How to Measure the Productivity of a Mobile Workforce
Productivity—or how much output per unit of input an employee creates—is an important metric for any company, whether you’re measuring something like the number of products delivered or hours of labor. But when your workers spend the majority of their time out in the field rather than sitting at a desk, it can be tricky to keep track of everything they’re accomplishing.
In a deskless workforce, it’s the mobile workers that serve as the face of the company, interacting with customers and clients to get the job done. So it’s important for them to get the most out of every interaction and use their time well. It follows that for these field service workers, high productivity means they can deliver more services, visit more customers, and complete more appointments in a given time period—a short-term scale that’s in contrast with that of most desk workers’.
And though it may seem tricky, measuring the productivity of a mobile workforce is easy if you have the right tools. With these four steps, you’ll learn the best productivity metrics to use for deskless employees and how to monitor those metrics to boost your KPIs.
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Step 1: Translate company priorities into productivity metrics
Have you ever heard that “what gets measured gets done”—or at least, gets managed? The first step in measuring anything at your company is figuring out what, specifically, to measure. Different organizations and workforces have different needs and goals, so the specific definition of productivity—the inputs and outputs—may vary.
For instance, a company in sales will likely focus their productivity around metrics like number of products sold, while a nonprofit may instead focus on the number of people reached or donations received with a certain campaign. Whatever the goal, any organization needs to set its own priorities.
Once goals are clear, it’s time to establish the right field service key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with those priorities, and communicate them to employees. There are many KPIs that might work well for your mobile team. But once you decide which ones are appropriate, you can then use them to do things like measure progress over time, eliminate roadblocks, and sort out the best way to balance productivity (efficiency and value for the business) with customer service (convenience and value for the customer).
Productivity metrics can be as simple as the number of services delivered in a given day, week, or month. But there are other important factors to keep in mind when thinking about employee productivity KPIs, like meeting customer expectations and doing the job right. Speed is only helpful if the work is done well; rework, wasted effort, and dissatisfaction—from customers or workers—all decrease overall productivity.
For example, increasing the number of HVAC systems an employee can fix in a day only increases productivity if each of those jobs is done correctly. A follow-up visit will not only take more time than a more thorough first visit, it’ll also decrease customer trust and satisfaction.
Likewise, increasing the number of patients a mobile therapist visits in a day only increases productivity if each patient is satisfied with the time spent on their care and feels their health concerns are properly addressed.
When setting specific goals for workers, it’s essential to keep in mind what’s achievable and relevant. Setting SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound) will make sure workers don’t get frustrated.
For example, a goal of seeing 10 patients per day may only be achievable when appointments and travel time are both very short. Asking a worker to squeeze in more appointments than what’s logistically feasible will quickly result in frustration. Likewise, a goal of onboarding four customers per day is only possible if there are at least four new customers to onboard each day in the first place. Measuring the output based on insufficient or impossible inputs (not enough demand for jobs to meet the target) is a clear recipe for both employee dissatisfaction and customer dissatisfaction—both of which will hurt your bottom line.
Step 2: Measure the number of services provided and/or customers served
Once you’ve identified your productivity metrics for employees, you’re ready to start measuring.
The simplest part is tallying up what was done, when, and by whom. Managers should focus on counting the number of jobs assigned to and completed by each worker. This approach is a more accurate representation of actual productivity, because only some variables that are traditionally tied to productivity are within a worker’s control.
Some month-over-month or quarter-over-quarter productivity trends are a direct result of employees, like an increase in their skill, comfort, or speed in completing whatever service they’re providing. However, some trends will be out of a worker’s hands. For example, employees can’t control if there’s a significant price increase or unavailability of a major product or service that results in fewer customer purchases.
By focusing on jobs completed vs jobs assigned, you can help even out these types of fluctuations.
Relevant KPIs for mobile workers
Specifically, the most relevant KPIs for mobile workers is typically the number of completed jobs per appropriate time period—be that day, week, or month. Deskless workers who do more, shorter jobs in a day (e.g., eight 30-minute jobs) may do better with a daily view, while those who do fewer, longer jobs in a day (e.g. two 3-hour jobs) would likely do better with a weekly or even monthly target.
When an employee’s productivity is trending down, it’s time to investigate the cause of the backup. Are high travel times eating up time available for jobs? Is poor communication leading to missed appointments? Keeping track of changes can help identify—and solve—problems early.
Relevant KPIs for management
Managers may want to take a broader view to track how the company is doing overall. For instance, they could look at total services delivered by all mobile workers, per month or quarter. Knowing when service delivery is trending up or down is vital, since it will have a direct impact on the company’s revenue stream.
Managers also need a breakdown of how the mix of products and services delivered impacts revenue so they can strike the right balance. For example, an HVAC company that performs both installations and repairs makes more money from installations. So although their overall target may be 150 completed jobs per month, they may want to make sure at least 100 of those jobs are installations to ensure healthy margins.
How technology can help
Companies with enterprise resource planning (ERP) or field service management (FSM) software can easily use these tools to view all of the services delivered in a given period. The right platform should have features like customizable dashboards that provide visual breakdowns of how specific product lines, teams, or individuals are trending over time. This real-time data can help you determine if you’ve set attainable goals for your mobile workers—and if not, help you adjust those goals—to ensure a positive employee experience.
Step 3: Measure the efficiency of service delivery
Quantifying the number of jobs completed is a great start, but as we mentioned earlier, measuring true productivity requires measuring how well and how quickly each job was completed, too. Businesses unlock most of their productivity not by adding more jobs to the schedule, but by reducing waste, rework, and frustration in day-to-day operations.
Just like productivity, the definition of efficiency varies among industries. Efficiency means something different in the context of providing a service like pool cleaning versus something like in-home therapy.
Still, measuring efficiency often comes down to measuring significant deviations from the mean—in other words, measuring inefficiencies. Spotting inefficiencies like time spent stuck in traffic, or when someone visits the same site multiple times per day, will ultimately make services more predictable, consistent, and therefore, profitable. You can measure inefficiencies with automated software, but note that as with any AI-assisted tool, you’ll need to keep a close eye on the data sources to be sure you measure the right thing in a non-obtrusive way.
Relevant KPI for mobile workers
For mobile workers, one of the best efficiency-related KPIs to set and monitor is repeat visits. Obviously, when mobile workers have to come back to the same location more than once because they didn’t have the right tools or they couldn’t access the job site, it decreases efficiency. A high or rising number of repeat visits may be a sign of an underlying issue, like lack of proactive communication with workers, appointment reminders for clients, etc.
Relevant KPIs for managers
For managers, a good way to monitor worker efficiency is to look at utilization, or wrench time: the time spent on actual work and delivering services to customers, compared with time spent on administrative work. Utilization metrics can be very revealing about a worker’s day-to-day life. Low utilization means workers are spending too much time on non-revenue-driving work, like filling out paperwork or attending team meetings.
Another good metric to track is rework. When mobile workers have to come back to the same site because the original repair or installation did not work, it has a major negative effect on customer service. So a high rework percentage could mean workers aren’t adequately trained or equipped for the job.
Relevant KPIs for schedulers
People tasked with drafting up schedules for a mobile workforce should stay on top of certain KPIs, too. In particular, schedulers may want to track metrics like travel time and schedule adherence. Higher travel times can result in more frustrated employees, more fuel used, and less time spent doing what mobile workers do best—helping customers.
Likewise, the ability to give customers an appointment time and stick to it is a huge part of customer satisfaction. By defining a “tolerance window” on either side of the appointment time, then measuring deviation from that window, managers can keep track of how on-time workers are. A very low schedule adherence means there’s a disconnect between when schedulers estimate workers can arrive and when workers can actually arrive.
How technology can help
Repeat visits and rework are often a function of miscommunication about the timing, entry details, or equipment needed for a job. Look for mobile workforce management software that gives workers in-the-moment access to scheduling and communication tools so they arrive fully prepared to tackle the task at hand.
The right deskless productivity platform should include mobile data collection tools to help deskless workers enter information in real-time and sync up with systems of record, rather than forcing them to translate notes from one system to another each day. A It should also offer efficient, intelligent scheduling and route optimization to help improve on-time arrivals.
Step 4: Measure customer satisfaction with services delivered
Even if you’re operating at 100% utilization and efficiency—a rare feat!—it doesn’t mean much if customers are unhappy and leaving for competitors. Now that you know how many customers you’re serving and how efficiently you’re serving them, you can focus on creating an ideal customer experience.
Relevant KPIs for mobile workers and managers
One of the most important KPIs for all levels of a business is customer satisfaction. Providing patrons with a simple survey about their experience allows you to track results over time and evaluate workers’ customer interactions in the field. Higher satisfaction generally leads to better customer retention and more referrals. Satisfaction is often tied to other KPIs, too. For instance, poor schedule adherence and rework visits will erode customer satisfaction and confidence in the brand.
Relevant KPIs for schedulers
Schedulers can help with customer satisfaction, too, by sticking to a good scheduling rate. The sooner jobs are added to the schedule, the sooner customers get the product or service they purchased—and the more jobs that can be completed in a given week. Schedulers can also work on minimizing the time to first contact: The time between a customer first indicating interest and the company contacting them.
How technology can help
Customers won’t jump through hoops to give feedback. As such, it’s important to give them the opportunity to provide feedback in simple ways, like a short survey delivered via email or text message, or even as part of the checkout or invoicing process.
Once customer feedback is captured in a CRM or similar system, you should be able to integrate it with other tools to make the most of your mobile workforce tech stack. For example, you might use customer satisfaction scores as a factor in your scheduling process, giving a customer who was less satisfied last time a higher priority on the schedule. You might also track customer satisfaction for a certain product or team over time to see if the training materials, service processes, or something else associated with a certain product need to be improved, or if a certain team needs more support.
Measure deskless productivity with the right tools
By now, it’s clear that to help keep your company on track, it’s critical to have a way to measure the productivity of your mobile workforce. Choosing the right metrics and being able to monitor them over time are an excellent start. But to truly support your employees and keep efficiency high—all while improving your bottom line—you need mobile technologies that can improve workflows for managers and employees alike.
Skedulo is here for your deskless workforce needs. From intelligent scheduling features and mobile, in-the-field data collection tools to metrics dashboards and robust integrations. Want to learn more? Check out our Buyer’s Guide for Mobile Workforce Management Software for more information.