Field Service Scheduling: The Options for Your Business

Blog, SMB

Last updated Nov 2, 2023 at 7:26PM | Published on Mar 20, 2019 | Blog, SMB

Efficient scheduling is essential to the success of any field service organization. It’s how things like travel times are decreased, while the number of service calls are increased. It’s finding ways to shave off travel time, miles, gas usage and idle times and replacing it with a system that is more productive. An organization that is mobilizing a workforce to deliver service has to think of the best ways that workforce can be scheduled. How do you get technicians from job to job in the least amount of time to increase their productivity?

For some, they need a simple system to help get technicians from job to job. For others, it’s a choice that includes skill sets, certifications, workload balance, mileage, service level agreements and completion times. Simply put, it’s not easy for some field service organizations to schedule their workforce. They need assistance in optimizing, routing, and scheduling to meet customer expectations and business goals.

There are many directions a field service organization can take, from a basic field service mobile app solution with GPS tools, to an enhanced routing system inside a field service scheduling software. Depending on the size of your organization and the scope of your work, what you need can be different than someone else. So, it’s important to plan how you want dispatching and scheduling to be performed in your organization and choose the field service management solution that best fits your needs.

Simple Field Service Scheduling

Some field service organizations put their trust in their technicians to figure out their routes and schedules. Often, technicians are handed the same customers they are familiar with, or work orders in the same geographical area. From there, it’s up to them to get themselves from job site to job site and make all their calls. Using GPS-based navigation systems, they get turn-by-turn directions that is typically built into their mobile device.

While this form of field service scheduling can work for smaller service organizations, there are many variables at play that can affect service. For starters, it’s giving your technicians another job to complete, as they have to become their own dispatcher and scheduler. It’s up to them to figure out the order in which they complete service calls, how to get there, and when to show up. That’s inefficient at its core, as technicians should be concerned with their job, not the planning of their routes, how many miles they are driving and traffic conditions.

It can be especially harmful to your customers, because with the technicians making the schedule as they go, when they arrive at a job site is up to them. Customers will just have to wait until the technician gets there based on nothing more than a technician’s decision of what is best. In the case of emergencies or when contract stipulations are in effect, this could lead to missed service agreements and lost customers.

When a technician is handed a stack of work orders to complete in a day, without proper scheduling it could also mean longer hours and overtime to get all the work completed. These overrun costs can dramatically eat profits and revenue from the business, whereas a field service scheduling software will help to minimize the leakage of revenue due to poor scheduling techniques.

Managing the Complexity of Field Service Scheduling

When service becomes complex, scheduling and dispatching get more complex with it. There are plenty of decisions to make when trying to dispatch a work order before a technician even hits the road.

  • Where is the work order located?
  • Is there any preventative maintenance contract obligation to meet?
  • Does the technician need to have a specific skill set or certification?
  • What’s the nature of the repair and can a less experienced technician take on the call?
  • How long will the call take?

That’s just some of the questions that go through a dispatcher’s mind when trying to schedule work orders. There are plenty more, as it’s a very complex job when taking into consideration customer expectations and business goals. It’s why field service management software with advanced scheduling tools is growing in popularity. At the very core, dispatchers are getting more information to help make these important decisions. Technician schedules for the day, week and month can be accessed using a calendar feature. It’s here where dispatchers can make decisions to better optimize their schedule to reduce downtime.

With field service mobile apps, changes to the technician’s schedule happen on their mobile device. Since they aren’t making scheduling decisions, they follow the work orders as scheduled for them. This eliminates idle times that technicians have, as dispatchers can fill in the gaps in their schedule with additional work. It’s also a system to ensure the right technician is selected using a skill set search. This ensures the right technician with the right skills is set, eliminating a second call because the wrong technician was dispatched.

Dynamic Field Service Scheduling

The exact opposite of having your technicians plan their route is your dispatcher planning it for them. As conditions change, dispatchers can react and make changes to affect the routes technicians take. With field service scheduling software, dispatchers now have a dynamic resource routing tool to get technicians from Point A to Point B to Point C. But that might not be the best route. In same cases, the best route is Point A to Point C to Point B, and with field service management software, decisions are being made for dispatchers in regard to the best routes. This cuts down travel times, the gas usage of technicians and gets them to job sites faster.

When you start to reduce the inefficiencies, you increase opportunities at more revenue through greater production. You are meeting your customer expectations laid out in service level agreements and keeping customers happy. Technicians are staying off the roads more than they have to be and you’re finding more time to add more work orders to their schedule.

A field service management software that has the ability to select the right technician with the right skill set for service work, and then get them to the locations in an optimized fashion will have the best return on investment. The long-term impact by introducing field service scheduling software is reducing expenses and inefficiencies and increasing opportunities and productivity. A successful field service organization can do plenty with those takeaways from field service software and turn their business into a dynamic field service machine.