Optimized scheduling and dispatching enhance business productivity. Such software is a must-have in Industry 4.0, where everything is digital and interconnected. Customers and employees alike prefer to engage digitally. They would go elsewhere if the business does not become tech-savvy.

Top Field Service Scheduling and Dispatching Challenges

Most service providers underestimate the difficulty and importance of scheduling and dispatching.

When done manually, scheduling takes up the time of a full-time operator. The activity is stressful and very error-prone. Matching the right field agent to the right task is hard enough. The scheduler has to consider many factors, such as:

  • The skills, experience, and certifications of the field agent. For instance, a novice handling a complex equipment failure will most likely lead to a re-visit. Some equipment may need servicing by a qualified technician. Assigning a technician without the required certifications may void the warranty. Also, clients may prefer a technician who has done the servicing or repair before and is familiar with them.
  • Working hours. The time and date of the work order assignment have to synchronize with the agent’s working hours. The scheduler must also consider company policies on overtime, and other similar considerations. Often, customers would also have preferences on the time of visit.
  • Field agent availability. Scheduling considers the upcoming leaves of agents. Pending leave applications may sometimes clash with new job assignments, leading to HR issues. Also, scheduling a new job at a close time to an already assigned job risks agent burnout or overtime.
  • Efficiency considerations. Field service is a resource-intensive task. Financial viability depends on efficient operations. If field agents have to criss-cross the town, they waste precious time and fuel. Optimal scheduling requires plotting linear routes. Agents who do not have to backtrack to reach the next job serve more customers within a limited time.
  • Impromptu changes. Field service scheduling is dynamic. The schedule may often change as field agents call in sick or customers seek last-minute changes. Emergency jobs may force field agents and resources to redeploy. Changes in one job disrupt all downstream jobs assigned to the same agent.

Juggling all these factors to prepare a shift roaster is an arduous task. More so when the situation evolves and each change forces redoing the roaster.

After scheduling, the next consideration is dispatching. The field agents cannot keep up their time schedules without proper dispatching. The schedules go haywire, and delays become the norm. Customer satisfaction scores sink as field agents cannot keep up their time commitments.

Optimizing scheduling and dispatching using field service software overcomes the above challenges.

Read more: Why Do Your Dispatchers Need A Job Scheduling Software?

How Scheduling and Dispatching Software Improves Productivity

Good scheduling and dispatching software automates the entire scheduling and dispatching process. What makes a human scheduler hours or days gets done in seconds, with high accuracy? The scheduling software also offers complete visibility into schedules in easy calendar views. Schedulers and managers get comprehensive views of open and pending work orders.

A good scheduling and dispatching software:

  • Match the right agent to the right job. The software links to the HR records or a skill database and shortlists agents with the needed qualifications or experience.
  • Ensure the schedule is within the agent’s work hours and does not fall on a holiday or the agent’s approved leave days. If the deadlines are tight, the automated scheduler applies the company’s policies on overtime. The automated algorithm changes the schedule if the customer wants a change, a field agent calls in sick, or any other contingency arises.
  • Plots the jobs in a way that agents spend the least time moving between jobs. The time saved allows agents to serve more customers per shift.
  • Links to maps to guide agents to their work sites through the best routes. Intelligent maps consider factors such as road conditions and traffic, not the shortest route.
  • Real-time visibility into field agent movements. Linking the field service management suite with the agent’s smartphone’s GPS offers the agent location updates in real time. If the agent gets held up, the manager may make follow-up calls and intervene to set right the source of the delay. If the agent gets delayed at an earlier site, the manager could reschedule next-in-line jobs assigned to the field agent. They may also inform the waiting client of the unavoidable delay. Real-time tracking makes operations seamless.

Top Features to Look For In a Scheduling and Dispatching Software

Top scheduling and dispatching software co-opts the following features over the basic functionality.

  • Integrated ticketing system. A ticket management system makes it easy to track work orders and ensures nothing slips through the cracks. When a new work order comes in, the suite assigns a ticket. Managers may follow the ticket’s progress to ensure the job assignment and dispatching take place on time.
  • Central customer data repository. An integrated customer data depository offers a single source of truth and easy access to the required information. Schedulers, dispatchers, and agents need not scramble for information. They need not work based on outdated information.
  • Companion mobile app for field agents. The best scheduling and dispatching software offers mobile apps for field agents. The app delivers two-way benefits. Managers can track the status of the field agents’ lives. Field agents may get notifications of assigned jobs, changes, and reminders of upcoming jobs. They may also use the app to access customer and equipment information and check in and check out of jobs.
  • Pipeline views. The best field service apps offer pipeline views for field agents, managers, and other stakeholders. The mobile apps, for instance, contain dashboards with sleek UI that integrates information from all sources. Simple views offer complete information and make decision-making easy.
  • Digital forms. Digital forms enable electronic data gathering, including images and electronic signatures. Digital forms allow auto-populating forms and improve the accuracy of the reports.

Watch more: Take a look at how ReachOut Suite eases business management with a seamless job scheduling experience!

The best scheduling and dispatch software is part of a comprehensive field service suite. Top FSM suites, such as ReachOut, offer dynamic scheduling and dispatching capabilities.

ReachOut co-opts all the features mentioned above and much more. Calendar views with drag-and-drop functionality offer a bird’s-eye view of open work orders and assigned jobs. They may prepare the list of jobs in advance, plot the best routes, and inform the field agents in advance. Advanced features enable fixing individual responsibilities within a team. The process becomes more transparent and accountable.

ReachOut leverages the power of simplicity. The easy app makes scheduling, dispatching, and other field service tasks a breeze. Subscribing to the suite ensures faster project completion and makes operations more reliable. Connect with us today and learn more about ReachOut Suite now!

Digitize your field service operations from scheduling to invoicing with ReachOut. Connect your technicians with the companion mobile app to execute jobs and reduce paperwork in the field. Try ReachOut now and give your customers the fast and quality service they deserve.

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Aarathy is a Senior Digital Marketing Analyst at ReachOut Suite. She is majorly into content marketing and focuses on getting the messaging right across a host of marketing collaterals. While not working on content, you can find her juggling SEO, social media, branding and more. She enjoys exploring new frontiers in digital marketing and the associated challenges keep her going.

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