Work order management is the core area of field service management. Managing a traditional shop floor with routine, repetitive operations is easy. But field service work is unpredictable. Each work has different requirements specified in the work orders. Field agents get assigned specific work orders at the start of their shifts and spend their shifts fulfilling them. Operational efficiency and business success depend on an effective work order management system.

But work order management has become complex and challenging of late. 

Customers have become very demanding and fickle. They demand instant results. Businesses have a very short window to attend to customer requests. Any delay in responding to a query, delivery, or query or attending to an approved work order will make the customer go elsewhere. There is a marked change in customer and employee preferences as well. They now prefer to engage in digital channels.

Hyper-competition puts pressure on margins. The low entry barriers for most field service jobs lure many new entrants who compete on price to capture market share. The only route to profitability is efficiency improvements. The low margins leave little room for inefficiencies. If field agents do not meet their daily quota or first-time-fix ratios fall, operations turn to loss.

Such a fluid and complex work scenario makes work order management challenging.

How field service software transforms work order management process

Deploying field service software gives a fillip to the work order management system. 

1. Easy quotes

Usually, customers make a service request, and the business responds with a quote. The field service management software generates a work order when the customer accepts the quote.

But generating quotes is challenging. More so for service businesses where the nature of delivery varies. The quote has to reconcile multiple variables, such as the agents needed for the job, the estimated time, parts and equipment needed, and so on. Preparing quotes manually delay the process and creates mistakes. Also, every time the customer makes a small change, the executive has to rework the quote. 

A work order management system automates and streamlines the process. The backend pulls information from various databases and generates instant quotes.

When the customer approves a quote, the system generates a work order. The system updates the work order with quotes and customer details.

2. Dynamic scheduling

Scheduling is not as simple as assigning the next field agent off the block to a new work order.

Customers are of different types. Field service businesses have to juggle between one-off customers and regular customers. They also have to prioritize jobs. For instance, emergency jobs need urgent attention, whereas schedulers can postpone routine services. High-value customers would need priority. 

Also, several things change between the time of work order generation and the scheduling of jobs to field agents. The customer might cancel the work or request a change in the schedule, or the assigned agent may call in sick. An emergency might force the business to divert resources.

All work is not equal either. Regardless of the nature of field service, some jobs will be easy and routine, and some will be very complex and need special expertise. Estimating the time and expertise needed for a specific job is challenging, and schedulers often get it wrong.

Manual scheduling is stressful, time-consuming, and error-prone. Instances such as two teams reaching the same work site and some work orders remaining unattended become commonplace.

Field service software automates the complicated scheduling process. The algorithm considers various permutations and combinations to ensure minimal customer wait time and balanced workloads for field agents. It also matches jobs with technicians who have adequate certifications or expertise to do the job. When making schedule changes, the algorithm reschedules the affected downstream jobs.

Read more: Can Scheduling and Dispatching Software Make Your Business More Productive?

3. Real-time editing of work orders

Work orders are not set in stone. Things may change when the customer initiates the work order and the field agent reaches the site. The damage might have worsened, or the customer may need new features. Often, the nature of the job specified in the work order may be vague or understated. A different reality may confront the field agent on-site. 

A flexible work order management system allows field agents to change the work order on-site. 

The field agent may amend the specifications to reflect the actual position. 

4. Streamlined and accelerated workflows

Traditional work order management is inefficient. Paperwork saps field agents of their energy and comes with the opportunity cost of attending to more customer requests. Field service management software streamlines workflows and automates most repetitive tasks.

Easy calendar views allow managers to view the team workload for the day or week and manage field agent workload. Prompt notifications to field agent mobility apps pre-empt communication gaps.

Managers also get pipeline views of active jobs, enabling them to control day-to-day field operations. Real-time reporting that co-opts photos and digital records keep them informed.

Mobility apps enable field agents to

  • View relevant customer details, service history, and instruction manuals. Field agents can get to work immediately without wasting time seeking information/.
  • Download forms and checklists to guide the work process.
  • Auto-generate invoices on work completion. Backend APIs collect information from databases, generate the invoice, and email the customer.
  • Collect the customer’s electronic signature as proof of work completion

Read more: Why Mobility is a Must-Have Feature in Field Service Software

ReachOut Suite: The perfect companion for work order management

ReachOut field service management software automates and simplifies the work order process. Process accuracy improves, and customer wait time reduces. 

ReachOut’s advanced work order management capabilities allow flexibility in assigning work. For instance, schedulers may assign multiple field agents to a job and fix responsibilities for each team member. 

ReachOut’s route optimization capability enables field agents to reach their work sites through the best routes. Choosing the routes with the least traffic allows for servicing more customers daily. 

Real-time tracking of agents through smartphone GPS enables managers to make changes per the situation. If the field agent finishes work at one site quickly, the scheduler may assign another location immediately. If the agent gets delayed, the manager revises the ETA at downstream jobs and informs the customers accordingly.

Improved process efficiency saves time and money. Customer satisfaction improves, and talented employees will prefer working with the company. With the right field service software, business competitiveness increases.

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Sachin Krishna

Sachin works as a part of the digital marketing team at ReachOut Suite. He believes in a healthy and resourceful web and does his own little contributions for the purpose by creating and disseminating innovative and quality content.

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