As commerce slowly begins to open up, serviceable assets, many of which have been sitting dormant for two months or longer, will again enter an active state, and certainly there will be an influx of field service needs to accompany them. To navigate a sudden surge in business, organizations will need to think on their feet, make smart personnel decisions, and plan, schedule, and route with finesse. Doing that alone is fine, but doing that will the help of a planning and scheduling optimization engine will make your job exponentially more effective.

The time to adopt these systems was two months ago, but many software providers are stepping up to offer fast-track solutions that can be implemented in days, and provide the necessary functionality to supercharge your planning needs.

When preparing to adopt any new system, it’s of course key to ensure that your business is appropriately prepared. What are the key considerations facing businesses when it comes to planning and scheduling optimization?

As with any technology, the tool itself needs to be complimented by the right internal systems. There are a great many that will need to be considered, and that is a conversation to have with your team, and with the vendors that you’re considering, but here are three key points to keep in mind as you’re preparing to adopt a new optimization system:

  1. Make sure your data house is in order.
  2. Find the right technology partner.
  3. Identify and benchmark the outcomes for success.

We’ll start with number one, which is key to managing your planning system effectively. An AI-powered system is only as capable as the inputs being fed into it. While a best-in-class system will come with a wide variety of inputs out of the box, even more if attached to a full suite of field service management (FSM) tools, the system’s effectiveness is further enhanced through a strong system of APIs that are derived from different triggers in your business.

Depending on your scale and industry, this could include parts and dealer management, asset performance management, or resource management across your business. Your planning and scheduling system, like any growing intellect, gets smarter the more intellectual material it’s able to consume. Furthermore, good data is key. Bad data begets bad data in a negative feedback loop that can undermine the whole system.

Much of this can be assuaged with point number two: finding the right technology partner. And while the software is key, and should have the right triggers and management systems inherent, implementation, especially in terms of a planning and scheduling system, are just—if not more—important. With dozens of business rules to consume, finding a partner who will support connecting the dots, both out-of-the-box and down the road, often is the difference between success and failure.

To that end (and with guidance from your technology partner) point number three stresses the importance of regular audits. Truthfully, KPI criteria can often be preprogrammed with implicit bias in order to lean into specific metrics. Uncovering the potential bias in reporting or metering those metrics takes time, and often an independent eye. Any technology purchase reflects an ongoing process, which is why it’s so important to create smart, repeatable criteria for evaluation.

For forward-thinking organizations, planning and scheduling optimization in many ways represents the backbone of successful service delivery. Getting planning and scheduling optimization right means that the onus of operations management is no longer a time sink, allowing businesses to free up back office resources and concentrate more of their time and effort on delivering exceptional service, instead of the means to deliver that service. With this in mind, planning and scheduling optimization not only helps align your operational resources, but your business development ones as well, and rightly puts the focus on your efforts where they belong: on your customer.

Tom Paquin
Author

Contributor, Future of Field Service