24 May 2018

How service providers can automate maintenance management processes

In the modern world of business, we expect everything to be digital and everything to be connected. In reality, many organisations still struggle with automating their operations. This is particularly true for service providers, as their daily processes are complex.

Research - Disruptive information technology trends affecting the facility management service provider industry

In a joint research report with Panorama, Planon discusses the disruptive technology trends in the service provider industry and our insights into the future.

Request report

For most facility management service providers, embracing technology and digitalising their business is nothing new. However, there is still a struggle to automate complex operations. When these service providers want to professionalise their maintenance management processes, there are three vital questions they need to ask themselves.

  1. What do we offer?
  2. Who are our clients?
  3. Who does the work?

By answering these three questions and storing that associated data in a software platform, a service provider can digitalise and automate a lot of maintenance processes. This ultimately creates efficiencies, saves money, increases customer satisfaction, and allows for business innovation. Let’s take a closer look at each of these three questions.

What do we offer?

Most service providers have a standard list of offerings with standard pricing. However, in practice, this can vary widely. Do you have standard services for reactive maintenance, planned maintenance, cleaning services, and other offerings? And how often do you need to combine these services, resulting in different pricing?

When these services are stored in a central location, it becomes easier to create proposals, benchmark customer projects, and drive the efficiency of your service delivery.

Who are our clients?

When onboarding a new client, a service provider often needs to conduct an assessment of the properties, upload BIM and CAD drawings, and collect all sorts of information about the client. But this customer will also have their own unique contract, which can result in different needs.  Therefore, there are two types of client information you should take into account:

  1. Customer facility information: how many buildings, spaces, assets, available sensors, does your client have? And what condition are they in? This information can then be combined with your best practices and generic offerings in order to create the optimal maintenance regime.
  2. Customer contract information: What is included in the contract, what is not? Are there different rates for rush projects or non-contract work? What are the terms (both financial as well as procedural) you agreed on with the customer?

By taking this into account, the system can help you in various ways during the entire process, for example in defining whether you must make a proposal before starting work, based on the type of work or if the expected costs are above a certain threshold, or even included in the existing contract. It can also help in proposing the rate for different types of work, travel duration or execution outside working hours. Further, it supports you in defining whether you can invoice only material usage for certain types of work and it helps you to automatically invoice the correct amount for work performed based on agreed upon rates. And the list goes on…

Who does the work?

Finally, you also need to fully understand who does the work you have been contracted to deliver. Service providers rely on a delicate balance of their own employees and subcontractors to provide these services.

  1. Your own employees: Keeping track of your employee base, including their availability and skillsets, can be particularly challenging for service providers. Especially when you consider that the average employee turnover rate is fairly high for this industry. To answer this question effectively, you need to know what certifications your skilled labour has, who is still in training, who are the experts, what working schedules are people available for and when they are on holiday.
  2. Subcontractors: Due to the variety of business partnerships that exist, managing subcontractors can be just as complicated as managing your own employees. For your subcontractors, you will want to know their rates, availability, response times, and specialisms.

Providing this information to a resource scheduling tool powered by Artificial Intelligence allows it to automatically assign employees and subcontractors based on skills, availability and contract rates. 

Putting it all together

Consider the benefits of one software platform with all this information… a software platform that can interpret and handle all this information automatically based on minimal input. It can help digitalise and modernise your maintenance efforts by automating the creation of proposals, assigning of work, and invoicing of work.

Of course, Planon Universe for Service Providers includes best practice workflows for maintenance management and other processes. But the true innovation and automation comes from having all the base information included in an integrated software platform. From this starting point, each service provider can use their own proprietary business processes.

Marc Wetzelaer
Former General Manager Service Providers