Key KPIs for Better Field Service Management
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are critical metrics used by a business to understand whether their tasks and performance are tracking successfully to meet their strategic goals. They expose what is working successfully, help to identify areas of needed improvement, and can reveal opportunities for the overall process and business improvement.
KPIs are a critical component in companies with field service workers as they enable them to better understand the performance of various lines of business and services offered. This protects the business by providing key components in the evaluation of the ROI of field activities.
Determining Useful KPIs
"What gets measured gets done" and "if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it" are just two of the popular sayings used to highlight the critical importance of KPIs. It’s worth noting that the power of tracking KPIs lies in identifying those that add the most value to your business.
More often than not, managers track every possible metric, drawing attention away from those that actually impact operations. As a consequence, they end up drowning in data while thirsting for insight. This can lead to inaction or worse yet, taking actions that are costly to the business.
To avoid this situation, a company must first begin by identifying the areas where insight is needed. It’s helpful to remember that the KPIs that are the most actionable and easiest to track may not be the ones that provide the best insight. Understanding what the company’s information needs are and which business questions to ask are the first steps to determining which KPIs to track.
Business questions focus our attention on what actually matters most and therefore, provide guidance for choosing the most meaningful KPIs. For field service-based companies, this would include questions such as:
- What is the time period between jobs being completed and their being invoiced to the customer?
- How often are field engineers missing opportunities to upsell or cross-sell?
- Are there any indications that field engineers do or do not have adequate training so that the business is both reducing job cycle time while also maximizing the customer experience?
- Are we maximizing the number of jobs that can be completed on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, or are there opportunities to improve the scheduling process?
In field service companies, these will shine a light on the following job and quote performance areas:
- Process – Business process and workflows
- Financial – Management of revenue, recovery of funds, and financial health
- Technician – Personnel utilization, skill level, and talent management
In addition, there will be other, more focused indicators designed for your particular business strategy or industry. For example, the average response time that’s expected for a particular type of work will differ from that of another industry. The company’s strategic goals may involve exceeding the industry standard to edge out the competition in this area, so tracking KPIs for this will enable you to know if the business is trending in the right direction.
KPIs offer the best value when they’re focused on robust, value-added metrics. These can be the beginning of an actionable plan that’s centered on the delivery and execution of your business strategy.
Popular Field Service KPIs
KPIs can be used to determine where the biggest problem areas are in your business. This enables you to focus your financial resources or just your time and brainpower on the areas that can help grow revenue, reduce costs, or improve productivity.
Looking for a place to start? Some of the most popular KPIs used by our customers include:
- Completed versus Invoiced Jobs (Is revenue leakage somewhere? Why?)
- Completed versus Invoiced Revenue (See above.)
- Employee Jobs and Job Times (How productive are individual technicians? Why is Joe more productive than Sam?)
- Employee Start Delay (Why is Michael always behind? Why does Joe start nearly every job on time?)
- Job Revenue by Job Type (What types of jobs are bring in the $$’s.)
- Job State by Employee (Who has the most paused - or completed jobs?)
- Job Type by Employee (What types of jobs are handled by which technicians?)
- Job Work Time (How long does it take to do specific types of jobs? Why are some jobs taking much longer than others?)
- Late Jobs (How many jobs aren’t being taken care of within their specified time window?)
- Number of Jobs by Job Type (What are the most popular types of work? Why?)
- Past Open Jobs Revenue (Revenue leakage again!)
- Revenue by Employee (Who should be given a raise – or fired?)
- Revenue of Job Type by Employee (See above.)
The purpose of every maintenance department is to ensure a productive environment that can fulfill the main business goals of their respective organizations.
A maintenance KPI is a measurement of performance that helps you focus on maintenance objectives you want to reach. It is a quantifiable value that shows how effectively an organization is progressing towards achieving its key maintenance objectives over time. While the objectives can differ from one facility to another, they usually revolve around increasing equipment uptime, decreasing costs, and improving maintenance performance.
In essence, maintenance KPIs provide a direction for operational improvement and help you focus attention on what matters most by asking:
- Where are we now?
- How far do we still have to go?
- What do we need to do to get there?
An engineering KPI is a clearly defined quantifiable measure that an engineering firm uses to gauge its success over time. Some engineering KPI examples are:
- Existing Product Support Cost
- Engineering Effectiveness
- R&D Cost/Benefit Ratio
- Payback Period
- Outsourcing Rate
- Engineering-on-Time Delivery
- Cost Performance Indicator (CPI)
- Schedule Performance Indicator (SPI)
A facilities management KPI gives facility managers important data on the current state of the facilities they manage and how current practices align with business goals. Examples are:
- Employee (user) satisfaction score
- Workforce productivity
- Work Order resolution times
- Planned maintenance vs. reactive maintenance ratio
- Number of employee (user) complaints
- Reactive Maintenance versus Preventative Maintenance over time
- Money spent on new equipment versus repairs
- Average completion time or response time for work submitted
Field Service Management Analytics
Today in field service big data provides access to enormous amounts of information. Experts estimate that the volume of business data worldwide doubles every 1.2 years, and by 2020 the world will generate 50 times the amount of information now on hand.
But we also have the power to slice and dice that data in ways that make it manageable, understandable, and most importantly, a pathway to success when used strategically. The collection of Big Data and its effective analysis and use at every level of a field service organization depends, in part, on an intelligent, well-designed, and tailored field service management system.
New data must be gathered while field personnel uses critical pieces of existing information to enhance their performance. And that field management system must be anchored in the cloud where there is enough computing power to properly manage the mass of data.
Particularly when applying lessons from Big Data to specific needs in the field, an organization must understand which of the thousands (or even millions) of information nuggets are data that says the most about how you are doing business now and how you can be more efficient and profitable in the future.
You also have to determine which information slices need to be routed to specific segments of your field team to make them more effective. Service managers need to know which field workers have the best first-call resolution rates. Finance may need to know the average revenue per customer. And, of course, senior management needs to see bits and pieces of everything so they can get the big picture and plan for the future.
Large enterprises are accustomed to doing this, although the available information admittedly is exponentially larger than in times past. Smaller organizations may be accustomed to more rudimentary tracking such as spreadsheets or whiteboards, but they should not assume that access to Big Data is beyond their reach. There will always be data that, properly identified and analyzed, is the key to making a smaller operation more profitable (and perhaps allow it to graduate to bigger and better things).
From the outset, an individual or small team must be assigned to oversee the management and distribution of the KPIs, making sure the right information reaches the right people and that data is shared across functions when appropriate. Within a medium-sized organization that might be the general manager or chief operating officer; in a larger setting, it could be a committee across multiple departments.
Remember, too, that even the information you don’t use today from Big Data will always be filed away. When your needs change, you can circle back to mine it and apply its lessons. In the meantime, if there’s a specific problem to be solved, stick to the most relevant data, analyze it to the greatest extent you can, and get it into the hands of field personnel who can use it to grow your business!