Labor costs for Field Service operators is always under constant scrutiny. Based on extensive experience working with hardware centric service teams, we see Field Services executives being asked three important questions about their workforce by senior company execs every year. They are:
- Where does all the time go for techs currently on the payroll? Where specifically do they spend their time – installs, service calls, internal or customer meetings, training, business development, admin duties, PTO, sick leave, or? This first question is usually a lead into #2.
- How many people do you really need to do the job, now and in the future?
- How can we get more from our existing workforce? In other words, can we do with fewer people or grow without hiring more people?
The question we like to ask our clients is, do you really know? And know with precision the answers to these questions. You may say yes, but that would put your organization in a very select club. Our experience is that most organizations, once armed with the real data, have surprises – in particular about #1. And without that knowledge, answering the next 2 questions (with precision) is difficult at best.
Let’s start with question #1. It all comes down to proper design of a timekeeping process that collects data on ALL the time buckets where a tech is likely to spend their day, and providing an easy tool for the tech to record this data in a timely way. A properly designed timekeeping structure would look something like this:
- Captures all uses of tech time during the work day
- Daily time inputs always add up to at least 8 hours for a standard full-time position and certainly capture productive or billable time any day beyond 8 hours
- Time keeping categories are pre-defined and there are no fluff time buckets within which to hide unproductive or non-billable time
- Input data is provided in a timely way preferably at least daily (note: this requires an easily accessible input tool for the tech)
- Data is available in report or dashboard formats preferably real-time so managers can monitor and take corrective action as needed
- Management is looking at the time bucket outputs to spot areas of concern and certainly whatever good trends are occurring
- Audit trails exist to verify integrity of the data
- Incentives and/or penalties are in place for timekeeping conformance
- A written policy for timekeeping exists
- Techs have been properly trained on their timekeeping responsibilities and tools
If any of the above are not in place, I would ask yourself the question, do I really know?
That wraps up part 1 of our look into labor costs for Field Service operators. Stay tuned for our next blog post where we dive into question #2 – How many people do you really need to do the job, now and in the future?