inventory, invoices, scheduling, and every step of the process.

With mobile becoming omnipresent, customers changing their appreciation of digital, and a faster-paced work environment, you need to embrace processes to help your field service organization go paperless. This will ultimately be better for your bottom line and your relationship with customers. It can seem daunting at first, but Optsy can help. Contact us today to begin discussing potential plans.