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Real-Time Visibility in Disaster Management

Real-Time Visibility in Disaster Management

A day in the life of any field service organization is subject to change and so the business needs to be able to adjust to what happens in the real world at a moment’s notice. This is especially true for field service organizations that work in the response to a disaster.

To be able to effectively manage operations in a situation that is ever-changing, unique and potentially hazardous, field service managers need real-time visibility of what is happening at any given time. They need to know where workers are and what the impact is of reassigning tasks, as priority jobs come in or a worker becomes unavailable or delayed. They need to find out if any of the tasks are in risk of being unfinished or missed and what can be done to ensure that commitments or service level agreements are being met. They want to know if they are assigning work to the best person or crew for the job and what dependencies there are on other work being completed for the workflow to be successful.

Ultimately, a key objective for a field service manager is to get the right people with the right skills with the right assets to the right place within a set time and having full visibility is a big part of this. While working in perhaps an unknown and certainly stressful state, the field service manager needs to have everything they can to be able to make decisions easily, quickly and with confidence.


Field service solutions provide real-time visibility

To improve efficiency, service companies use scheduling tools to streamline the process of capturing and dispatching service requests, saving as much as 80% over the effort of a paper-based process. Real-time visibility comes from the instant access to job status, customer information, location, parts and asset information and notifications all in one place. Office staff can share job information in real-time so tasks like reassigning and rescheduling can happen in seconds rather than hours or days. 

Centralizing the scheduling data allows all staff to view it as needed; from service requests and customer histories about a specific asset at a specific location to existing order status of billing questions. The information is centralized so that it is easily and readily available—rather than spread across numerous systems or even on clipboards and whiteboards in multiple locations.


Extending visibility into the field

While the back-office processes are essential in centralizing the service operation, only the right mobility solution keeps the field workers connected. There is visibility of the work and day’s performance and the mobile piece allows decisions to be based on real-time activity and updates.

For the back office, a mobile solution which easily integrates into existing systems is critical, so that systems are not used in isolation. An integrated mobile solution means that the two-way flow of data and information is captured just once and in a consistent and efficient way. It means that no data is left unused or delayed while waiting on paperwork submissions or for collected information to be downloaded and an audit trail is in place reducing the chance of any lost or missing information.

The result of the right mobility solution is extending the work of the back office out into the field in a robust and reliable way, connecting the operational workflow and ultimately having the visibility to ensure that service objectives are met.


Visibility of assets

Field service management technology allows a company to manage its assets and its customers’ assets. Through this real-time visibility of assets, mobile workers in the field have information across the complete service history of that piece of equipment at their fingertips.  In addition, important schematics, guidelines and visual aids can be accessed to inform a technician about a specific asset.

Maintenance and repairs based on manufacturer suggestions can also be tied to an asset and tracked.  Furthermore, assets can be linked to customers, locations and contacts. Dispatch can match assets with specific employee skill sets.  Documentation, including photos and video, can be added to the asset’s service record - directly from the job site, automatically, as tasks are completed and signed off on.


Real-time visibility provides many of the answers a field service organization will need to better manage the day to day operations and deal with whatever the day demands. Whether this is day-to-day planned work or in the extreme situation in the aftermath of a disaster, the management of field service teams has to be such so that decisions can be made fast, with confidence and that means with full visibility.

For more information on improving the visibility of your field service and where to start see our infographic on The Key to Visibility: Twenty Questions to Ask Yourself