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April 26, 2018

Debating modernizing your field service operations? Get started today!

Do you have any idea of the administration costs of handling a service call or how much time your technicians spend on resolving the issue? If you can’t answer “yes” to these questions, do not be worried, as your organization is not the only one. Modernizing your resources 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

Many organizations are looking to invest in technology to improve their maintenance operations. Top reasons include reducing operational costs, reducing risk, improving record keeping, and improving maintenance scheduling.

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Research from multiple sources such as Forrester, Gartner and Verdantix shows tangible benefits of the modernization 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. Must all technological innovations 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, industrialized 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 modernization that is being readily accepted by their employees. It is rare to find someone in today’s world who does not own a mobile device let alone use mobile applications on a daily basis.

Of course, there are many organizations that have adopted modern technology to improve their performance, but the majority still struggle to take advantage of these new available possibilities. When relating this to the field service process, the traditional method of dispatching work orders to field technicians - paper based or word of mouth - has become outdated. However, this method of working is still common.

Stop using paper as soon as you can

The traditional way of dispatching work orders manually causes many issues, as my colleague Jos Knops described in his previous blog. For example, it increases the chance of errors and miscommunication. Additionally, there is no planning efficiency - it takes a lot of time to dispatch work orders manually and to keep an eye on their progress. 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 optimize 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 streamlining your field service process.

In your private life you use technology daily, perhaps to chat with friends or to check travel options. A field technician should enjoy the same technologies when doing his or her daily work: easily 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 while 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. Imagine the potential cost and time savings of working this way!

Do you have a choice?

If you want to survive as an organization or maintenance department, the answer is no. 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 modernize the processes that drive your mobile employees. If you don’t act now, your competitors will.

Nico van Dijk
Product Manager Asset & Maintenance Management