4 Things You Might Not Know About Field Service Data Collection
- 1 in 10 field service managers still collect data via paperwork alone.
- Nearly 30 percent of managers believe that their organization is ineffective or extremely ineffective at using the data they collect to make decisions
- 1 in 5 believe they get the information they need from field service data to help on their job
- Over 80 percent don’t capture unstructured data (customer feedback from Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to use in decision making
Over the last decade, field service organizations have been overwhelmed by the relentless flow of information coming in from multiple sources, in various formats and through an array of tools so it’s no surprise they don’t know what to do with this information. In a typical day field service data will be coming in from GPS and vehicle-tracking systems, telematics, fleet management and workforce management. In addition to processing this abundance of information, field service organizations must contend with the potential integration of tool and inventory databases; or integration with CRM applications so they can service customers; ensure that workers arrive on-site at a convenient time for the customer; ensure that service level agreements are met and generate accurate billing.
Merging and organizing this data can be so difficult that it often it ends up sitting unused in applications and databases. In a recent survey of field service managers published in the new report, Transforming Service Delivery: An Insight Report, nearly 30% of respondents believed that their organization is ineffective or extremely ineffective at using the data they collect to make decisions; and just one in five believes they get the information they need from field service data to successfully do their job.
But many are beginning to appreciate data’s “intelligence” and tapping into it to make more informed business decisions. In the Insight Report, respondents said the main concern with using field data was the reliability of the information. They reported that the biggest challenge they faced was how they could take what they think is reliable data and then extract value from it to better hone day-to-day operations and make long-term strategic decisions.
Turning data into information
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What field service managers are learning is that the ability to make sense of data can make the difference between a business that is good and one that stands out. In Trimble’s survey, over a quarter of the managers said their organization is ineffective or extremely ineffective at sharing data with the correct stakeholder, but when a company learns how to apply the data, identify patterns, and compile metrics and statistics to determine which assets and employees are the most productive, it can use those insights for predictive analysis and better business decisions.
Field service and workforce management systems give managers the ability to review a day’s work and measure performance results against specific metrics. By leveraging Performance Management Analytics (PMA) tools, managers can identify the most productive performers, determine which schedules and routes produce the best results, and compare results from one vehicle or worker against the entire workforce.
Performance analysis can also help with job assignments so managers better match the skills of field technicians to specific service calls. This increases the prospect of first-time case resolution. According to Aberdeen, 26% of field visits fail to resolve the problem, requiring follow-up visits, and frustrating customers.
Telematics solutions can capture a wealth of useful information, from mechanical and emissions to driver safety habits, all of which can be collected and organized into easily digestible reports. Analytics reports, for example, can leverage telematics to provide stakeholders with information in easy-to-read, relevant snapshots highlighting operational areas that require immediate attention.
The basis of telematics was originally location, but location is now merely an enabling tool for a plethora of complex business applications. Today analytics let customers see everything from the most profitable jobs to success rates in meeting appointment times.
Immediate and Long-term Benefits
With the use of reliable, analyzed information, knowledge can lead to action. A manager who knows which drivers have poor 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 being proactive, resulting in precise, well-researched planning.