By Sarah Nicastro, publisher/editor in chief, Field Technologies
According to Aberdeen Group’s Field Service 2013: Workforce Management Guide, 64 percent of respondents reported using third-party technicians to complete at least some of their work. The use of contracted workers for field service continues to grow as it provides a number of benefits: You can easily add specific skill sets your core workers may not have or that aren’t always needed, you can leverage a contracted workforce for work done outside of your core geographical area, or you can bolster your core workforce with contracted workers for seasonal upswings.
While there are certainly benefits to employing third-party workers, doing so is not without its challenges. One of the biggest issues is a lack of visibility. You may have a workforce management solution in place that keeps you connected to your core workforce, but if your third-party workers don’t use that same solution you can end up somewhat disconnected. Here are three aspects to consider if you’re looking into leveraging third-party workers.
- How will you maintain visibility into their work, and how will they access information necessary to do the job? Depending on what your workforce management solution consists of, you may be able to extend that same solution to your contracted workers. Many of today’s solutions are set up to do so, as this is becoming a more common practice. The extension of that solution may require you to determine some logistics, but it’s the best case in terms of maintaining visibility and sharing knowledge. If you don’t have a workforce management solution in place that can be used in this manner, you’ll need to develop a solid strategy for how you’ll know what the workers are up to in the field and for how they’ll access and share knowledge with the back office.
- How will you keep control over your brand? The workers you send to a customer site are the face of your brand. With your core workforce, you have tighter control over how they act and what they do at a customer site. With a contracted workforce, you need to make sure that you communicate to those workers what your brand embodies and what you’d like the customer experience to be like — not just how they’ll get the job done from a technical standpoint. If there are any major “dos” or “don’ts” that your workforce follows, be sure your contracted workforce understands these points and is willing to comply. Otherwise, you risk doing harm to the brand and quality of service you’ve worked hard for.
- How will you deal with management issues when they arise? The final suggestion I have is to consider how you’ll deal with issues when they arise from a management perspective, because they’re bound to. Having a plan in place that is communicated to the contract workers from the beginning will help to ensure issues are handled as smoothly as possible.