I ’ve been an engineer for thirty years and have seen my share of changes in the field service industry and with our customers. I’ve been with the company now for eleven years and things keep changing and evolving.
The last six or seven years in field service have been particularly tough. Everyone seems to be under more and more pressure to do more for less. We get the message from management that overtime needs to be kept to a minimum and our productivity needs to be as high as possible – and I get that.
The biggest frustration for me is that the only control I’ve had is over the amount of time I spend on site carrying out the repair. I don’t set my service appointments schedule, I don’t get to determine my first or last job, start location or end location - in other words I have little control over the extent of my.
Talking to the other field service engineers it’s been obvious that they are feeling the same way. Sometimes we see each other going in the same direction on the motorway at the same time, other times we’re crossing each other knowing that with more appointment planning we could have done more work by one of us handling one area, and another somewhere else.
Having said that I’ve spent time in the office, I’ve seen the pressure that the field service planning team are under and how difficult it is to meet all the complexities of customers with increasing expectations, contract SLA’s and field service appointment and response times. I haven’t had the answers for them but I have felt the pain out in the field!
I’ve got a friend who works for another company and they have put in a system to optimise and manage their field service appointments. Their appointments are made through a system that makes their appointment planning a lot smoother, quicker and more efficient. He tells me that on some days he is actually leaving later, getting more jobs done, and getting home earlier with less time travelling. Apparently their customers get shorter appointment slots and he knows that when he does need to travel a bit further that it isn’t because the job planning or job optimisation hasn’t been done properly but instead is because of a genuine customer led need or contract SLA requirement.
Thankfully our business has also found appointment scheduling software, the FastLeanSmart