Feeling a little overwhelmed by chaotic job scheduling? Constantly fire-fighting against unpredictable job durations and regular schedule changes to keep jobs on track?
You are not alone… In fact, many field service businesses hit these exact same challenges.
Whilst knowing this won’t bring you joy, we have something that hopefully will. In this blog, we’ll delve into the top 10 major job scheduling headaches – and the fixes.
Let’s jump straight in…
👆Heads up: These are in no particular order.
JOB SCHEDULING: HEADACHE #1 – THE SKILLS SHORTAGE
According to research, getting quality engineers is an issue for 47% of field service businesses. It’s actually an issue for many industries across the UK.
Most field service businesses have growth on the agenda, so this causes a major blocker. Because if you don’t have the right skills, you can’t match them to existing jobs, never mind potentially new projects. And if you’re lacking skills in one area, you may be missing crucial expertise to improve strategies.
💪Fix: With smart job scheduling software, real-time data is reported directly into one platform so you can keep tabs on gaps in schedules. Plus, you can plot the skill sets of the entire team, development opportunities, and more (we’ll go into this later).
JOB SCHEDULING: HEADACHE #2 – NO VISIBILITY OVER WORKLOADS
It’s hard to evenly share workloads, assign jobs to the right specialists, plug new jobs into schedules, or even value your employees if you simply can’t see how much they contribute.
This causes a bit of a problem when field engineers are such a huge part of the operations because a huge section of business operations is missed. So, how can you optimize service quality and profits without this insight?
On top of this, with meeting customer expectations being cited as the top challenge by 56% of customers, it’s not something to be overlooked.
💪Fix: With job scheduling software, all this information is at your fingertips. In real-time you can see all engineers’ schedules in one place, allowing you to evenly distribute jobs so that some engineers aren’t overburdened and using overtime, or under-utilized. It makes sure you can track the number of jobs assigned to each engineer, the level of complexity and the time estimated.
It’s a great one for managing expenses and morale. Plus, a central calendar of availability means you can better cater for holidays, sick days and training days.
JOB SCHEDULING: HEADACHE #3 – KEEPING ON TOP OF COMPLIANCE
This one is a necessity. Not meeting regulatory standards across all jobs can mean compliance fines, missing SLAs and losing contracts, poor experiences – and you can say goodbye to repeat custom and referrals.
Whereas with a proactive approach to compliance, you can mitigate all this and boost the credibility and reliability of your business. Customers gain confidence and service quality soars. 🚀
💪Fix: To complete every job in line with regulation and company policies, certain tasks can be made easier with tech. For example, job scheduling software can enforce the completion of things like risk assessments and vehicle checks, as well as provide evidence of completed work (photos).
JOB SCHEDULING: HEADACHE #4 – DEALING WITH TOO MANY SCHEDULE CHANGES
Last-minute changes are an inevitable part of planning. Jobs take longer than scheduled. Kit doesn’t arrive or gets lost. Customers cancel appointments or push back jobs. And when one job has multiple tasks underpinning it, it creates a nightmare for schedulers.
Often, it’s a case of being reactive and rerouting engineers. This alone can mean calling around entire teams to juggle things.
💪Fix: Giving engineers a mobile app for scheduling resolves a lot of the administrative burden. Engineers can receive instant notifications for job schedule changes.
Plus, they can use these apps to update back-office teams on job statuses instantly. These job notes can allow you to fix challenges as soon as they happen. And some tech even allows you to push ETA updates through to customers so they know when to expect you.
JOB SCHEDULING: HEADACHE #5 – UNPREDICTABLE JOB TIMES
And when an engineer attends a job, you know it isn’t guaranteed to run smoothly every time. The job may be more complex than first thought. Other work may not have been completed yet to allow your engineers to do their bit. Parts are delayed. And if you’ve budgeted for 2 days and it takes 5, it hugely eats into your profit margins.
What’s more, explaining all this to clients is a little awkward. 🤦♂️
💪Fix: Job scheduling software to the rescue 🦸♀️. Tracking job progress in real-time allows you to quickly switch up schedules – for example, sending an engineer to a different, nearby job if the one they attended isn’t ready.
JOB SCHEDULING: HEADACHE #6 – MATCHING JOBS TO SKILL SETS
Trying to remember who is specialised in what is another layer of insight for job schedulers to remember. And if you’ve quite a few engineers, it’s not something you can easily do manually.
This has a whole host of issues like delays in sending engineers out, sending an engineer that doesn’t have the skills to complete the job the first time and sending the same, well-known engineer over-and-over (covered in headache #2).
Plus, there’s the compliance issue we mentioned earlier. As well as challenges with efficiency if the job can’t be completed the first time due to a skills gap.
💪Fix: Job scheduling software takes away the hefty admin and huge demand to remember everything. Through automation, the tech matches engineers’ expertise to jobs and assigns the available team members. These certified team members are more experienced to efficiently complete tasks so you can exceed expectations – and invoice faster.
JOB SCHEDULING: HEADACHE #7 – COMMUNICATION BETWEEN BACK-OFFICE AND FIELD TEAMS
This is a two-way issue:
- Engineers need all the relevant job information like history, job cards, documents, contact details, and exact location information.
- Back-office teams need to know engineer ETAs, job statuses and get access to customer signatures.
Without this, jobs experience delays, information is missing, invoices are held back, and customers are kept in the dark. It’s not a great experience for anyone involved.
💪Fix: Tech can make communication instant. From GPS tracking to mobile apps that allow engineers to upload documents at the click of a button.
On top of this, all the job information is stored in one, digital place meaning employees can retrieve information whenever they need it. It’s a great one for proof-of-work and auditing.
It alleviates a lot of the stresses caused by back-and-forth communication where there are delays and inevitably something gets missed – particularly as a lot of engineers work outside of the usual office hours.
JOB SCHEDULING: HEADACHE #8 – TRACKING BILLABLE WORK
Calculating the true cost of each job is pretty impossible without accurate tracking of all expenses – including parts used and labour. Why does this matter? Missing information can mean customers are significantly undercharged for work. And if you use this as a template for other jobs, it causes a major dampener on profit margins.
All this may be true, but how field services can actually track all the components for billing is difficult.
💪Fix: Unless of course you use mobile tracking tools. Engineers can more easily log the parts they use, the hours taken, mileage and expenses for each job so that going forward, you can see how much resource is needed when both scheduling and billing.
Over time, you can track which jobs have higher profit margins and use this when prospecting and taking on new clients. Essentially, it allows you to prioritise the higher value jobs.
JOB SCHEDULING: HEADACHE #9 – GENERAL KPI TRACKING
Reporting on key field service metrics is how you track what’s working well with scheduling and what’s not. If you’re stuck with spreadsheets, customer history and contact information outside of CRM systems, and accounting software working in silos – a clear view of business operations is a little hazy, to say the least.
💪Fix: The good news is, you don’t need lengthy IT projects to resolve this. With job scheduling software, you can create custom reports that yield all this insight. This tech provides a central system to create one single source of the truth, integrating things like accounting tools.
And rather than needing a data scientist to unpick data, the right tech has customizable dashboards that break down insight into digestible, visual reports.
The result? You can spot trends like SLA breaches, customer satisfaction and so much more. Neat, right?
JOB SCHEDULING: HEADACHE #10 – INTEGRATING SYSTEMS
We’ve just touched on this one but we need to delve into it a little more.
So, what do we mean by integrating systems? There are core data sources you want to pull into one central system so you can see what’s happening across the business and get the juicy intel we just mentioned above. We’re talking about needing to see finance, CRM, billing and more.
Without this, changes can happen in one system that aren’t fed back to the central hub. The result is confused insight and quickly outdated information. Not what you need.
💪Fix: Modern scheduling software allows you to pump data into one platform using an API connection. And vice versa. For example, it means your Xero accounting system and your scheduling software hold the same data – without the burden of duplicate data entry (and the human error it can incur).
These updates are instant. So you’re always powered by THE latest insight.
THE PARACETAMOL OF JOB SCHEDULING 💊
To sum it all up, smart scheduling software solves a multitude of headaches – urgent job schedule changes, engineer skills matching, job communication, KPI monitoring and more. And these are just the top challenges.
There are so many other benefits of scheduling tech because automation fixes so many issues like administration costs, errors and delays.