Another method to gauge work force activity, availability and productivity is analyzing much time spent
driving, in a customer home, at lunch and so on. This can be done by looking at the time stamps in the
billing system. Occasionally, this requires some process improvement in the tech/dispatch relationship.
Ensure that techs update instantly and a dispatcher inputs the correct time stamps. If a tech leaves a job at
9:15 a.m. and starts the next job at 9:30, it is logical to assume 15 minutes of drive time between those jobs.
By looking at these numbers, an average drive time can be determined, per tech. It is fair to assume that the
largest gap between jobs is lunch time.
By looking at when installers arrive at their first job each day, a manager can make decisions on how to
ensure that the field force is on the road and working as soon as possible each day. Seeing that in many
cases, the time of arrival at the first job is up to one and a half hours after the start of the shift caused one
MSO to analyze a couple of things:
1. The customer premises equipment (CPE) issuance process: Many techs spent an inordinate amount of
time standing in line to turn in or receive CPE for each day's work. By creating and using a locker system,
or other efficiencies, this backlog can be eliminated.
2. The morning meeting: It is generally desirable to meet with the workforce each morning for a daily
briefing, but these meetings can sometimes take on a life of their own. By limiting meetings to once or
twice a week, techs can be expected to be on the road sooner.
Supervisors should not be put in the position of having to look all around the office to make sure techs are
on their way to the first job. Rather, by requiring techs to report to dispatch that they are en route, dispatch
can report a tech who is not on the road when expected, allowing the supervisor to use data to coach the
Points are used to allocate time to a task in the field. There are a number of ideas for the value of a point,
which can be set up in the billing system. Consider that a point should be worth 5 minutes. Markets that set
a point value of greater than that can "strand time." If a point is worth 15 minutes and a task takes 20, a
scheduler will assign 2 points to the job, and then 10 minutes of time are stranded.
Because not all jobs are created equal, points become the best way to measure productivity in the
workforce. In an eight-hour day, 96 points of time would be available to schedule a tech or installer. The
first metric to evaluate is points of work per day, per tech. This is the first measure to consider whether you
do a good job of scheduling, routing and assigning. It is also a good means to understand your capacity in
workforce for planning.
Next, after points per day, a simple calculation will show how productive a tech's day actually is. By taking
the total points per tech per day and dividing that number by the hours worked, a "points per hour" metric
can be determined. Why is this important? Say a tech performs 96 points in a day. On the surface that looks
great, but what if it took the tech 12 hours to complete those 96 points? Not too efficient after all, is it?
Conversely, a tech performing 48 points in 8 hours is only 50 percent "efficient" for the day.
These two metrics will allow a supervisor or manager to understand how well work is being assigned and
how well the field force is being utilized
Automated workforce management systems have matured to the point where there are great proven results
in productivity improvements. They are not, however, a panacea that will cure all the ills of supervising a
field force. As a matter of fact, they may only serve to automate bad habits.
Here's an analogy: If I went out to the golf store and bought a $500 driver, expecting to go on the pro tour, I
would be sadly disillusioned. The truth is, my swing is really bad. I should be interested in buying that
driver only after I've got everything else working right and when my desire is to shave two or three strokes
off my game. So it is with automated systems. They will certainly "shave strokes" off your game and make
for a much improved operation, but only if your operation is already sound. Consider a few things that can
be done in a non-automated fashion to improve performance and productivity.
It happens every day. Tens of thousands of installers, service techs, contractors and maintenance techs
leave the office—each with a handful of work orders to install, upgrade, disconnect, and provide service to
cable customers from coast to coast.
Supervisors then retreat to their offices, check email, attend planning meetings and believe that their
workforce is doing all it can to provide service to their customers. In many cases, employees are managed
by the "no news is good news" method; if no customer calls to complain, we must be doing a good job. But
the truth is, there is limited visibility into our field force workday.
One of the basics in management theory is called MBWA, or "management by walking around." The idea
is that in a factory environment, the mere fact that a supervisor is present will cause an increase in work
productivity. But the field supervisor doesn't have that luxury. Each individual is driving a truck and is, in
effect, his or her own boss.