Day 1 of Field Service USA = Workshop day and, this year, the focus of the Trimble workshop was automated scheduling. The value proposition for automated scheduling is clear - better customer service through tighter appointment windows, and improved productivity of your mobile workforce. However many organizations struggle in how to implement a scheduling tool, they are rightfully concerned it will have too big of an impact on their operations.
The Trimble PULSE team was on hand to highlight how taking a stepped approach to automated scheduling can be a good compromise approach. Organizations can learn from the system to better understand the tradeoffs and constraints that it is operating under.
To better understand how these constraints can impact a schedulers decision making, our workshop format was a collaborative game of scheduling. Each table was given a couple of scheduling boards, a collection of tasks and then asked to prepare a daily schedule. After each group had finished their schedule a discussion was opened to review some of the constraints. How did you balance customer expectations (arrival windows) against technician productivity? How important was minimizing overtime? How was travel time accounted for? What about spare parts? All of these were discussed at length.
The key take away was that each group had their own bias or priority and that it was very difficult to account for multiple constraints at the same time. This highlighted two key points. First, that an automated application will almost always do a better job than a manual scheduler and secondly, which was more important, is that that without the ability to understand in real-time the scheduling decisions of the application it can be confusing for dispatchers to understand why certain jobs were scheduled.
Field Service USA is an excellent conference as it really promotes collaboration between the attendees - there is a lot of knowledge sharing and it provides a great opportunity to benchmark and compare how your organization compares against others. The workshop was a nice chance to exchange ideas about how to implement an automated scheduling system.
If you are interested in more information on how Trimble PULSE can help you step into an automated system without taking on a large implementation project please download our Quick Guide below.