Blog > Field service
Blog > Field service
15 May 2023 | 7 min read
If you have not yet set up suitable schedules for your mobile staff, you are not alone! Whether it’s the schedules of technicians, sales persons, home nurses, delivery drivers or other mobile workers (auditors, investigators, inspectors, etc.), the data regarding their tasks is often still entered in a simple Excel spreadsheet, or in their own PC or paper calendars.
However, by optimising these schedules, you could save time, increase efficiency and improve the reliability of the management of data, projects, and tasks of your mobile workforce.
In this article, we look at :
The project managers use many terms to refer to the types of schedules that exist: master schedule, macro schedule, retro schedule, batch schedule, detailed schedule, Gantt chart, forecast schedule, etc.
Other managers will talk about the need for strategic, tactical, operational and budgetary planning, etc.
But these names will not be the focus of this article, as they are mainly dedicated to:
They are not necessarily relevant to the needs of your mobile teams.
We have identified 5 main needs for your field workers, which correspond to 5 types of schedule.
It is about determining the most efficient routes for each member of your mobile staff, taking into account the different addresses to be visited and the time constraints.
This type of schedule aims to organise appointments with clients according to the availability of your mobile workers and the constraints linked to the movements.
In this case, it is about planning the on-site field service tasks of your maintenance technicians, breakdown teams, home nurses, auditors, etc., taking into account emergencies and available employees.
This type of schedule is linked to the management of your work orders and the visits to your customers.
But it allows you to assign tasks and missions to your teams according to:
This type of schedule is not specific to mobile employees. But it does ensure continuity of service at the customer site, when your employees are absent, by respecting their requests whenever possible.
These 5 schedules must take into account the different working times of the employees:
In order to provide real time reporting, it is essential to allow field workers to:
This makes it possible to adapt quickly to unforeseen events if necessary and to adjust schedules accordingly. Being able to update the data related to field service operations (notification of visits, next appointment, proof of work, delivery notification, missing material, etc.) is also an undeniable plus for successful planning.
These different types of planning can be done manually, for example, using an Excel spreadsheet.
But there are planning and project management tools that are particularly suited to the needs of your field workers: mobile planning or route management applications, task and project management software.
This is what we will present in this second part.
Nous avons relevé 3 grands types de logiciels pouvant vous aider dans la gestion des plannings de vos équipes mobiles :
We have identified 3 main types of software that can help you manage the schedules of your mobile workforce:
The most important is to find the one that really meets your needs.
The project management software covers many functions:
Being constantly on the road, your mobile workers will need quick and easy access to their task lists. That’s what should guide you in your choice of software.
On the other hand, as a planner, you will need to easily create projects, missions, deliveries or field service operations, assign tasks and monitor their completion. The project management features will therefore be very important.
A project management tool such as Trello or Asana might be suitable for you.
These applications allow you to create global schedules for your mobile workers based on pre-designed templates or Gantt charts. Depending on the software you choose, you can:
The Asana software or the Slack platform do this for you, by giving you the possibility to work together by:
Google Drive also offers the possibility to store, share and work together on documents, spreadsheets or presentations in real time.
Beyond the need for real-time communication, the most important thing for your field workforce is to be able to access their data at any time and in any place.
Make sure that this possibility is included in the chosen software. Offline data access would be a plus, depending on the digital accessibility of your mobile workforce’s location.
If your teams do not handle cross-functional or complementary tasks, you can also simply track their location, appointments, working hours or holidays.
These planning tools can help your field workers to:
As a planner or manager, depending on the application you choose, you could:
There are a wide variety of applications on the market: Tsheets, Calendly, Clicktime, WhenIwork, Congéonline, Timecamp, and many others.
Again, we invite you to explore the features that suit your needs.
Beyond the management of the schedule itself, it is a question of being able to plan and optimise the routes and field service operations of your mobile teams:
There are again a large number of applications: OptimoRoute, Routific, WorkWave Route Manager, Onfleet, etc.
AntsRoute software is one of them.
It allows you to save up to 50% of time when planning your routes.
It automatically calculates the best routes, by integrating the following criteria into your schedules:
Your mobile staff then have access to an electronic route schedule.
They also have access to all the data of their customers, who are informed in real time about the different steps. It is also possible to add visits to ongoing route, with the route being modified automatically.
As mentioned above, optimising the schedules of your field workforce will not only make them more comfortable and efficient, but also improve customer satisfaction.
Depending on the schedules selected, they will help them to:
As a planner or operations manager, you can:
There are many possible gains to be made, and these should be studied according to each situation.
If you want to improve the planning of your routes and field service operations, our team is available to help you.