Operating a fleet leaves managers little time for strategic changes because they spend most of their day handling the demands of monitoring field service vehicles and keeping drivers on target. To ensure that their business runs as efficiently as possible, they know they must capture and consolidate vast quantities of data generated by in-vehicle devices and smartphones and tablets of mobile workers.
Doing this requires reliable systems to capture, analyze and turn that data into usable intelligence, so managers can manage by exception rather than instinct. For instance, information from location technology helps to optimize scheduling and routing which reduces the expense of vehicle maintenance and fuel, while data from fleet and workforce management systems enables operational changes to boost productivity.
Fleets in many industries typically enjoy double-digit percentage gains from implementing these technologies. A study by NDP Consulting found that GPS technology produces 11 percent savings in labor costs, 13 percent in fuel and 13 percent in vehicle maintenance and repair. In addition, field service managers have learned that workforce management software can increase productivity by more than 10 percent and dispatch efficiency by more than 20 percent.
Here are four strategies that best-in-class companies follow when implementing fleet technologies:
1) Optimize Your Workforce
Well-run companies know that reliable systems helps them to optimize their operations, and one such system is workforce management, which gives managers and dispatchers real-time visibility into the work schedules and activities of their field workers. Integrated with fleet management software, workforce management helps businesses react quickly and reduce labor costs by assigning in-day worker schedules based on real-time information they receive about their mobile workers.
Successful field managers know that information collected throughout the workday about dispatch efficiency and field workers’ activities allows them to compare assigned work with jobs that are actually completed. They can then adjust schedules and reassign work to ensure quality of service, worker productivity and – ultimately – increased productivity and customer satisfaction.
2) Gather Information
Delivering excellent service is tightly linked to how companies collect, digest and act on field data. In-vehicle GPS boxes feed data back to dispatch centers throughout the day, providing critical insight into the quality of service that field workers deliver. This information includes job commitments that are kept and missed, whether jobs take too long, and whether time is wasted by poor scheduling and inefficient staff utilization.
GPS navigation and vehicle tracking and workforce management solutions help managers collect the data that provides valuable insights about vehicle use, staff behavior and dispatcher efficiency. Savvy field service managers understand the importance of tracking and acting on data such as delivery time stamps, time spent at each work site, routing records and daily logs, can translate into enhanced operations.
Unacceptable behavior such as unauthorized use of vehicles and regular speeding, as well as inefficiencies like dispatchers slow to answer driver calls or routing them along busy streets, can be mitigated and even eliminated to reduce waste, save fuel and minimize overtime. In addition to real-time data collected, managers have learned to compare historical with current data to identify trends and areas that need improvement, all of which results in better service and happier customers.
3). Leverage Technology
Advances in location technology, geolocation and telematics are allowing fleet managers and their dispatchers to optimize routing to save fuel, improve drive time and control vehicle wear and tear. GPS data allows managers to review routes that drivers are using with assigned routes that take into account multiple factors, including point-to-point distances and traffic patterns.
Enhanced routing is more than just finding the shortest distance, so efficient route planners also pay attention to hourly, daily and even seasonal traffic patterns, road construction, proximity between customer locations and crew shifts. Field service managers have learned that route optimization generates critical ROI on technology investments and is instrumental in mitigating poor driver behavior.
4) Measure Results
The expression, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” is especially true when it comes to field operations. Performance Management Analytics (PMA) is making measurement simpler because field service leaders can monitor the workforce by accessing performance data to analyze their operational efficiency.
PMA allows managers to generate and customize reports that show criteria such as quality of service, statistics for individual workers and actual versus estimated tasks completed. By providing greater visibility into the performance of each worker and the business as a whole, the technology allows managers to better evaluate the effectiveness of their operations. Clearly, making improvements in efficiencies requires a long-term commitment, and organizations that successfully implement these improvements do so because of having the right strategy and the right technology in place.