The ROI of Using FSM Software for Scheduling and Utilization
Welcome back to our continuing series on the ROI of using field service management (FSM) software. Our previous post highlighted why ROI is the most important metric to focus on when selecting software … but also one of the hardest things to track and estimate. Something so essential should not be elusive or uncertain. So, we are taking a deep dive into the ROI of FSM software and exploring each facet with an in-depth blog post. This post focuses on scheduling and utilization: two issues that have a major impact (for good or bad) on the success of any field service company. To what extent FSM software can improve upon scheduling and utilization speaks volumes about the return on investment your company can expect from day one forward. Nothing, in fact, has a bigger impact on ROI. Read on to learn why, along with how to calculate ROI in the context of scheduling and utilization specifically.
Defining Our Terms
At the outset, we should define what we mean by scheduling and utilization and elaborate on what both entail (more than it might seem).
- Scheduling – Any company that sends technicians into the field must decide who goes where at what time, then find the best way for all the moving parts to work together for the tech, the company, and the client. It is not easy. Worse, scheduling happens daily, changes constantly, and risks mistakes that can slash into revenues or damage client relationships. Getting scheduling right could not be more critical and doing so involves a two-fold effort. Field service providers need to be fast, efficient, informed, and (when possible) automated about how they set their schedule. At the same time, they need to get the right people to the right place ASAP while prioritizing important clients, urgent maintenance, or high-value opportunities. Done correctly, scheduling gives a provider an edge over the competition and pushes the bottom line upwards in significant ways. Scheduling mistakes, however, lead to inflated costs, unrealized revenue, and limited growth potential. That is why the right FSM software – one that optimizes scheduling – can deliver a profound ROI.
- Utilization – For the purposes of this post, utilization refers to how a company utilizes technicians. How it utilizes other assets like parts and equipment is a subject we will cover extensively in a future blog post. Here, utilization focuses only on techs because labor is both the greatest cost in field service and also the biggest revenue driver (since service cannot happen without a tech involved). In an industry where many competitors offer the same thing, how a provider utilizes technicians can work to their advantage … or work against it. Getting near 100% utilization on a daily basis involves scheduling, of course, but it also depends on how efficiently techs and administrators complete their tasks and move from one job to the next. As such, FSM software can significantly improve upon utilization and deliver a huge return in the form of added revenues.
“We achieved a 25-30% increase in the number of jobs completed by each service person. Without NextService on board, we would not have achieved this goal.” – Pooled Energy
Using FSM for Scheduling and Utilization
Some field service providers rely on a clipboard, whiteboard, or spreadsheet to schedule their techs. Others use scheduling or project management software that was not built specifically for field service. Either of these approaches may be adequate. Neither, however, will be optimal, nor sustainable for providers with ambitions to grow.
FSM software brings all the information relevant to dispatchers together on one platform including what service(s) the customer needs and the location and availability of all techs. Then, it is a simple matter to link techs with clients in a way that minimizes drive time for the former and wait time for the latter. Incorporating additional information into the scheduling tool, such as the skills and certifications of each technician, or the parts and equipment needed for each job, further streamlines how providers turn a schedule into actual service delivery. And with the help of automation, a client and their technician both instantly receive detailed notifications once an appointment goes on the schedule.
In addition to handling scheduling itself, the best FSM software helps dispatchers and decision-makers see, from the top-down, how they are utilizing every tech and managing human capital on a daily basis. This perspective makes it clear where utilization can be improved. More importantly, it reveals how to make those improvements so that technicians spend more of their time on revenue-generating work and less time traveling or waiting around.
Great FSM software will streamline scheduling and, as a direct result, improve utilization. As we will explore in the next section, however, those are only the beginning of the benefits and just a part of what factors into the ROI.
The Full Benefits of FSM Software
As we discussed in our previous piece, the ROI of field service software presents itself in both tangible and intangible ways. That is especially true of scheduling and utilization, where the gains are obvious but also easy to overlook or underestimate. Here are all the ways that better scheduling and utilization delivers a return on the investment in FSM software:
- Time Savings – The simple act of scheduling takes extensive time, energy, and input, so much that it may involve multiple dispatchers. With the visibility and control of FSM software, scheduling becomes simple to get right, which can translate into cost savings because fewer dispatchers can manage more clients, technicians, and appointments.
- Error Prevention – Scheduling errors can result in a technician being unable to perform a first-time fix or cause a customer to wait longer than necessary for help – small errors can be expensive. FSM software improves the quality of scheduling by making it clear which tech is the right person for the job based on location, availability, skills, certification, and more.
- Labor Value – As utilization improves through better scheduling, field service providers capitalize on more of the labor each technician can perform in a given day. When the same team of techs can perform more work, it reduces the need to recruit new techs in a tough labor market and take on the high cost of additional labor.
- Revenue Gains – More effective and efficient scheduling enables technicians to perform more work on a daily or weekly basis, leading to more revenue. As we will highlight in the next section, small gains in productivity extended over a period of months and years can produce surprising and substantial financial gains for a field service provider.
- Client Satisfaction – People do not want to wait for a technician, and they expect a first-time fix. Efforts to improve scheduling and utilization get techs on-site sooner and with better preparation for the job ahead. Few things have a bigger impact on client satisfaction and long-term loyalty than speedy service.
- Business Opportunities – A provider with a powerful scheduling tool can use it to start offering preventative maintenance packages – where techs arrive on a pre-planned schedule – and start collecting recurring revenue. Similarly, as utilization improves, providers can use the extra time that technicians have to pursue new business opportunities. Effective scheduling and utilization fuels growth, just as ineffective efforts can make expansion harder or impossible.
“Ease of scheduling and improved visibility means that 80% of jobs are responded to faster with NextService.” – Checkpoint Systems
Calculating the ROI of Streamlined Scheduling and Improved Utilization
Some of the benefits outlined above are difficult to assign a dollar value. Costs and revenues are also different at every company. That makes the ROI of using field service software to improve scheduling and utilization harder to pinpoint. Still, we can make accurate estimates based on the actual ROI our customers have experienced.
Our research suggests that productivity improves by as much as 10% at companies that use FSM software to manage scheduling and utilization. So, for a company that does $1,000,000 in annual revenue, they can earn another $100,000 by making better use of their technician’s time and talents. Keep in mind, this figure does not even include the cost savings on labor or the value of increased customer engagement. It only highlights potential revenue gains – which are themselves enough to pay for FSM software and then some.
Another, more personalized way to calculate ROI is to think about each technician doing one extra job per week. Let us say the average job yields $500 in revenue and there are 15 technicians. That results in $7,500 in additional revenue each week and nearly $400,000 for the entire year. Readers can adjust these numbers based on their own team size and average revenues. Some may even find that better scheduling allows each tech to perform one more job every day. If that kind of productivity (and revenue) boost sounds impossible, consider that some users see a 25% jump in utilization thanks to FSM software.
The ROI of using FSM software for scheduling and utilization is quite impressive. And while, in most cases, it is the single greatest source of returns, it is not the only source. As we will explore in forthcoming posts, using FSM software for things like inventory management, customer engagement, and data reporting delivers meaningful returns as well. Combine all those together and the ROI of using FSM software amounts to many times more than the investment and grows larger with every year of use.
NextService – The FSM Software That Extends ROI
The team at NextService has put incredible effort into designing a better scheduling tool for field service providers; one that makes it simple to schedule the right tech and clear to see how every job – in progress or in the future – fits together as one. We have also given users tools to track utilization, see where efforts are going to waste and correct the issue to push utilization percentages ever higher. As a comprehensive FSM software, NextService does many things well, but scheduling and utilization are two areas where it really excels – and delivers the ROI to prove it.
The next post in this ongoing series will focus on the ROI of improving inventory and asset management. Here is a sneak peek: the potential savings are huge with a solution like NextService in place. For a closer look at NextService, built on-platform in NetSuite, along with a personalized ROI calculation, speak to an expert or schedule a demo today.