Changes in the demand for field service have required many in the field service space to find new, modern ways to battle the increased challenge of delivering service with a smaller workforce. Technicians from the baby boomer generation are starting to retire, but finding replacements is proving to be very difficult, so more and more, field service organizations are turning to subcontractors and third-party vendors.
According to Aberdeen’s February 2013 survey, 64% of respondents sampled used third-party technicians to at least complete some percentage of daily field service tasks, and the trend has only continued to go upward as more and more service technicians retire. With customer demands increasing and a lack of talented technicians, field service organizations are outsourcing as much work as they can to third-party vendors and subcontractors to meet the demand and stay competitive, with some organizations going full-subcontractors, as opposed to hiring full-time employees.
What does it take to succeed with subcontractors as part of your workforce? It’s a risk to hire someone from outside your organization who doesn’t know your values, objectives, and processes, so it can be risky to book contract work out. But that’s a risk many in the field service space are willing to take, and with the aid of field service software, many organizations are developing new strategies to support a third-party workforce.
Invest in Mobile Field Service Software
The first process many are taking to support a third-party workforce and subcontractors is to use mobile field service software with a field service mobile app. This is done to offer greater visibility into the daily actions of the subcontractor, while also improving communications, data collection, service delivery, and standards. With a mobile app, subcontractors are able to have work orders pushed to their mobile device, which speeds up service times, as a manually produced paper copy doesn’t need to be sent to them. With the work order can come specific instructions to follow, processes to follow and give the subcontractor access to the information they need in the field to complete their service call. Mobility is a must have when dealing with a third-party workforce, and rightfully should be established to produce the best results, both financially, and by customer expectations.
Develop a Standardized Process
Customers expect great service, no matter who is coming to their location. Whether it’s a full-time technician or one that has been subcontracted out, they want to know that the repair is going to be completed to the highest of standards. That should be a top priority of any field service organization and would require their process of service delivery to be streamlined that so that no matter who is attending the service call, they are delivering the same service across the board. One way of accomplishing this is through advanced checklists, which can be pushed with a work order to the mobile app for subcontractors to follow. These processes can be designed in the field service software so that every technician, whether full-time or third-party, is using the same processes, making it the standardized practice for service and ensures quality every time a technician is dispatched.
Plan for Future Demand
Field service organizations who are feeling the pinch of a retiring workforce already know the struggles of trying to schedule their limited technician workforce. They also know, it can get much worse if they don’t look into the future and plan ahead. Demand today does not equal demand tomorrow, and while demand in the field service space continues to rise, technician numbers continue fall. So, field service organizations are having to forecast their future and how many service calls they will be handling and having to decide if they have enough technicians to fulfill those orders. It’s why Business Intelligence, analytical and reporting tools are critical to have in a field service software because service managers can forecast their future demand quickly to be better prepare for the future.
Make Data Accessible Across the Organization
If you’re going to extend the service chain to third-party vendors, they need access to information, just as much as your in-house technicians do. The entire workforce must have the ability to access service history, parts and inventory, and be able to capture customer, product and equipment information easily and seamlessly transfer it back to the head office. Field service mobile apps make it easy for the exchange of information to happen, while a mobile field service software ensures all information is accessible by any technician. This is also great when working in groups, as technicians can leave notes for subcontractors and work in collaboration with their third-party vendors, as opposed to against them.
Use Field Service Software to Manage Subcontractors
To a dispatcher, there should be little difference between an in-house technician and a subcontractor. They are all on the same team and should be easily dispatched to a job site with the proper information they need. Using a field service management software ensures subcontractors are onboarded properly, so that they become a full member of the team and are just as easily dispatched like a technician would. They can be included in skill set and territory searches and be scheduled by the same drag and drop system used for in-house technicians.
The difference is, subcontractors require vouchers to be created for payment, based on their service rates. With field service software, that can be automated so that when a subcontractor is selected, their service rates are applied to the work order, and upon closing the service call, a voucher can be immediately created for payment. Receiving swift payment will keep the subcontractor happy and ensure they continue to do exceptional work for your organization.
It’s a new world in the field service space, one where technicians and subcontractors are working side by side. They need the same tools, the same information and the same processes to ensure successful service delivery. Field service software is ensuring they get all of those things, while giving the organization a platform in which build their new workforce together.