Field service managers are in many ways the glue that holds utility companies together. They oversee and keep track of a company's technicians, engineers, repairmen, and linemen, giving them daily direction and guidance.
This large amount of responsibility is likely going to come with some challenges which we will discuss below. Addressing these three common pain points and finding ways to overcome them can help you become an even better field service manager.
Staying Within Your Budget
The nature of the utility industry is that many costs are fixed and overhead can be high. Because of this, field service managers may be forced to operate on a tight budget.
Finding ways to keep your budget down often requires knowledge you've collected over time. Try glancing through the weekly schedule and analyzing key performance indicators. You might notice that certain routine maintenance trips are taking place more frequently than necessary, or that you keep more spare parts on hand than is necessary. Both are opportunities to trim down the budget that only a field service manager has the resources, access, and expertise to identify.
While keeping your budget down is a serious challenge, it can be attacked using various resources. In recent years, emerging industry software has become an increasingly valuable way to analyze your entire operation.
In a single platform, you can assess employee skill sets, map out and visualize daily schedules, and dispatch the best field technician to a given work order. By deepening your knowledge of staff, workflow, and asset data, these programs can help you cut costs and stay within budget.
Keeping Your Field Service Technicians Safe
Your major priority is the safety of your field techs, engineers, and repairmen. You know your company and OSHA alike have very specific, thorough safety protocols for just about any kind of job.
What you may not know is whether your staff is following those safety measures. Cutting corners when it comes to following company safety procedure and best practices could result in serious injuries.
A Few Quick Tips
There are a few ways you can limit the hazards that come with working in dicey situations.
- First, it's your job as a field service manager to communicate the importance of following safety guidelines. You should inform your workers that even on their busiest days, skipping a safety measure is neither worth it nor acceptable. They should know that their safety is more important than finishing jobs quickly.
- Next, you might consider taking advantage of the safety monitoring features offered by field service management software. The best of these programs can allow you to document service appointments in about any way imaginable.
- You can also implement safety "checkpoints" that field techs need to tick off to carry out service requests. It can be a consistent, foolproof way to keep everyone disciplined, accountable, and most of all, safe.
Managing Your Company's Workflow
In the utility industry, the flow of work orders can range somewhere between a steady stream and raging river rapids. As a seasoned field service manager, it's your job to keep this workflow manageable.
You can do this by staying on top of your field team's schedules and the work order queue, having a keen sense of what the most time-sensitive jobs are, and bearing in mind what your team members' skill sets are.
Burnout is a clear and present danger for field techs, and you don't want to push your team's stamina too far. One of your ongoing challenges is matching service requests to worker skill sets while also trying to keep everyone's schedule equally filled.
In other words, you're not just on top of workflow management—you're perfecting a smooth, even workflow distribution, too.