Contractor Management: Building and Managing an Effective Field Service Workforce

Author: Derek Koyama

In this blog, we’re sharing more of our expert tips when it comes to making the most of your existing FSM Solution.  We’re turning to a common field service need, how to manage third-party contractors more effectively.

Traditionally, field service organizations used internal employees to undertake service requests.  However, workforce challenges such as meeting variable demand, an aging workforce, a shortage of skilled workers and rising labor costs, has resulted in the dramatic rise in the use of contingent workers over the past decade. According to Gartner, by 2020, 40% of all Field Service tasks will be undertaken by contractors. There’s a whole range of blended workforce models that make up service delivery these days which allow businesses to react to rapidly changing environments and focus on new business imperatives.

However, there are some risk factors associated with these changing workforce dynamics which include:

  • Diminished brand reputation due to potential process and service inconsistency when a contractor is doing the work
  • Lack of visibility into contractors’ availability and capacity
  • Lack of skilled labor
  • Loss of valuable tribal knowledge as seasoned workers retire

The challenges of using third-party contractors in the field

Independent contractors may not be focused primarily on the customer experience and the quality of service but rather the number of jobs completed, as this is typically how they are compensated. Third parties may also not have been given the opportunity to provide insights into the initial planning and requirements phase of the FSM implementation. They might not be open to or willing to make changes to the way they operate or might feel they are being forced to use a system and don’t see the benefits. A new FSM solution may also require operational changes to how they run their business and many contractors simply might not be large enough to support any incremental costs.

All these factors can ultimately lead to a disconnect which often generates customer service failures and poor service delivery when work is completed by third parties. This poor service delivery results in a negative impact on the customer experience, brand reputation and ultimately the bottom line.

How can an FSM solution help mitigate these risks?

A single platform to ensure consistency
The right field service management solution allows service providers and their contractors to have greater visibility and control over the service the end customer receives. This capability presents the enterprise service provider as the single face of service to the customer (from appointments to status updates, through completion) for brand and service consistency while leveraging the service capacity elasticity provided by their contractors. With a low cost of entry to a field service management solution for the contractor, companies can use a single platform to seamlessly assign work to both internal resources and contractors. This solution allows service providers control over the tasks assigned to each individual contractor based on criteria such as cost, skill, customer satisfaction or service level performance.

Best practices to manage contractors effectively

  • Clearly understand the type of work that is being outsourced and your business needs (i.e. A third party conducting customer appointment jobs requires different workflows versus a 3rd party that is conducting large buckets of work that have a completion range and not directly customer facing)
  • As third-party contractors are brand ambassadors for your organization, create stricter guided workflows for third party contractors to ensure rules and regulations are being followed.
  • Outline the benefits to the contractor so all parties can leverage the solution to its fullest potential.
  • Set up penalties and rewards for contractors such as no payment for re-work or bonuses for achieving high customer satisfaction ratings.
  • Be open to reviewing and changing your business process to support third parties.
  • Be open to reviewing system options with your third party (i.e. BYOD, older smartphone, FSM Lite solution, etc).
  • Develop KPIs to measure third parties (bonuses/penalties).
  • Look at conducting more random field QA to improve service quality and consistency.
  • Set clear quality expectations and communicate these regularly.
  • Generate moment of truth surveys following service to capture how the customer felt the engagement went and action both good and bad experiences in near real-time.

Want more expert tips on how to get the most value out of your FSM solution?  Download our brand new ebook for more practical recommendations and best practices from our FSM experts.