Workforce Management Software – Improving Data Use and Automation for Field Service Businesses
There are numerous articles written about what workforce management software does and if you’re on this page the chances are you have some sort of idea what it is, workforce management does.
As 2020 begins; we look back to last year where there were a lot of articles written suggesting what would happen in the next 12 months in this vertical; that have seemingly not come true for many.
Two of the main things suggested by most of these articles was for these workforce management systems to offer some form of automation in their processes, and the use of data to be more widely considered and used.
What is Workforce Management Software?
Loosely defined as “Software that manages, plans and tracks the use of labour resources” workforce management software is a large market with multiple options in terms of suppliers.
In field service businesses there are number of software products that can help with in automating processes and using data that fall under the “Workforce Management” banner, these are:
- Time & Attendance or Staff Monitoring – Biometric, landline, key fob or app based.
- Scheduling Software – Assign staff to shifts according to certain criteria.
- Payroll Calculation Software – Tally hours worked and arrange pay.
Time & Attendance
Time and attendance software will allow you to monitor staff time on site. Regardless of application, time & attendance can be used to improve health and safety, monitor productivity, and increase administrative efficiency.
There are many types of time and attendance software and hardware that you could use, here are a few of the options
With a bio-metric device you will need a finger or facial recognition scanner, and the appropriate software to use this solution. The staff will enter site, scan their face or finger and go about their day. It is a quick process and unobtrusive in terms of time, however, the devices are costly and not very pretty, so you will need to consider whether the site would benefit, whether it’s cost effective, and naturally check if the client minds you installing such a device.
A solution from a bygone time that is still very effective. A staff member enters site, uses a site phone to dial an automated service to confirm attendance at the start and end of a shift. The calls take no longer than a minute, however you need to ensure you’re allowed to use the phone and have the relevant details for this to work, additionally its slightly more intrusive as it takes a longer time and staff will be watched using the phone.
Key Fob Terminals
A key fob terminal option is quick and easy, you will have similar issues to the biometric option in terms of device size etc. but it should be slightly less expensive. The only issue with this is the maintenance involved with key fobs, if staff lose them, or leave the business you need to obtain more and re-register them.
By far the most accessible and unobtrusive option of all options. All is required is for the staff to have a smartphone, around 85% of the UK have smartphones these days. There are various types of application, some require you to scan a QR code, some an NFC tag, some are GPS related, either way the process is a second or 2. There is also the option of additional functionality such as task completion, messaging, rota view, form completion etc. So, there are plenty of plusses to this, the only real issue is whether you supply the phone or staff use their own.
This pretty much does what it says on the tin, it is a software that allows you to schedule or plan the allocation of your team. Whether these staff are static or multi-site staff, scheduling software can drastically reduce the time spent allocating resource.
Payroll calculation uses all the above systems and then turns it into monetary value for staff pay, massively reducing admin in terms of checking hours and calculating pay.
All these modules would be deemed essential to an effective workforce management software, particularly for businesses with remote staff, such as cleaning, security, FM or catering, for example.
Although these functionalities or systems are easily accessible, it’s whether or not the data obtained can be viewed and used easily, and whether the solutions provide enough automation to justify implementation or change!
Why is Automation and Data important to Field Service Businesses?
Automation of any process will ultimately result in time savings and efficiency improvements within your business, that is a given, as much of a given, as workforce management data helping you to forecast, improve performance and staffing and even rewarding.
In Conclusion the ability to automate administrative processes and use the data you obtain correctly is going to allow you to improve your employee experience and ultimately your customer experience.
Workforce Management & Staff
Believe it or not there is a direct correlation between your employee experience and customer relationship; the reason being the employees are going to be the representatives of your business dealing with the customer 90% of the time.
The focus for most businesses, will be to have an excellent customer relationship at all costs, without looking at the correlation of the experience of the employees.
How will workforce management data aid this?
Improving your employee relationship is simple…make sure that they’re happy going to work for you.
Now everyone is different we’re not going to give you a psychological analysis of all of your staff and how to treat them, however, study shows that people want to feel valued, and this is not always directly linked back to money. Showing your staff that you value them can be as simple as recognition for a job well done, some staff just want a well done at the end of the week, month or year.
With the data you obtain through a workforce management software, whether in relation to attendance, punctuality or even tasks completed, you have the figures to see that your staff have done a good job, so tell them…however I am 100% certain if you offered them a bonus related to this that they would bite your hand off.
Why will Automation help your employees?
Automation can also help your employee relationship, for example, some systems offer Automated Scheduling, that will help your staff when it comes to scheduling them closer together. This means they aren’t spending more time travelling than doing the job…we all hate traffic after all.
Implementing processes like these will get your staff thinking about their role, their performance for the customer and ultimately their relationship with you, their employer.
Will it workforce management software impact my customers?
On the customer side of things the data you gain will allow you to see if your staffing is correct, the staff you’re putting there are performing and the hours you’ve set against the contract are being delivered. All this data is conveyable to the clients and will lead to you providing a proactive and informative service, whether it’s cleaning, Facilities Management, security or catering that you’re delivering.
Regarding automation and your customer relationship, anything that is proactive will aid in their experience with you. For example, a system that can automatically create schedules for you ensures staff are picked upon a certain criterion, whether that’s distance or continuity related. If it’s distance, there are less chances of punctuality issues, if it’s continuity, the relationship will be one that can be developed over time.
So to conclude, most field service businesses will have some form of workforce management process or software, and the next step from there, is to aim to implement something that automates a process within that. Whether its automatic scheduling, shift alerts, automated payroll calculation, these sorts of automations will vastly improve administration efficiency, usually by up to 90%.
From a data point of view, it is important that you obtain the correct data for the correct purposes, for example, a real-time time and attendance solution, will allow you to see where staff are late, thus using this data to ensure better time keeping is essential. Likewise, staff who are always on time, complete all of their tasks, and have no complaints, could be rewarded using such data.
Thus, if your systems are not providing anything like this, then you should look for something that does, it will benefit your staff, your business and your clients!