There are an abundance of technologies on the market today that enable fleet and field services businesses to measure, record and analyze every aspect of their field operation; from knowing where their drivers are to controlling fuel costs, ensuring drivers’ safety and working to keep customers satisfied through intelligent scheduling.

Traditionally, in-vehicle telematics devices have been successful in helping businesses that operate large vehicle fleets to manage and measure their field operations. However, with increased customer expectations and increased competition, the dynamics of today’s field service workforce are changing to adapt to these demands. Contractor workforces are becoming more of a necessity for organizations, to help keep pace with the speed and quality of service and to provide cost-effective resource management, meaning leased or employee-owned vehicles are much more prevalent.

As a result, the need for flexible fleet options is required to ensure all workers and vehicles are managed effectively in order to optimize the workflow and meet service commitments.  Aberdeen Group report that over half of organizations that have a hybrid workforce (both contractor and non-contractor) have prioritized investment in technology tools which enable better field access information.

Managing a flexible workforce

Service organizations are more open to diversifying their workforces with contractors because they know if managed correctly, there will be no decrease in performance. Such a workforce provides field service organizations many benefits. These include flexibility for resources, increased coverage, a reduction in service costs and increased quality as a result of allowing the organization to focus on core competencies while not being stretched when meeting customer needs.

Plug-and-play solutions are ideal for businesses that lease vehicles or use contractor workforces.  Such a solution can be installed and removed  quickly to easily move between vehicles, and still offer the same benefits as traditional wired-in fleet management solutions, at a lower cost. Real-time location information, driver behavior data, vehicle fault codes and vehicle status can all be recorded offering the real-time visibility and insight organizations need to measure, manage and improve their operations.

Many plug-and-play solutions also can be integrated with work management solutions which can offer optimized scheduling and job dispatch so a business can have complete visibility of their jobs and mobile workers alongside their fleet, all in one package.

This access to information empowers field workers with the customer and service insight at their fingertips necessary to resolve issues quickly no matter what type of worker they are.

Fostering fleet flexibility through mobility

Aberdeen Group recently found that 82 percent of field service organizations identified mobility as a strategic initiative for the service operation in the next 12 months, as a tool to empower the field with real-time intelligence to make decisions and resolve issues to better serve the customer.

In fact, an increasing number of field service businesses are integrating their work management capabilities into mobile applications, which they can then offer to their technicians to allow them to share, store and view job data while out in the field, providing a virtual link to the back office that helps to inform and empower them. Contractor workers or employees who use their own vehicles can also benefit from the use of mobile apps, if initially provisioned in to the back-end system.

The range of information offered through a mobile application can include previous work history of jobs and upcoming work details. For example, if a technician is en-route to a customer, a quick look at service history on a mobile phone can inform them that the customer has complained multiple times to the helpdesk about a product/equipment failure. This is important information that can help the technician approach the customer with care, helping to maintain a good customer relationship. In addition, when a technician reviews and accepts a job within a mobile application, the mobile device’s navigation tool can help them find the most efficient route, helping to reduce fuel consumption and travel time. From a service perspective, the technician can then pull up the customer’s details and call them to confirm when they will be arriving on-site.

Ultimately, fleet and field service businesses are constantly changing the way that they operate to keep up with the needs of the market. Fostering complete visibility of a workforce will always be a priority but more flexible fleet options need to be adopted today in order to achieve this across an increasingly dynamic field service workforce. Contractor workforces, leased vehicles and employees that use their own vehicles for work all offer their own benefits for helping businesses to improve efficiency and boost the bottom line. Building flexibility into a work day and having access to ‘flexible’ technologies that provide the same level of visibility to measure and manage operations as traditional in-vehicle telematics devices are therefore vital to operational success.

For more information on how your business can benefit from flexible fleet options and the solutions available, download a quick guide here or visit www.trimble.com/fsm.