Michael Blumberg, President of Blumberg Advisory Group and founder of FieldServiceInsights.com discusses some of the most crucial mistakes field service companies can make when utilising contingent or seasonal labour…
Field Service Organizations (FSOs) in North America, UK, and Europe are increasingly turning toward crowdsourcing platforms and subcontractors to augment their field workforce.
This type of outsourcing strategy enables FSOs to become more agile in meeting customer demands for service. As a result, they [FSOs] are able to reduce costs and improve service productivity. In addition, crowdsourcing and contingent labour helps solve the problem of finding skilled labour on a rapid basis.
However, turning to subcontractors and crowdsourcing platforms does involve relinquishing some level of control over the labour force. Naturally, questions emerge about the reliability, expertise, and quality of technicians that are sourced through these options.
Over the last two years, we have spoken with dozens of companies who have or currently utilize contingent labour to either augment their existing workforce or gain greater agility and efficiency over the entire field service delivery process. The majority are satisfied with their external providers and report positive results on key performance metrics such as First Time Fix and SLA Compliance/Onsite Arrive Time. On the other hand, a few anomalies exist where the performance of contingent labour did not meet the FSOs expectations.
Quite often, FSOs who experience subpar performance make critical mistakes when retaining and managing contingent labour.
Here is our perspective on the biggest mistakes they need to avoid:
1. Failure to fully vet individual technicians doing the work
Don’t assume that every contract technician (e.g., subcontractor, freelance, crowdsource) you dispatch has the skills, training, and experience necessary to complete the work properly and in a timely manner. Insist on viewing background checks, certifications, and credentials of every contract technician assigned to your company.
2. Failure to train and onboard technicians
Quite often companies issue work orders without to contract technicians without training or guiding them on how they’d like the work to be performed.
For example, they do not explain how they’d like the tech to greet the customer and/or notify the customer when the work is complete. Fortunately, Internet-based learning systems make it possible for companies to train and onboard contractors in a cost-effective and rapid manner.
3. Failure to communicate with contractors
This is the biggest mistake that a company can make is hand off work orders as if they were tossing a hot potato over a fence.
This will result in problem with respect to key service performance metrics such as SLA compliance, First Time Fix, and No Fault Found. It is important that companies provide contractors with detailed and specific instructions about the activities they need to perform on each assignment.
At the same time, contractors also need to communicate with the companies that hire them on the status of calls, issues or problems they are experiencing, and results of their actions.
4. Failure to integrate contract or crowdsourced technicians into their service delivery process
Problems can occur when there is too much of an arm’s less relationship between the company and the contractor. In other words, there is little accountability, visibility, and control between the company and contractors/technicians, and vice versa.
The key to success lies in treating contractors as an extension of your company. Companies can achieve this outcome by leveraging communication technology, collaboration tools, and workforce automation software. Relying on these systems will ensure the company achieves best in class service performance through its contractor network.
In summary, FSOs experience challenges to crowdsourcing when they underestimate the level of due diligence, systems, and processes they need to put in place when utilizing this type of labour. This does not necessarily mean that they must make huge capital investments.
Rather, they are urged to design and implement processes and procedures by leveraging existing infrastructure when they can.
Devoting the time and effort to this initiative will pay off. Our research suggests that FSOs who have an unpleasant experience with contingent labour do so because they rush into the decision without much thought, planning, and preparation.
Basically, they are looking to solve an immediate problem with no consideration to future. In other words, they are taking a tactical approach to labour shortages where a strategic solution is required.