echnical service outsourcing, whether modelled on a long contract or on-demand, has long been a tried-and-tested means to controlling cost and gaining fast access to skills. Indeed, it’s this flexibility that often maintains cash flow in especially seasonal businesses, such as civil engineering projects that require better weather, and domestic demands, such as heating and drainage works in the autumn and winter.
Outsourcing technical field service work comes with its own risk however. From a break-down in communication, to poor overview of third-party quality and efficiency, all can eventually result in damage to the bottom line that’s not immediately obvious. In this post we’ll investigate arguments on both sides of outsourcing practices, and the features that final mile software (often misrepresented as a ‘delivery only’ solution) offers technical field service departments—to mirror the benefits that make outsourcing attractive.
EASILY CONTROL AND MONITOR ARRANGEMENTS
Often seen as a shortcut to cost control, technical service organisations have the option to award reactive maintenance agreements to third parties. This is perceived to eliminate problems with field scheduling and appointment booking flexibility when work orders appear out-of-hours, or worse, when SLAs cannot be met. Suppliers have made promises, your field service dispatch team is depending on their capacity, and they end up in discussions concerning scope, budgets, and administration of chargebacks. Headcount amongst planners is not reduced, time is wasted coordinating tickets and follow-up visits, and managing arrangements creates tension in the contracts department.
Both parties can mitigate risk and promote transparency with final mile software. Without a scheduling platform to consider both in-house and subcontracted scope, skills, and geolocation
, works orders may be postponed, hours are wasted travelling, and tools and spare parts are left behind. Therefore, extending the same final mile mobile app
to subcontracted technicians places these resources directly into your planning. This adds dynamic possibilities such as live availability and AI-powered route planning for the best end-customer outcome. Data is tracked and managed in the platform for paperless writing and reporting back into your CRM and ERP. Pressures are removed from the lead organisation and the outsourced contractor.
SERVICE AND QUALITY TO YOUR STANDARD
With a scheduling and appointment planning platform now providing fresh access to a wider skillset, and final mile tools delivering a live ability to scale on-demand, organisations know that simply ‘being available’ is not enough when risk managing an outsourced field contract. Without final mile software to power field management, customer service teams are in danger of receiving complaints well after an appointment window has passed–and have little means to investigate quality and standards. When outsourced engineer/technician training is not ‘owned’ by the instructing organisation, the reliance on end-customer surveys to highlight technical deficiencies is too great. On average, only around 30% of customers respond. Mismatches make their way to public forums and review sites, and remedial costs escalate.
Final mile software places service and quality automation into the hands of outsourced contractors. Before they arrive, their ‘always-on’ final mile app provides efficient and relevant customer data, including notes of previous works, that may be scaled to match privacy rules. The subcontractor knows where they are driving, using a route automatically configured for the best outcome
, and the customer is notified well in advance of their arrival. This level of detail means the given appointment slot is more realistic (no waiting in a six-hour window). Organisations may set tasks in the app
, such as a requirement to upload a photo of the subcontracted engineer/technician in the correct uniform or PPE.
Time worked is logged and along with any photos of completed work, the customer may digitally sign to show their satisfaction with the visit. This is especially relevant in regulated industries. Data is tracked immediately, with a live head-office view–and issues of field service quality are dealt with before they spiral into confusion. (The owner organisation may still send a customer survey via a self-serve portal