Today, a field service operation is characterised by the running of multiple technologies, from GPS and vehicle-tracking systems to telematics, fleet management and workforce management solutions.
Each of these technologies generates vast amounts of data and businesses are increasingly realising the importance of reviewing and monitoring their performance using the data they collect. However, being able to organise and analyse data in an effective, simple and reliable way is a major challenge and without the means of turning it in to something actionable, many businesses just don’t take advantage of it.
Business analytics and reporting tools have come to the fore as a solution able to tackle this and empower field service organisation’s with the information they care about to make faster, better informed decisions, says John Cameron, general manager of Trimble
Fostering business intelligence through business analytics and reporting tools
Understandably, no field service organisation has the same reporting requirements. Many have different metrics and performance indicators to manage, from driver behaviour to vehicle usage and maintenance to overall worker performance. Many also need to report on metrics relevant to their role eg: finance, risk, customer service and operations.
Advances in business analytics and reporting tools provide businesses with the ability to view all of their data in one place then configure and cross reference it in a simple, easy way. Businesses are then able to make better decisions and better decisions mean a more effective, efficient operation.
Many business analytics and reporting tools offer users the chance to view the information they want, when they want it. Using drag and drop metrics, dashboards can be constructed tailored to reporting needs, to show the most important metrics and represent those metrics in ways that users choose. For example, productivity can be looked at alongside driver safety and vehicle performance to ensure that while SLAs around completed jobs are being met, safety isn’t being compromised.
The dashboards can be utilised to run on-demand reports from any number of metrics which can then be interrogated and filtered to the level needed for individual requirements. The purpose for this data is to then be distilled to generate concrete, actionable details, which can then be used to benchmark and identify trends which will in turn help businesses to determine which assets and employees are the most productive.
Immediate and long term benefits
Fleet and workforce management systems give managers the ability to review a day’s work and measure performance results against company standards. With the use of business analytics and reporting tools, managers can extract the data from these solutions to identify top performers, determine which schedules and routes produce the best results, and compare results from one vehicle or worker against the entire fleet. Performance analysis can also help with job assignments, helping managers match the skills of field technicians to specific service calls. This increases the prospect of first-time case resolution.
Telematics solutions alike can capture a wealth of useful information, from mechanical and emissions to driver safety habits. With the use of reliable, analysed information, knowledge can lead to action. A manager who knows which drivers have bad driving habits is better equipped to coach those drivers; up-to-date information on the health of vehicles leads to better maintenance, which in turn leads to safer vehicles, improved fuel consumption and less wear and tear.
These are some of the immediate benefits, but understanding data also brings long-term benefits, as companies engage in strategic planning based on historical patterns and predictive analysis. For example, a company which focuses on repair could make use of its historical data to know when a specific part on a specific machine is likely to fail. This could lead to preventative maintenance by fixing or changing a part before it fails, helping to deliver excellent customer service, reduced downtime and significant cost savings. The work becomes less about being reactive and more about precise, well researched planning.
Analysis of operational trends and patterns also reveals what areas businesses need to target for improvement. Perhaps drivers are using shorter routes that actually take more time because of traffic patterns, or technicians are returning to customer sites because they lack the knowledge or part to complete the job, or vehicles are left too long on idle and wasting fuel. With intelligence and analytics tools, organisations can drill down into the data to benchmark and identify situations where problems are occurring.
This blog published by the author – John Cameron, general manager of Trimble Field Service Management