If you have teams of field staff or contractors, efficient scheduling processes are key. Whether a business focuses on multi-stage projects, recurring maintenance work, or service jobs, proper scheduling practices can make or break a business’ efficiency. When a business has multiple contractors and employees tending to multiple jobs sites in locations all across a city or larger region, there must be standards in place to make sure the right people and equipment arrive at the right place at the right time.
While there are a number of ways you can run scheduling processes, in today’s technological world, a scheduling software program designed specifically for the field service management is the best way to go.
Why do field service businesses need scheduling software?
Scheduling software can help businesses improve processes to increase efficiency in a number of ways. One of the most important benefits of a scheduling program is that miscommunication is reduced between field staff and office staff. Through the automation of the scheduling and dispatching process, job schedules become more organized and changes can be made in real time. With the addition of a mobile app, schedule updates and changes can appear as notifications for field staff.
Increased billable hours
Not only does software decrease the opportunities for miscommunication, but also this saves time as field staff no longer need to call in to the office or office staff no longer need to call out to field staff. With automation, scheduling and dispatching tasks that were once manual and time consuming become streamlined and efficient. Manually creating employee or contractor schedules takes hours of time that could be spent on other, more pressing tasks. When the processes for creating schedules are automated, administrative and office staff have more time to devote to other operations. Additionally, the faster jobs can be scheduled, the less time it takes to start the job.
Meet customer expectations
This leads to another benefit of employing scheduling software — an increased level of customer satisfaction. When your field staff schedules are all housed in one place and easily accessible, it is simple to provide more accurate arrival times to customers. In general, service customers feel left in the dark when there is no clarity or there are frequent schedule changes. Appease field service customers by communicating job start times with more accuracy to increase your credibility as a trusted service.
How can businesses properly schedule and dispatch using software?
While scheduling software can help simplify and streamline the scheduling and dispatching process, strategic planning is needed to get the most out of the software provided.
- Plan your routes strategically: Create routes based on accessibility, availability, and most importantly efficiency. Further, routes should be created to assign the best technician for the job in question. You can also be strategic by prioritizing customers. Customers with an emergency request or customers on contract should be given priority when scheduling jobs. While it is important to consider location and routes while scheduling, it is just as important to think about the types of customers and jobs and be strategic about who should receive priority.
- Designate a dispatcher: Appoint a member of the office staff who can focus solely on dispatching, or depending on your business size or industry, hiring a company dispatcher. With a designated dispatcher on hand, you can help decrease scheduling errors and further ensure that your dispatching is efficient. Additionally, when a dispatcher is using a scheduling program, that person can make better scheduling decisions when all of the information for a job or project is housed in one platform.
- Uncover issues in your processes: In order to properly use a scheduling program, you must get to the root of any mistakes that were made prior to implementing new software. Many of the issues in your scheduling and dispatching processes may be due to manual error, however, review current processes to see if issues stem from any other places.
What should field service businesses look for in a scheduling software solution?
It’s important to find the best scheduling software for your business needs. Not every software solution on the market will work for your industry or for your specific workflow. In addition to finding the right features to best schedule and dispatch your resources, you also want to look for three key components in your potential software solution:
- Compatibility with other systems — if you are looking to integrate a scheduling program with other software tools already in place, you will want to ensure that the connection is smooth and seamless. An alternative to integrating a separate scheduling piece into your processes is to employ an all-encompassing software solution that has dedicated scheduling functionality, allowing the scheduling and dispatching features to work together in a streamlined manner.
- Automated schedule notifications — one of the key benefits of scheduling software is the ability to receive schedule updates and changes as alerts or notifications. If the scheduling program provides multiple calendar views and features for assigning resources, but doesn’t automate the way those schedules are shared, you are missing out on a key piece of efficiency in your scheduling processes.
- Timesheet capability — whether through a timesheet integration or built-in timesheet features, a good scheduling software should allow you to combine timesheet functionality with scheduling processes. Review recorded time and scheduled jobs in the same database in order to make better scheduling decisions in the future.
These key components provide a fully functioning scheduling feature. However, scheduling is just one piece of the overall operations management puzzle for field service businesses.
If you want to gain complete visibility into your business, a comprehensive field service management tool is the answer. From job management and customer relationship management to asset maintenance and data input, operations management software will allow you to run your business with greater efficiency. Reporting functionalities will also help you to take strategic actions to enhance your business.
Improve Your Scheduling Processes with simPRO
With simPRO, scheduling your field staff to the right place at the right time is a breeze:
Easily view employee, contractor, and equipment availability to manage resources
Assign cost centers to resources to define schedules
View your schedules by day, week, month, project or employee
- Set up schedule rates to define normal time, overtime, and special rates
Visit the simPRO Scheduling & Dispatch page for more information! In addition to providing features for scheduling made easy, simPRO provides solutions for all areas of the field service workflow. Learn more.