The Power of Operational Intelligence in Field Service Management

man with data

Big Data is getting even bigger every single day. This increasing volume of information makes it increasingly harder for an enterprise to use the data for growth-oriented decision making. When an organization can make sense of historical information that has been captured, stored, and analyzed, we call that business intelligence. BI is, rightly, one of the hottest topics of the day because it enables an organization to implement changes to daily processes and priorities in response to historical trends. Operational intelligence (OI) brings business intelligence into the present tense, driving immediate action in response to real-time analysis. If you are the director of field service in your organization, OI can drive significant improvements in first-time fix rates, customer satisfaction, and operational efficiencies, improving productivity, profitability and the quality of work delivered.

In practical terms, OI can empower your field technicians with insight into a potential SLA breach and provides guidance on how to resolve the open issue. Assuming this type of proactive insight prevents your organization from suffering even just one SLA breach, that translates into quantifiable improvements in customer and employee satisfaction, and service profitability.

Another practical result of effective OI comes in the form of better preventative maintenance. A field tech receives a suggestion to inspect a specific equipment installation before leaving his work site, based on real-time measurements compared to historical analysis of failures of that same piece of equipment at other sites. The tech repairs the equipment before it fails, eliminating downtime and unplanned customer demands. The customer never sees the problem because it was prevented through OI.

The ability to take corrective action before a problem occurs is incredibly powerful in a field services environment. You save wasted time and energy, create a more productive workforce, and do a better job servicing your customers.

Harnessing the power of OI can involve a significant amount of forethought, trial and error, and refinement over time. Although there are many different ways to take advantage of OI, we recommend the following approach for optimizing your field workforce:

  1. Map out the tasks that your mobile field workforce is responsible for and how those tasks are performed today.
  2. Identify the inefficiencies in your field operations and opportunities for improvement. For example, one of the biggest productivity killers for a field service organization is travel time. Field techs must travel from site to site, and windshield time is unproductive.
  3. Determine ways to reduce inefficiencies (e.g., wasted travel time). Since any opportunity to reduce travel time naturally improves productivity, one goal for OI in your organization would be to make the most of every site visit.
  4. Develop operational intelligence rules to enable improvements. For example, ensure that while a field tech is visiting a site, additional work, inspections, maintenance checks, etc., can be performed or captured that could prevent a potential issue.
  5. Track the outcomes of your OI rules and regularly evaluate their effectiveness to make improvements over time. You may see a need for capturing additional data points and connecting those to other actions.

Operational intelligence enables your field workforce to work more effectively and proactively. How will you be able to tell? The biggest benefits you will see are delighted customers and higher retention rates. No customer has ever complained upon hearing: “I was able to fix the issue you reported earlier today in my initial site visit. I also performed a maintenance check on ABC equipment to ensure that you’ll be running smoothly for the next 6 months. Have a great day.”

Get more insight on enabling your field technicians and engineers with our mobile field service apps guide.