Transforming in-house technician productivity

A service provider leaning against a work van, checking a tablet device and a smartphone.
SMS Assist built a product that delivers dynamic scheduling, automatic dispatch, and smart optimization. It nearly doubled the productivity of a customer’s in-house technicians. 

The need

A better way to manage in-house technicians

A customer wanted to dive into how it could automate its scheduling process and optimize technician productivity of its bigger-than-ever in-house technician team. 

The customer started with third-party software providers. SMS Assist did its own digging. We knew we could build the technology and make it even more advantageous for two major reasons: First, SMS Assist has the technology and scale to answer emergencies within 24 hours. And second, we have a customer service organization available around the clock to answer those critical calls. Those third parties didn’t. And that meant opportunity. 

The scheduling and optimization project

Using machine learning and predictive analytics for smarter scheduling

Automatically dispatches technicians 
The product automatically dispatches and assigns a work order based on proximity of the service site to the technician’s home, his schedule, and his skillset. 

Routes smarter 
Does it take longer to drive from one zip code to another in the morning versus the afternoon? The system knows, thanks to a Google API, and predicts actual travel times by service location. 

Minimizes drive time 
In the days before an appointment—and as new appointments are scheduled—the system optimizes work orders by location for better scheduling. 

Minimizing time on the road lowers costs, reduces wear-and-tear on the vehicle, and cuts carbon emissions. 

Increases technicians’ productivity 
Less time on the road means more time on-site. Based on historical data, the system also knows average work order completion times by trade, which prevents over-scheduling. 

Batches work orders 
What if there are multiple work orders scheduled on different days at the same site? The system will source a technician that can serve the different work orders in one visit. 

Complements the SMS Assist Affiliate network 
If the customer’s in-house technicians aren’t available or a technician is needed for an emergency service, the system will pull from SMS Assist’s Affiliate network. 

Provides a smooth customer experience 
The customer can log in to the portal to submit work orders and schedule service appointments. On the flip side, technicians can communicate when they’re en route so the customer has peace of mind that a solution is not far away. 

The results

We have experienced a statistically significant increase in productivity since the launch of the Scheduling and Optimization Product. We’ve also seen a relatively small change in completion rate, which tells us that technicians are successfully completing work orders at the same rate that they were before the product existed, despite the increase in volume.

SMS Assist Director of Business Analytics Antonio Gonnella

47% year-over-year increase in productivity on handled work orders, from December 2017 to December 2018. A “handled work order” means progress was made; this is about getting to work orders faster, sooner.

35% year-over-year increase in the number of locations we visited, from December 2017 to December 2018.

But wouldn’t the increase in productivity more closely correlate to the increase in locations? 

Productivity increasing at a faster rate means we’re doing a good job bundling work orders—when a technician handles many work orders at one location—which also minimizes drive time. If the number of locations visited were to go up as much as productivity, it would imply that technicians are spending more time driving than they are doing the fixing.