Effectively managing a field services team and a fleet of vehicles as large as ours comes with its own challenges. It can easily become a logistical nightmare, or it can be a chance to leverage technology in ways that afford a huge payoff. For GoodCents® program managers, the best way to keep our teams on target is through capturing and consolidating the vast quantities of data generated by in-vehicle devices, as well as the mobile devices used for data entry in the field. To do this, we utilize integrated software programs that help us transform this data into vital intelligence.
GPS technology, for instance, helps us optimize scheduling and routing, reducing wear and tear on vehicles as well as cutting fuel costs. Fleet and workforce management systems data can shed light on the critical operational changes needed to boost productivity.
Using technology and software to streamline effectiveness offers significant savings. A study by NDP Consulting found that GPS technology produces 11 percent savings in labor costs, 13 percent in fuel and 13 percent in vehicle maintenance and repair. In addition, field research has shown that workforce management software can increase productivity by more than 10 percent and dispatch efficiency by more than 20 percent.
What follows are three best practices that have helped GoodCents® optimize our field services teams:
- Optimize scheduling and enhance routing. Rather than spend time poring over maps to plan efficient routes only to have everything thrown off by a customer that isn’t home or an emergency service call, try a more streamlined approach: an automated routing system integrated into field management software. It can deal with traffic jams, unexpected detours and complex scheduling coordination. Workforce management systems have become increasingly reliable and sophisticated, giving program managers and dispatchers visibility into the work schedules and activities of their field workers. When combined with fleet management software, this dynamic software duo has helped us react quickly and reduce labor costs by assigning in-day worker schedules based on real-time information.
Enhanced routing is more than just finding the shortest distance—it also takes hourly, daily and even seasonal traffic patterns, road construction, and proximity between customer locations and crew shifts into consideration. Moreover, route optimization can surprisingly quickly generate ROI on technology investments and can even be instrumental in mitigating poor driver behavior. An integrated system gives you many eyes on the field, enabling dispatchers to see the big picture in order to make informed scheduling decisions.
- Be nimble on the fly. Meanwhile, there always seems to be a wrench thrown in even the best-laid plans. Roads close, emergencies arise, priorities shift. An automatic routing program empowers our dispatch team to make smarter choices about who can respond and how best to get them there quickly. “The unexpected” doesn't have to be such a big hassle—it can be simply a minor blip. Schedules are easily readjusted and work reassigned to ensure quality service, worker productivity and, best of all, increased productivity and customer satisfaction.
- Keep connected. There’s a direct correlation for GoodCents® between delivering excellent service and how we collect, digest and act on field data. GPS systems have a huge impact on the quality of service that our field services teams deliver. As part of a comprehensive strategy, GPS navigation and vehicle tracking and workforce management solutions provide our program managers with valuable insights about vehicle use, staff behavior and dispatcher efficiency. Routing records and daily logs translate into enhanced operations, whereas inefficient driver or manager routing errors can be quickly identified and mitigated.
GPS Technology also helps keep our employees safe, which is our #1 priority. In case of emergency, the live GPS feed can quickly pinpoint vehicle locations. The driver behavior data can provide coaching opportunities for safe driving.
Our customers benefit from a more efficient and safer field team. Better data allow managers to measure and improve performance. Customers receive quality and on-time services as a result.