May 24, 2018

How service providers can automate maintenance management processes

In today’s business world, we expect everything to not only be digital, but to be connected. In reality, many organizations still struggle with automating their operations, especially true for service providers, as the complexity of their daily processes is quite high.

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

  1. What do you offer?
  2. Who are your clients?
  3. Who does the work?

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

What do you offer?

Most service providers have a standard listing of offerings paired with standard pricing. However, in practice, this can vary widely. There are additional questions that must be asked: do you have standard services for reactive maintenance, planned maintenance, cleaning services, and other offerings? Also, how often do you need to make a complex mixture of these services, causing different pricing?

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

Who are your clients?

When onboarding a new client, a service provider often needs to assess the properties, upload BIM and CAD drawings, and collect an assortment of information about the client. This customer will also have their own unique contract, which can result in diverse needs.  Therefore, there are two types of client information you should consider:

  1. Customer facility information: How many buildings, spaces, assets, and sensors does your client have? What condition are they in? This information can then be combined with your best practices and standard offerings to create the optimal maintenance regime.

  2. Customer contract information: What is included in the contract and 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 many ways during the entire process, for example in defining whether you must make a proposal before starting work, based on the type of work; if the expected costs are above a certain threshold, or if it is included in the existing contract. It can also help in proposing the agreed upon rate for different types of work, travel duration or execution outside working hours. Furthermore, it supports you in defining whether you can only invoice material usage for certain types of work and it helps you to automatically invoice the correct amount for work performed based on the agreed upon rates. And the list goes on…

Who does the work?

Finally, you 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 taking into consideration that the average employee turnover rate is quite high in this industry. To answer this question effectively, you need to know what certifications your skilled labor 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: Because of 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 specialties.

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 required. It can help automate and modernize 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. However, the true innovation and automation comes from having all the base information included in an integrated software platform. From this central base, each service provider can use their own proprietary business processes.

Marc Wetzelaer
Former General Manager Service Providers