The vehicle plays a vital part in service delivery. In essence, delivery cannot happen without a service vehicle or fleet of vehicles being operational and available. While remote monitoring technology and self-service options are enabling organizations to reduce unwanted truck rolls, there are still a large proportion of service events (60%+) that still require a field service dispatch. And unless the field service engineer has acquired superhuman skills, he/she still needs a vehicle to get to the customer site.
Apart from offering a mode of transportation, service vehicles play an increasingly important role in impacting field service performance. At the execution level, vehicle performance data is now used by organizations in a number of ways:
- For Tracking and Better Accountability – This enables organizations to understand where their drivers and technicians are, and also helps field service teams account for technician location in times of emergencies or customer conflict regarding service performance.
- To Support Better Routing – While personal navigation devices and smart phones are the primary tools used for turn-by-turn navigation by drivers, accurate location data can help dispatchers or other back-office service agents appropriately route technicians to their tasks or to part pickup locations en route.
- To Improve Scheduling – Meeting promised service windows or SLAs often requires a clear picture of the location of available service technicians. While, the nearest technician might not always be the best or most available for a particular service ticket, it is vital for field service dispatchers and schedulers to have complete visibility into the location of their field workforce.
- For Enhanced Driver Safety – Knowing where your technicians are in an emergency can reduce the time it takes for help to arrive at the vehicle site. More so, insight into vehicle data like rapid acceleration or deceleration can alert the service organization to an emergency in cases where the driver may not be able to alert the back-office team or contact authorities.
- To Support Planning Initiatives – Aggregate data about service trips, travel routes, driver preferences and more, can be utilized to forecast or predict travel and arrival times for future service events. More so, knowledge about driver preferences and tendencies can help organizations identify opportunities for increased training when it comes to field service delivery and vehicle management. Data about vehicle usage and demand can also help support decision making around lease vs. buy or repair vs. replace.
With the aid of vehicle performance data, field service organizations have been able to improve productivity and cut costs. While this should be normal in any instance where an organization goes from zero visibility to knowing where its resources are, there are discernible advantages to integrating vehicle location and performance into the field service equation.
This is one of the reasons that we have recently undertaken a research project on the topic of fleet management in field service. One of the surprising takeaways from the early data returns is that while fleet management is vital to service performance, just 50% of organizations state that fleet management, as a function, is owned by field service. While field service does have the largest proportion of responses, a 50% return is interesting. After field service, areas of fleet management ownership include operations, finance, facilities, and more. Eight percent (8%) of respondents treat fleet management as its own business function.
Figure: Ownership of Fleet Management
Source: TSC Data 2014
We are still collecting results on the topic and will release complete findings in September. If your organization has a service fleet, please spend a few moments to tell us about your fleet management initiatives by taking our survey.