22 October 2020

Three key questions about smart workflow automation for facility management service providers

In the modern world of business, we expect everything to be digital and connected. In reality, many service providers still struggle with automating their operations.

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

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

The answers to these questions will help service providers define the next steps towards a digitalised and automated maintenance process. This ultimately creates efficiencies, saves money, increases customer satisfaction, and encourages 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 packages for reactive maintenance, planned maintenance, cleaning, and other services? And how often do you need to combine these offerings, resulting in bespoke pricing?

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

Who are our clients?

When onboarding a new client, a service provider often needs to conduct an assessment of their 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 specific requirements. 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 need to make a proposal before starting work, depending on the type of work, whether the expected costs are above a certain threshold, or even included in the existing contract. It can also help in calculating the rate for different types of work, travel duration or execution outside working hours. This helps you to automatically invoice the correct amount for work performed based on agreed rates.

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 skill sets, can be particularly challenging for service providers. To answer this question effectively, you need to know what experience and certifications your skilled labour has, who is still in training, who are the experts, what working schedules people are 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, route and contract rates.

Putting it all together

Consider the benefits of one software platform with all this information – a software platform that centralises the relationships and contracts you have with customers. It can help digitalise and modernise your maintenance efforts by automating the creation of proposals, assignment of work, and invoicing processes.

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.