Many implementations of mobile workforce management in IT services tend to have been carried out without regard of the unique needs in the IT services business model. Some of the challenges in managing a mobile workforce are common across all industries, such as visibility of the workforce, managing exceptions in real time, and motivating and engaging distributed employees. But the IT services industry has its own set of issues that impact on its mobile workforce.
IT services companies employ mobile workers to service, install and maintain IT equipment; we find that three of their most common challenges in doing so are improving productivity, complying with SLAs and ensuring customer satisfaction.
Margins are tight in IT services, so maximising productivity, without increasing costs, is crucial. Service contracts are typically constructed around sets of SLAs, which can incur penalties if breached, so poor compliance can be disastrous. Customer satisfaction is important in all businesses but, unlike field service in industries such as boiler repair which service individual consumers, IT services companies often work for large business customers, so losing just one contract can have a big impact. This means that they need a way of monitoring customer satisfaction in near real time, so they can respond quickly and appropriately to any issues.
We’ve put together three case stories to illustrate how these issues can play out in IT services, and how Cognito iQ mobile workforce management software and our data analytics tool, Insight Hub, can help.
A typical IT services company
Outsourcery Ltd is a (fictional) IT services company with around 120 field-based IT technicians. Some are embedded in customer sites, some are fully mobile. Part of their work is planned installation and maintenance and part is service and repair. They use Cognito iQ Mobile to guide technicians through the tasks that they need to do, and to gather a wealth of data from the field. They also use Cognito iQ Operational Performance Analytics to make sense of all of that data. Within OPA, the Insight Hub is the window onto the data, which enables Jane, the Service Manager to keep an eye on what is happening day-to-day in the field, down to the level of the individual employee, or task. It also enables Simon, the Operations Director, to conduct data analysis, by time period, region, team or type of task, on any of up to around 300 available key performance indicators, which have been tailored for field service companies.
Productivity improvements in IT service mobile workforce management
As margins are tight in the IT Service sector, Simon, the Operations Director, is always looking for ways to improve productivity and save money. But it’s not always easy to see which processes need to change. Using Insight Hub, he conducts some exploratory analysis on the ‘Task Duration’ metric. On average, task durations appear to be as expected. However, digger a bit deeper into the data, it appears that some tasks are under-running by 25% and a similar number are over-running by the same amount of time – the blended average disguises this fact, but the deep dive shows there is clearly room for improvement. Further analysis on Insight Hub shows up that that routine patch management is one of the tasks that consistently underruns.
To improve the situation, he works with the scheduling team to reduce the time allocated to this particular task by 30 minutes. With over 100 engineers in his team, each performing this duty on average three times a week, that’s a reduction in downtime by of 9000 minutes (150hrs) that can be used to complete more tasks instead.
SLA compliance in IT service mobile workforce management
Outsourcery have a number of big brands as customers. High availability of IT systems is so crucial to these companies that SLAs have been applied to ensure an engineer is on-site within certain timeframes should an incident occur. Jane, the Service Manager, keeps a close eye on the “SLA at Risk” tile in Insight Hub. When it turns amber it means one of more SLAs are within an hour of breaching the SLA agreement which could result in hefty financial penalties. When this happens, she can delve deeper into the problem to understand which customer is impacted and what time the scheduled engineer is likely to arrive. On this occasion, Jane discovers that the scheduled engineer has been held up at the previous job and is unlikely to make it in time. Working with the scheduling team, she is able to allocate an alternative resource that can arrive in time, consequently avoiding an expensive breach and delivering the level of service the customer expects.
Customer satisfaction in IT service mobile workforce management
Outsourcery Ltd is proud to have a consistently good Net Promoter Score (NPS). However, Marie, Head of Customer Experience, isn’t satisfied with knowing that the score is always relatively good. She wants to find out if there are any issues, and whether she can do anything to improve it, as a good NPS is linked to customer retention and sales.
Using Insight Hub, she analyses the NPS data over time, and finds little change over the last year. It is when she looks at the data by region, she spots that there has been a drop over the last three months in West Berkshire – the drop isn’t big enough to show up on the total score, so without this analysis, she would have missed it.
She looks at all the Detractors (customers that have given the company an NPS score of 6/10 or less) and notices that a surprisingly large proportion have a single engineer in common. Marie suspects the reason customers are unhappy is because this engineer isn’t providing the quality of service the company strives to deliver. So to fix the problem, Marie personally calls all of the detractors to apologise and takes detailed feedback on how the service could be improved. She then sets up a meeting with the engineer in question, which results in them being given extra training and additional support to improve service levels.
How Cognito iQ can help IT services companies with mobile workforce management
Outsourcery Ltd may be fictional, but every day, we help our real life IT services customers navigate similar challenges. If you have a mobile workforce to manage and IT services customers to serve, we would love to chat to you about how we can help. Please contact one of our friendly team to see how we can help you too.