ny company that relies on field service engineers to drive profitability is acutely aware that Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are vital to winning new business and retaining contracts. Cost pressures are not unique to the reactive maintenance and call-out service sector. Public-facing facilities management, such as window cleaning, and housing services including refurbishments and public realm improvements are arguably less safety critical. Continually cutting spend does however, leave field operators vulnerable to the issue of reputational risk against quality of service.
Even if a business is certain that it's solved deployment with regular rounds and 24 hour cover, to truly optimise field engineers you’ll need a connected scheduling and route planning platform. Optimised deployment with live field data can stop cost factors continuing to risk service disruption and mitigate damage to satisfaction scores. Here, we look at how to track and manage three costs with a connected engineer diary management software and prevent risk to SLAs and profitability.
CUT FUEL COSTS IN FIELD SERVICE
The average difference in diesel cost for a Volkswagen Transporter van to drive 20K miles in a year?—at least £1000 more versus 2021. When your workload is rising, how is it possible to drive fewer miles and remain productive?
In short, field engineers must be deployed using optimised scheduling and routing, connected with mobile diary software.
How this works in reality:
- Precise appointment location – swapping Post Code/ZIP Codes for geocoded address data
- Appointment type – which engineer skills and parts are required
- Vehicle type and availability – calculating whether engineer transport could be offered by car, van, heavy goods vehicle
- Time of day driving speeds – real-world data to determine if the engineer is likely to be held in traffic with an engine running
- Favouring overlapping work areas – removing engineer ‘patches’ meaning countless alternative schedules are now available
- In-shift re-optimisation – location and progress of connected engineers appear live and can be re-routed within seconds
- Cost-optimised appointments – accounting for these parameters, the platform will determine if the offered window complies or breaks the SLA, leaving the final choice to the dispatch team
Engineers receive their instructions to their connected device
. With mutual agreement this also provides the opportunity for your field force to begin their shifts from home addresses, saving unnecessary fuel use to a head office/depot.
Read more: How Wolf Heating Technology drives 10% fewer miles every year
CUT COSTLY REPEAT APPOINTMENTS
Amongst the most recognised industry SLAs are TTR (time to respond) and TTF (time to fix). Often, these are directly matched to financial penalties. Not achieving these leads to inefficient productive hours and utilisation and increases costs through unforeseen 'recovery' scheduling. What isn’t immediately obvious is at best, the cost to the business spreads into Accounts departments issuing credit notes. At worst, contracts are not renewed.
It's obvious that predictive and scheduled maintenance is not always possible, and some field operators grow their businesses through out-of-hours orders. However, the balance is tipped into cost when a customer's requirement for reasonable business continuity quickly grows into a backlog. SLAs come into focus when a first-time-fix is not achieved. Engineer diary management software will gather and exchange usable data to ensure repeat visits are minimised
, providing transparency and actionable insights for all stakeholders.
How the connected software controls cost:
- The CRM receives a work order either through a call centre or self-service customer portal
- The scheduling platform calculates against company parameters, including engineer skills, parts, time-sensitive SLA
- The algorithm creates availability during the shift and (as the single source of truth) the account notes are fed via the CRM into the dispatch window.
- The scheduler has the option to proceed. They accept the proposal and notify the customer via a push notification
- The engineer is rerouted via their device, automatically supplied a route optimised for the best outcome
- With the diary software, the engineer announces their arrival to stakeholders, and has the account and case history available
- For transparency, a photo of either the completed work, or failed (beyond repair) asset is linked back to the work order and written into the CRM
In this example, the field engineering company has protected their business in two ways. Firstly, they have met the SLA and can be sure that the software produced an optimised result to dispatchers (including fuel savings). Secondly, with immediate evidence of the work undertaken, the customer may be presented with confirmation of a first-time-fix, or that the asset requires replacement and are now unlikely to place another job request (and add cost to your backlog).
Read more: How British Engineering Services achieved a 15% productivity increase