Field automation is necessary for any business operating through field processes or handling a field workforce. Field automation simply means automation of the field operations or processes. It is a necessity because it can provide much-needed mobility solutions to the field crew. Mobility is needed to overcome the operational field challenges and to improve the efficiency and productivity of the field crew members.
Many business owners think that field automation is a requirement only for businesses like eCommerce delivery, insurance aggregators, and maintenance services. This impression is made in light of the consideration that investment in field automation is worth only when a business operates through a larger workforce or characters to a bigger clientele. Usually, it’s a general perception that field automation is relevant to maintenance services only.
However, field automation has nothing to do with team size or clientele size. Field automation is equally necessary for a field business like a cleaning business. Any business that operates through a field workforce must transform its business processes with field automation because that is the most effective way to improve operational efficiency for meeting customer expectations.
Why are manual processes not good enough?
Here is an instance explaining the bottlenecks in manual processes. Suppose, you receive a service request from a client. Accordingly, you need to assign it to one of your cleaners. As a field manager or supervisor, you must be carrying a schedule log, maybe an excel sheet. So you will check the current schedules of your cleaners in that log and try to make an assumption regarding the availability of a cleaner based on his current time schedules, and accordingly, you will assign him the job. You may also require calling him up to confirm his availability to avoid any schedule overlapping.
Also, manual job scheduling doesn’t allow you the scope of territory management, which means the cleaners you have chosen for the task may not be in the closest proximity of the job site. As a result, the cleaner has to travel a long distance to reach the job site. Won’t it be a waste of productive time? Not just this, but manual job scheduling can lead to several other productivity leaks in the process. A few of them are listed below.
- Manual job scheduling is laborious work for the supervisor. Checking the availability of every field crew member to ensure that there are no scheduling conflicts takes too much time, and yet it doesn’t ensure 100% accuracy in the process.
- Territory management isn’t easy to achieve because the manager cannot have real-time visibility into the locations of the field crew members. If the cleaners are assigned jobs at far off locations, they end up wasting their time in excessive traveling to reach their job sites. This is one of the major productivity leaks because time spent on roads could have been utilized to serve new service requests. Excessive traveling also means overhead travel expenses.
- Lack of automation in team collaboration can lead to communication gaps. Timely communication between the field workforce and manager is necessary to ensure a smooth workflow in field operations. However, iif communication is left to manual phone calling or texting then it often leads to gaps that eventually cause scheduling conflicts like overlap schedule, missed schedules and duplicate schedules.
- Real-time access to enterprise data is one of the key necessities of the field workforce. But in the absence of automation, the field workforce has to depend on the back-office staff for accessing information like client details, inventory records, service codes etc. Dependency on others slows down their productivity and causes service delays to stop.
- Another key reason why field automation is necessary is related to the recording of field data. Field data like client feedback, on-field monetary transactions, reporting, inventory requests are crucial to the business. However, recording these data is like an added responsibility for the field workers, especially if they have to do it manually. Automation can make a recording of field data a completely automated process. This not just ensures complete accuracy but can also help the field workforce save a lot of time.
The list goes on. Lack of automation causes many more operational challenges that affect the efficacy of a cleaning business. Acknowledging the need for automation in-field operation, let’s understand how it can be implemented in a cleaning business.
How to bring field automation to a cleaning business?
The most cost-effective and simplest way to automate the field processes of a cleaning business is to use Cleaning business software. Cleaning service management software is a multifunctional tool that can automate various field processes such as job scheduling, invoice generating, route planning, work order management, team collaboration, etc. It is a comprehensive multitasking software that can function as a cleaning scheduling software, a full-fledged CRM for a cleaning company, and also as a cloud data repository.
As a one-stop solution, it controls every aspect of the field workforce management. For instance, as a cleaning scheduling software, it can identify the rightly skilled nearest available cleaner for a job in no time.
The software uses data mining technology and automation models to track the live location of the field workers and accordingly assess their proximity to the new job site. Also, it reads the timestamps of each field worker to assess their availability for the next job. It browses through the enterprise database to assess the skill sets of a worker and identify the perfect match for the job at hand.
Combining all these, the software identifies the right cleaner for the job with 100% accuracy that he is rightly skilled, his timings are available, and he is at the nearest proximity to reach the job site at the minimum possible time, without wasting time on traveling.
Cleaning service management software also facilitates real-time data collaboration over the cloud. Even while on the go, the field workforce can access the enterprise information from any location provided they have valid access permission. They don’t have to be dependent on anyone in the back office, and as per their requirement, they can immediately retrieve the information they need.
The cleaning business software is not just for the convenience of the field workforce. It has many features to make the job easy for the managers and supervisors also. For instance, they can use the software as a CRM for cleaning companies and maintain the archives of customer service history.
This service history can be referred to by field workers, as well as managers can use them in a number of ways to improve customer experiences. For instance, customers can be sent automated updates about their upcoming service schedules, or they can send promotional and sales-driven content. The software also has inbuilt smart analytics tools that the managers can use to extract various visually representative reports for gaining insights into the business.