Field Operations Management During the New Normal Requires an End-to-End, Field-First Approach

by | Nov 3, 2020

Field operations management involves many variables and pressures, with new surprises always around the corner. The COVID-19 pandemic is a shocking example of the sort of disruptions that can suddenly disrupt the workflows of field service operations.

Field operations were challenging before COVID-19 hit. But now, with protocols around distancing, sanitation and WFH in place, the challenge is greater than ever. Absent the right tools, most field service operations companies will now find it very difficult to deliver the necessary information to their employees. Field operations management relies on an effective information flow; when this goes sideways, a range of other problems emerge.

Case in point: On average, frontline employees waste about three hours per week just looking for information. In terms of revenue, for every 1,000 workers, that’s a waste of around $800,000 every month. All because companies are prevented from accessing information. A loss this big, at a time when many companies are struggling to keep their heads above water, is hard to justify.

How can companies cope with the demands of field service operations amidst a global pandemic and ongoing uncertain economic climate? It all starts with plugging the information gap. This can only be done by leveraging a field operations management system that follows an end-to-end, field-first approach.

Field Operations Management 

There are two main aspects of field operations management that always require special attention: workforce management and asset management. These two tasks require even more attention in these turbulent times.

Workforce Management

Your field workforce is the lifeblood of your company. However, during this pandemic, your workforce’s health is at risk. Fieldwork can bring your staff in close contact with each other, whether in vehicles, field housing, or even with local communities near and within field sites. If you are a field operations manager, it would be wise to make adjustments to protect your field team’s health as you continue operations. 

These adjustments should be field-first; that is, they should be based on the realities of fieldwork and balance what is practical with what is effective.

  • Encourage workers to stay home when sick. Be flexible in your plans to compensate for sudden sick leaves.
  • As best you can, integrate social distancing in your work protocols, sleeping arrangements, and travel plans. If possible, have your team use separate vehicles or equipment.
  • Carry a hard copy of your updated safety plan in the field, paying special attention to medical facilities available nearby.
  • Encourage good hygiene among your field team. Support this by providing hygiene products like soap and water, disinfectants, and hand sanitizers.
  • Disinfect shared equipment and high-touch surfaces frequently.

This end-to-end approach to workforce management will help you keep your people safe.

Asset Management

Almost as important as the health of your field team is the health of your assets. Monitoring and maintaining your equipment’s use, mileage, and functionalities is important to ensure continuous operations.

This is why you need field operations management software that adopts a “field-first” approach. This means technology that is built by reverse engineering systems from what actually happens out there in the field. An effective field operations management system isn’t created in the back-office without any awareness of the on-the-ground environment. It starts with the realities and practicalities of the field, and will always allow you to put the needs of the field first.

When it comes to asset management, this field-first approach is what FieldFX’s Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) Module provides. The FX EAM module provides process and intelligence that enhances physical asset management. It allows for systematic preventative and predictive maintenance, increased equipment reliability, and efficient regulatory compliance. 

A great example of a company that experienced the benefits of FX EAM is Tech-Flo. A leading provider of flexible filtration equipment and hydraulic lift systems, they used EAM to manage their newly-purchased rental fleet. Using the module, they set up their rental assets in a centralized location and scheduled a recurring preventative maintenance program for the whole fleet of trucks.

“Our long-term goal with FieldFX is to have all functionality from quote to invoice on the FieldFX platform. EAM is a crucial step in that process,” said Chad Musgrove, VP of Finance at Tech-Flo. 

Other Trends in Field Operations Post-COVID

This uncertainty that the COVID-19 pandemic brought has only accentuated former trends in field operations management. These trends have always been there, but have been intensified as companies look to mitigate the economic downturn.

Organizational Communication

Slack, Microsoft Teams, and other office communication tools serve a great purpose within an office setting. However, these tools often alienate frontline and field workers (which make up about 80% of the workforce globally). Boosting organizational communication with the right-field operations management tools is a must.

The FX Schedule and Dispatch module is one such tool. It moves your old whiteboard and spreadsheet data into a web-based, easy-to-use dashboard that displays all the information necessary to get your jobs planned, crews dispatched, and equipment scheduled. Moreover, users can set up automatic email and text message notifications. The FieldFX engine then alerts individuals or entire crews, letting them know when and where they need to be.

More Efficiency

According to a McKinsey report, automation technologies can be applied to about 50% of all work performed in companies today. Moreover, “heavy industries typically have highly fragmented field workforces that operate separately from technology functions,” the report states. 

A complete mobile field operations management solution that empowers oil and gas companies to organize and manage their quote-to-cash process can provide high levels of efficiency. Nuverra Environmental Solutions experienced this when they integrated  FieldFX with DataGumbo into their system. Within just eight months of implementation, Nuverra saw 90% of their tickets auto-approved, experienced a significant reduction in their DSO, and pushed more than 190,000 barrels for their operations. 

Strengthening Customer Experience and Relationships

A field operations manager needs to determine and understand the drivers that influence the behaviors of customers. In these turbulent times, simply controlling cost is not enough. A field operations manager needs to be adept at addressing various aspects of operations, from product quality to customer experience.

The right tools can help one work in sync with the customer service team to provide what the customers need. For example, FieldFX’s portal functionality gives customers authorized access to certain job and ticket data for maximum transparency. Liberty Lift leveraged a portal during their FieldFX integration. It allows their customers to see everything: from their tickets, to billings, to total cost, and even problem areas. They can even sign tickets digitally within the portal.

These are hard times. Hard times push us to upgrade old systems and be more efficient. Insisting superior field operations management is now a must, not a nice-to-have. But high quality requires the right solution; one that takes an end-to-end, field-first approach. Try FieldFX today.