Guide to Resource Routing and Project Management for Field Service Businesses

Resource routing and project management are some of the most important capabilities a field service provider needs to possess.

Table of Content

    Resource routing and project management are some of the most important capabilities a field service provider needs to possess. This guide explores best practices for coordinating everything from routine calls to complex field service projects.

    Your bid was successful, the customer accepted your quote, and you secured the contract on a major new project. That’s because you have the materials and personnel to do the job better than anyone else, and your new customer knows it.

    But as every experienced field service operator knows, it takes more than having industry-leading resources at your disposal to execute effectively. If you can’t manage those resources effectively, get them routed where they need to be, and when they need to be there, your project can quickly fall apart.

    Best Practices for Field Service Resource Routing & Project Management

    No two field service businesses are the same, of course. Each has a specific local market where they operate, with its own strengths determined by the resources at its disposal.

    Experience a Day in the Life of a Field Service TechnicianExperience a Day in the Life of a Field Service Technician

    Having the right collaboration tools is important. In their annual Pulse of the Profession report, the Project Management Institute (PMI) found that 64 percent of organizations that had instituted tools to facilitate stronger collaboration and communication had reached the PMI’s threshold for “mature project management capabilities.” However, only 32 percent of organizations without comparable tools met that standard.

    These best practices define some of the proven best ways to operate at a high level. Of course, you’ll want to adapt them to your unique set of operating conditions, but each should be generally applicable and valuable to every business.

    Capture data at every opportunity.

    Project managers and service agents can’t make operational decisions without good information. Field service businesses are awash in data that can fuel those decisions, but you need effective means to capture it. Look for data collection methods you can apply across your entire organization—in the field, office, and digital spaces.

    Once, field service businesses had to get by with paper forms for manual data-gathering. Then, digital tools, like laptops and mobile devices, improved data-gathering capabilities. Still, today, even those may not be enough on their own to keep up with the sheer volume of information field service businesses are awash in.

    Cloud-based tools provide end-to-end data capture at all points of field service operations. They connect mobile devices used by field technicians to the same data repositories used by agents on the phone and central office staff, so everyone is working on a single, unified platform. That makes it significantly easier to plan daily routes and manage large-scale projects.

    Understand your project workflows.

    Project managers hate surprises. And the worst surprises are ones they know they could have foreseen if they had better insights into the status of individual tasks and their various dependencies.

    Ensure project managers have the tools to map workflows over a project’s entire lifecycle. They need a high-level, holistic view of everything that will happen. They also need the capability to drill down in detail and understand the minutiae of what resources are needed to ensure critical tasks go off without a hitch the first time.

    Simplify communication.

    Of course, fast-paced organizations in all sectors rely on communication to keep teams in sync and operations running smoothly. But with so much of their operations dependent on a mobile workforce in the field, communication matters to field service businesses more than most. Jobs and larger projects can fall behind if you can’t update staff in real time, schedule changes, or confirm vehicle or equipment availability.

    As a best practice, provide employees with effective and easy-to-use communication tools, so you capture everything sent to and from the field. Employees frequently use personal devices as a quick alternative if company-provided communication tools prove hard to use. That may solve the immediate communication issue, but soon you’ll have too much information moving outside controlled channels, where you can’t track or search it.

    Modern field service management software frequently includes a communication hub where project managers, agents, technicians, and customers can all interact and stay on the same page about work status. They can share text communication, links to important files, and share pictures updating everyone on the status of work in the field.

    Track projects the right way.

    A large volume of data about work and project statuses is usually helpful. But good project tracking is often as much about quality tracking as quantity. So first, establish clear goals for tracking your field service projects. What matters most to your organization and the customer? Often that will boil down to three key pieces of information:

    Business Leaders Guide to the New Digital AgeBusiness Leaders Guide to the New Digital Age
    • Is the project still on budget?
    • Will the project still finish on deadline?
    • Is the service you’re providing still going to deliver the desired result?

    To assess those outcomes, you must establish some clear parameters upfront. Set meaningful key performance indicators (KPIs) to help you assess progress.

    If you’ve worked on similar projects in the past, you can draw from your experiences there to define KPIs. If it is a completely new project, get input from stakeholders in your field service organization and from the customer to determine what KPIs you should track. Select indicators that will signal the health of larger aspects of the project. You want meaningful flags to get your attention should some significant aspect fall behind.

    Optimize your scheduling and dispatching processes.

    It’s right in the name—nothing happens in field services without someone going into the field. So scheduling vehicles, critical equipment, and technicians, and dispatching them on time, to the right worksite, along the optimal route are all mission-critical activities.

    Look for tools that can streamline or even automate scheduling and dispatching processes. For example, modern field service management software often has integrated calendar and mapping tools that help you get available technicians to worksites as fast as possible.

    Build your processes around customer service.

    All of the capabilities outlined here must work in concert to help your company provide better customer service. While they may not mean to, some field service businesses get too inward-looking when they try to improve business practices. It becomes all about their own internal processes.

    If a change doesn’t serve the customer and improve their experience with your company, the change will ultimately not succeed. Better tracking, communication, and dispatching are all needed to help you resolve work orders and projects faster for your customers. Keep them as the focus, and life will be simpler and better for your personnel.

    Find a Digital Platform That Will Support Growth

    As you look to grow your field service business, you need to identify ways to follow these best practices. Often new field service management software, like Dynamics 365 from Velosio, is the best choice. It offers a complete platform for streamlining communication, dispatching, project tracking, and resource routing.

    There are a lot of moving parts in field service operations. It takes a unified platform to bring them all together and work in ways that better serve your customers and your company’s strategic goals.

    Field Service Role Based GuideField Service Role Based Guide

    5 Signs That Your Field Service Company is Ready for a Modernized Field Service Management Solution