Maintaining efficient Field Service Management (FSM) and customer service when workload varies is always a difficult task.
Preparing for warmer weather means a new set of challenges present themselves. The variability of workloads when the seasons change is something field service organizations across all industries are familiar with.
As the snow melts, a proactive field service leader can make the difference between service disruption and business as usual for customers, by taking time to examine their organization’s ability to manage workload variability effectively. The struggle to balance dependable service, while dealing with safety issues and emergency work that arises, can have a detrimental impact if not well managed.
The first step to tackling workload variability is understanding it. Let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons why these fluctuations happen:
Day of the week or month
Holidays and long weekends can see a decrease in field service employee availability, while workload volume remains stable or increases.
The need to disconnect and reconnect utilities and services increases at the beginning and end of the month, as those are the most popular times to move house. This can create up to a 50% increase in field service work.
Time of year
The temperature and conditions associated with seasonal change have an enormous impact on both the type of work done by field technicians and the amount of work needed. Heating and cooling companies see an obvious increase in work volume in winter and summer respectively, but this higher volume also coincides with an increase in emergency work, such as gas leaks and electrical outages.
As components expand and contract with the changing temperatures, outdoor assets and networks are greatly affected by seasonality. Temperatures also impact field service workers themselves, meaning additional scheduling considerations may be needed to comply with safety regulations.
Extreme weather and emergency work
Summer means heat waves and thunderstorms, winter means freezing temps and blizzards. Unpredictable weather can be a serious scheduling challenge, as it makes effective forecasting and planning exceedingly difficult. It dramatically increases the need for emergency repair work in addition to other demands.
Emergency conditions also often require field service providers to adhere to Federal, State, Provincial, or City regulations. This can further complicate scheduling, due to mandated response times.
Reevaluate your Field Service Management (FSM) solution
* Adopt a blended workforce model, leveraging a mix of permanent full-time and part-time employees along with third-party contractors.
* Negotiate some ﬂexibility into your collective bargaining agreement.
* When workload is lower ensure that there is sufficient “programmable” or “ﬁller” work (i.e., preventative maintenance, system checks, or non-appointment driven work), that is lower priority and can be scheduled in advance, to keep technicians as productive as possible.
* Analyze historical data trends provided from your FSM solution to help forecast when peaks and valleys in your workload volume will likely happen and adapt your schedule accordingly.
* Ensure that marketing efforts are aligned with ﬁeld operations so that promotions and campaigns are timed to coincide with valleys rather than peaks.
* Ensure regular and organized communication between your planning centers and your ﬁeld management.
* Group your planning horizons (i.e., months, 2+ weeks, 1 week out, 2 days out, next day and day of execution); identify unique trends that these planning horizons provide.
Is your organization prepared for spring and summer? Stay on top of workload variability with more FSM expert knowledge and tips, by downloading our new eBook.