One of the lesser-known business needs is workforce automation. For service industries that provide technicians and field crew, well-structured workforce automation is not a new concept. This particular area encompasses problems found in other areas, such as acquiring routes, accessing data remotely, and keeping all employees informed. The reason these are a challenge is because the job is rarely the same on a daily basis. Industries that use workforce automation have a wide range of purposes, from Internet service providers to utility companies to some types of marketing. Being able to track jobs in the field and the status is a corner stone of these types of businesses. Workforce automation software can make the burdens of the job more predictable and trackable.
Requests for service can likewise have a significant range. A customer may be having trouble getting the Internet to work at home, which could be an indication of trouble with their phone lines, an outside connection, or user error. Storms add a level of uncertainty to many service industries that use workforce automation because the problems are entirely unpredictable in scope and time frame to fix, and include a sense of emergency.
Being able to track the progress of technicians and field personnel, whether on routine trips to the field or for emergencies, helps to plan for the rest of the week. Unlike many other industries, these types of services do not include a long-lead-time. It is nearly impossible to plan ahead. Entering new jobs as they are called in can help set up a schedule based on the number of requests made. Then the company can also provide a rough estimate of how long it will take to work the customer into the schedule. Should a job take longer than expected, it affects the schedule for the rest of the day and possibly for the next couple of days. Being able to enter this information into the database and contacting customers about the shift is important for keeping those clients happy, or at least informed. Nobody wants to wait for a technician between the hours of 1 and 4 pm only to find out at 5 pm that technician was held up at an earlier job. Lack of communication can easily equal loss of clients.
Employees in the field need to be able to able to enter information into the system so that customer service representatives can answer the client’s questions. Mangers need to be able to tell when their employees need new work or when a job will take longer than expected. Being able to pull up the results of previous jobs can help with troubleshooting at a new location or to provide a comprehensive history to help isolate a problem. That is why having the right workforce automation software in place is essential for success.
Having the right software also means that it is compatible with the equipment the technicians have in the field. To keep the management and customer services representatives updated on progress, the field crew needs to be able to relay status, issues, and other data from the site. All of these elements should be properly tested before sending the technicians to the field, even after a software upgrade. Workforce automation is unpredictable enough without compatibility issues.