New year, better schedule: 4 easy steps to schedule optimization

Make 2015 the year your scheduling shines. Today we’ve got 4 easy optimisations you can make to your scheduling set-up, even if you’re all alone on the job and don’t have much time or resources. If you get started now, you’ll be able reap the benefits immediately, but they’ll also have a long-term improvement on how your business works. I suggest one point a week for the next month, and by Valentine’s Day, you’ll be head over heels in love with your new, improved schedule!

Benchmark 2014

Benchmarking is a buzzword, but don’t let that put you off – it’s not a gimmick, and it doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. You’re only going to understand how you improve in 2015 if you know how you performed in 2014, and once you’ve benchmarked once, you’ve got a template for the foreseeable future. It can be as easy as thinking about key elements, providing the answers yourself and by asking other staff for their input. Alternatively, you can purchase benchmarking templates, or even pay a 3rd party to come to your business and benchmark for you. To get started yourself, think about the key factors in your business, perhaps KPIs like response time, call-out duration, or weekly call-out total, and find the average from 2014’s data. Then sit down, assess which are good and which need work, and you’ll know exactly where you need to focus your optimisation. Then do it again next year and be prepared to see a significant improvement!

Think about extra help

No, I’m not talking about hiring more staff, although if you can, congratulations – you’re clearly doing something right! 2015 is the year you should see what a scheduling tool can do for you. When you carry out that benchmarking we talked about, you’ll see exactly how many elements go into the perfect call-out setup. Frankly, it can be a little scary. Using a service to manage them all takes a lot of the weight off, and leaves your brainpower free to decide what you can improve, rather than how to juggle it all. Any schedule management tool worth its salt will give you a free trial, and the really good ones, like Synchroteam, don’t snare you in any hard-to-escape agreements if you decide it’s not the solution for you.

synchro_planning

Get to know your new clients

Hopefully 2014 was a good year for your business, and you picked up a few new clients. Make 2015 even better by making them feel like royalty. Sit down with a list of clients, old and new, and get to know them in depth. Know what they do, what they need from you, who your contact is, and what makes them purr. Not everyone can win on price, but anyone can win on service, so make that an aim for 2015. In its most low tech scenario, you’ll have a rolodex card for each. Probably better, easier to share and easier to modify, is an online database, or the customer management module of your scheduling software. Doing this is also a great way to maintain more longstanding clients up-to-date. You’ll look sharp and solid by knowing the right names and the right details when you do business.

synchro_customers

Get better acquainted with your people

Once you make sure you’re up to date on your clients, it’s time to take a look closer to home. Good people make progress, and hopefully yours are no exception. Send out an email or better yet, schedule informal meetings, and see what they got up to in 2014. New training? Refreshed qualifications? Get a motorcycle license? Have a new baby? Fleet management and other companies that need schedule optimisation are a diverse bunch, so maybe not all these scenarios apply to your business. Even so, they should give you an idea as to what questions you can ask – the objective of this step is to find out if your employees and co-workers made any changes in 2014 that might have an effect on their call-outs this year. Once you know their situations, you can update your schedule notes or management software accordingly and make future call-outs much more effective.

So there you have it, 4 solid, actionable fleet management focus points that will leave you in a much better position to tackle 2015 head-on. These little changes, rather than hot tips, are processes that will strengthen the foundations of your call-outs, making your schedules watertight and flexible. Share with other fleet management mavens below, and if you fancy trying out Synchroteam, click here.

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What can a field service management tool do for me?

Synchroteam is a field service management tool that provides companies of all sizes and from all sectors with the ability to manage and organize their maintenance technicians’ call-outs. It’s a planning tool intended for businesses with workers in the field. Depending on the company, for example, these workers could be in charge of maintaining medical equipment, or repairing telephone lines.

Synchroteam general overview

Optimizing call-outs and increasing productivity – that’s what Synchroteam is all about. Synchroteam wants to make your company quicker and more profitable by saving time, reducing yearly technician mileage and their response times.

Always find the best tech for the job

Once you get a call from a client about an after-sales call-out, Synchroteam will help you find the best tech for the job: in other words, the technician with the skills needed, in the right area, with the necessary availability. Then the software will take other factors in consideration and automatically find the best person for this particular job: the technician who has the know-how, who is located nearby, and who can get there quickest. Even if the technician is already out on a job, he or she will get a notification on their smartphone, thanks to Synchroteam’s mobile app.

A simple, intuitive interface

Plan your field service jobs in real time

The call-out manager can communicate with technicians in real time and manage their jobs via the dashboard. You’ll see these technicians classified by their state: late, expected today, imminent, to be arranged. Planning for jobs is easy, since you can see the service calls you need to plan for all laid out in a single overview, as well as the ability to update planning in real time. In real terms, you can manage technicians’ jobs just by dragging and dropping – it couldn’t be easier.

Manage jobs easily

Tools to streamline callouts: ScheduleAssist and geolocation

A single click on a little icon will launch ScheduleAssist, the planning optimisation engine. This tool pulls in information already contained in the software (journey time, type of callout), and automatically suggests the name or names of the most appropriate technicians on the field, so the call-out can be undertaken as quickly as possible.

schedule-assist-1

Geolocation allows you to follow and modify each technician’s schedule in real time. That means that if an emergency job crops up, you’ll be able to alert him or her and get them to the problem quickly.

mapping

Obligation-free sign up

Synchroteam’s field service planning tool works via an online subscription. You fill in some details online, which gives you access to the tool. You then can try it out for free, and when you decide to sign up, you just pay a monthly fee. You can end the service whenever you want: no obligation, no strings attached.

Today, Synchroteam has between 200 and 300 clients around the world, and some 15,000 users. Both the tool, and the mobile app, are available in various languages.

To make getting to grips with a field service management tool even easier, Synchroteam has provided online help, including step-by-step how-tos in the online knowledge base. If you’d like to talk your concerns through with a human, our customer service agents will be happy to help.

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Synchroteam 3.4 available September 20th

Synchroteam 3.4 will be available starting September 20th for all users. This new version contains many new features and improvements. No action is required on your part to enjoy this new version, it will be deployed automatically.

Scheduling: New week view and adjustments to existing views

Weekly Schedule Presented in an "Outlook" Style

Weekly Schedule Presented in an “Outlook” Style

 

Schedule presented in a "Gantt" Style mode

Schedule Presented with a “Gantt” Style Mode

 

 Schedule Search: New search filters by technician name and/or skilled trade

Search Technician by name or skill

Filter Technicians by name or skill

ScheduleAssist: Return travel time is now displayed and taken into account

Schedule  Optimization with travel time

Schedule Optimization with Travel Time

General Search: Added invoices / quotations to the search results and cleaned up the display

General Search Engine

General Search Engine

Attachments: New attachments management module – associate attachments with jobs and/or customers

Attachment manager

Attachment manager

Reporting : Improved response times and added the job status data field (scheduled, started, late, etc.)

User define Dashboard

User-defined Reports Dashboard

Connectors : Two new connectors have been added to integrate Synchroteam with partner solutions. Solustop to display travel times recorded by in vehicle GPS recorders in the schedule view. Altair CMMS to add a full suite of computerized maintenance management features.

Solustop GPS & Altair CMMS connectors

Solustop GPS & Altair CMMS Connectors

Various : Many optimisations that continue to improve response time and reliability.

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Performance & Job Report Template improvement

Synchroteam v3.3.1 released on June 6th, 2014

General performance improvement: a new routine to speed up page load times has been implemented 

Job report template – duplication: 1-click copy button to duplicate Categories & Items including list of values (web interface)

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Skills, Recurrency and Fleet Management

Synchroteam v3.3 released on May 27th, 2014

Skills management – Tag: new interface to create / delete tags with filter to identify unused tags. Tag is an easy way to associate skills to Field Workers to match them to Job requirements

Recurrent Jobs: dates can now be inserted manually. Use recurrent Job definitions to automatically create Job instances at predetermined dates and times (until a chosen end date) for a specific customer, site or equipment

Custom Job Number: Job # can be now set manually your numbering scheme

Job Report: new “Signature” item and photo upload report items

Fleet management: new API + Solustop.com integration. Access location information and status for every vehicle in real time

Accounting: new Xero and Sage integrations. Export quotations & invoices to your Xero or Sage accounting solution

Job history: your Field Workers get access to Job history for a given customer

Issues: By popular demand a report new status has been created – Issues. This status can be set for any item of the Job Report from the mobile device (android only – iOS to come). If an issue has been created by the Field Worker, the Manager will immediately be alerted in the Back-office and will be able to perform a one click Job duplication and schedule to  solve this issue.

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New ScheduleAssist feature

Synchroteam’s new ScheduleAssist feature will suggest an optimal job time slot by taking into consideration:

  • Each technician’s set of skilled trades
  • The skilled trade(s) required for the job type
  • Your work schedule
  • Current technician availability
  • Optimise by earliest arrival time, or quickest travel

Define Skills for each technician

Opt1

Define Business Hours

Opt2

Earliest Schedule available

Opt3

Nearest Schedule available

Opt4

For more information, please visit our support site.

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Synchroteam v3: Important Announcement

First off we would like to wish you happiness and success for 2014.

And, to start the year on the right foot, we are happy to announce that version 3 of Synchroteam is now available. This new version offers an improved management interface optimized for a wide range of screen sizes, from tablets to large widescreen monitors. Moreover, we have added new features as we continue to strive to make job management as easy as possible for any industry, or any size team.

Synchroteam v.3 is the only solution on the market capable of optimizing and managing your field operations, by providing you with:

  • Clear reports with a precise view of travel times and work duration, be it for a single worker or an entire team;
  • An interactive schedule that instantly shows you job progress and resource allocation so that you can react accordingly;
  • A scheduling optimization wizard that helps you find the worker with the right skill set for the job, and takes physical location into account (earliest arrival or shortest travel distance); and,
  • A 360° notification system that enhances collaboration within your team. Every worker or manager is automatically notified in real time as soon as a job status changes: Created, Scheduled, Started, Paused, Completed, etc.

In order to try this new version and benefit from the new features, starting January 13th, modify your custom Synchroteam web domain by adding “/app” on the end, like this: http://yourdomain.synchroteam.com/app

As always, if you have any comments or questions, you can create a support ticket at http://support.synchroteam.com

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Synchroteam Integration Features – A Quick Look Guide

Full article on Yahoo! Small Business Advisor

Synchroteam is a top performer in the Field Service Management software (FSM) category. In our previous review of Synchroteam we looked at their main features and today we are diving into their recently introduced built-in integrations to connect with the most popular business apps.

Let´s see how it looks like and why it is an important move for companies using a FSM app.

From Managing a Field Service Workforce to a Complete Command Center

Synchroteam’s new features extend the app from scheduling and managing a field service workforce to being the central command center for any business offering on-site services: security, cleaning contractors, HVAC installation and repair, construction, pest control, transport maintenance, engineering, kitchen support…

Their portfolio of new integrations allows Synchroteam users to better manage project administration and customer relationships from their Field Service Management app.

Synchroteam manages a business’ mobile workforce: allocating staff time, monitoring quality service delivery, and providing technicians with the job details they need, direct to their mobile (including maps and traffic updates, specific job requirements and equipment details, and features to encourage before and after photos of work sites to be taken to track service outcomes).

Synchroteam’s new integration features (powered by CloudWork a service affiliated to GetApp) recognize that the management of a mobile workforce is the central operational spine for Field Service companies. These new integrations allow for better customer relationship management, and ensure customer job information is managed across a suite of business apps that may be in use, including cloud storage services. Read more

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Synchroteam Creates The Field Service Manager’s Command Center

PARIS, France. 30 May 2013 – Synchroteam – the top-rated cloud-based app for Field Service industries – has launched an app “ecosystem” that extend the power of Synchroteam with built-in integrations that connect with the most important Cloud business apps to become a central command center for business users.

Ranked number one in the “Field Service Management” category on GetApp.com (the world’s largest SaaS and cloud-based business app marketplace), Synchroteam’s new connectors – powered by CloudWork – enable companies to better manage the flow of information through their Field Service Management operations. Synchroteam is dedicated to helping customers to grow service revenue and to maintain a focus on providing high-quality and timely, on-site service responses while limiting the costs associated with managing a mobile, technical workforce.

New Synchroteam integrations allow for seamless transfer of customer information between a range of common cloud business apps including email campaign apps (Campaign Monitor and MailChimp), book-keeping apps (FreshBooks) and customer relationship management (CRM) tools (including Salesforce, SugarCRM, Highrise, capsule CRM and Zoho CRM). Integrations also help field services management businesses automate backup of site photos to Dropbox and Google Drive, and can integrate job delivery with Google Calendar, giving a time visualization of all works carried out.

“More and more of our customers are using several cloud-based apps to manage their field services management business. In particular, we have seen the explosion of CRM apps amongst our business users. Our integrations mean that the workflow for mobile workforce and job allocation managers doesn’t need to change, yet details of their customer engagement and details of job progress can now be integrated with the enterprise-wide CRM database,” said François Pichon, Director of Development at Synchroteam.

“Service companies can stay focused on providing an exemplary service to their customers, while automating the flow of information through their business operations. Customers can be added to email subscriber lists, contact information can be automatically added to invoicing systems, job completion photos can be automatically saved to a cloud backup service. All of these new integrations put the field services manager at the command center of their business operations, without adding to administrative resourcing requirements,” said Mr Pichon.

The new integration features provide Synchroteam with an initial catalog of 27 app integrations to choose from. Each one is modeled on an exact business case and allows users to simply click-and-connect to start integrating data, without any coding requirements or complexity.

The 27 integrations are available as part of the monthly services provided to Synchroteam subscribers.

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Synchroteam update available on May 14th 9pm GMT

List of new functionalities

  • Barcode integration (Mobile App)
  • Job description optional
  • Linking job type and priority
  • Job Creation in the Back-Office (Technician profile)
  • Blocking Customer/Site/Equipment creation
  • Job Creator ID
  • Job report: new numerical and conditional field
  • User Address
  • Meeting time

Functionalities in detail

Barcode integration (Mobile App)
A new Barcode icon is available in Photo section on the Mobile App. Technicians will be able to scan Barcodes using the camera. Both the barcode photo and barcode value will be captured and associated with the Job and displayed on the Back-office. They will also be available for Export using a Custom Export Template.

Job description optional
A switch will be added (on/off) to cancel mandatory description for Job creation (same function on Mobile)

Linking job type and priority
Default Job priority will be determined by Job type. It means we will add the possibility to define a default priority for a Job type in the detail view.

Job Creation in the Back-Office (Technician profile)
A technician will be able to create a Job on the Web Back-office interface (same workflow as on a mobile device). A field worker can create a job for himself, or in “to be scheduled” status.

Blocking Customer/Site/Equipment creation
A configuration option will be added to turn on/off customer/site/equipment creation on mobile and Back-Office.

Job Creator ID
We will record the job creator ID in our Database. The name of the person the created the job will be displayed in the job detail (Mobile and Back-office)

Job report: new numerical and conditional field
The numeric item type will be added to job report templates. If used as a Conditional item, you use comparision operators (equal to, greater than, less than, etc.).

User Address
We will add a geocoded address for each user. In the Map tab this address will be considered as the starting/ending location. We will add a “Distance” column in the “Technician Activity” report.

Meeting time
When creating a job, the user (technician or manager) should be able to specify a meeting time. We will add this information in the “job creation” view and in the “job detail” view. When scheduling a job the starting time will necessarily be the meeting time. This rule should be managed in the planning view and in the schedule “pop-up”.

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