One thing that gets mentioned on this blog a lot is the fact that service organizations NEED a field service/workforce management solution to gain a competitive edge and keep customers happy. Today however, we are taking a bit of a different approach. We are telling you some trade secrets so read carefully. Selecting the right workforce solution for you isn’t as easy as it sounds. You want to make sure that the solution works for the organization and your employees. With a lot of pesky, persistent software sales guys out there it is sometimes hard to figure out whether you are being served the truth, or a solution based on fabrications, egos and “future plans.” Here are 8 things you should know before you select a workforce solution so keep these in mind as you are wined and dined, and perhaps phone and email harassed by an array of vendors on your path to field service management optimization.
1. Not All Travel Calculations are Equal
All vendors seem to use the term street-level routing but one vendor’s interpretation of this often differs from another. Here’s an example, the best scheduling systems consider the street-level route between multiple jobs when it’s optimizing the schedule. The worst use a simpler method like a matrix or straight-line and then leave the engineer to use Google Maps to understand the street-level route when they have the schedule, which is far less accurate. Yet they all use the jargon “street-level routing,” even if that isn’t REALLY what they do. So ask each vendor to specifically clarify what they mean when they tell you that their product provides you with street level routing.
2. Don’t Believe Everything a Vendor Provided Reference Says
Having a reference is always a nice way to understand how other organizations use the workforce solution you are investigating, but you shouldn’t necessarily take what they have to say at face value. Many references are getting something in exchange for “talking up” their software solution, such as a discounted price. The best way to find out what an organization REALLY thinks about a solution you are looking at is to approach one yourself that you know is using that software. It would be even better to discuss it with one of the project managers over a beer. We are not, of course, in any way promoting unprofessional behavior here…
3. Cloud vs. On-Premise Isn’t the Issue
What matters is what the solution provides and how it fits with your business objectives and goals. In other words, worry about cloud vs. on-premise last. While this decision ultimately affects the budget more than anything else (cloud based solutions tend to be more affordable than on-premise ones), you need to ensure that the solution has the elements you need first, i.e. a device flexible mobile solution, a forecasting tool, etc. Too many companies limit their choice by putting the cloud vs. on-premise decision at the forefront of their list, overlooking a solution that might be perfect for them.
4. A Solution Won’t Help If You Don’t Have the Resources
A solution is only as good as the people who are using it. If you don’t have the right people to implement the solution or enough field techs to execute an optimized schedule, then your solution isn’t going to improve customer service or bring you any ROI. Your organization needs to be READY for an overhaul, from a technical perspective as well as a staffing one.
5. Implementation Has a High Failure Rate
One of the biggest mistakes that organizations make is assuming that a field service management/workforce management solution will only change the way they schedule and manage their field service employees. This is WRONG. Many organizations don’t realize that a FSM/WFM solution changes the way their business operates so they never give it a chance and start interfering. Implementation should be just as much about changing employees’ mentalities and training as it is about the product itself.
6. The ROI of Your Solution is Significantly Based on Mobility
These days, it is not just the scheduling aspect that will give your company the boost it needs and the ROI you are looking for from a software solution in the first place. After all what good is a scheduling solution if it doesn’t actual inform the people it’s scheduling? The mobile aspect of a workforce solution is what provides the increased efficiency, reduced fuel costs, and more often than not, an improvement in customer service as well as better BI insight. This comes from field techs being able to indicate when they start and stop jobs, street level routing provided on mobile devices, upsell apps built into the solution and the ability to take payments and more while on site.
7. Automation Means Things Happen Automatically… So Be Careful of Touchy, Overbearing Dispatchers
If you choose a software solution that provides scheduling automation, the success is based on the fact that things are pushed out automatically based on various values and scenarios. This means it won’t benefit you if these automated processes are constantly being interfered with. Unfortunately this is often the case, particularly with dispatchers that are too used to the old way of doing things, or feel they need more control. Dispatchers often alter or stop automated processes, which will only result in disaster or a waste of your money. Make sure your dispatchers will be given the proper training on how to use your new solution and that they understand how and why the solution works.
8. The Solution Should Fit Realistic Company Goals
Don’t buy into a software solution just because it has all the bells and whistles, because chances are, it doesn’t fit with your company’s vision or goals. Lots of software vendors are eager to show you ALL the elements of their solution, as if the more they can do or the more parts of your business they can infiltrate or claim to “automate,” the better. This isn’t the case. The best solutions focus on solving a few business problems very well. If your goal is to provide your customers with a better experience including a smaller appointment window and online scheduling, find the solution that does this BEST. Make sure you don’t lose sight of what your goals and mission are by what is being sold to you.
We hope we have given you some insight today on the workforce solution shopping process as well as some tips on how to pick the right solution for you. As FSM/WFM experts, it is our mission at RDS to make sure your implementation goes as smoothly and successfully as possible. If you need an expert consultant to help you make this transition, please contact us today. Find out more about what our company can do for you below.