The Processes of Workforce Management Are Strong, but the Tools Need Improvement
As we bring our series of analysis in our exclusive research study run in conjunction with specialist workforce management solution provider Goodt to an end, we reflect on the conclusions of the study and what these mean for workforce management trends within the field service sector and beyond...
As we look through this study’s findings, the industry’s overall state regarding workforce management would appear to be one of relative juxtaposition. In one sense, many of the critical factors for workforce management are to be viewed as a successful element of wider business KPIs at large. Yet, on the other, there are many areas where there could be significant improvements that would drive much greater workforce productivity.
The positives are indeed here.
The study reveals that those in workforce management believe that the leaders of the companies represented in this study are overwhelmingly loyal, a statistic that almost certainly is correlated to the fact that these same organizations are at a minimum at least somewhat effective in their employee engagement.
We also saw positive trends regarding the recruitment and placement of new staff, with over three quarters (77%) of companies stating they are effective in this regard and a positive approach to discipline focused on development.
Additionally, the study shows that employee churn is generally believed to be in line with or better than industry expectations.
However, one can’t help but feel that there could be so much more improvement in workforce management if this sector were to turn to more effective tools.
The three main approaches for workforce management that our respondents equally cited are all open to flaws that could be compounded by the over reliance on legacy systems, including the go-to tool of choice, Excel.
As we mentioned earlier in the report, it is truly impressive what can be achieved by an experienced user with Excel. However, the functionality to empower more effective forecasting, easier adaption of existing schedules, and more effective employee engagement that modern workforce management solutions offer must be considered.
As is often the case, the solution may well lie within a mix of new technology implementation and establishing new thinking...
We outlined the difference between true KPIs and other more granular performance metrics in the introduction to this report. When we looked at the most prominent KPIs that the respondents widely tracked in this study, we saw that these were ultimately aligned to the broader organization’s financials. Revenue growth, reducing costs and ensuring optimal staff utilization and productivity sit at the heart of what is deemed successful workforce management.
Still, the majority of companies struggle with either overtime, downtime, or swing from one to another - issues that will all negatively impact an organization’s ability to meet these end goals; there is a challenge here.
As is often the case, the solution may well lie within a mix of new technology implementation and establishing new thinking. We referenced earlier in the reports the potential shift towards blended workforce adoption, which can be one significant way to overcome the variability in demand that can be a root cause of fluctuating costs from overtime and downtime.
However, with many solutions designed specifically workforce management, including our partners on this project Goodt, being available on a cost-per-licence basis, the first step for many organizations before making a more radical and disruptive change to their workforce strategies should be to explore how they adopt such a solution and what direct benefits this will bring.
Change is often best approached as an iterative step change, and the introduction of such tools could undoubtedly allow for improved forecasting and more flexible scheduling on the first iteration, which in and of itself could lead to a swift return on investment.
However, the study data around the benefits gamification can bring to workforce productivity would indicate that these initial benefits would be just the tip of the iceberg. For field service organizations, the technology stack is already relatively complex. Often there will be scheduling ERP, FSM, CRM and other systems within the stack. The question is whether adding other systems into the mix is going to add further complexity.
The first thing to identify is the gaps in your current workforce management solutions. Many FSM systems have a layer of workforce management embedded within them, so in some instances, additional tools may be redundant. Still, in many cases, the critical functionality that can drive employee engagement can be missing.
In a world of APIs and easy integrations, the key is to find a solution that can fill those gaps while sitting within your broader technology stack. In doing so, you can ensure that the most valuable assets in your organization, your workforce, is fully optimized.
We have seen digital transformation across our sector; we need to embrace it in workforce management as well.
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Written by Kris Oldland
Kris Oldland has been working in Business to Business Publishing for almost a decade. As a journalist he has covered a diverse range of industries from Fire Juggling through to Terrorism Insurance. Prior to this he was a Quality Services Manager with a globally recognised hospitality brand. An intimate understanding of what is important when it comes to Service and a passion for emerging technology means that in Field Service he has found an industry that excites him everyday.