Building Better Habits to Ensure Maximum Dispatch Productivity

Author: Derek Koyama

We all have a family member or friend who is constantly trying to improve themselves but never quite sticks to anything, buying the latest and greatest gear or equipment only to have it collecting dust a few weeks later. The issue here often isn’t their desire to meet their goals, but bad habits going unchecked and ultimately getting in the way of success.

Unsurprisingly, this is often the case in Field Service Management as well. Dispatchers faced with a new and improved FSM solution often fall back into old habits, intervening with orders instead of letting the system do its job. This leads to confusion and decreased dispatch productivity, which can be incredibly frustrating, considering this is the opposite of what’s expected.

Why Does This Happen?

Even if the system is in place and the opportunity is there to both optimize the dispatch to technician ratio and improve productivity, if the culture and processes surrounding the technology are ignored dispatchers tend to rely on operating the way they always have.

After all the time, effort, and resources spent on implementing the system, creating procedures, and making sure the FSM solution is optimized for their organization’s needs, business processes surrounding this new technology are often left behind. The result is that dispatchers are unsure of their new roles, are afraid the new technology will replace them entirely, or do not trust the system to schedule work orders as well as they do.

What it Means

Our experts have found that a user who continues to manually touch and intervene with the system does much more harm than good. Dispatchers often end up performing tasks redundantly and inefficiently compared to their technological counterparts, as the system is built to optimally assign tasks. This means wasted time, increased costs, and less work done in the field.

Relying on old habits also leads to missed opportunities for improvement in performance. A dispatcher who is able to let the system operate as intended is given much more time to deal with other issues, such as emergency situations or tasks that have been given executive priority, as well as achieve a greater degree of control.

Turning Bad Habits into Good Habits:

Spend more time talking and shadowing end users as they do their job.

  • What is documented in formal processes is often not what is put into practice, as documentation is unable to keep up with a business’ rapid pace of change.
  • Communicate with dispatchers and other end users to better define gaps and customize the system, this will help them become more comfortable and confident with the technology, as well as highlight issues that may have been overlooked.

Job shadow smart.

  • If you have been shadowing dispatchers, field staff, or back office teams take a look at when you’re doing it.
  • There is limited value in shadowing dispatchers during their lunch hour when not much is happening, so shadow them during their busiest times (e.g., morning rush, end of day, etc.), as this is when the rule book often gets thrown out due to the volume of work. Also pick times when there are fewer employees, such as the weekend, to catch bad habits in action.
  • Being able to recall specific situations or immediately address these bad habits when a user does have a spare moment provides better feedback, and enables leadership to formulate more effective ways to increase user adoption.

Sweep the corners.

  • What are you missing? If you are defining requirements and design in January it’s unlikely your team will have a clear view of what’s needed when workload starts to vary during other times of the year.
  • Involve dispatchers and working teams to better understand future road blocks. Being able to provide end users with solutions, practice, or support ahead of their busiest times of year helps insure bad habits don’t start appearing again.
  • Communicate openly and clearly with end users about what the new system means for them, and invite feedback to help garner trust.
  • Sweep out resistance by working more closely with departments and individuals who are having trouble understanding the need for a new system, and to dispel any misinformation. Those most vocally against a new FSM solution can become its biggest supporters when their concerns are directly addressed.

Building better habits is definitely a process, but is by no means an impossible task. For more information about improving dispatch productivity and other FSM tips, download our eBook.