For decades, whiteboards were one of the most useful tools in field service scheduling and planning. Dispatchers manually mapped schedules based on input from staffing managers and identified an available field worker with little-to-no-visibility into the full mobile workforce. Unfortunately, this highly-complex, time-consuming activity left plenty of room for human error and accidental field worker bias.
More and more, organizations optimize workforce scheduling and planning with technology and real-time data. A connected field service solution helps staffing managers, agents, and dispatchers ensure the proper levels of service with the right field worker at the right time.
As a result, organizations improve the customer experience, make better use of resources, and boost employee satisfaction and retention.
If you’re ready to ditch the whiteboard for good, improve your field service scheduling and planning with these insights.
Best practices to optimize field scheduling and planning
- Prioritize peak times
- Consider staff preferences
- Work in advance as much as possible
- Document schedule histories
Schedule staff according to peak times
Overstaffing during slow times is costly, and understaffing results in unhappy customers and employees. Ensure coverage during peak business hours and busy periods when you survey employees. Try at least one month in advance to anticipate vacations, holidays, and time-off requests.
Scheduling around requested time off makes field workers feel appreciated and valued, and helps managers better staff for peak times.
Take staff preferences into account
Consider staff scheduling preferences. Ask field workers their preferred days and hours, as well as those that should be avoided, ahead of time. Managers may not be able to meet all scheduling requests, but evenly distributing popular shifts is key to showing field workers schedules are made as fairly as possible.
Work in advance
Develop a process to distribute schedules in advance for mobile workers. This gives field workers a head’s up and the ability to raise any issues or make alternate arrangements with coworkers and management.
Document schedule histories
Review your scheduling over the last one to three years. If you haven’t kept these records, start now! This history allows you to predict busy times and patterns. This documentation also helps you have constructive conversations with workers if questions about shifts arise.
Empower dispatchers and planners
At the heart of field service is dispatching and scheduling. Planners need the right information and skills to be their most efficient and predictive. Set them up for success with these tips:
- Help staff planners get up to speed on analytical skills and knowledge of business strategy and operations. This makes it easier to connect the dots and solve problems faster.
- Ensure they’re speaking the same language as finance and HR. Do this by providing enterprise-wide definitions for your workforce and business initiatives.
- Educate teams on the benefits of automation, which allows you to scale your business.
Automate the field service scheduling and planning process
Why? With intelligence embedded in the solution, dispatchers easily identify the best field workers based on skills, location, availability, equipment, and more, eliminating any crossover and scheduling errors. This access enables better communication with customers and greater customer experience.
A connected field service management solution gives everyone access to plans and schedules in real time. If a mobile worker finishes a job early or if a worker is held up in traffic, real-time data keeps both dispatch and customers informed.
Keep everyone in the loop
With the right tools, field workers instantly receive scheduling updates and job information with mobile capabilities. From their field service app, they can also provide updates on job status and alerts of delays in real time, allowing dispatchers to easily reassign jobs.
How to improve planning and scheduling field service workforces
Without the right tools, accurate staff scheduling and planning is difficult, if not impossible to achieve. Use the best practices described here, including standardized scheduling, working in advance, prioritize peak times, and use automation and real-time data. Learn how you can increase efficiency, productivity, and satisfaction for your organization with Field Service Lightning.
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