How Automated Scheduling Solves the Challenges of Mobile Workforces
Is your organization ready for “the moment of service”?
For companies with mobile workforces, the ability to quickly and accurately put the right team member in the right place at the right time is a critical requirement for success. More succinctly: managing schedules is your business. Unfortunately, that task is often trapped in outdated processes, delays, and frustrations for schedulers, workers, and customers.
Today, emerging technologies are changing that scheduling nightmare, transforming a grinding manual requirement into a streamlined advantage. Mobile workforce scheduling lets your business deliver a wide range of services in a smooth, no-drama manner that reduces operating costs, increases efficiency, and allows you to achieve the highest levels of customer satisfaction.
You no longer have to endure the headaches, delays, and hidden costs of outdated scheduling paradigms. Instead, you can capitalize on innovative technology to streamline and transform how your organization delivers services to your customers.
Scheduling relies on inefficient manual processes
In many organizations, it’s not easy to be a central dispatcher or schedule planner. The best-case scenario involves asking employees and contractors to submit forms that list their availability and PTO requests. In more organizations, however, scheduling involves a tangled web of data extracted from Google Calendar, Microsoft Outlook, HR systems, payroll applications, Google Maps, spreadsheets, and emails. Worse, it can also mean untangling a flurry of text messages and voicemails as well as ad hoc whiteboard schedules and post-it notes.
Then the scheduler must use Rubik’s Cube-like skills to piece together a schedule that balances resource availability, skills, customer needs, travel and meal times, prep time, the length of the job, and more. With the mobile workforce expected to grow to 60% of the U.S. workforce by 2024, manual processes are unacceptable. Even the most talented and organized scheduler is soon trapped in a process of last-minute revisions that can upset customers and send employee morale plummeting.
Ultimately, it requires Zen-master-like patience to balance all of the competing demands and constraints. And when you’re done, it’s time to start on the next schedule.
Automation streamlines scheduling complexities
But you can’t run a vibrant and growing business using manual processes. Mobile workforce scheduling can transform this headache into the best possible customer service from the first appointment request through to task completion. By moving beyond manual processes, you can collect schedule inputs from every team member—creating effective employee schedules in a streamlined and systematic manner. Using business rules, schedule constraints, employee certifications, and customer relationships, you can build the optimal schedule. Online schedules are easier to share and there’s never a question about the most updated version.
Modern solutions can bring the schedule to the mobile worker (with built in workflows and geolocation) and tie back to customer-relationship management systems for an end-to-end solution. The result? You learn more about your workforce’s activities and productivity and improve customer satisfaction.
Smaller organizations lack resources to create customized scheduling solutions
Given the scale of their operations and volume of appointments they manage on a daily basis, it’s no surprise billion-dollar telecom companies have invested tens of millions of dollars in customized hardware and software solutions to govern the scheduling, routing, and location of their teams of field-service employees who often drive around with thousands of dollars of inventory and equipment. These military-grade systems use rugged devices to interact with custom-built, robust enterprise applications.
The investments large companies have made in these enterprise systems have more than validated the concept of automated scheduling. However, it’s also clear they can require years of development and implementation and teams of IT personnel to maintain and support them.
In the mid-market, that model doesn’t work. Thousands of smaller companies—call them “Non-Traditional Field Service”—have similar challenges but can’t afford that level of investment and technology risk.
Cloud solutions brings flexible automated scheduling to the mid-market
Fortunately, new alternatives have emerged to meet the needs of a broad range of industries. The key to these new-breed solutions is the use of the cloud model where the vendor operates and maintains the software, eliminating the need for these smaller companies to invest in and manage complicated software. Instead, mobile workers use simple smartphones and tablets while central dispatchers work with an easy web application. By bringing workforce scheduling to the entire workforce, these affordable, easy-to-implement solutions are opening up the service economy to new levels of speed, efficiency, profitability, and customer satisfaction.
Customer experiences suffers due to subpar experiences
It’s an all-too-common scenario. A customer schedules an appointment and waits at home for the arrival of their field worker . . . only to wait and wait. No on-time arrival. No notification of delays. Only frustration. Worse, when the worker arrives, they often don’t have the right skills to solve the problem. The customer must call to reschedule the appointment and start the process all over again.
One of the greatest sources of customer dissatisfaction is simply the endless friction involved in the process—delays, paperwork, and missed appointments.
Automated scheduling reduces customer friction
Today’s mobile workforce management solutions eliminate these problems, helping dispatchers efficiently create smarter, more sensible schedules that account for travel/traffic time, skills certifications, task complexity, and more.
Instead of the common scenario, imagine a customer self-scheduling an appointment on your website, then your scheduling system builds a schedule that intelligently matches the right technician or caregiver (ideally, one who has an existing relationship with the customer) to the right location at the right time. It’s the kind of process and transaction that brings outsized gains because it impresses customers and builds loyalty.
Organizations lack tools to schedule for a blended workforce
As the “social economy” takes off, companies like Uber that work with thousands of part-time contractors are helping reinvent the way we think about work. Forcing many organizations to play catch-up to meet the changing expectations of the growing numbers of freelancers and independent contractors (the so-called “1099 Workforce”) who work in many service industries. For these workers, mobile workforce scheduling can represent a significant improvement in their ability to do their jobs—and increase their satisfaction while enabling companies to lower costs and maximize flexibility.
Many of these 1099 workers have relationships with multiple service providers, which means their availability changes often. There are no desks, no 40-hour 9-to-5 work weeks, and no time clocks. And, since these are not traditional employees, they are free to accept other assignments—even just as your schedule takes effect, which can raise havoc.
Automation decreases the complexity in contractor scheduling
Mobile workforce scheduling allows dispatchers to take all of these factors and nuances into account and methodically create planned, optimized schedules that increase employee satisfaction and loyalty and reduce churn. In turn, this means you have a more experienced workforce and your customers enjoy a level of service continuity that they value.
The benefits of automated scheduling software
Mobile workforce scheduling is field-proven technology that is ready to deploy in days, not months, delivering a user experience that field workers and dispatchers alike appreciate. It’s usable from virtually any smartphone or tablet, and some solutions also account for the fact that workers can travel in and out of cellular coverage areas by making their apps available in offline mode as well.
Perhaps more importantly, these affordable mid-market solutions aren’t simply feature-deprived, standalone apps. Many of the best alternatives integrate with sophisticated back-end CRM or ERP systems to automatically collect data about field-service, generate invoices, track performance, and gain a greater sense of visibility into operational areas that have remained hidden from view. This provides a level of automation and visibility that has previously been unavailable to small and mid-sized companies.
Enable your mobile workforce with automated scheduling
You don’t have to wait to realize the benefits of automated scheduling. Skedulo has taken what used to be an administrative nightmare and turned it into simple, efficient scheduling automation. Now any company with workers in the field can be sure they are putting the right people in the right place, with real-time communications and support at every step along their journey. Skedulo’s platform helps enterprises intelligently manage, schedule, dispatch, and support deskless workers on the go, whether they are in fixed location facilities or mobile field workers on the frontline.