Every manager wants eyes behind their head, x-ray vision to peer through walls, and the ability to see into the future—but that’s a bit unrealistic. What about being able to be everywhere at all times, and know everything that is going on in your workplace every second of the day?
In the context of a mobile workforce, “workforce visibility” means having data on employee skills, experience, and tenure at the company, as well as real-time data on employee locations and work in progress. This differs from the HR context of “workforce visibility,” which refers to the ability to attract, develop, and retain talent with the right skills and experience.
Mobile workforce management is a vital tool for workforce visibility. Effective mobile workforce management helps you understand where your mobile workers are, which job they are working on (or traveling to), and how this fits into the overall picture of customer demand and your ability to meet it. When this information is captured in a single system of record, organizations that depend on mobile workers can get the visibility they need to make data-driven decisions, such as where the greatest opportunities for increased efficiency lie, or where resources can be bolstered to increase revenue.
Workforce Visibility and the Competitive Landscape
Needing to know specifics of the day-to-day operations of a field service team, and the quality of service they are providing to customers, is an old, familiar challenge for enterprises. But unfortunately, most of the methods used to collect this info are just as old.
Manual tools like paper schedules and spreadsheets—however easy they may seem—result in costly errors, delays, and frustrations when information is out of date. For a business to stay competitive, it cannot rely on antiquated operational tools in a technologically enabled marketplace. The only way to get accurate visibility across the entire mobile workforce is to implement an automated, intelligent workforce management system.
Now is the time for a business relying on paper to transition to automated data collection. Early adopters have already made the switch, and the next wave will separate those with a competitive edge from the laggards. 52% of field service organizations still use manual methods to collect data. Those firms need to ask themselves how they can support long-term growth without operational systems that provide speed, visibility, and scalability.
An effective mobile workforce management system gives you levels of visibility and insight into your labor force that are impossible to attain with traditional manual methods.
Visibility and Intelligence Create a Virtuous Cycle
It is possible to use a mix of service records, timesheets, maps, and “educated guesses” about how long it will take a technician to travel to a job, complete it, record the necessary information, and perform follow-ups, then use that data to build static schedules. But that is not the level of workforce visibility that will increase revenue and keep you competitive for years to come.
Visibility in Daily Operations
Visibility tools embedded into a mobile workforce management system, such as real-time status updates, location tracking, and seamless syncs with your system of record, help generate business insights from massive amounts of previously disconnected data. These data and insights can also help solve daily challenges your scheduling and operations team faces, like:
- How to assign the right person or team to a given job: intelligent scheduling tools use employee and customer data contained in the system to match the people with the best skill set, most desirable location, and relevant experience to the request at hand. The scheduling engine incorporates locations of technicians, travel time to the site, and other factors to dispatch the right person or team to the job. When you use interconnected systems for workforce management and scheduling, it becomes exponentially easier for schedulers and operations managers to make intelligent decisions about how to deploy resources.
- How to boost productivity: You know the basics of what is being completed each day and how long it takes, but intelligent mobile workforce management goes a step further, giving you visibility into details that ultimately create a picture of where productivity is highest and lowest. This can include things like any gap between actual time spent with a customer and what the technician enters into an appointment summary. With better visibility into workforce activities, you can identify ways to reduce travel, improve response times, and see more customers every day.
- Incident escalation and real-time visibility: Capturing incidents in your system of record–whether it is a missed appointment, delay in service, or a disappointed customer–allows managers and executives to spot troubling patterns and take corrective steps. Going a step further by escalating potential problems in real-time before they become a true incident gives managers the opportunity to intervene proactively, something nearly impossible to achieve without visibility tools.
Visibility Feeds Business Intelligence
Business intelligence refers to the insights gained from using tools, processes, infrastructure, and applications to access and analyze important business data. Increasing your visibility across the entire workforce generates valuable business intelligence that may be missed when the data is stored in separate formats or systems. Mobile workforce management gives you intelligence into your business operations by collecting meaningful data in an automatic and consistent way that allows for easy analysis.
When the information gathered from your mobile teams is structured, automated, and stored in a central location, it can be used to analyze workforce performance, spot capacity gaps, uncover opportunities for cost reduction, and help plan for growth. This business intelligence drives workforce performance—and ultimately revenue—by giving you a strong foundation to make business decisions.
Let’s examine how business intelligence can be applied to the managerial challenges of capacity and growth planning.
Intelligence Fuels Capacity and Growth Planning
Without superpowers to predict the future, capacity and growth planning can feel like a daunting task for many managers. A more effective way to plan capacity for your mobile workforce is with the intelligence from an automated workforce management and scheduling tool. Capacity planning requires understanding:
- The historical demand for services from your customer base.
- The current composition of your mobile workforce in terms of locations, mix of skills, and customer relationships.
- Anticipated growth and revenue projections anchored in historical data.
- The workforce resources needed to meet those goals, and any gaps between needs and the current state.
Increased workforce visibility helps you confidently gather this data and plan for the future of your business. A mobile workforce management tool provides a means for collecting and managing the combination of real-time needs with historical data to help you plan and understand your needs down to the hour, day, month, or a specific seasonal time frame.
How Mobile Workforce Management Creates the Visibility-Intelligence Cycle
Mobile workforce management software gives you levels of visibility and insights that are impossible to attain with manual tools and processes. These insights are the result of a virtuous visibility-intelligence cycle that gives you a clearer understanding of the needs of your employees and customers, as well as the inner workings of your business.