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esourcingwikilogoThis week's eSourcing Wiki-Wednesday topic is Strategic Services Workforce Management. An excerpt of the article is below, but you can also read the full article on the eSourcing Wiki. Have something to add? The eSourcing Wiki is an open content community and you are invited to register and contribute to this resource, which benefits our whole professional community.

If you are interested in more, read today's post on 'The Point': Learning from UPS



Strategic Service Workforce Management

Workforce management, as defined by Wikipedia, is a business process that encompasses all the responsibilities for maintaining a productive and happy workforce. A workforce management solution is a software-based solution that optimally plans and dispatches field service technicians and their properly stocked vehicles to a customer's location in a timely manner in order to deliver on their service commitments. Such a system will typically address demand management, workforce scheduling, workforce dispatching, and mobility solutions.

A workforce management solution should contain a planning component that forecasts workload to determine the appropriate workforce size, a scheduling engine that can automatically set and adjust optimal assignments based upon available data and available rules and update those assignments in real-time if a higher-priority service call enters the system, a web-based appointment request feature that allows customers to self-schedule, and a service mobility solution that not only enables workforce communication, but also allows the technicians to remotely indicate where they are in the delivery and repair cycle.

The scheduling engine should be built on an advanced modeling and optimization engine that can take into account dozens of variables that might include contract / SLA type, service level, customer priority, ticket type, visit number, severity, customer inquiry, and the length of time the service has been outstanding as well as transit times - which should be automatically computed based upon optimal routes computed by a GIS-aware engine that integrates with a leading third party mapping engine.

The workforce management solution must allow the user to define priorities and scheduling rules and take those into account in its computations, as well as alerts if a technician gets stuck in traffic (which can be detected automatically if the technicians vehicle has a GPS chip installed and the system monitors the current location against expected location on a regular basis) or an SLA is missed (because the technician wasn't able to make the repair on the first visit). If an alert is received, the user must be able to not only escalate the issue, but also be able to pull up the corresponding customer location so that she can alert a customer when a technician might be late or when the repair might not be able to be completed in the estimated time. Prompt issue notification and interaction goes a long way to keeping the customer happy as they know the service provider is on top of the situation. The administrators must be able to tweak the computation rules and algorithms to achieve maximum performance, which is obtained when the percentage of scheduled jobs that have to be manually adjusted is minimized. (In a good implementation, this should be less than 2%.)

The schedule viewer should support multiple types of user friendly views which should include your classic GANTT chart view with drill down for details into specific tasks, classic list and grid views with the ability to order the tasks on any dimension, and modern map views that allow the jobs to be viewed overlaid on a geographic area. In addition, the viewer should support multiple filter options that will include, at a minimum, period, priority, job type, and technician as well as color codes that can be associated with a key dimension, such as priority. When filters, color codes, and map views are combined, the user is able to quickly get a handle on the current status of all jobs he or she is responsible for, without having to wade through multiple multi-page reports. This not only substantially increases the productivity of a service manager, but insures that important issues are not overlooked until an SLA is missed or a customer gets irate and complains.

Finally, the workforce management solution should either come with an extensive built in reporting facility, or make it easy to export the data in a standard format (such as XML) for import into a Business Intelligence tool with an extensive reporting facility so that the service manager can track service level improvements and trends and insure that both service levels and cost reductions are trending in the right direction.

eSourcingWiki is an open content community of strategic sourcing and procurement best practices. This wiki is intended to be a dynamic document that constantly adjusts and transforms to current trends and thought leadership in supply management. IASTA welcomes global contributors to assist in the ongoing documentation and knowledge building that is essential to creating useful information for supply management professionals.



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