How Field Service Automation Improves Efficiency with Reduced Costs

By May 19, 2017Audits and Compliance

Automation is the buzzword to improve efficiency and reduce cost at the same time. This is true for almost all facets of work, and more so for field services, which has a historical reputation for delays, inefficiencies, and high costs.

Field service is often the place where enterprise information systems, labor controls, and productivity tools falter. The opaque nature of the work, far removed from the office or shop floor is the chief cause for blame. While cells phones offer visibility and connectivity, its effectiveness is limited. Technology is, however, changing the situation, transforming field service through new improved paradigms.

State of the art field service automation software, powered by mobility technologies, enable field service technicians to remain connected with their controlling office in real time, even automatically. Such field service automation software, which updates in real time, improves visibility, allows better control, speeds up the workflow, eliminates manual work, and improves accuracy.

 

Better Control

Field service automation enables business and operations managers to remain in better control of the situation. The following are some ways in which automation improves control, and by extension efficiency.

  • Automated scheduling of service calls, deploying the right technician at the right site, within the shortest time.
  • Real-time tracking of field service technicians, to give an accurate picture of the expected arrival time of the technician at the field site, reducing uncertainty and ambiguity, and sparing the need for clients to make follow up calls and clarifications.
  • Ability for supervisors and other stakeholders to monitor movement of technicians in real time, to resolve any bottleneck, slack, or other glitches in real time, pre-empting disruption of work
  • Enabling field service technicians to connect with the command and control office in real-time for better insights on the nature of the job, any required assistance with experts, and for follow-up, sparing the need to make duplicate visits, and also for doing a more accurate job
  • Increased accuracy and precision, as forms are populated automatically wherever possible, and delivered to all stakeholders and regulatory agencies at the correct time, in the correct format, automatically.
  • Auto-generation of timely alerts and reminders, whenever manual intervention is required.
  • Automatic replenishment orders for spares and other stock, avoiding stock-out situations which may delay field service.

Such interventions eliminate wastage, paving the way for lean operations, with reduced operations cost and maximum returns on investment.

 

Speedier Workflow

With field service automation, reducing time on non-essentials and improving efficiency, work is executed faster, enabling technicians to make more calls per day, speeding up the workflow, and clearing the queue. This delivers a twin benefit of greater revenue through more work being done with the available resources and improved customer satisfaction. The customer delight on being able to get the machinery serviced in double-quick time, without any glitches, and that too in just one visit is priceless.

Companies with manual, paper-based operations typically face a delay of several days before the invoice is finally presented, leading to a cash-cycle disadvantage compared to companies with automated operations.  Using mobile printers, which runs on thermal paper reduces the operating cost considerably, and speeds up the workflow, making billing instant.

Reduced Manual Work

Field service automation software reduces the labor required for data entry and processing in a big way. When field service technicians record data on mobile devices, and still better, when data is populated on to reports automatically to the extent possible, field service technicians are freed from their clerical workload. Duplicate work is eliminated, and inaccuracies that arise when trying to decipher handwritten work orders and invoices while entering it into appropriate systems are eliminated.

Qualified technicians are freed from the non-value-added time they spend on preparing invoices, filling out work orders, and providing other documentation, allowing them to focus on their core competencies.

Field service automation reduces duplication and errors caused when technicians prepare service reports manually and later uploaded it online at the office. The savings manifest in many fronts, including time, the cost of staff to do the same work twice, the cost of infrastructure and resources such as paper and pen, and more.

Improved Accuracy

Field Service automation enabled timely issue of bills, with 100% accuracy, preventing billing disputes.

The savings resulting from such automation is often underestimated. Even a conservative estimate of 20 service technicians who can complete an average of five work orders each day, and customers raising a dispute on just 5% of service invoices results in needing to investigate and resolve 1,300 inquiries per year. Assuming that a conservative estimate of 15 minutes per dispute case raised means the company spending about a month’s wages of a full-time employee, every year, on just investigating disputes alone. This is just the labor cost alone, not factoring in the cost of resources, and the indirect cost of loss of face and customer dissatisfaction caused by the dispute itself. When details are vague, the company is more likely to accept the customer’s version of events as a goodwill gesture, leading to further erosion of revenue.

An average manufacturing company misses about 50% to 70% of potential service revenue owing to poor record keeping and management.

Companies with best-in-class field service operations complete about 8% more work orders per day compared to average performers, have 12.5% higher service level agreement compliance rates and are on average 2.5% more profitable compared to other companies. Automated mobility delivered solutions are a key enabler of such best-in-class companies, for only 22% of such best-in-class enterprises still use paper-based processes in field service operations.

Field Service automation works wonders, but the desired productivity and efficiency improvements, leading to reduced costs of business and improved customer satisfaction realize only when the mobility and automation systems in use are in prime shape. A half-baked or ill-conceived system would likely do more harm than good, agonizing delays on waiting to get the system up and running, critical information trapped in electronic repositories with no way to retrieve it, more time wasted on re-doing things, all round confusion on when faulty electronic and improvised manual systems co-exist, and in short the investment down the drain, with greater customer dissatisfaction than ever before.

Automation is a double-edged sword, and companies cannot afford to take chances with it. Partnering with us for all your field service automation is a safe bet, considering our long-standing and established expertise in the field. We offer fully customized comprehensive field service automation software to conduct inspections and audits easily, allowing you to create checklists, eliminate paperwork, manage work orders, and automate the process with considerable ease. Start your free trial today.

 

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