In planning for a GPS solution, there are plenty of opportunities to poorly execute
implementation, effectively leading to less than desirable results. Implementations that
go awry do so for several reasons. The expectation that installing GPS will solve many
issues without knowing how it will solve them is a misconception. If GPS is not
integrated with any automation system, the information it generates will quickly become
overwhelming. In a short time span operators will experience such a flood of information
that they may end up not paying attention to all of it. Failing to capture the value of the
information creates a situation where all the costs to install and activate will not be
recovered in the timeframe that was expected.
As with most technologies deployed in business, the promise is not always completely
realized due to some misunderstanding of the requirements to use them! In the case of
GPS integrated into some automated workforce management (WFM) system, operators
often mistakenly believe that the introduction of such a system would increase precision
in routing. This is not completely true. The algorithms in automated WFM systems are
powerful. With the import of maps, routing can be calculated almost the same with or
without the integration of GPS. In a dispatch operation with static routes,(creating the
whole route which is never changed throughout the day), it must be understood that
GPS will not provide significantly more accurate routing. Most agree that a dispatch with
static route methodology is a thing of the past, but in managing the various automations
in place, dispatch management must understand when and how to get the most out of
these automations. If this cannot be achieved GPS is not valuable. If managed
correctly, service delivery, technician management and internal operating statistics will
GPS is most valuable during the “day of” activities as the workday progresses.
Assigning work based on absolute location values will ensure that the closest tech gets
to the next appointment. As the day unfolds, eventually more resources should become
available for less work, and the decision making of the AWFM system is enhanced by
GPS integration. While there are other elements to the decision of assigning work, the
primary criterion among them is the location of the tech in relation to the customer site.
Without GPS, a dispatcher makes a decision based on last known location (the place
where a tech completed the previous job). In many cases, that tech may be 10 to 20
miles from that last location at the instant of decision and is no longer the closest tech at
that point in time. GPS data will provide empirical data regarding the technicians’
location and drive time will be reduced.
Automation exists in some form or another in most service delivery enterprises. Moving
service personnel from job to job is commonplace. Advanced algorithms do the heavy
lifting of scheduling and work order management considering data points such as time
of day, job type, technician skill, technician availability, work schedule, and geography.
The newest applications are now taking equipment on the truck into consideration when
making automated routing decisions. Integration of GPS tools into these automation
systems now provides empirical understanding of a technician’s whereabouts to the
dispatcher. In a world of smart phones and consumer GPS systems, drivers in a large
workforce are exposed to the routing capabilities of GPS. Supervisors in some markets
have even issued consumer GPS guidance devices to techs to assist in getting to a
customer's home, others use their smart phone GPS to do so. One would be hard
pressed to find an employee who is not “GPS -aware.” It is, indeed, everywhere.
There is a four-part statement that should be considered for dispatch operations:
1. On time. All efforts around assigning and managing work and work orders must be
focused on meeting the minimum SLA of a customer, to be there when promised.
2. With Enough Time. Placing the burden on the technician to manage the day will
result in rushing to the next job. Work must be managed to ensure that enough time
is given to do a job correctly.
3. With the right skill. Sending an unskilled worker to a trouble call or install creates a
high probability for failure in the form of an incomplete install or TC, a repeat or
service after install trouble call, as well as a customer care phone call, etc.
4. With the right equipment. Algorithms that are in place for assigning work take
many things into consideration, but rarely take into account the CPE that resides on
a technician’s vehicle. “Will a skilled person who shows up on time still not be able to
perform the work required to resolve the issue?”
GPS helps to achieve this vision.