Task Management in Mobile Field Service – The Paperless Trail (Part 3)

Task Management in Mobile Field Service

Welcome back to part 3 of the Paperless Trail, our content series focused on making powerful mobile field service a reality in your organization. Last week, we discussed managing spare parts and went into detail on how field service management software can make inventory tracking a breeze for your operation. For this installment, we’re shifting the focus a little bit, and taking a look at managing service tasks in the field and in the back office.

A task can be any completed action or action that needs to be completed on a work order or on a specific asset. Tasks can include anything from miles traveled by a technician to a completed inspection or replacing a key part in a piece of equipment; as long as these actions are logged against the work order or service asset, they’re a task. Tasks are essentially the building block of a work order and they allow both the service firm and their customer to understand what exactly is taking place on a service call.

In a general trend, mobile field service teams are looking to ease the burden of assigning, logging and invoicing tasks by implementing field service management software solutions. These firms have realized that managing tasks through a software system will give them a leg up on their competition because they’ll be able to simplify high-level responsibilities such as:
[list_well][well_item]Providing detailed work tracking across the service fleet.[/well_item][well_item]Ensuring that maintenance contracts and service packages are profitable.[/well_item][/list_well] To get a better understanding how automated task management can help your organization operate at a best-in-class level, let’s take a look at both of the service-related responsibilities listed above.

Detailed Work Tracking

With both customer demands and costs of service on the rise, many firms want to know how their service calls are being handled by technicians, no matter if they’re preventive maintenance or regular repair service. But asking technicians to record each of their many actions on pen and paper will cost far more in work hours than it would pay off in insights. That’s where field service task management comes in.

Technicians on a mobile-optimized team can access interactive work orders through their mobile devices. And these work orders can hold pre-assigned tasks that outline the tech’s responsibility for that specific service call. In the case of preventive maintenance work, work orders can have a master task (i.e. Quarterly Generator Maintenance) that’s broken into multiple sub tasks (i.e. base unit inspection, replace filter, etc.). This allows the technician to conduct the maintenance more quickly and, after logging his/her time, allows administrators to see how just how efficient the tech was at completing the service.

Mobilized techs are also able to log new tasks, time and parts on the work order. This ability comes into play when they receive unplanned, “time and parts” service calls. For example, if a technician responds to an undiagnosed, home generator fuel issue, he may receive a work order that only contains the tasks Mileage (Distance to service location) and Generator Fuel Inspection (The inspection he has to complete to diagnose the issue). After completing the inspection and making an assessment of the issue, the tech can add new tasks to his work order as he completes the repair (Replace fuel hose, Change Oil, etc.). He can also log his parts used and his time, which helps administrators get a step-by-step understanding of the completed repair and also helps them invoice properly.

Maintenance Contract & Service Package Profitability

Maintenance contracts and service packages are huge revenue drivers for service firms or companies with a mobile field service arm. However, to ensure these packages remain profitable, organizations must be certain that poor technician efficiency isn’t biting into the flat-rate payments that the maintenance contracts and packages provided. Additionally, as customer demand increases, organizations must seek new ways to reduce the time-to-service for their preventive work in order to keep growing income.

Let’s say a field service firm signs a contract with a customer to provide quarterly maintenance for their industrial refrigerators. Although the contract is a great source of revenue, it’s up to the firm to make sure their technicians work efficiently so that technicians’ hourly pay doesn’t cut down the contract’s profit. Essentially, the more efficient the field techs are at servicing the refrigerators, the more profitable the maintenance contract becomes.

Task management can help this process in multiple ways. For one, organizations can build out task lists for each of the preventive maintenance measures in their contracts. As we covered earlier, task lists can be used to organize a certain service package, such as Industrial Refrigerator Operating Inspection. Since the task, “Industrial Refrigerator Operating Inspection” is comprised of the same sub tasks each time it’s assigned; the organization should know how long an industrial refrigerator operating inspection takes. With that knowledge, managers can compare how their techs are performing against average efficiency and take business action accordingly.

In addition, a sort of A/B testing can be used to some effect here. If a service manager is looking for ways to improve the efficiency of a task process, say for the task “Industrial Refrigerator Operating Inspection (IROI),” then it might be worthwhile to work with multiple versions of the IROI. Technicians and managers with IROI expertise can offer suggestions as to what tasks in the process should be added, removed, changed or reordered so as to create a new IROI that could be more efficient. Then, with two different versions of the IROI at hand, the manager can assign each one to a technician test group. If the manager sees that the new IROI version has a better service time, he can use that version for all service dates in the contract.

Closing Thoughts

As the service industry adapts to stronger consumer mandates, the specific tasks of each and every service call are warranted for inspection and optimization. By managing tasks with a mobile field service software system, organizations can deliver detailed responsibilities to their technicians in the field as well as understand the work that encompasses their techs’ “time and parts” service calls. In addition, there are great financial benefits rooted in improving the efficiency of service calls that fall under a maintenance contract or service package.

A Buyer’s Guide to Mobile Field Service Software: 9 Tips for Choosing a Mobile Solution

Manual paper logs are becoming increasingly incapable of keeping up with the current data loads of modern field service. Having a comprehensive mobile solution is necessary to keep in line with the ever changing landscape. Learn important tips, guiding questions, and to-do’s in our free, educational whitepaper: “A Buyer’s Guide to Mobile Field Service Software.”

buyers guide to mobile field service software

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