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26 April 2018

Digitalising field service operations? Get started today!

Do you have any idea of the administration costs of handling a service call? And do you have any idea how much time your technicians spend on resolving the issue? If you can’t answer ‘yes’ to these questions, you shouldn’t be unduly worried, as your organisation is definitely not the only one. Digitalisation is your answer.

FAQ - 8 frequently asked questions about mobile solutions and automation for improved maintenance operations
FAQ - 8 frequently asked questions about mobile solutions and automation for improved maintenance operations

In this FAQ, we explore questions many organisations have about improving their maintenance operations, and how Planon’s IWMS and mobile applications can support your organisation in achieving greater maintenance management efficiency and success.

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Research from multiple sources such as Forrester, Gartner and Verdantix shows tangible benefits of the digitalisation of field service operations and management. Think about improving technician productivity by up to 40%, improving service response times by 30%, and reducing travel time and costs by 25%. Despite these significant benefits, not all real estate owners and maintenance managers fully embrace the concept of a digital transformation. Do all technological innovations have to be adopted? And at what price? In many situations, you can still achieve a lot with just a few simple adjustments.

Modern Times meets field service operations

Modern Times is a silent comedy film written and directed in 1936 by Charlie Chaplin, in which his iconic Little Tramp character struggles to survive in the modern, industrialised world. We can extend this parody in adapted form to the present time: Little Tramp is now synonymous with real estate owners and maintenance managers who struggle to keep track of the digitalisation that is seemingly being readily accepted by their employees. Who does not have a mobile device today? How many apps do you use privately and how many apps do you use to do your daily job? Quite a few, I expect.

Of course, there are many organisations that have adopted modern technology to improve their performance, but the majority of them still struggle to take advantage of the new possibilities this opens up. When relating this to the field service process, the traditional method of dispatching work orders to field technicians - paper based or email communication - has become outdated. However, in practice this way of working is still common.

Stop using paper as soon as you can

This traditional way of dispatching work orders causes many issues, as my colleague Jos Knops described in his blog. For example it increases the chance of errors and miscommunication. In addition, there is no planning efficiency - it takes a lot of time to dispatch work orders manually and to keep an eye on their progress. Actually, monitoring progress is quite hard if data such as travel time and time spent on the work order itself is not recorded well. Not to mention the impact of a lack of accurate data in one system when making strategic plans to optimise your field service operations.

To increase efficiency, the productivity of your technicians, the quality of field service management, and to reduce associated costs, automating your processes with a professional software solution is a necessity. With today’s technology, it is quite simple and relatively cheap to start the process of digitalising your field service process.

In your private life you use technology daily. For example to chat with friends and to check travel options. A field technician can enjoy the same experience when doing his or her daily work: checking which orders need to be done and by when, knowing where he or she needs to travel, what materials are needed and finally, closing the job. Everyone will understand that a well-informed technician is much more productive than a technician that needs to find information manually and from multiple sources.

The benefits of automating field service operations

Planon Mobile Field Services provides a secure field service solution that works on smart phones and tablets for Android (6.0 and up) and iOS (9.0 and up). The solution allows field technicians to see jobs on their tablet or smartphone immediately, and it also enables them to perform key tasks in a timely manner whilst ensuring compliance. The solution integrates seamlessly with Planon’s comprehensive back-office functions where work is recorded, planned, allocated and monitored.

The back-office is kept informed real-time about the actual situation in the field and the technician can take care of the administration on the spot and ask the client to sign off. Field technicians don’t need to travel to and from the office to complete paperwork or update the status of their work orders. Can you imagine the potential cost and time savings of working this way?

Do you have a choice?

I think you don’t really have a choice if you want to survive as an organisation or (maintenance) department. Efficient field service management is more than just digital work order dispatching from the back office to internal trades or external field technicians. The opportunities in field service operations to improve reliability, safety and operational profitability are endless. Take this step and digitalise the processes that drive your mobile employees. If you don’t act now, your competitors will.

Nico van Dijk
Product Manager Asset & Maintenance Management