In the past, staffing and managing a field service workforce was relatively straightforward: Field service leaders recruited, hired, trained and strategically placed their service technicians in the regions where their customer base existed. But in today’s highly demanding environment, workforce management is much less simplistic.

Back in the day, almost every major platform, device or piece of equipment had its own set of metrics by which services organizations could track performance over time to ensure that the customer’s equipment was always running as efficiently as possible — and with as little downtime as could be tolerated.

Today, however, the services market has changed dramatically, largely the result of several key factors:

  • New technology (e.g. more reliable equipment that doesn’t fail as often as it did in the past)
  • Volatile economics (e.g. economic peaks, valleys, crashes and busts)
  • Emphasis on technical skills (e.g. training, certifications and specialized skills necessary to repair equipment that rarely fails)

The ‘Gig Economy’ Takes Hold in Field Service

As a result, many services organizations, especially at the enterprise level, are now overwhelmed by the demands typically associated with recruiting, hiring, training, managing (and paying) their field technicians. In response, some service leaders have decided to get out of the business of performing services in-house — even on their own equipment.

“…many services organizations, especially at the enterprise level, are now overwhelmed by the demands typically associated with recruiting, hiring, training, managing (and paying) their field technicians.”

In the current cost-sensitive and hyper-responsive service market, even the most sophisticated and progressive services organizations often find themselves struggling to effectively deal with the scalability aspects of managing an internal field workforce. The challenges are often far too steep for service leaders to manage effectively, which typically ends up diminishing performance, slashing customer satisfaction and, ultimately, costing the business money.

“The next few years will see a tremendous shift in how companies manage and find talent, in particular those who leverage freelance talent heavily,” says Diego Lomanto, vice president of marketing at Work Market, which provides end-to-end workforce solutions to help companies manage the freelance work stream.

Think Beyond the W-2 Employee

Lomanto’s assessment of the prospective growth of the freelance market is corroborated by the results of Strategies For Growth’s 2014 Field Service Management Benchmark Survey.” The study revealed that twice as many services organizations plan to outsource some, or all, of their field service activities to strategic alliance partners or third-party vendors by the end of 2015.

Photo: Unsplash

Photo: Unsplash

The report also suggests that services organizations are increasingly being pressured to find new ways to simplify and consolidate the management of their field services workforce. While some platforms on the market may allow them to manage most of these activities themselves, there are a growing number of enterprises that are finding it easier and more cost-effective to rely on a freelance management (FMS) system to staff and manage their workforce, from recruiting and dispatch to payment and reporting. Our ongoing research supports this trend on a global basis.

Quickly Add Skills, Scale to Service Toolkit

Field service leaders are increasingly looking to outsourcing platforms to complement their internal service workforce — and to gain a competitive edge. “The extended workforce will give you increased geographic reach, coverage in new skill sets and help you lower costs,” Lomanto says.

Is this movement toward the use of an FMS truly taking off? Industry research suggests the answer is “Yes.” According to research firm Oxford Economics, an estimated 83 percent of executives are planning to increase their use of independent workers in the next 12 months. That is no surprise, especially considering how valuable an on-demand workforce can be in today’s unpredictable services environment.

The time has finally come for field service leaders to realize that they don’t have to start from scratch to staff their field technician workforce. Instead, they can rely on new technology applications that integrate directly with their existing systems.

Speed is essential in today’s service market, and an on-demand field service workforce can help enterprises quickly overcome the challenges inherent in today’s chaotic service world. Through the use of a freelance management system, today’s top enterprises can arm themselves with the tools and talent needed to re-engineer their field service workforce and prepare for success in the modern world.

To download a complimentary whitepaper on “The Evolution of Enterprise Field Service Operations” and to view the related webinar, click here.