Take the profit-boosting approach to workforce planning & scheduling

Put yourself in a customer’s shoes for a moment:

It’s Friday morning and you’re working from home because your car won’t start. You have an important conference call in the afternoon. Around 10:45am, you notice that your Internet connection seems to be dropping intermittently. After trying to troubleshoot the problem yourself, you give up and quickly call the cable company. They identify the problem and promise a technician will be over within the next two hours.

Two hours later and still no sign of a technician. The cable company apologizes, saying that they’re experiencing a shortage of technicians and the soonest they can get to your house is in another three hours. You’re beyond frustrated – but mostly, you’re disappointed that a company promising efficiency and superior service has failed to meet your expectations.

Unknown to the customer, your engineer was delayed by a prior service call – 20 miles away. It’s possible that the engineer was assigned to too many service calls that were not optimized by location. It’s also possible that your dispatchers did not have real-time visibility into the engineer’s job schedule.

Telephone engineer high up on a pole working on a maintenance call

Successful workforce planning and scheduling play a critical role in customer satisfaction and loyalty. Your business is only as profitable as the quality and accuracy of the work your technicians deliver. And your technicians are only as good as the plans and schedules created by your dispatchers.

So the question is, how good are your plans and schedules?

Good plans vs great plans

The director of operations at a field services company once told DELMIA Quintiq COO, Arjen Heeres, that a good schedule was one that enabled the company to meet its commitments by assigning all required tasks to the available personnel. A bad schedule was simply one that failed this test.

However, the director had other requirements for the schedules. Requirements that were directly linked to the company’s business goals.

He expected the schedules to minimize overtime. He expected dispatchers to avoid assigning highly qualified, ‘expensive’ employees to tasks that didn’t require their expertise. He expected employee preferences to be incorporated into schedules and distributed as fairly as possible. Although his planners were aware of his expectations, there was no easy way to incorporate all of them into their schedules.

With hundreds of service partners and engineers, managing your mobile workforce profitably is an extremely challenging task. You’re not alone. Many large organizations still have no way of knowing if their plans and schedules are actually helping them achieve their primary business goals.

How do the successful ones do it? They use a strategic approach to workforce scheduling.

Schedule for profit and satisfaction

Research by Aberdeen Group indicates that organizations with strategic workforce scheduling can see average year-on-year performance improvements that include:

  • 5% to capacity utilization
  • 24% to employee engagement
  • 36% to data accuracy
  • 31% to labor cost reduction

Imagine what these improvements could do for your organization! After all, why schedule for the sake of scheduling when you could be scheduling to achieve some of your most significant business goals?  Make every plan contribute to your bottom line.

Download the strategic guide to workforce planning & scheduling

Source: Total Workforce Management 2013: Scheduling, Mollie Lombardi, Aberdeen Group, July 2013