The Summertime Scoop on FSM Dispatching: Vanilla, Chocolate, or Both? Find What’s Right for Your Business
Author: Rohit Arora, Solutions Architect at Salesforce
Personally, summertime reminds me of going out for ice cream as a kid, when the biggest decision on my mind was vanilla or chocolate.
To evaluate the two most popular dispatching options, bulk dispatch, and drip feed, let’s use a summertime analogy: choosing between two popular ice cream flavors, vanilla, and chocolate. Both have their pros and cons. Is there a better flavor for your business, or should you go with both and make a sundae?
Our vanilla option is bulk dispatching involves dispatching an entire day’s worth of jobs to a technician at the beginning of their shift. Once dispatched this work is essentially “locked” to that field service technician. It’s a classic option but still has its advantages and disadvantages.
- Gives technicians the ability to evaluate their assignments for the day and plan accordingly, such as:
- Which tools to pick up from the depot
- Which location(s) they will be traveling to
- Whether or not they can perform any preventative maintenance if a job finishes early
- A set list of assignments could lead to lower stress levels for the technician, enabling them to focus more on the customer service aspect of their job
- If the technician experiences difficulties or delays this could impact their other assigned jobs
- Makes it difficult to alter assignments as needed
This FSM dispatching approach is best suited for organizations with fieldwork that: are in remote locations where mobile coverage is unreliable, includes long travel times, or has schedules that rarely change.
It works very well in particular, for organizations that do sales visits booked days in advance, utility locates, or install-only work—especially if these jobs are only performed a few times a month.
Drip Feed Dispatch
Our chocolate option is drip feed dispatching which involves dispatching one job at a time to field workers upon completion of their previous work. Work remains unassigned until a technician is available. At one point in time, drip feeding became a trend due to its financial benefits, but experience has shown that it’s not always the best choice for an organization.
- Allows for efficient scheduling if an organization needs to accommodate same-day changes due to a job finishing early, cancellations, emergencies, etc.
- This can lead to increased technician utilization rates and lowered operational costs
- Potential for more jobs to be scheduled and a decrease in customer wait time
- If technicians don’t have a stable mobile connection, they can’t receive the next job
- Difficult for employees in the field to plan their day, which could cause more stress
This FSM dispatching approach is best suited for organizations dealing with a high level of schedule volatility.
The Sundae (Combining Both Options)
Unfortunately choosing a dispatching method isn’t as easy as picking between vanilla and chocolate ice cream. Circumstances change, and most organizations don’t fit neatly into a category where one option and one option only work best.
As a child when vanilla or chocolate wasn’t quite right, you could go for the best of both worlds and order a sundae.
The two most common ways to blend bulk and drip feed dispatching (or the two most popular sundaes) are:
- Drip Feeding Multiple Jobs
- Works by drip feeding a set number of jobs to technicians so that they always have that number of jobs on their mobile device, ready to be worked on
- Allows technicians to work in areas with poor mobile connectivity
- Updates can happen while the technician is traveling between jobs and crossing into areas with a mobile connection
- Can help reduce technician anxiety, as there is more of a schedule for them to plan their day around
- Bulk Dispatching Tentative Jobs
- A bulk list of jobs is still dispatched and assigned to technicians, but those assignments can be moved to other technicians as needed
- Allows for a more set schedule, though the technicians must be aware their schedules may change
- An organization has the opportunity to better utilize resources if the schedule or demands change
How Do You Know Which Flavor to Choose?
Dispatching optimization can make a big difference when it comes to meeting an FSM organization’s needs, but even the sundae options listed above might not be the ideal choice for your business. If your organization is trying to find the right dispatching method for your business start by:
- Looking over the pros and cons in this article
- Getting input from your field service team(s)
- Narrowing down your options from there
Still struggling to find your perfect sundae? Contact us.
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