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About the Scheduling Optimizer

The Optimizer uses a number of complex algorithms to meet the following objectives:

  • Assign field service engineers to service activities
  • Schedule these activities
  • Maximize the efficiency and the quality of service
  • Minimize cost to the service organization

The Optimizer can also respond to immediate scheduling demands to provide break/fix activities that meet the requirements of service entitlements (for example, a response within four hours), emergencies (for example, breakdown of service vehicles), and changes in service personnel.

Schedule Optimization

Because most service costs are derived from labor, efficient use of labor is one of the primary goals of a service organization. Efficiency encompasses a broad array of objectives, some of which may conflict:

  • Solving a service request the first time, which requires assigning a field service engineer with the right skills and parts.
  • Skilled engineers can finish a task faster; however, they should also be assigned to more challenging work so their time is not wasted on trivial tasks.
  • Where possible, travel between jobs should be minimized by grouping jobs in a particular area.
  • Engineers should appear on site within contractually committed times.

The Optimizer provides automated, background optimization of the schedule for field service activities and optimal use of resources in each service region.

Business Priorities

Every business has a different definition of efficiency in delivering service. Businesses that have requirements for critical responses (for example, a utility company may have downed power lines) define efficiency as placing someone on site within the shortest time. In this case, response is more important than full utilization. Other businesses do not have stringent response requirements but require higher utilization to preserve profits. In either case, a service business needs to set priorities when scheduling and dispatching personnel.

Break/Fix Activities and Contract Scheduling

Most service businesses start the day with a schedule of activities to perform, such as maintenance, installations, and other booked repairs. During the day, customers may call for repairs (break/fix activities), requiring modification of schedules.

Customers with service contracts often have specific entitlements with a required response time. This response time may be tiered based on the level of the contract: standard contracts may promise engineers will be onsite within 24 hours, while premium contracts may specify response times as short as two hours.

Break/fix activities must be inserted into the schedule that the Optimizer has carefully optimized during the previous night. Optimizing the schedule again is usually not practical because optimization routines can run for an hour or two to determine good solutions. Customers want a service commitment immediately, often while they are on the phone. You must achieve a balance between trading optimized schedules for quick responses and customer satisfaction while still enforcing business rules.

The ideal solution for the customer service representatives, in response to break/fix requests, is to click a button and receive a time for a service call that respects contractual agreements and other constraints. The Optimizer addresses this need.

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