This is the fifth article in a nine part series about the role that software plays in the field service industry. It’s focus is on dispatching and scheduling processes and how software can help you run a better service business by managing your dispatching operations. We’re passionate about software and the service industry, and we want to help you find the right software for your business, whether it’s our product or a competitor’s.You’ll receive the next white paper in the series next week, but if you can’t wait we encourage you to use the links at the bottom of the page to read the rest of the series now.
How Can Software Improve Dispatching and Scheduling Processes For The Service Industry?
Dispatching and scheduling is a pair of processes that are so closely related to your work order management system that it is absolutely vital that all three areas work together in unison. We’ll start by looking at just scheduling, since a work order must be scheduled before a technician can be dispatched.
Depending on your specific service business your scheduling process might look something like the following:
A work order comes in and is logged in your work order management system
- It’s likely that you put new work orders in a pool of unassigned orders until it is ready to be assigned to someone.
- Software will help you keep track of unassigned work orders and gives you good views of how long orders have been open, who they were taken by, etc.
Unassigned work orders need to be assigned
- If this is done by your technicians simply claiming orders then this is probably relatively straight forward.
- A technician looks at his calendar (whether paper or electronic) and schedules the order whenever he is free
- Potential Problems:
- Does the job have any special requirements or certifications? If so, does the technician have access to that information?
- Does the technician have access to the site address for the unassigned work orders? Do they have site addresses displayed on their calendar? They should have both! That way they can schedule jobs in the same area to minimize driving time!
- Does the technician have access to other technicians’ schedules? Maybe a work order came in for a far away site that happens to be close to another site that a different tech will be at, and they could kill two birds with one stone.
If a dispatcher, service manager or scheduler is responsible for assigning orders to
technicians this gets a bit more difficult
- The dispatcher needs a very good view of all the technician calendars with all of the work orders listed by time and area.
- The dispatcher also needs the site address and requirements for the unassigned work orders that way they can assign a technician who is qualified and in the area.
- Potential Problems:
- Obtaining a comprehensive view of technician schedules is going to be incredibly difficult if the volume of work orders and number of techs is large enough and no software is being used
Once a work order is assigned then the technician for that job must be dispatched.
After assigning a work order you now must alert the technician for that job that they have a new work order to take care of. This means you must supply them with the following information:
- Site Address
- Contact Info
- Services Requested
- Materials, parts or items needed
- Date and Time for the order
- Directions to the site
- Billing info
- Certifications and Requirements
- Existing customer equipment and info
- Custom documents (keycodes for buildings, blueprints, etc)
That list may be less or more detailed depending on your specific business, but the question arises either way: How do you convey that information to your technician?
It’s easy enough to do so if they’re in the office. You can give them a hard copy of this info, though it may be hard to organize it if your inventory management system is separate from your customer relationship management system which is separate from your work order management system (Hint: Software that encompasses all of these systems is great).
But what if you assign a technician an order when they’re already out in the field, or if they work remotely and don’t ever come into the dispatching office? Or what if your dispatcher is the remote worker? Then you must resort to email, phone calls or something else.
- Synchronization is nearly impossible and relies on email or phone calls, which waste both people’s time. Real time data sharing is not going to happen. Plus sometimes getting in touch with someone on the phone or email is difficult.
- How do you share the above info for a work order via telephone or email? It’s nearly impossible.
Software that allows your inventory, CRM and work order management systems to integrate with each other will allow you to easily collect all of the info you need to supply your technicians with. Any good service management software will also provide a way to easily share that info with your tech, and this generally happens in two ways.
- Reporting Tools
- Good software will come with a large repertoire of standard reporting tools that will automatically gather the information your tech needs and send it in a well formatted email, including custom documents and spreadsheets.
- Mobile Applications
- The best service management software will also have mobile applications that extend the reach of the core software into the field. Technicians can access all information from their mobile device in the field and information on both ends is automatically updated in real time. So when a dispatcher assigns an order to a tech from back in the office, the technician is automatically alerted in the field and instantly has access to all of the work order, inventory and customer information.
We hope our software fits your dispatching and scheduling needs since we’ve been designing software specifically for the service industry for over 25 years, but we’re quick to acknowledge when the fit isn’t right and we’d be glad to point you to one of our competitors who might suit your needs better. If you have any questions about dispatching and scheduling systems and how they relate to your specific business processes please feel free to give us a call at 360-293-3000.
This article is the fifth in a nine part series of white papers designed to inform you about the role that software plays in the field service industry. You’ll receive the next article in the series next week, but if you can’t wait until then we encourage you to check out the entire series using the links below. Thanks for reading!
The Team at High 5 Software
Read The Whole Series
Part 2: Customer Relationship Management
Part 4: Sales, Leads and Proposals
Part 5: Dispatching and Scheduling